[[quoteright:255:[[Webcomic/SluggyFreelance http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/nobody.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:255:Riff is too genre-savvy to count out Oasis]]

->''"Never count a Human as dead until you see his body. And even then you can make a mistake."''
-->-- '''Lady Margot Fenring''', quoting a Bene Gesserit aphorism, ''{{Dune}}''

A character is killed off, but their death occurs in such a way that no body is recovered.

No matter how all laws of physics and biology indicate NoOneCouldSurviveThat, [[GenreSavvy remember]], this old rule trumps all: "[[NotQuiteDead Never count someone dead unless you have the body in front of you]]." (And in some cases, [[BackFromTheDead not even then]].)

The day time SoapOpera frequently uses this trope combined with PutOnABus. The actor is leaving the show and the producers want to take advantage of the opportunity for drama. The character is in fact being written out and will be [[BusCrash presumed dead indefinitely]]. However, they leave themselves an out without closing the door in case [[TheBusCameBack the actor decides to return.]]

A common {{aver|tedTrope}}sion of this trope can be seen in shows where EverythingFades; if there ''is'' a body to be found, [[NotQuiteDead try not to get too used to his absence]]. Compare NoBodyLeftBehind.

Subtrope of UncertainDoom. See also LeftForDead, when the body is ''seen'' but left behind without confirming it's ''dead''.
When those left behind proceed to put the disappeared person's house in order, that's declaring the person LegallyDead. If the mortal remains are eventually found, it's FinallyFoundTheBody.
----
!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* This is the fate many humans suffer in ''Manga/AttackOnTitan'', due to the fact that many of them are EatenAlive by [[HumanoidAbomination Titans]], which are essentially extremely tall, naked humans that behave much like zombies and are largely immune to damage except to a precision strike to the back of their neck.
* The first ''Anime/{{Patlabor}}'' movie opens with Hoba, the programmer of the BABEL virus that was hidden in his operating system for the [[HumongousMecha Labors]], jumping off a large sea platform. Gotoh notes they never found the body. When the protagonist go to the supposedly evacuated platform to destroy it to prevent the virus from spreading, [[spoiler: they pick up one employee on the sensors: Hoba. Turns out he really was dead though: he attached his employee badge to his pet raven, perhaps as part of a ThanatosGambit.]]
* Baam in ''Webcomic/TowerOfGod''. This, however, was cleverly staged, as he was supposed to be declared LegallyDead and go undercover for the next five years.
* A rather sadistic version of this trope was featured in ''[[Anime/TenchiMuyo Tenchi Universe]]'', near the end of the series, when it goes from HeroicSacrifice to this to Ryoko surviving all in the course of three episodes.
* Averted in a rather frightening way in ''Manga/{{Loveless}}'', for while they ''did'' find the body of [[spoiler:Seimei]] and even matched dental records -- Guess what? [[spoiler: He's alive.]]
* ''Anime/MazingerZ'': Kouji, Sayaka and the remainder characters never found Dr. Hell's body and assumed he was dead. Granted, it would be hard to search and find his body given that [[spoiler:in the original manga his SuperVillainLair / HumongousMecha got blown up in middle of the ocean; in the anime series, the CoolAirship where he was fleeing got blown to bits and the remains sank in the ocean; and in another manga version, he was inside of his SuperVillainLair as it drifted spacewards, bleeding to death due to a stab wound.]] Still, he [[spoiler:returned at the last season of ''Anime/GreatMazinger'' like The second DragonInChief of the BigBad.]]
** In episode 31, the bus where three workers of the Institute commuted crashed. The police believed they died, but Prof. Yumi refused to believe that because their bodies were not found. He was pretty GenreSavvy.
* Subverted in ''Manga/DeathNote'' - [[spoiler:Naomi Misora]]'s body was never found, but that was because Light stipulated in the Note that she would kill herself in a way that made her body unlikely to be discovered.
* There are a couple of these in the Franchise/{{Gundam}} multiverse.
** This happens to [[spoiler:Quattro Bajeena]] in the final battle of ''[[Anime/MobileSuitZetaGundam Zeta Gundam]]'', as [[spoiler:his]] trashed mobile suit is discovered afterwards with the cockpit hatch open.
** Averted in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeed Gundam SEED]]'' when the cracked helmet of [[spoiler:Mwu La Flaga]] is seen floating in space after taking an anti-battleship cannon head-on. Then played straight in the compilation special as the helmet is edited out [[spoiler:to set up his return in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundamSeedDestiny Gundam SEED Destiny]]'']].
** There was some speculation as to the fate of [[spoiler:the first]] Lockon Stratos in ''[[Anime/MobileSuitGundam00 Gundam 00]]'', but WordOfGod put a stop to all of that.
*** Not that it stopped almost anyone else who seemingly perished in the last couple episodes of the season from then being confirmed as alive.
* The final fate of [[spoiler:Amon and Robin]] in the last episode of ''Anime/WitchHunterRobin''. In fact, it is heavily implied that none of their colleagues believe the official story.
* Justified in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'': the body missing is of a person who can regenerate any injury, and the leader of one of the two allied armies present knows enough to find the body first, or he plans to betray his allies, and grab power for himself, one or the other.
** {{Downplayed|Trope}} in the case of [[spoiler: 2nd Lt. Ross.]] There ''is'' a body recovered, but it's so badly damaged that no one could be absolutely certain that it's actually hers. The "evidence" (dental records, etc.) found allow her to be considered LegallyDead.
* ''Anime/CodeGeass'' played quite a bit with this. You could say that if a character doesn't explode inside a HumongousMecha or isn't shown lying on the ground in a pool of blood, they're probably coming back. Case in point, [[spoiler:Nunnally and Sayoko were thought to have been killed on their shuttle in the FLEYA explosion that destroyed Tokyo]]. Justified later on because [[spoiler:there were actually two different escape shuttles and Schneizel had arranged the whole affair beforehand]]. A few episodes later, it was revealed that [[spoiler:Guilford]] joined the club.
* Allen Walker in ''Manga/DGrayMan''. Lenalee and Lavi watched a recording of him apparently dying, but all that was left was a card and a bit of a bloodstain on the forest floor. Then BAM! Guess who wakes up by the end of the episode?
** They never found [[spoiler:Cross Marian]]'s body either. [[spoiler:His guards were put to sleep, and his [[CoolMask mask]] was found with a bullet hole in it in the middle of a pool of blood large enough that the blood loss ought to have killed him, along with his EmpathicWeapon.]] However, the circumstances that led to it (and whether he survived) have yet to be explained.
* Subverted in ''Manga/ShamanKing''; [[BigBad Asakura]] [[TheJuggernaut Hao's]] [[KillItWithFire preferred method of killing]] leaves no bodies, but it also leaves no doubt that the victims are dead.
* At the end of ''LightNovel/CoffinPrincessChaika'' season 1, [[spoiler:Alberic Gillette]] is seemingly caught in a blast fired by the Soara Fortress and obliterated: all that is found of him is his sword. Season 2, however, reveals that he survived seemingly unharmed.
* ''Manga/OnePiece'' did this with Pell, who was seen making a HeroicSacrifice by flying a massive bomb out of the range of innocents, seemingly blowing himself up in the process. Sometime later, a limping Pell returns home, only to find his own grave. In ''One Piece'', a character is not dead unless you see him die, otherwise he'll come back. After all, ''One Piece'' characters are MadeOfIron.
** [[spoiler:One of the major indicators to the fans about Sabo's revival was the fact that his body was never recovered. Then come chapter 731...]]
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'' has a variation: a certain redheaded conductor was presumed to be dead because they ''did'' find the body...well, the [[{{Gorn}} horrifically mutilated]] remains that probably ''used'' to be his body, anyway. [[spoiler:Of course, the body is really that of that one similarly redheaded and uniformed lackey of Ladd Russo, who made the mistake of assuming that the aforementioned conductor would not be absolutely AxCrazy. Said conductor cheerfully got off the train with a near-perfect alibi and nary a scratch.]]
* In the ''VideoGame/BlazBlue'' anime, as part of his brutal MindRape of Noel to [[spoiler:initiate her transformation into Kuzanagi]], Terumi [[spoiler:brutally tortures [[LittleBitBeastly Makoto]] [[ForcedToWatch in front of her]], almost crushing her to death, then throws her off the roof of the building they're on]]. Her body isn't shown, but Terumi makes it quite clear [[LittleBitBeastly not even]] [[spoiler:[[FantasticRacism a Beastkin]]]] [[NoOneCouldHaveSurvivedThat could have survived that fall]]. [[spoiler:However, at the end of the series we see that Makoto did indeed survive.]]
* Occurred in ''Anime/YuGiOh5Ds'' with [[spoiler: [[ManipulativeBastard Divine]]]], who fell from the highest floor of the skyscraper he was in, after being [[CrowningMomentofAwesome attacked]] by [[EldritchAbomination Aslla Piscu]]. Coupled with the fact that the building's interior collapsed due to the damage, and everyone else in the series who lost a Dark Duel crumbled to dust upon defeat ([[spoiler: later undermined when one returned]]), it seemed at the time like he was [[KarmicDeath well and truely dead]]. However, as with many examples of this trope, this wasn't quite enough...
* Right before the SeasonFinale of Season One of ''Anime/YuGiOhZEXAL'', [[spoiler: Yuma, Kaito, Shark, and the supporting cast confronted [[TheDragon Mr. Heartland]] and his army of Litterbots who were standing between tham and [[BigBad Dr. Faker]]. Heartland was last seen falling down a shaft that led to a portal to the Astral World, and his true fate currently remains unknown.]]
* Occurred in ''LightNovel/FullMetalPanic'' with [[spoiler: Gauron]]. Again, and again, and again, and I think again. He just refuses to ''stay dead''. Let's see... [[spoiler: airfield hostage situation? Never found the body. Afghanistan (Helmajistan)? Never found the body. De Dannan's takeover? Never found the body. Before the series started, he was shot in the head. I guess they never found the body on that one, either]].
* In ''VideoGame/{{Utawarerumono}}'', Hakuoro had Karula destroy a bridge suspended atop a high cliff with Touka standing in the middle of it. Everyone believed she died as the bridge collapsed, but in the next episode she survived unscratched.
** It's different in the game. It's Touka who destroys the bridge (by accident) falls down the cliff, but manages to climb back... to the Wrong Side, and gets captured by Hakuoro's soldiers. Characters are understandably embarrassed by her silliness.
* In ''LightNovel/KyoKaraMaoh'', Conrart and Yuuri are trapped by a bunch of opposing soldiers, and the last thing Yuuri sees before being forced back to Earth is Conrart getting his arm cut off. When Wolfram and Gwendal get to the scene, all they can find of them is Conrart's arm. He later turns up alive (and with a new arm) as a general for the army opposing Shin Makoku, but everyone pretty much thought he was dead.
** Also shown later, when CimaronGeneral!Conrart turns his sword on Yozak and basically pushes him off the side of a cliff. Everyone witnessing thinks Conrart had just killed his best friend since childhood, but at the end of the episode Yozak shows up with the Shin Makoku army as back-up, and with only minor bumps and bruises.
* It's played with in ''Anime/{{Simoun}}'', and they seem to enjoy poking the viewer with it. Aresia "dies" in the very first episode, but they never find the body and, perhaps even more telling, she remains in the opening credits to the very last episode. You ''constantly'' expect her to reappear, especially when it is revealed that the action that caused her death is also a TimeTravel thing-a-ma-jiggy [[spoiler: ....except no, she never comes back, you never learn her ultimate fate, and everybody else moves on with their own lives. The end.]]
* In the Tower Of Paradise arc of ''Manga/FairyTail'' they don't even try to find Jellal's body. They just assume that since since Erza was still alive he must have sacrificed himself to save her (which makes less sense in context), give him a ReallyDeadMontage, and go on with their lives. When he comes back in a later they're all shocked.
** They also invert this with [[spoiler:Lisana]], who's body is found immediately after her death but turns out to have never died two years later anyway.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' Hunter J's ship fills with water and ''explodes'', leaving no sign but her glasses floating on the water. Did we just see our first actual human death in the anime?
* In ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' three of the Espada sort of vanish after losing. [[spoiler: Coyote Starrk, Tia Harribel, and Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez are scarcely, if at all mentioned after defeat and their defeats are rather open ended. The one most likely to have really died, Starrk, was cut down by a statedly powerful attack from Shunsui Kyoraku and sort of fell, apparently dying, into the city below. Harribel, after successfully fending off Hitsugaya, Hiyori, and Lisa, got [[YouHaveOutlivedYourUsefulness offed by Aizen himself]], but what Aizen does to her is very tame compared to what other characters have survived (not to mention that Aizen has a fairly poor track record of actually ''killing'' the people he cuts down), leaving speculation open. The most likely to have lived, Grimmjow, gets whacked by Nnoitra after losing to Ichigo. Ichigo stops Nnoitra from killing him, but he hasn't been seen or mentioned since.]]
** [[spoiler:The novels mention that, thanks to Orihime, Harribel and her fraccion managed to survive.]]
** [[spoiler: Tsukishima]]'s fate is left ambiguous in the anime, as the anime omits the line from the manga where Orihime forgets about him, implying he may still be alive.
** Sort of happens to [[spoiler:Ulquiorra]]. After taking some very heavy damage in his last battle, his body turns to ashes, which then appear to be siphoned off somewhere.
** [[spoiler:Gin]] is last seen bleeding out, but since [[TheMedic Orihime]] was in the area, there's a small chance he's still alive. [[spoiler:Though with no mention of him after a TimeSkip of seventeen months, those odds have been shrunk significantly]].
** [[spoiler: Harribel is revealed to be alive and now ruling the Hollow World after Aizen's defeat, before being defeated by the new BigBad]].
* Happened to [[spoiler: a little girl named Momoka Oginome]] in ''Anime/MawaruPenguindrum''. [[spoiler: She died in a bomb attack in the metro, but all that was found of her was her [[MacGuffin journal...]] the infamous "Destiny Diary" that her sister Ringo would use 16 years later.]]
* [[spoiler: Sadakiyo]]'s death in ''Manga/TwentiethCenturyBoys'' is never seen on-screen, and both the characters and the reader only hear about it through a news story (which could've been easily manufactured by Friend.) This, of course, sets up his return at the end of the manga.
** The same goes for [[spoiler: Kenji]], who suddenly disappears from the plot after the first third of the story, and the reader is told that he apparently died on Bloody New Year's Eve. [[spoiler: He eventually returns in the final third of the story after [[TookALevelInBadass Taking A Level In Badass]].]]
* In ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'', this is what happened with Obito -- while he was undoubtedly buried under a ton of rock and understandably believed to be killed, his team was unable to secure his corpse due to both their mission and the insurmountable amount of debris that had crushed his body. [[spoiler:Then, come chapter 599...]]
* [[spoiler:Yashiro Isana]] in ''Anime/{{K}}''. [[spoiler:Kuroh and Neko find his parasol after Mikoto kills him with an explosion, and both of them believe he's still alive.]]
* Happening two times with the prince in ''Anime/SeireiNoMoribito''. First he is missing after the fire burned down his mothers palace. The second time, the leader of the hunters sees the bodies of the prince and Balsa at the bottom of a pit of poisonous gas, but is unable to get to them. [[spoiler:But as has been shown earlier, Torogai [[ChekhovsGun can make very convincing looking golems]] for short durations of time.]]
* In ''Anime/PuellaMagiMadokaMagica'', As Homura explains to Madoka, a magical girl [[spoiler:who dies in a witch's barrier [[NoBodyLeftBehind does not leave a corpse in the real world]]. Thus, they will forever be "missing"]].
** [[spoiler: Defied in Episode 11 with regards to Sayaka. Kyoko makes sure to take her body out of the witch's barrier and place it in a hotel for it to be found by a {{muggle}}]].
** [[spoiler:Mami]] was eaten alive.
* The end of ''Anime/AldnoahZero'' states [[spoiler:Asseylum's]] body was never found. This leaves a glimmer of hope [[spoiler:she]] survived.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Pick a comic book character, any [[BackFromTheDead comic book character]]; this trend continues into their animated adaptations.
* Originally subverted in ComicBook/AlphaFlight with the death of Guardian. Guardian's suit malfunctions after a battle and his body is seemingly vaporized. A year later someone claiming to be Guardian returned from the dead gave Guardian's wife Heather a implausible story that he was warped through time and space and landed on Jupiter's moon Ganymede centuries in the past and repaired by aliens and sent back to earth in hibernation. The story proves to be false when Guardian is revealed to be the robot Delphine Courtney and that Guardian is really dead. Years later it is revealed that the bizarre story Delphine Courtney seemingly concocted was actually the truth and the real Guardian was indeed alive but now was a cyborg because of the aliens not understanding how human bodies work when they tried to repair Guardian.
* Lampshaded, then subverted, in ''Comicbook/YoungJustice''. After being caught in a massive explosion, teenage supervillain-in-training Harm's body can't be found. After being told nobody could survive that explosion, Robin responds, "guys like that have nine lives." Turns out Harm did escape, only to be shot by his father, who'd spent the last two issues trying to stop him, shoots and kills him. He does come back as a ghost later, though.
* Subverted in the ''Comicbook/TeenTitans'' arc ''Comicbook/TheJudasContract''. After Terra was revealed as TheMole, she fought the Titans and eventually used her earth-manipulating powers to destroy the underground lair they were in. As they start to dig through the rubble, Beast Boy says that she could've used her powers to escape... and then he finds her body a couple of panels later.
* SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker is well known for his frequent use of this trope. One can probably find a handful of other comics and Batman related media that will have the Joker falling to his "death" at the end (or something similar), only for him to show up sometime later without any explanation. One need only to go back to his comic debut, '''''Batman''''' ''numero uno''. Intended as a one-shot character, he was apparently killed, but at an editor's behest Bob Kane scribbled up a final panel that left a back door open in case they wanted to bring back this clownish fellow….\\
\\
Lampshaded by Franchise/{{Batman}} at the end of ''Comicbook/ADeathInTheFamily'', where the Joker is in a helicopter that crashes into the sea. Batman shouts at Superman: "Find the body!", but he already knows that it won't be found, because the matters between him and the Joker always end up unresolved.
* Lampshaded by ComicBook/NickFury in ''ComicBook/UltimateSpiderMan'': "There's not too many actual rules to this game of ours but one of the big ones is: if there is no corpse the guy's alive."
* Implied with steampunk cyborg Nazi Kroenen's backstory comic in the ''Film/{{Hellboy}}'' movie art book: "In 1956, an unmarked grave was found in Romania. Dental records identified the remains: Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. Many, however, do not believe he is dead... Chief amongst them: Kroenen himself!" Considering that he had already removed his own lips, ''genitalia'', ''eyelids'' and replaced his bones with steel and his blood with sand or maybe cocaine by then, teeth don't seem like that big a deal, really.
* ComicBook/TheKingpin realized immediately that ''Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'' was still alive when he learned that [[Comicbook/DaredevilBornAgain the car he was locked in]] and thrown into the river didn't contain his body. Sure, he might have drowned trying to reach the surface and sunk into the mud but...
* Franchise/TheFlash has often been one of the more GenreSavvy superheroes, and this is no exception. In one issue, the villainous Kadabra is caught in an explosion. A cop says, "There's no body. The blast must have incinerated the corpse. Guess that's the last we've seen of him." Flash looks like him like he's an idiot and responds "you're new to this supervillain thing, aren't you?"
* PlayedForLaughs in an issue of '' Comicbook/CaptainAmerica''.
-->'''Comicbook/TheFalcon''': See, we like things resolved. If we see a bad guy die, we '''know''' we gotta get the body or he might come back from the dead!
-->'''Captain America''': "Might"?
-->'''The Falcon''': Okay. '''Will'''. With alarming regularity, in fact.
* According to [[WordOfGod writer commentary]] on the Franchise/{{Batman}} tale ''ComicBook/TheLongHalloween'', [[spoiler:this is how most readers seemed to zero in on the killer. [[WhatCouldHaveBeen As it turns out,]] a cut scene showed the discovery of a body that was played as being Alberto's. It was not, of course.]]
* Played straight by ''ComicBook/ChickTracts'': The devil does it in [[http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0058/0058_01.asp this]] tract.
* Averted toward the end of the run of ''Comicbook/{{Manhunter}}'', where that incarnation of Manhunter defeats an alien cyborg, watches him burst, burn, and fall from a great height. Then climbs down to confirm the kill, and FINDS him, dead.
* ''Comicbook/SwampThing''
** In the first issue of Creator/AlanMoore's run, Swampy goes picking through the remains of Arcane's airship looking for his body. ''Not'', he muses, for the bodies of his friends - he's certain they're dead, given that they lacked superhuman powers and were, well, good guys. He finds all the relevant bodies, even Arcane's. [[spoiler:Arcane still shows up again, possessing the body of Abigail's husband - a fact that Abigail doesn't discover until after several weeks have passed ''and she's had sex with him several times.'']]
** Another time Arcane is using an insect-hybrid body. Acrane is exploded, burned, and falls from a great height. And Swamp Thing goes down to check, because this it the third time Arcane came back from the dead. Yes, that body is dead, but is that the end? [[spoiler: NO! Of course not, this is ARCANE! Hell can't hold him.]]
* Creator commentary in the trade-paperbacks for ''ComicBook/FiftyTwo'' discussed [[DeathIsCheap the problems associated with killing a character]]. The writers knew that any reader would ''automatically'' view any character death as suspect, so they decided to deliberately avert this trope by showing ComicBook/BoosterGold's corpse. They initially scripted the panel as his body falling to the ground in several pieces, [[{{Narm}} but they thought this came off as hilarious instead of dramatic]], so they instead had his desiccated skeleton fall to the ground instead. [[spoiler: It turns out he ''still'' was not dead, [[FakingTheDead he just wanted to trick the villain]]]].
* Invoked pretty much word for word when Dr. Rune falls off a building roof into the river in ''TheMazeAgency Annual'' #1.
* Seemingly averted when [[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes Calvin's dad]] once told the story ''Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablouie'' with a different ending, at least judging by the way that Hobbes afterwards remarked that "They never found Hamster Huey's body..."
* In ''[[Franchise/{{Tintin}} The Adventures of Tintin: Cigars of the Pharaoh]]'', the unidentified drug cartel boss falls off a cliff near the end, but his body is not found. It is revealed in the follow up, ''The Blue Lotus'', that this is none other than Roberto Rastapopoulos, who was reported missing in a newspaper article in ''Pharaoh''.
* Subverted in ''Comicbook/TomStrong''; during a confrontation with his old archnemesis, Tom learns that one of his old enemies who appeared to have pulled this trope in their previous confrontation at the Niagara Falls actually broke her neck and drowned that time.
* After Comicbook/ThePunisher is thought to have died after the destruction of Mutant Liberation Front's headquarters, the US army hire Federal Marshalls to find him, since his body was never found. They contact Franchise/SpiderMan and Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}, his most frequent team-ups, and even though they both know he's a [[BadassNormal human with no special powers]], they won't rule out his survival.
* Just before ''Comicbook/{{Runaways}}'' got cancelled, Old Lace's body suddenly (and conveniently) disappeared. She later turned up alive in ''Comicbook/AvengersAcademy'', albeit stuck in another dimension; supposedly, the explanation was that Nico Minoru sent her there sometime in all the chaos that surrounded her death.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''FanFic/WeaverNine'' features Derrida, whose power allows him to deconstruct and then reconstruct Society members who are about to be killed in battle. They emerge whole, alive, and sane as long as he has enough non-living organic matter gathered in one mass nearby. The deconstruction process only leaves a bloody smear behind, so no actual body is found.
* No one ever finds vampire corpses in ''Fanfic/{{Luminosity}}'', since [[KillItWithFire the standard method]] leaves ash that could easily come from several things, including another (RedShirt) vampire.
* In 'Shadows Of The Past' Will is surprised to hear that [[spoiler:both Megatron and Starscream had thought he was dead as they never found his body]].
* In ''FanFic/TheDilgarWar'', Jenny immediately asks if they have found Jha'dur's body on the relic of her battlecruiser. It's a curious example, as [[spoiler: the story is told by a very alive Jha'dur many years after her supposed death, and the reader knows that]].
* In TheVampireDiaries story "Let It Rain", Miranda Gilbert (Elena's mother) is said to have been ejected from the car in the crash and washed upstream. Though it shouldn't be surprising [[spoiler: when she returns as a vampire.]]
* ''FanFic/JewelOfDarkness'': Robin lampshades this trope when explaining to Starfire his reasons for being certain that Midnight, who was last seen beaten half-dead, survived their climatic encounter and the destruction of her lair at the end of the Jump City Arc.
-->"No body, no death, in our line of work."
* In the ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama'' story, ''[[Fanfic/LegacyTotalDrama Legacy]]'', Izzy was reported to have been killed in the sinking of a ferryboat, but her body was never recovered. This is part of the reason why neither Duncan nor Courtney believes that she is really dead.
* In [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/203448 this]] ''Series/{{Glee}}'' fanfic, Kurt vanishes in the middle of a school day and is never heard from again except for his car, which is found three towns over with dried blood inside. The author [[WordOfGod confirms]] that Kurt is, in fact, dead.
* "Fanfic/RemembranceOfTheFallen": There are no bodies at the cluster of grave markers for the crew of the USS ''Wolfram'' in the cemetery on Goralis. They were all either turned into Fek'Ihri or incinerated when the ''Wolfram'''s shipboard {{AI}} Raging Heart vented drive plasma into the infected compartments to stop the ZombieApocalypse (see ''[[http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?t=915881 Faces in the Flames]]'').
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* ''Film/TwentyEightWeeksLater'':
** Robert Carlyle's character escapes the "zombies", leaving his wife to be killed by them. Later, [[spoiler: she is revealed to have survived.]]
** In his defense, he saw her get taken down but was unable to do anything at that point. Realistically, he had no way of knowing that [[spoiler: she would be the first person immune to the effects of the virus and thus be capable of surviving an attack without becoming a "zombie"]]
* ''Film/TheAvengers'': Averted Trope. [[spoiler:[[Characters/AgentsOfShieldTeamCoulson Agent Coulson]]]] ''appears'' to die, but the scene cuts away before we find out whether [[spoiler:he]] was really OnlyMostlyDead and taken to a hospital room. ComicBook/NickFury plays the death for all it's worth in getting the bickering heroes to put aside their differences, but is explicitly shown to be a ConsummateLiar about other things [[spoiler:(including lying about the ComicBook/CaptainAmerica trading cards being taken from Coulson's body, rather than his locker!)]]. Furthermore, the actor who plays [[spoiler:Coulson]] has said [[spoiler:he]] was assured by Joss Whedon that the character survives. As of ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD,'' [[spoiler: he's]] alive and kicking, and knowledge of this is restricted to 'level seven' clearance.
** This is only ''sorta'' accurate. The WhamEpisode reveals that [[spoiler: Coulson did indeed die at Comicbook/{{Loki}}'s hands, but was resurrected several days later (against his will) thanks to some sort of advanced S.H.I.E.L.D. technology]].
** In a blink-and-you'll-miss-it part of a deleted scene, Steve is reviewing files after thawing out in the 21st century. [[spoiler:One of them lists Bucky Barnes as M.I.A., meaning that S.H.I.E.L.D. thinks he may be still alive, alluding to the fact that Bucky "died" by falling off a train, his body never being recovered. This was foreshadowing for the upcoming ''Film/CaptainAmericaTheWinterSoldier'' film, where the identity of the eponymous Winter Soldier is a ForegoneConclusion for anyone who has any knowledge of the comics]].
* ''Film/BatmanBegins'':
** At the end, Ra's al Ghul is apparently killed when the train car he is in derails and crashes. He has so far not returned, but the fact that we never see his body ([[ImmortalLifeIsCheap along with some of his defining characteristics from the comics]]) has fueled much fan speculation.
** The novelization outright states that his body was never found by the Gotham Police.
** [[spoiler: Nah, he didn't pull a Ra's. But in some way he lived on... until the third film that is.]]
** In the third film, the GenreSavvy Bane's {{mooks}} capture Commissioner Gordon. Bane is furious that they brought him to his secret location. Gordon manages to fall into water and is washed away into a sewer pipe. The mook claims that NoOneCouldSurviveThat, but Bane demands to see the body before he'll believe it. When the mook tries to complain, Bane puts a radio-beacon on him and [[YouHaveFailedMe shoots him]], letting the mook fall into the water.
* ''Film/TheBourneSeries'' (''The Bourne Ultimatum''): Ends this way, but the audience is shown the truth; GenreSavvy Nikki knows the truth as soon as she hears the news report.
* ''Film/{{Brazil}}'': They never do find Buttle's body, despite his wife's repeated cries through the film. It's lost in the bureaucracy.
* ''Film/{{Bullshot}}'': That Hun swine Otto von Bruno's plane crashes at the end, and [[{{Narrator}} Professor Fenton]] states that "his body was never found", but after TheHero and his {{Love Interest|s}} get married, we see Otto [[MasterOfDisguise disguised as their chauffeur]]. But that is another tale.
* ''Film/TheDeadGirl'': One character's (Leah) sister was abducted fifteen years ago, and Leah insists (to her mother!) that her sister must have been raped, murdered and dismembered and then hidden somewhere she'll never be found. Much of her plotline deals with trying to find closure.
* ''Hilariously'' {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''WesternAnimation/DespicableMe2'', when Gru spots what he believes to be El Macho, a [[TestosteronePoisoning ''ludicuosly'' macho]] supervillain who died in the most macho way possible, by riding a shark into the mouth of an active volcano, with 250 pounds of dynamite strapped to his chest.
-->'''Lucy:''' He sounds pretty dead.
-->'''Gru:''' They never found the body! Only a pile of burnt chest hair!
* ''Film/DOADeadOrAlive '': The film-of-the-game starts with Kasumi being told by Ryu Hayabusa about her brother Hayate's death in the DOA tournament. Kasumi immediately demands to see the body. Hayabusa tells her that there is no body. Kasumi then flatly states that Hayate is not dead and goes to find him. On the other hand, Ayane, who is secretly in love with Hayate, doesn't question that he's dead. Later on, [[BigBad Victor Donovan]] personally tells her that, after his fight with Leon, Hayate fell off a cliff, and his body was never recovered. Naturally, Kasumi assumes Donovan is lying, especially after fighting Leon and finding out he's a mediocre fighter at best (i.e. no match for Hayate).
* ''Film/{{Dredd}}'': After wrecking a quarter of a floor with a trio of mini-guns trying to kill them, Caleb insists that the Judges aren't dead until they've at least found some pieces of them. He's right to do so - when he finds Dredd's body, it's still alive, and is in the process of throwing him off a 76th story balcony.
* ''Film/EddieAndTheCruisers'': Overanguished Jersey rock star Eddie Wilson fakes his death by driving his car off a bridge into the Raritan River. Eddie is seen in the last shot watching TV in a shop window. This becomes a plot driver in the sequel, when the Evil Record Company, which is cashing in on some previously unknown Eddie Wilson tracks, uses the lack of a corpse to build excitement by spreading the rumor that the tracks might have been recorded "after Eddie died." All this while Eddie is actually hiding out in Montreal, startled to be suddenly hearing his old music on the radio (sniff). As [[http://www.agonybooth.com/recaps/Eddie_and_the_Cruisers_II__Eddie_Lives__1989.aspx?Page=3 Agony Booth]] noted in their recap of the sequel, "Is it even ''possible'' in movies for someone whose body was never found to ''actually be dead''?"
* ''Film/{{Freejack}}'': StableTimeLoop version: In this Emilio Estevez movie, race car driver Alex Furlong appears to die in a car crash in 1991, but his body is secretly teleported into [[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture the futuristic year 2009]] by a businessman for use as a transplant host. When Alex escapes and looks up his old friend, the friend is unsurprised to see someone who died 18 years ago, because... they never found the body.
* ''Film/TheFugitive'': The title character leaps from the top of a dam to avoid being arrested. Most of the pursuing Feds are sure he's dead and one of the Marshals says their quarry is likely "fish food". Gerard doesn't believe it without a body and he turns out to be right, their fugitive survived the fall:
-->'''Gerard''': [[DeadpanSnarker Alright then, go get a reel and rod and catch me the fish that ate him.]]
* ''Film/GoneBabyGone'': The missing girl is declared dead, although the body was never found.
* ''Film/TheGuard'': Uses this twice - one with [[spoiler: Aidan]] then at the end with [[spoiler: Gerry]].
* ''Film/HalloweenII2009'':
** Michael's body in the beginning of this Music/RobZombie film.
** Every ''Franchise/{{Halloween}}'' movie, for that matter. Michael has a habit of pulling disappearing acts after seemingly being killed.
* ''Film/TheInvisible'': AvertedTrope, as Nick's body ''is'' eventually found, even though he is NotQuiteDead.
* ''Film/TheLordOfTheRings'':
** In TheFilmOfTheBook, Aragorn plunges off a cliff during the warg battle in the Two Towers. Naturally he proves to be NotQuiteDead.
** Not to mention Gandalf, though he actually died - as he was a maia (angelic spirit) he was brought BackFromTheDead by his employers.
* ''Film/ManOnFire'': In the 2004 remake, [[spoiler:Pita (Dakota Fanning) is kidnapped, and later said to have been killed.]] At the end of the movie it is revealed she is still alive.
* ''Film/ManOfSteel'': Sort of speculation here [[spoiler: Although the C-17 delivers its payload, the idea was to send Zod's mooks back to the Phantom Zone; which means they MAY not be dead, and all the people on the plane still kicking it may be trapped with everyone the Kryptonians ever threw into the Phantom Zone.]]
* ''Film/{{Maverick}}'': Played with:
-->'''Maverick:''' Well, Porkchop Slim owed me too but he died and his widow used the money for the funeral.
-->'''Eugene:''' Oh, they never found the body.
-->'''Maverick:''' What?
-->'''Eugene:''' They never found his body.
-->'''Maverick:''' The widow Porkchop conned me? What is it with people nowadays, anyhow?
* ''Film/MaxPayne'': Max Payne is shot by the bad guys and falls into the sea. The bad guys don't bother waiting around to see if he gets back up, they simply presume he is dead. All it took Max was some painkillers and the drug and he was good as new.
* ''Messalina, Messalina'': This 1979 Italian comedy insinuates that Messalina and Silius may have escaped the Gardens of Lucullus.
* ''Film/TheReturnOfGodzilla'': In the American version, Creator/SteveMartin pretty much says this about the [[Film/{{Gojira}} 1954 version]] of Franchise/{{Godzilla}} and its [[Film/GodzillaKingOfTheMonsters 1956 American cut]]. "Just for the record, they never found a body." Of course, in ''Film/GodzillaAgainstMechagodzilla'', they ''did'' find the body… And turned it into the titular Mechagodzilla.
* ''Film/{{Revolution 1985}}'': Daisy is presumed dead when the British ambush her at Valley Forge. The ending reveals that [[spoiler: she is alive and well]].
* ''Film/TheRock'': At the end, Stanley Goodspeed claims that John Mason was caught in a missile blast and either vaporized or blown to sea. When this report is made, Mason is standing right next to Goodspeed, totally unharmed. Mason then uses the report of his death to allow him to start a new life.
* ''Film/RuthlessPeople'': SubvertedTrope after the kidnapper and his car fall into the water at the pier. A short time later, [[spoiler: we see the police fishing the corpse of the Bedroom Killer (who died earlier in the kidnapper's house by accident) out of the water (the kidnappers put him there as a decoy) while the kidnapper survives thanks to SCUBA gear and makes it to the beach to be reunited with his girlfriend and Mrs. Stone before the end credits roll.]]
* ''Film/TheShining'': The original cut of this Creator/StanleyKubrick film had an epilogue in which Wendy is visited in the hospital by the Overlook's manager, Mr. Ullman, who tells her that they never found Jack's body. Kubrick [[DeletedScene excised]] this scene shortly after the film's initial premiere.
* ''Film/{{Snatch}}'': Brick Top guarantees this by feeding the corpses to pigs. In a scene, he describes the animal's eating process.
* ''Franchise/StarWars [[Film/RevengeOfTheSith Episode III]]'':
** SubvertedTrope twice. First, when Order 66 is executed and one character is shot off a cliff and falls into the sinkhole, Commander Cody orders his men to keep searching for a body. Again after a battle with Palpatine which ends in his opponent falling to what should be his death, Commander Thire reports that they haven't found the body. In response, Palpatine (or at least, one of his advisors) immediately (and rightly) assumes that he is ''not'' dead, and orders Thire to continue searching.
** Played straight in ''Film/ReturnOfTheJedi'' with Boba Fett [[spoiler: falling into the Sarlacc]] up until his [[EnsembleDarkhorse extreme popularity]] [[InferredSurvival proved otherwise]].
** ''Star Wars'' actually has a number of these. Mace Windu being another prime example. Generally any Jedi who has a considerable fanbase will have somebody speculating their survival of Order 66 at some point.
* ''Film/TheStendhalSyndrome'': In spite of all the things she does to him before pushing him over a cliff into rapids, Anna refuses to believe the killer is dead. [[spoiler: Turns out, she's wrong. But there's a copycat. [[MindScrew And it's her.]]]]
* ''Film/StrikingDistance'': Early in the movie, cop [[spoiler:Jimmy Detillo apparently commits suicide by jumping off a bridge into a river.]] His body is never found, but he is given a funeral. [[spoiler:Jimmy Detillo reappears at the end of the movie and reveals he was the mystery serial killer all along.]]
* ''Film/TheTrumanShow'': Part of Truman's reasoning for why the man he saw could be his father after all. Naturally, part of the reason for his dad's disappearance and the way he returns follow the soap opera model.
* ''UnderSiege2DarkTerritory'': Gets a LampshadeHanging twice. With Penn already having bitch-slapped a subordinate for thinking a SEAL team captain could die so easily, he himself falls folly to it and the below dialogue takes place (close to an exact miror of his own earlier speech). As he immediately points out though, alive or not, Ryback is ''not'' on the train (since Ryback is the hero, this situation-redeeming fact obviously doesn't last very long):
-->'''Marcus Penn''': [[Creator/StevenSeagal Ryback's]] gone, Dane.
-->'''Travis Dane''': Did you see the body?
-->'''Marcus Penn''': No, but I assumed...
-->'''Travis Dane''': Assumption is the mother of all FUCKUPS!
* ''Film/XMen'':
** Sabretooth and Toad from [[Film/XMen1 the first movie]]. To this day, their fates are still unclear. Sabretooth was confirmed to have survived in the official video game prequel to ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'', but the game itself has since been rendered CanonDiscontinuity by the events of ''Film/TheWolverine''. So basically his fate is once again up in the air.
** In ''Film/XMenTheLastStand'', Cyclops' body is never found after his death.
* In the film adaptation of ''Film/SpeedRacer'', the body of Rex Racer ''was'' found, but it was so badly burned up that it was impossible to recognize. Speed later uses this as evidence that Rex possibly survived the "fatal" accident and came back as Racer X. This is subverted later in the movie, when Racer X takes off his mask to show Speed that he's a different person entirely and assures him that his brother is dead. [[spoiler:Double-subverted when it turns out that Racer X ''is'' Rex, who faked his death and got MagicPlasticSurgery so he could fight corruption in the racing league without bringing danger to his family.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* In ''Theatre/TwelfthNight'', both main characters assume that their sibling was lost in a shipwreck, and that they alone survived.
* In ''Literature/TheHungerGames'' trilogy, Katniss and her squad end up doing this as when the Big Bad airs the security footage from their apparent deaths, they only show their faces, as their bodies had not been found. They're still alive, obviously.
* In Creator/DanAbnett's ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}: Literature/GauntsGhosts'' novel ''The Armour of Contempt'', Gaunt is shown [=MkVenner=]'s grave and later told they had erected it as a propaganda tool after his team had been wiped out without their recovering the body. [[spoiler: We never see him again. However, the Ghosts' next best scout realizes there is someone nearby that he can't see, which only one person could have done, and Resistance fighters in the hands of the Inquisition nearby mysteriously vanish.]]
** Also in ''The Guns of Tanith'', a shuttle blows up, but someone onboard [[spoiler: namely Mkoll]] appears later.
* In ''Literature/WatershipDown'', [[NamesToRunAwayFromReallyFast General Woundwort]] is last seen furiously attacking a vicious dog which has driven off most of his military. One of his followers later says that since they never found his body, it meant he wasn't dead, just gone to find a more worthy warren.
* Eva, mother of Marco and [[spoiler:host to Visser One]], in the ''Literature/{{Animorphs}}'' books. [[spoiler:Repeatedly.]]
* Creator/AgathaChristie used this several times, usually involving a supposed drowning in which the body was swept out to sea.
** ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone'': The 'RedHerring' death involves a putative drowning [[spoiler: which turns out to have been real]].
** The Literature/MissMarple short story "The Bloodstained Pavement" has an interesting variation. Person A was supposedly swept out to sea; the body washed up in a very battered condition sometime later. [[spoiler: In fact, she had been murdered some time earlier up the coast, and an accomplice had taken her place to confuse the time of death and provide the killer with an alibi.]]
** In the Miss Marple short story "The Companion", a woman who seems like an obvious suspect for an earlier suspicious drowning leaves a suicide note and herself is presumed drowned; her body is not found. In fact, she [[spoiler:had been using a fake identity when she killed the previous victim and stole ''her'' identity; the faked suicide allowed her to return to her own identity.]]
* The faux-death of Literature/SherlockHolmes at the falls left open the means for Doyle to return to the series after the public hue and cry against the seeming end of it all was so loud that nothing else he wrote had a chance of getting published. Also happens to the villain of ''Literature/TheHoundOfTheBaskervilles'', who is lost in a bog. Unlike Holmes, he never makes a comeback.
* In Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child's ''Book of the Dead'' [[spoiler: Diogenes is pushed off of a volcano. There is much speculation]] since there seem to be several cases of this trope in each book of the Literature/AgentPendergast series. Even when there is a body, as with [[spoiler: Margo Green]] in the same book.
* ''Literature/TheLegendOfSleepyHollow'': Ichabod Crane, of course. All that was left was his hat and a shattered jack-o-lantern. And they never found the head of the Headless Horseman.
* Subverted in Rick Riordan's ''[[Literature/PercyJacksonAndTheOlympians The Last Olympian]]'', where Percy knows that [[spoiler:Beckendorf could not have survived the fall from a ship into water that is not SoftWater; he survived only because he's Poseidon's son. Poseidon's forces don't find the body either. But later Nico, being Hades's son, has talked to the ghost.]]
** Also subverted and played straight in The Titan's Curse when [[spoiler:Bianca di Angelo is inside a faulty automaton when it collapses into peices and parts. Percy, Zoe Nightshade, Grover and Thalia search for hours through the wreckage without finding "anything". They half-heartedly volunteer this as proof that she's still alive somehow, but they all really know she is dead, and her ghost is in the underworld.]]
* Looking even further back in time, around 200 C.E Achilles Tatius wrote a novel entitled ''Leucippe and Clitophone'' where the titular character Leucippe apparently is KilledOffForReal not once but twice. She is captured by desperados (and given up as HumanSacrifice) and after her miraculous return is later captured by pirates and beheaded. In the first case her body is carried away and in the second this trope is slightly subverted when they find the body... of the other women that got beheaded. This makes this trope OlderThanFeudalism.
* ''Literature/{{Dune}}'' expresses it as elegantly as anyone's ever gonna: "We Bene Gesserit have a saying. Do not count a human dead until you see the body; and even then, you can make a mistake."
** Of course in the world of Dune, a dead person has a chance of coming back as GeneticMemory "possessing" one of his or her descendants [[spoiler: as Baron Harkonnen does to Alia in ''Children of Dune.'']]
** An alternative pathway back involves the use of Gholas. These start out as reanimated dead flesh, not zombies but healthy human specimens, though later versions are more frequently grown from cell samples. Very helpful when you cannot find the body, or when the body might be headed into situations where it might not be recoverable.
** Paul Atreides invokes this trope twice, once by flying into a sandstorm strong enough to scour flesh from bone, and once by walking into the desert with the stated intent of allowing the sandworms to eat him [[spoiler: he came back disguised as a preacher railing against his own out-of-control Imperial Cult.]] And his son Leto does something similar after an assassination attempt.
* When the mountain trail washes out in ''[[Literature/{{Deryni}} The Quest for Saint Camber]]'', Kelson and Dhugal are seen to go over the falls with the others, but their bodies are not found. This fact is part of what sends Morgan and Duncan to go the site of the accident and join the search.
* Another counterexample occurs in Kim Stanley Robinson's Literature/RedMarsTrilogy: A major character goes missing and never reappears during a raid in the second book. [[spoiler:The other characters speculate that she was captured, interrogated and killed, but just to complicate matters, this character vanished and reappeared during the first book, so it's totally in character for her to just go away.]]
* {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d and {{subverted|Trope}} in ''TabletopGame/ForgottenRealms: The Lady Penitent Trilogy.'' [[spoiler:The battle between Vhaeraun and Eilistraee in the first book was witnessed by neither the reader nor the viewpoint characters. In the second book one of the characters cites the fact that no one saw it to argue that Vhaeraun is still alive. By that point, however, the reader has been shown [[DroppedABridgeOnHim his mangled corpse]] floating in the Astral Plane.]]
* Just about everyone in the Franchise/StarWarsExpandedUniverse [[Literature/XWingSeries X-Wing novels]], at least the ones written by Stackpole. Of course, counting off, we see... [[spoiler: Corran, Mirax, Tycho, Bror Jace, ''Jan Dodonna'', Ysanne Isard,]] and ''all of Rogue Squadron'' (in fairness, that last featured a couple getting KilledOffForReal, but not the main ones). Several characters note that they just won't stay dead; one even theorized that they were actually [[CloningGambit getting cloned]], after the incident where they were all supposed to have died. Fittingly, he gets shot by one of them as they execute their [[GambitRoulette incredibly over-complicated plan]].
--> '''Mirax''': "I could help myself get over this, I think, if I could just finally accept the fact that Corran's dead. Listening to the comlink call when he went in, that was pretty nasty, but we never found a body. I know it's stupid to make anything of that, what with the building coming down on him and all, but my father always said that if you don't see a body, don't count on someone being dead. He did once-"
--> '''Wedge''': "And it cost him his eye. [[NoodleIncident I remember the story]]."
* In Creator/JohnCWright's ''Literature/ChroniclesOfChaos'', the [[spoiler:Greek gods]] assume [[spoiler: Trismegistus]] is dead, merely because he was shot with several arrows [[spoiler: by Phoebe, no less]] and fell into the Abyss. Indeed, ap Cymru justifies talking with him on the grounds it's not disobedience, as he was never forbidden to talk to him.
* [[spoiler:Hollyleaf]]'s "death" in ''Literature/WarriorCats'': no one bothered to try digging up her body after [[spoiler:the tunnels collapsed]], and it turns out that she actually [[NotQuiteDead survived]]. A minor character - [=RiverClan=] elder Duskwater - got swept away in a flood and they never found her body.
%%* Played completely straight in StateOfFear.
* {{Defied|Trope}} in the ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' novel ''Literature/GreyKnights'': The Inquisition sends the Grey Knight expedition down to Khorion IX instead of simply [[EarthShatteringKaboom calling Exterminatus on it]] because they need eyes on the ground to see Ghargatuloth's defeat.
* A key problem the prosecution has in ''The Other Side of Midnight'' with their case against Noelle Page and Larry Douglas for the murder of Catherine, the latter's wife, is that her body was never found. [[spoiler: That's because she fled the hotel before they could kill her and her rowboat capsized. But in truth, she was rescued by people employed by Constantin, whom Noelle is mistress to. Catherine, now an amnesiac, lives with an order of nuns; Constantin hides this so the lovers will pay for cuckolding him.]]
* Referenced in ''Discworld/MenAtArms''. Because no one ever found Big Fido's body, legends that he's leading a wolf pack somewhere in the Ramtops live on, despite the fact that, as the narration points out, he more than likely got "recycled" by one of Ankh-Morpork's street people into a pair of gloves. May also be a reference to the ''Literature/WatershipDown'' example above.
** Not exactly. Gaspode did find the body, and did see the body get taken away by a vagrant who sold it for the pelt. But none of the other dogs saw the body, so they chose to not believe Gaspode's version of the story.
* In ''Literature/LesMiserables'', the recaptured Jean Valjean risks his life to rescue a man who fell from a ship's rigging; in the process he himself "accidentally" falls into the water, from which his body is never recovered. Guess who turns up a month later in Montfermeil?
* Lampshaded at times in Creator/AndrewVachss's Burke books with TheDreaded ShroudedInMyth Wesley, who supposedly blew himself up live on television. While Burke, as the closest thing to a friend the man had, is sure he is dead, the rest of the underworld is not because there was not enough left to tell.
* ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' has several of these, some more debated than others and one that's heavily implied regarding an EnsembleDarkHorse.
* At the climax of ''Literature/LonelyWerewolfGirl'' BigBad Sarapen is killed on page DeaderThanDead with a magic knife and yet despite this his body proves to be unrecoverable and goes missing. Uh-huh, wonder who will be back for the sequel then?
* [[spoiler:Eric Sanderson]] in ''Literature/TheRawSharkTexts''.
* Simultaneously played straight and {{inverted|Trope}} in ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime''. At the end of the fifth book, [[spoiler:Moiraine tackles Lanfear into the twisted doorframe, which is destroyed immediately after.]] Every character [[GenreBlindness assumes them dead]], particularly [[spoiler:because Moiraine's bond with Lan seems to have been broken.]] Every fan assumes this to be an obvious case of NoOneCouldSurviveThat, which just causes confusion when [[spoiler:Cyndane appears in the eighth book, obviously an altered and/or reborn Lanfear.]] But in the thirteenth book, [[spoiler:we find out that Moiraine is, of course, still alive, but that Lanfear actually was killed shortly after entering the doorway!]]
** Done unintentionally and subverted in case of [[spoiler:Sammael]], who got killed when Rand looked away. To the point that Jordan had to go against his "read and find out" rule and confirm that he is, indeed, dead.
** Despite the fact that an entire palace with hundreds of occupants was literally erased from reality (and time, by several hours), many fans refused to believe that [[spoiler: Graendal]] was dead. [[spoiler: They were right.]]
* ''Literature/HarryPotter''
** Subverted with [[spoiler:Sirius Black]], whose body was never found, leading many fans to believe he was still alive. Turns out he really was dead. Specifically, [[spoiler:Sirius' body was never found because his body was ''physically transferred to the afterlife'']], which is not a survivable or reversible event even ''if'' the spell he was hit by seconds earlier was non-lethal.
** A similar thing happens later with [[spoiler:Mad-Eye Moody]]. Special attention is given to the fact that his body is never found, and Ron even suggests he might really be alive. [[spoiler:Then they find his eye...]]
** Played straight with Voldemort- it's implied that his body sorta disintegrated by the rebounded Curse and was never actually found. [[spoiler:Not that it would have mattered...]]
** All they ever found of poor Peter Pettigrew was a finger. Of course [[spoiler: he cut it off himself so they would assume that was all that was ''left'' of his body. Given that the people who were really killed back then left considerably more of their bodies, one could have seen this as a reason to doubt Pettigrew really died. In fact, there's at least one Harry Potter fanfic where Sirius Black had a trial and this fact had been brought to the Wizengamot's attention]].
* [[spoiler:Alistair Drummond]] in the second book of ''The Rampart Worlds''. The protagonist, Asahel Frost, worries occasionally about whether he's actually dead. [[spoiler:And then the guy turns out to be alive enough to steal Asa's identity while working with villainous aliens. When he's eventually killed off, the body is immediately in evidence, although mauled by a wolverine.]]
* Creator/JackMcDevitt's ''Eternity Road'' initially looks like it's heading for an EverybodyLives ending, so this trope is used after the first [[MoodWhiplash sudden death during a lighthearted section]]. The second such death . . . not so much.
* Used as a SurvivalMantra by [[Literature/DresdenFiles Murphy]] in Ghost Story and Aftermath. It is painful to read. [[spoiler: However, she is right...]]
* Invoked by the central character in ''The Highest Treason'' by Creator/RandallGarrett; facing death or capture, he arranges his death so that no body will be found, deliberately to promote a belief that he somehow got away and one day he'll be back.
* Nothing but a few feathers is found of Bluddbeak, an old, blind, rheumy red kite from ''[[{{Redwall}} Triss]]''. Considering he went up against a trio of adders, [[CurbStompBattle his demise is in no doubt.]]
* In ''Literature/{{Cinder}}'' from ''Literature/LunarChronicles'', it is mentioned that they never found the body of Princess Selene of Luna, whom had apparently died in a fire, since they did find pieces of her burnt flesh. Eventually [[spoiler: Princess Selene is found- she is now a cyborg named Cinder]].
* ''Franchise/JurassicPark:'' It is strongly implied at the end of the first book, through meaningful looks, and head shaking when he's asked about, that [[spoiler: Ian Malcom]] is dead, but no one ever actually ''says'' that he's dead, and he's back for [[Literature/TheLostWorld1995 the second book]].
* Literature/CiaphasCain ('''HERO OF THE IMPERIUM''') has had this happen so many times over the years that the Munitorum has finally decided to treat him as always alive (in spite of his funeral with full honors). Of course, some take the view that his burial itself was faked, so he could more efficiently serve the Inquisition.
* Subverted in Creator/SergeyLukyanenko's ''[[Literature/NightWatch The Last Watch]]'', where Anton believes [[OurVampiresAreDifferent Kostya]] is still alive because his body was never recovered, however, [[spoiler: it's revealed that the body ''was'' found, only Geser decided not to show Anton the incinerated body of his best friend]].
* In Creator/AletheaKontis's ''Literature/{{Enchanted}}'', Sunday discovers in the end that [[spoiler:Jack Jr.'s body was not found; Rumbold only found something owned by him in a wolf's stomach.]]
* Valentine in ''[[Literature/TheMortalInstruments City of Ashes]]'', after his ship is destroyed - which naturally means that he's still up and kicking. That is, until [[spoiler:he gets stabbed by the angel Raziel in ''City of Glass'', is cremated and has a funeral. He is dead for good.]] Unlike his [[spoiler:other son]].
* In ''[[Literature/{{Dragons}} The Fire Eternal]]'' [[spoiler: teenaged!Lucy refuses to believe David is dead because of this. She's right, [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence sort of.]]]]
* In the finale of ''Literature/ProjectNemesis'', BigBad General Gordon falls off a building and lands on a car. When Hudson reaches the ground, Gordon is nowhere to be found. The epilogue reveals what happened to him.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* ''Series/AllMyChildren'' is a prime offender. Characters go over waterfalls, drive off cliffs, or are lost in wreckage. Rarely is an established longterm character killed off without leaving such an opportunity to return.
* With the amount this occurs in ''Series/{{Arrow}}'', one would think people would be slower to assume a person's dead. Sara Lance, Malcolm Merlyn, Slade Wilson, and Isabel Rochev have all been "killed" at some point or another. This trope may even apply to Oliver himself.
* The first death of Dennis "Dirty Den" Watts in ''Series/EastEnders'' was perhaps the longest gap between killed and brought back, 14 years passed.
* Every time Murdoc "dies" in ''Series/MacGyver''. You'd think Mac would learn to stop knocking him off cliffs.
* When Harold Bishop was swept off a cliff in ''Series/{{Neighbours}}'' (though he returned a few years later, alive and well.)
** ''Neighbours'' seems to have a fetish for this trope, especially where the Bishop family is concerned. Liljana Bishop and Serena Bishop also supposedly drowned but no bodies were found. Not to mention Dee Bliss. Connor O'Neill was thought to have been murdered by Robert Robinson after his sudden disappearance but he was later revealed to be alive.
*** It's possible Connor ''was'' murdered and his body never found. Nobody has ever ''seen'' him in China and the mysterious appearance of his wallet and a gift from China seem a little ''too'' convenient in proving Robert didn't kill him.
*** Despite this, one later episode has Steph talking as though he's not only alive but they know how to contact him, so it seems that ''officially'' he's now alive. In the end, TheBusCameBack six years later and laughed at the idea of anyone thinking he was dead, so there's hope for everyone else on this list.
* Cigarette Smoking Man on ''Series/TheXFiles'' was shot by a sniper because of his increasing closeness to Mulder and distance from the rest of The Syndicate, early in Season Five. His body was never found, but there was supposedly too much blood for him to have survived the shooting. He wasn't mentioned again until February Sweeps, when he was revealed to be alive and well and living somewhere in Canada. This was perhaps a bit different from the usual way this trope is played out, since it was pretty clear that the writers intended the death to be temporary from the start and the fans knew it.
* Scorpius was shot and ''buried'' on-screen in an episode of ''Series/{{Farscape}}'' but that didn't stop him from coming back anyway. Likely due to [[JokerImmunity his huge popularity with fans]]. The fact that he came back only [[spoiler:…..two…..]] episodes later makes it pretty clear that this wasn't as much of a {{Retcon}} as one would think.
* The sixth season of ''Series/TwentyFour'' ends with two baddies - Grechenko and Philip Bauer - supposedly dead, but as their bodies are never actually recovered (and Philip may well have the indestructible Bauer gene), they will almost certainly return in future seasons.
** They don't. In fact, it is explicitly stated that Grechenko's body is found by CTU.
* Inverted with ''Series/StargateSG1'' baddies where finding the body is a prerequisite for the sarcophagus and [[BackFromTheDead resurrection]]. [[spoiler:Apophis didn't die until he was left for dead on a Replicator-infested ship about to crash into a planet]]. Because of the number of times he actually survived things like this, the scene was complete with Replicators crawling across his [[DeflectorShields Personal Shield]], an inarticulate scream of rage and the viewers actually getting to see the ship crash.
** It still didn't stop them from making a LampshadeHanging in the very next episode, when Jack O'Neill, after claiming that there a 100 percent chance of [[spoiler:Apophis]] [[DeaderThanDead being gone for good]]. He finds himself looking at the unconvinced faces of those around him and changes it to a 99 percent certainty.
** Stargate SG-1 and Atlantis both frequently use this trope, with many of the {{Big Bad}}s simply "dying" by ship explosion or freezing. See Anubis, a few dozen times, as well as most other system lords at least once, and [[spoiler:Michael]] in Atlantis.
*** Given the fact that Anubis ''has'' no body, this trope is conspicuously accurate.
** The cast of Atlantis doesn't believe that Weir is actually dead until told so by her replicator-clone, when they finally pack up her quarters after she's taken out. [[spoiler: A copy of Weir is shown to be alive as intro to a plotline that isn't followed up on for awhile after the replicator planet is destroyed. She eventually comes back, in a different body and ultimately dies via HeroicSacrifice.]]
** A few of Daniel Jackson's [[TheyKilledKennyAgain many deaths]] were this.
*** Back in the first season an episode started with the rest of the team coming back through the gate saying that he had been incinerated by a gas vent, but shortly after his funeral it turned out that they had actually been abducted and everyone but Daniel had been given false memories and allowed to escape.
*** Much later he actually did die (and partially ascend) but the others had no idea of his fate and Jack vehemently refused to declare him dead, having noticed his tendency to turn up alive every other time.
* What with the deaths and returns of [[spoiler: The Master, Angel, Spike, and Drusilla]], the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' variant seems to be "never count a vampire dead unless their bodies turn to dust." And even then, there are ways around it ([[spoiler:case in point: Darla, who for the record has died ''four times'']]).
** Invoked improperly after the Spike/Drusilla fight in "What's My Line, Part Two", which takes place in a burning church. Later, in "Surprise", the Scoobies suspect Dru may have survived, with Buffy saying, "We never found a body." Oddly, no one points out that vampires don't ''leave'' bodies, and checking for vampire dust in a ''burned-down church'' is nigh-impossible.
* In ''Series/AshesToAshes'', it's said that the protagonist of ''Series/{{Life On Mars|2006}}'', Sam Tyler, died in a car accident after spending seven years in 1973 onwards. One year later, when Ashes begins, his body has yet to be found.
** In the opening episode of Series 3 [[spoiler:Alex rediscovers Sam's file and keeps it for later reading, and a new DCI alludes to Gene Hunt's secret, heavily implying that it may have to do with Sam's apparent death...]]
*** It later transpires that [[spoiler:this death was indeed faked, however he had 'died' in that world, just in a different way]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'':
** The Time Lords. ''All of them.'' Allegedly, all of them were erased from existence except for the Doctor. [[spoiler:And the Master.]] The Daleks were supposedly also wiped out as well, but that's been proved wrong many times now.
** ...And Romana, meanwhile, had gone to E-Space some time before then, and it's never been stated[[note]]In the TV series, anyway; the novels and AudioPlay/BigFinishDoctorWho audios made her President of Gallifrey[[/note]] if she came back for the [[GreatOffscreenWar Great Offscreen Time War]] or not. She's potentially still out there.
* [[spoiler: Lydecker]] in the early second season of ''Series/DarkAngel''. It's revealed in [[TheResolutionWillNotBeTelevised the last book]] that [[spoiler: he was alive after all]].
* Daytime soap ''Series/AsTheWorldTurns'' has (a lot, like all soaps, but this one in particular is) Colonel Mayer, who jumped into the ocean to avoid being captured by the police. He is presumed dead by the entire cast, but the viewers just KNOW he'll turn up again the second something is needed to drive (another) wedge between Luke and Noah.
** Colonel Mayer does return, but he gets sent back to prison.
** James Stenback has done this numerous times, having been a villain on the show for [[LongRunners decades]]. He is eventually {{killed off for real}}, and everyone is shocked [[AndThereWasMuchRejoicing (and overjoyed)]] that they have actually seen the body this time.
* ''Series/DaysOfOurLives'', with the original "death" of Roman Brady.
* A grisly subversion in ''Series/BadGirls'' - Prisoner Yevone Atkins. Apart from Jim Fenner (her prison officer killer) everyone else thinks she has escaped, which was her plan. The problem: the building plan she and her escape partner had used didn't feature a wall which turned a corridor into a cell because the door to the corridor only opened from the outside. Fenner shut the door behind her and left her there. Her escape partner after spending weeks in solitary confinement (for a different matter) saw the escape route as still being viable as it wasn't discovered by the prison officers. She goes to make her escape only to find the wall blocking her path and Yevone's rotting corpse.
* In ''Series/{{Moonlight}}'', Mick stabbed his wife Coraline and left her trapped in a burning building. Taking a NoOneCouldSurviveThat attitude, he never actually saw her ashes. [[spoiler:Turns out she's NotQuiteDead.]]
* One of the earliest mysteries on ''Series/{{Lost}}'' involved Jack seeing hallucinations of his dead father on the island. When Jack finally found his father's coffin, the body was not inside. Over the course of the series, Jack's father started appearing more and more often, and to other character to whom he may or may not have any connection, and even began interacting with them, casting obvious doubt on whether or not "hallucination" is really a good term to use.
** Later, Eko discovers his dead brother's corpse in the drug smuggling plane. But when he returns sometime later, the body has vanished. Suddenly, his brother starts walking around and interacting with Eko. Eko finally has a conversation with the "hallucination" of his brother and addresses him as such. The person then replies "you speak to me as if I were your brother" and walks off, leaving Eko rather confused. When Eko pursues the individual, [[spoiler: the smoke monster appears and kills him]]. This scene cemented in many fans' minds the theory that the smoke monster can impersonate others if it has a body to steal.
*** Confirmed in season 5, when [[spoiler:Alex]] is quite clearly the Smoke Monster judging [[spoiler:Ben]].
** This theory ends up being thrown for a loop in season 5. [[spoiler: Locke]]'s body is brought back to the island, and keeping with this theory, most fans assumed he'd come back to life. Sure enough, he did. Except then he began acting strange, turning into a {{Jerkass}}, and annoying Ben and Richard among others. In the season finale, a group of survivors from the new plane crash bring with them a container...and inside is [[spoiler: Locke's body]]. As it would turn out, the mysterious archnemesis of Jacob (who had never been introduced before that episode) was [[spoiler: impersonating Locke in order to use Ben to kill Jacob. And Season 6 confirmed he was the Smoke Monster, and had him confessing to Jack that he impersonated Christian]].
** In an instance not involving the smoke monster, [[UnfazedEveryman Frank Lapidus]] is hit by a steel door pushed in [[spoiler:by the water rushing into Widmore's sub after it blows up]]. We see [[spoiler:Sayid get blown up by the bomb and bodies of Sun and Jin after they drown]], but we don't see Lapidus' body and we were lead to believe this was the last we would see of him [[spoiler: but he reappears, floating on a piece of flotsam a few episodes later in the series finale]].
** From that same scene, subverted with [[spoiler:Sayid]]. The audience knows he's dead, but Hurley says something to effect of "We gotta save [[spoiler:Sayid]] too!" and Jack screams that there's no [[spoiler:Sayid]] left to save.
* The original Stig on ''Series/TopGear'', who drove off an aircraft carrier, leaving only a black glove behind. WordOfGod states, however, that he was KilledOffForReal.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}''
** Clark has a routine of [[XRayVision x-raying]] the graves of anyone who's supposed to be dead, like Emily Dinsmoore or Chloe, determining whether or not there's a body. [[spoiler:Emily's body is used for Lex's cloning experiements and Chloe is shoved into an underground tunnel before her house blows up, although Lex lies to him and said there isn't a body to bury because she was blown into millions of pieces.]]
** When Lex was stranded on a deserted island his father buried a coffin for him thinking that he must be dead.
* Subverted in ''Series/{{Sanctuary}}''. [[spoiler: Helen spends the entirety of "Eulogy" trying to prove that Ashley is alive... only to find out that, nope, she's history. Confirmed by WordOfGod that Ashley won't be back.]]
* [[Series/{{Titus}} "Your father said you fell into a bonfire, and were swept into the sea, and then your body was eaten by rats." "Well, yeah, but I didn't die."]]
* This happens to Nicole Wallace in the ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' episode "Great Barrier." [[spoiler: She gets better.]]
** Nicole again and is Goren's reaction on when Nicole Wallace's heart is found, but a lab tech confirms it is, indeed, a DNA match. (Of course, if anyone could spoof that...)
*** It is later confirmed that Goren's teacher admitted he did in fact kill her.
**** This confirmation is sketchy, since that entire conversation, as well as previous ones, make it clear that the guy is absolutely out of his mind. He may have only thought he killed Nicole, and Nicole is certainly capable of using that to her advantage. Still, we may never truly know whether Nicole really is dead or not.
* Lynn Echolls in ''Series/VeronicaMars''. Her abandoned car is found by a bridge and her body was never found.
* Victor Comstock is struck and killed by a falling bomb during a broadcast from London at the end of Season 1 of ''Series/RememberWENN''. [[spoiler: He shows up alive at the end of Season 2.]]
* Beautifully {{lampshade|Hanging}}d on ''Series/{{Chuck}}'' in regards to [[spoiler: Daniel Shaw]]
-->'''Morgan''': You checked for a pulse right?
-->'''Chuck''': ...Well he fell into a river.
-->'''Morgan''': He fell into a river? Of course [[spoiler: Shaw]]'s alive. Haven't you ever seen a John Carpenter movie?
* In ''Series/TheAvengers'', Mrs. Peel's husband Peter is discovered to be alive in the Amazon after a plane crash years ago, signaling her character's exit from the series.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': [[spoiler: John Sheridan]], on a hostile planet, dropped a [[NukeEm nuclear bomb]] on his own location. While jumping into a bottomless pit. The other cast members couldn't even make sense of the reports about what happened, let alone find the body. Some of them refused to believe that he was dead. [[spoiler:He was. He got better.]]
** An established part of Minbari legend states that Valen, their warrior-prophet from 1,000 years previous, disappeared in this fashion, somewhere out in space. Some of them apparently [[KingInTheMountain believe he'll eventually return]]... and they're right, in an odd sense. The same thing happens to [[spoiler:John Sheridan]] in the DistantFinale. Because his ship was found with sealed airlocks and no trace of him on board, many believe [[KingInTheMountain he'll eventually return too]]. And because both characters make up part of the trio known as The One, many fans take it to mean the same thing also eventually happens to the third member, [[spoiler:Delenn]]
* In the TV miniseries of ''Literature/{{Dune}}'', GenreSavvy villain Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, upon receiving news that Paul and Jessica Atreides were dead after flying into a sandstorm, asks explicitly, "You've…seen the bodies?" He was right to doubt. The interesting part, though, is whether the Baron is truly GenreSavvy or not. In the novel it is more explicit, but his entire plan is based upon the fact that this means of executing Paul and Jessica would not ''leave'' bodies. Once his underlings are gone he himself states that they are undoubtedly dead, that [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat nothing could possibly survive a sandstorm]], and he was stressing the need to find the bodies as an educational experience to never take anything for granted, not because he actually feels this situation requires a body to be definite.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Castle}}'', a murder makes no sense... until near the end, Castle realizes this about an important participant in an event that took place 20 years earlier:
--> '''Ryan''': [[spoiler:Susan Mailer]], alive?
--> '''Castle''': Her body was never found.
--> '''Beckett''': Yeah, because she was vaporized in the explosion.
--> '''Castle''': Well, maybe she was thrown clear.
** In a much later episode, Castle shoots a serial killer several times, knocking him off a bridge. They never find the body - in fact, Beckett goes so far as to state, direct quote, "they never found the body". Castle postulates that the killer had planned the whole thing in an [[FakingTheDead attempt to disappear]].
* Invoked in ''Series/BandOfBrothers'' when Easy Company is pulling out of a Dutch town swarming with Germans. Denver "Bull" Randleson was separated from the main force and forced to hide until he can escape. Meanwhile his friends are trying to organize a rescue, and when told he was probably dead "Wild Bill" Guarnere responded, "If there ain't no body then there ain't nobody dead."
* At the beginning of ''Series/PowerRangersZEO'', the rangers find out Rito and Goldar had been caught in the explosion that destroyed the Command Center. No sign of their bodies had been found but Adam Park was sure [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat there was no way they could have survived the explosion]]. Unlike the rangers, the viewers soon learned Adam was wrong.
* At the end of the ''Series/BurnNotice'' episode "Dead to Rights," a building explodes, killing recurring villain Larry and two RedShirt security guards. However, the next day's newspaper headline simply said that two people were killed in the blast, indicating that Larry (who makes a habit of this) is still NotQuiteDead.
* ''Series/{{CSI NY}}'': Det. Taylor's wife died on 9/11 and not a speck of her DNA has ever been found [[spoiler: interestingly, a flashback shows that she escaped the first tower's collapse..]]. Considering that, you know, 9/11 actually happened and thousands of real people died and haven't been found, she's probably not going to show up with amnesia in the season finale. Fan fic writers, on the other hand...
** She did actually tell Mac during their cell phone call that she wanted to go back and help other people. Mac told her to stay out where it was safe, and then the call was cut off. So, it's possible she died going back to help others.
* In the ''Series/{{CSI}}'' episode "The List", the cops did find a torched car filled with the victim's blood and believed that proved she was dead. [[spoiler:She wasn't, and the steps she takes to fake her death, including ''murdering her own sister'', are so awful that they make her lover/partner-in-crime realize she can't be trusted.]]
* In ''Series/OnceUponATime'', the only thing found of [[spoiler: Kathryn]] is the heart. In ''The Stable Boy'', [[spoiler: it's clear that the DNA results on the heart were tampered with when Kathryn is found alive]]
* Subverted ''three times'' on ''Series/{{Sherlock}}''. First, [[spoiler: Irene]] fakes her death. Sherlock views the body himself and confirms that it is hers, but she's still alive. They reconcile, and later she fakes her death again. Mycroft is positive that she is, in fact, dead this time, he says [[spoiler: "It would take Sherlock himself to fool me." Well, Sherlock himself was there, and helped her.]] Finally, in the season finale, [[spoiler: Sherlock jumps off of a building. John even takes his pulse and confirms his death. Somehow, he survived.]]
** Also invoked by many fans of [[spoiler: Moriarty, who shot himself in the head in the finale]]. However, a tie-in news report posted online doesn't mention a body being discovered, so many people think he'll return.
** Creator/StevenMoffat also lampshaded it in an interview, stating that no body always means that they've survived.
* Simon Kingdom in ''Series/{{Kingdom}}'' is presumed dead after leaving his belongings on the beach and walking into the sea.[[spoiler: He comes back in the first season finale, and in the end of the second season he disappears in a flood.]]
* In the Season 1 finale (which also ended the series) of ''Series/{{Blade}}'', Krista throws [[spoiler:Chase]] down the stairwell (a pretty big drop). A few minutes later, she looks down and doesn't see either [[spoiler:Chase]]'s body or ash. Van Sciver tells her that even if either of those things were found, he'd still look over his shoulder for the rest of his immortal life.
* In an episode of ''Series/{{Sliders}}'', the group slides into a world where America has an aristocracy, and Rembrandt's double is a nobleman (for reference, Rembrandt is black). The press mentions that their Rembrandt was last seen dragged away by a river never to be seen again. After their Rembrandt is assumed to be him and impregnated (ItMakesSenseInContext), the sliders start looking into the clues. They fairly quickly find out that this world's Rembrandt faked his death in order to escape all the media attention and enjoy a peaceful life. However, after finding out that his baby is in another man's body (once again, watch the episode for context), he returns to the world.
* [[spoiler:Irene Adler]] in ''Series/{{Elementary}}''. [[spoiler:Sure enough, she turns up alive in the penultimate episode of the first season.]]
* On a Behind The Scenes video for ''Series/BreakingBad'', [[spoiler: Tio]]'s actor jokes that, even though he was [[spoiler:inches away from a large explosion]], this trope applies because the dead body wasn't shown onscreen.
* ''Series/{{Destinos}}'': Rosario, Fernando Castillo's first wife, was apparently killed by a bomb during the Spanish Civil War, but it was never confirmed. Fleeing to Mexico, Fernando [[UnPerson hid all evidence]] of his first marriage from his family, until a letter from Sevilla turned up indicating that she may have survived.
* When the Roadhouse burns down in ''Series/{{Supernatural}}''. Ellen Harvelle's body is not found. She reappears in the next episode [[Recap/SupernaturalS02E22AllHellBreaksLoosePartTwo "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part Two" (S02, Ep22)]].
* In ''Series/{{Haven}}'', when [[SerialKiller The Bolt Gun Killer]] tries to escape the heroes in a motorboat, they shoot the engine and it explodes. Since they don't find any remains, they assume the Killer survived and is still at large. They are correct.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Music]]
* The pilot in Kim Wilde's song "Cambodia" goes missing in action just when his wife is expecting him to return home.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Mythology and Religion]]
* Practically a staple of Cherokee folklore. Ulagu, Spearfinger, and other monsters are given uncertain demises that suggest they may just be biding their time.
* Also a staple of the Judeo-Christian mythos. There's Elijah, Enoch, Mary mother of Jesus, and Jesus himself (although the text is not really clear if this is actually an example after physical resurrection or Lost The Body). The ultimate form is The Rapture, which involves the resurrection of the dead, and every living member of the Faithful ascending into Heaven.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Pinball]]
* In ''[[Pinball/WHODunnit WHO dunnit]]'', the brakes on Tex's car are sabotaged [[spoiler:by Butler, after he overhears Tex threatening Victoria]]. Tex drives off a cliff and the car explodes, but the body was never found. [[spoiler:He gets plastic surgery, renames himself "Brono", and plots revenge on Victoria.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* Wrestling/{{WWE}} chairman Wrestling/VinceMcMahon's on-screen death in a car bombing already had wrestling fans speculating about how long it would take him to come back the day after it aired, both because this trope was repeatedly invoked, and because, even off-screen, [=McMahon=] is a LargeHam who has a problem taking himself off TV voluntarily. It eventually became a moot point, as the storyline was largely abandoned in the wake of [[RealLifeWritesThePlot wrestler Chris Benoit's real-life murder/suicide]], with [=McMahon=] returning a few weeks later and {{handwav|e}}ing the whole thing.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* Outright suggested to the DM in ''TabletopGame/{{Shadowrun}}'s'' fourth edition rulebook, as a story-telling sleight of hand to avoid having to do in important {{N|onPlayerCharacter}}PCs before their time, regardless of what the rules and dice would otherwise say.
* ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons''
** The original ''Literature/{{Dragonlance}}'' modules for suggested this tactic to the Dungeon Master, as the MythArc of the adventures relies on several key [=NPCs=] surviving until the end.
** Module 16 ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}''. In the BackStory, Tatyana threw herself from the walls of Ravenloft castle and disappeared in the mists. Her body was never found. She appears in the module in another body, under the name Ireena Kolyana.
** Breaking a Staff of the Magi causes a titanic explosion pretty much certain to kill everything in the area of effect...except, quite possibly, the one who does it. Performing the Strike has a 50% chance of casting you into the Astral Plane, where time flows...differently. You age (and consume supplies for) one day per ''thousand years''.
** The rules for resurrection of a dead character mean that unless you ''do'' have a body (or at least part of it), reviving the character usually requires a 9th level spell called ''true resurrection''. In the ''Book of Exalted Deeds'' supplement it's also possible for a good character who died with an task unfinished to return on their own as a Risen Martyr.
* The ''TabletopGame/{{GURPS}}'' Advantage ''Extra Life'' is designed so that "no matter how sure your enemies are that you have been killed you'll come back". Of course, for purposes of game balance you have to pay points of each Extra Life.
* Encouraged for Game Masters in the PDQ-system superhero game ''Truth & Justice.'' Where heroes get Hero Points to spend on bursts of luck and desperation-fueled skill, villains get Villain Points to spend on "really" being robot clones (and thus never being in the fight in the first place), to have their body never be found, or to make miraculous escapes from prison. Given the free-form nature of power acquisition in the game, it's entirely reasonable to have "Body Never Found" be a standard power for some villains, as a form of [[JokerImmunity immortality]].
* In ''WarhammerFantasy Battles'' vampires are quite fond of this.
** ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'' and ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer 40000}}'' in general now tend to use this when special characters come to grief - if one "falls" in battle, expect them to make [[NotQuiteDead a miraculous (or diabolical) recovery,]] [[UnreliableNarrator have the reports of the death somewhat in doubt as propaganda or simple error,]] or just have them "falling in the swirl of battle" somewhere and coming back. Somehow.
* The Death Defiance Heroic Knack in the ''Adventure!'' RPG allows for cases of this in order to come back when people think you're dead.
* ''TabletopGame/SpiritOfTheCentury'' has a stunt that lets PlayerCharacters do this, but it's generally assumed that if anyone dies offscreen, then they're liable to come back. The stunt just lets you come back in the same session.
* In ''TabletopGame/HongKongActionTheatre'', a character with the Mysterious Death signature move never dies in a way that would leave no doubt, and usually involves something that engineers this situation. Then, upon spending all your Chi pool or a number of Star Power points, the character can come back.
* When someone in ''TabletopGame/MagicTheGathering'' dies and doesn't leave a corpse, chances are they just became a planeswalker.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Toys]]
* In ''Franchise/{{Bionicle}}'', WordOfGod made it the official rule. Death off-screen, not found the body? So don't believe what other character say, they will come back.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Played straight in ''VideoGame/{{Freddy Pharkas|FrontierPharmacist}}'' by Creator/{{Sierra}}, where at the end of the game [[spoiler:it is revealed that Penelope Primm's body was never found within the ashes of the exploded schoolhouse, posing the potential for a sequel that ultimately never occurred]].
* Kane in the ''VideoGame/CommandAndConquer'' series.
** GDI had an excuse the first time: Kane stood at ''ground zero'' of an ion cannon blast. Given the shown power of an Ion Cannon of the period, there wouldn't ''be'' a body left to find.
** The second time, he was run through and then left in an exploding Nod Temple. The third time, '''Eastern Europe exploded.''' As in ''all of it.'' At least there's good reasons for GDI to not secure the body.
* ''Franchise/TombRaider''
** Amanda in ''VideoGame/TombRaiderLegend''. She apparently drowned during the flashback sequence, but when Lara returns to the cavern in the present day, there are no remains except an untied shoe. Later revealed to be NotQuiteDead.
** At the end of ''[[VideoGame/TombRaiderLastRevelation Last Revelation]]'', the temple of Seth collapses, and there seems to be [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat no way Lara could survive it]]. As shown at the end of ''[[VideoGame/LaraCroftTombRaiderChronicles Chronicles]]'', the recovery team found her backpack, but not the body. She was NotQuiteDead yet. Although she suffered a FateWorseThanDeath gameplay-wise in ''[[VideoGame/TombRaiderAngelOfDarkness Angel of Darkness]]''. Heck, this whole story arc was retconned out when Crystal Dynamics took over the series.
* Played with in ''VideoGame/StreetFighterIV'' where Guile believes that his friend and mentor Charlie Nash is still alive specifically because, well, they [[InvokedTrope never found the body.]] It's thought that [[spoiler: Charlie rescued Abel and was [[KilledOffForReal killed in an accident]]]], but this has [[ShrugOfGod never been cleared up]].
* Played straight in ''VideoGame/CallOfDuty 4'', where at the end of a special flashback mission the target you are assassinating gets hit in the arm. Your commanding officer congratulates you "Good shot Lieutenant, I think you blew off his arm. Shock and blood loss should do the rest.". Cut back to the present and it turns out that target [[spoiler: is [[BIgBad Imran Zahkaev]] who only lost his arm]]
** This happens in ''Call of Duty Black Ops''. During the mission Vorkuta Reznov and Mason orchestrate a prison break from a Russian Gulag that ends with them being the only two prisoners that successfully escape. Once outside the prison Reznov distracts their pursuers by drawing the Russians away from their escape train believing that freedom could only be achieved for Mason, though Reznov is seen later on. Later it is revealed that [[spoiler: Reznov, officially speaking, died giving his life so that Mason could escape and that the Reznov we see is a hallucination in Mason's mind.]] Though it is revealed that the body was never found and [[spoiler: a man heavily implied to be Reznov gives a CIA contact a e-mail telling him he is willing to help Mason out and provide freedom for both of them this time,]] things are looking up for his survival.
* Jankowski in ''[[VideoGame/FirstEncounterAssaultRecon FEAR]]'' vanishes early on in the game. Although he continues to appear as a ghostly figure from time to time, his eventual fate is left unknown.
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'', averts, inverts and subverts this trope repeatedly. In the game world, losers' bodies are [[RetGone erased]]. Averted because despite erasure being a kind of super-death, no trace of the body is found (at most an item of importance to the npc will found post-erasure.) Inverted because Dragon #2's/[[spoiler:Sho Minamimoto]]'s body is found intact, some fans speculate he's still alive. Subverted in a previous battle between [[spoiler:Joshua and Sho Minamimoto]] the latter explodes a 'nuke' that presumably erases them both. Although they both turn up alive again, it's only through use of a revival. [[spoiler:Joshua is the Composer and using his god powers jumps into another universe to avoid it, and Minamimoto [[ThanatosGambit planned his own death.]]]]
* In ''VideoGame/TheMatrixOnline'', Neos body was never found... leading to several EpilepticTrees and UrbanLegends about his current status. (Alive? Dead? Reincarnated? Assimilated by the Machines? The world may never know.)
* Despite the backstory not being revealed until, well, the final act, the main villain of ''Killswitch'' had this happen. [[spoiler: When confronted by the protagonist in the backstory, he's told that he's dead, but counters with the question of whether or not they found a body (which they didn't). At the end of the game, after viciously killing the villain, the protagonist's VoiceWithAnInternetConnection asks if the BigBad is dead, to which to protagonist replies, "I see a body. Mission complete."]]
* ''Creator/{{SNK}}'' pulled this with Geese Howard and Rugal Bernstein. Geese's version was more complex: he plummets off of the top floor of his tower in the first game, [[NotQuiteDead but manages to survive by the skin of his teeth.]] Then his next plot involves him achieving {{Immortality}} by [[ImmortalityInducer using the Jin scrolls]]. It's implied that when he is KilledOffForReal (by getting a second boot off the tower from Terry) that when he falls to his apparent death, the body is not found. Rugal's was more subtle. He self-destructs his own aircraft carrier, and is presumed dead because there were no remains after the crash. This has caused speculation that the Rugal in '95 is an experimental clone used to monitor the {{Orochi}} power. It's also implied that he's working with NESTS somehow, as seen in 2002. Also, he doesn't flicker away like all the other [[PlotlineDeath "dead"]] strikers like Goenitz.
* Invoked in ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVIII''. At the end of one disc, Squall is impaled on an ice lance by Edea and falls off a parade float, and the rest of the party are unable to recover his body. This is because the next disc opens with Squall having been ''captured'', and he's sitting in a Galbadian prison. Might have been intended to trick the players into thinking [[LikeYouWouldReallyDoIt Square Would Really Do It]], by evoking [[ItWasHisSled another]] [[VideoGame/FinalFantasyVII main character]] who was ImpaledWithExtremePrejudice at the end of a disc [[PlotlineDeath and didn't fare so well]].
* Turned UpToEleven in ''Final Fantasy Legend 3'' when Dion reveals he has a bomb built into his body as a last resort - which he then uses, blowing himself to kingdom come to eliminate an enemy forcefield. With just a couple tissue samples, the local super-scientist is able to fully reconstitute both Dion and the hero's years-dead father in a matter of moments - all memories intact.
* ''Franchise/ResidentEvil'' does this frequently; the most recent example though has [[spoiler: Jill Valentine push Wesker]] out a window and they proceeded to fall off a cliff. Their bodies were never found and they're presumed dead. Turns out [[spoiler: she was brainwashed and dressed like a Venetian plague doctor.]] Of course, considering [[OurZombiesAreDifferent the series]], sometimes the person ''is'' dead, but you don't find the body because it got up and walked away anyway. (Plus, Wesker's defeat is framed in such a way that an official dead body is never seen.)
* Somewhat subverted in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty'', where the game's intro has Solid Snake infiltrate a tanker carrying a new Metal Gear, and then watch as a group of Russian terrorists take over. He goes into the hold where the Metal Gear is kept, and then witnesses [[spoiler:Ocelot claiming RAY as his own, and then Snake's clone/brother Liquid takes control of Ocelot using the arm that was transplanted onto him after Liquid's apparent death from FOXDIE]]. Shortly afterwards, the tanker explodes, and Snake is presumed dead. From then on, you play as Raiden, and soon enough you encounter and team up with the oddly-familiar Pliskin, who makes repeated attempts to assure you that Snake is dead. It's mentioned that they '''did''' find the body. Although it was missing an arm for some reason. Minor detail.
* [[spoiler:Zero]] in the ''MegaManZero'' series, after [[spoiler:destroying a ColonyDrop ''from the inside'']]. All that remained [[spoiler:is his broken helmet]].
* Inverted in a particularly bizarre way in ''VideoGame/PlanescapeTorment.'' Your character is an amnesiac, regenerating immortal. At one point, you find ''your own corpse'', and can wield your own desiccated, mummified arm as a club.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/DevilSurvivor''. Aya is a major character in the backstory, who [[spoiler:disappeared without a trace into the demon world before the game starts.]] Even when you go there at the game's end, you never find her.
* In ''[[VideoGame/NinjaGaiden Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship of Doom]]'', Irene Lew is proclaimed dead after she falls from a cliff and into the sea while being chased by Ryu's evil Doppelganger. It turns out [[HesJustHiding she was just hiding]].
** Also, Ken Hayabusa in the first NES game.
* In the ''Return to Ostagar'' DLC for ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'' [[spoiler: Duncan's body]] is noticeably missing. You can find [[spoiler: his weapons still imbedded in the Ogre]] but [[spoiler: not Duncan himself]].
** WordOfGod says [[spoiler: he's dead--and since he hasn't made a reappearance up to the end of ''VideoGame/DragonAgeII'', seven years after he started getting the nightmares leading up to his Calling, it looks likely he's not around anymore, making this trope averted in the usual spirit.]]
** A Dalish Elf Warden can play this card throughout their origin whenever they're discouraged from [[spoiler: looking for Tamlen on grounds that he's probably already dead. Well, it turns out he may or may not be, [[TragicMonster it just depends on what you consider "alive"...]]]]
* Ad Avis in ''VideoGame/QuestForGlory.''
* ''Franchise/{{Halo}}: ''For troop morale, "Spartans never die!", they only get listed as Missing in Action. Given the missions they are sent on, there are rarely any bodies to cover up.
** Interestingly, Dr. Katherine Halsey, the creator of SPARTAN-[=IIs=] makes it a point of keeping track of which ones are really dead. This allows her to identify Kurt (whose EVA suit malfunctioned, and he was thrown into deep space), whose disappearance was orchestrated by [[StateSec ONI]] in order to recruit him to head the SPARTAN-III program. Before performing a HeroicSacrifice in a nuclear blast to keep the Covenant away from Shield World Trevelyan, he updates his status as MIA.
* In ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheMiracleMask'', it's stated that eighteen years previously Randall Ascot, the Professor's childhood friend and the one responsible for sparking his interest in archaeology, fell to his death while he and Layton were trying to find the Mask of Chaos, the titular MacGuffin being worn by the main villain. In the flashback depicting this, Randall is seen falling but not landing. [[spoiler:It's later revealed that not only did Randall survive, he found the Mask of Chaos and ''[[BigBad is the one wearing it]]''.]]
* [[spoiler: Kratos]] from ''VideoGame/GodOfWar''. What happens in TheStinger may never be resolved.
* Turalyon and Alleria in ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft''.
** Bolvar Fordragon and Dranosh Saurfang, whose shield and armor respectively were all that could be found of them after their would-be deaths at the Wrathgate. To the surprise of the other characters, [[IKnewIt but not the playerbase]], both of them showed up again in Icecrown Citadel.
** Many characters in the old world, after a [[BigBad big dragon]] [[TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt re-emerges with a vengeance]] in the Cataclysm expansion.
** In the Red Ridge Mountains, [[spoiler:Bravo Company]] takes on the black dragon Darkblaze and die in a HeroicSacrifice; while the rest of the team dies during the fight, their leader, [[spoiler:John J. Keeshan]] leaps on the dragon and kills it mid-flight. His body does show up, alive and well, continuing the fight after [[TookALevelInBadass taking another 30 levels of Badass]].
* Occurs in ''VideoGame/FarCry2'' with [[spoiler:The Jackal]].
* The ''VideoGame/{{Tekken}}'' series does this a lot. In ''Tekken 3'', Ogre killed a bunch of people and absorbed some of their moves. However, since it wasn't said outright, there is a plausible out for future games. Wang, Bruce, Lee, Anna, and Baek were revealed to be OK, but Kunimitsu is "probably" dead. As for [[spoiler:Jun]]... Well, ''WordOfGod'' is still avoiding a straight answer 12 years later.
** There are also several characters that, if not immortal beings, have identical successors (King and Armor King, Roger, Kuma, Law, possibly Yoshimitsu) or cyborg reincarnates (Alyssa, Brian), or are robots (All the various Jacks).
** By the way, that is before counting the Mishimas, who frequently get shot, laser blasted, burnt, blown up, trapped [[spoiler:underneath a haunted temple for 50 years with the supreme evil being]], flung off cliffs, thrown out of helicopters, and in one notorious case ''dropped into a volcano'', with no ill effects.
* In ''VideoGame/BillyHatcherAndTheGiantEgg'', when you defeat a boss they [[EverythingFades fade away]]. [[spoiler:Dark Corvo]] however, does not. [[spoiler:He instead falls into a pool of darkness that materializes underneath him, without fading away]], leading fans to wonder whether he's actually dead or not.
* Subverted in ''VideoGame/MassEffect2''. At the [[DownerBeginning very beginning]], Harbinger springs a surprise attack on Shepard's ship, the ''Normandy'', in order to kill Shepard, given what s/he did to Sovereign at the end of the previous game. The ''Normandy'' is utterly destroyed, and Shepard ''does'' die, but Harbinger specifically sends out patrols to find the body just to be sure. As it turns out, this is justified; human-survivalist group [[NGOSuperpower Cerberus]] gets Shepard's body to resurrect him/her. A tie-in comic reveals that Harbinger actually got Shepard's body first, but [[HotScientist Liara]] recaptured it for Cerberus.
* In ''VideoGame/VirtuaCop 2'', the plot states that when Joe Fang's helicopter got shot down, his body was never found, then he returns once again as the final boss in the final stage, except he now flies using a jetpack instead but still uses missiles as his primary attack as well as a sword.
* In ''VideoGame/{{Fallout 3}}'', you can discover the logs of a search party that went to look for a child named Cheryl, who they never found, and you only find one of the party members' corpses. Similarly, of the Brandice family that lived in Grayditch, you can only find the father's body.
* The Black Knight from ''VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius''. Ike kills him alright in ''Path of Radiance'', but no one can find his corpse because the fortress crashes down after the final duel. He then comes back in ''Radiant Dawn'' to aid Micaiah and the Dawn Brigade, with no reason explained how he survived the whole thing.
* In the last episode of Season one of ''Videogame/TheWalkingDead'', [[spoiler:Kenny]] throws himself into a horde of zombies to help Lee find his way to Clementine and is last seen fighting them off by himself. In the summary at the end, he's stated to have been "lost to the horde". Naturally, he shows up in Season Two, where he [[HandWave simply states that he got really lucky]].
* In ''VideoGame/NoOneLivesForever'', during the first briefing, Cate talks about how Volkov got shot in the face, threw himself off a cliff into an icy river. "It was presumed he survived, as no body was ever recovered."
* If you revive [[spoiler:Ammon Jerro]] in ''VideoGame/NeverwinterNights2: Mask of the Betrayer'', he's able to tell you what became of all of your teammates in the original campaign after you defeated the LoadBearingBoss in TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon, except for the githzerai cleric Zhjaeve. He didn't see her get out, but he never saw her die either, and has no idea what happened. Lore-minded players have noted that high-level githzerai can plane-shift once per day, so it's possible that, task completed, Zhjaeve got out that way and went home to Limbo.
* This happens with [[spoiler: Joseph's]] body at the end of ''TheEvilWithin'', which gave rise to the believe, or rather to a glimmer of hope, that he is alive and there might be a sequel on the way.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* The ''Franchise/AceAttorney'' series had this happen with [[spoiler: Thalassa Gramarye]]. She turned out to be alive.
** Pulled in an earlier game with [[spoiler: Dahlia Hawthorne,]] though we knew she was alive before the trope came up.
** And played with [[spoiler: Ini Miney. Her body was seen, but so badly burned that she was mistaken for her sister Mimi, who went on to have plastic surgery to imitate Ini.]]
* Kirei Kotomine of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' in UBW where Tohsaka [[LampshadeHanging asks Caster]] [[GenreSavvy if she made sure Kirei was really dead, and had she made sure to check the body?]]
* At the start of ''VisualNovel/HotelDuskRoom215'', the body of Kyle's traitor partner, Bradley, isn't recovered after he was shot. Kyle naturally suspects that Bradley is still alive and goes looking for him.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Lampshaded, subverted and parodied in short order in ''Webcomic/SamAndFuzzy'' after arc villain [[spoiler:Mr. Blank]] takes a dive down the side of [[spoiler:''a flying skyscraper'']].
-->'''Sam:''' He's gone for good.\\
'''Fuzzy:''' You don't know that!\\
'''Sam:''' Fuzzy...\\
'''Fuzzy:''' We only saw him fall! He might have survived! We '''[[LampshadeHanging never saw the body]]!'''\\
'''Fuzzy:''' [[SubvertedTrope Oh... Nevermind]], '''[[SubvertedTrope there]]''' [[SubvertedTrope it is]]. [[{{Squick}} And there's some more of it over there]]!
* Oasis, from ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'', has been killed and returned several times; the trope was {{lampshade|Hanging}}d [[http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=000528 here]]. Later on, it became a plot point that you might actually [[spoiler: be able to ''find'' a body and still count on her coming back.]]
** Subverted with [[spoiler:Riff and Zoë]]. Torg sees their piloted robot burn up, but since there are no bodies and he knows the DFA is built in, he assures Gwynn it will be okay. [[spoiler:They did flux out, but Zoë was brain dead. Worse yet, the audience finds this out along with Riff... after months of thinking she'd died on arrival, followed by two years trying to find her on life support.]]
* Subverted in [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/narbonic_plus/series.php?view=archive&chapter=21513#strip3 this strip]] of ''{{Narbonic}}'': "I watched the villagers burn you at the stake, chop your corpse into little pieces, and hop all over them!" "There's always an out, Beta. Remember that." [[spoiler:(In the "filename story", it turns out that what she ''actually'' saw was a video brought by the family lawyer.)]]
** Also, [[http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/narbonic_plus/series.php?view=archive&chapter=49435&name=narbonic_plus#strip6 this strip]] about ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST.
* In ''Webcomic/{{Adventurers}}'', a dimensional distortion swallows Argent and Garshask while they were fighting. GenreSavvy Karn insists that since no bodies were found, [[http://www.adventurers-comic.com/d/20020510.html they're obviously still alive]]. [[spoiler:He's right.]]
** And in another incident, after BigBad Khrima accidentally destroyed a magic crystal, wrecking a sizable part of his fortress, Drecker mentions that Khrima hasn't been heard from in months. Ardam speculates that he might have died in the accident, and wonders if they've seen the last of him. There is a pause, then both heroes burst out laughing.
* Subverted in ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja''. Though Frans Rayner's body is never recovered, his death is confirmed when [[TheGrimReaper Death]] is heard inviting Frans Rayner to purgatory.
** ...but played straight with [[spoiler:Knickerbockers]].
** ...[[http://drmcninja.com/archives/comic/17p53 And now]] possibly [[DoubleSubversion Double Subverted]] or at least {{lampshade|Hanging}}d.
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob,'' [[CardCarryingVillain Fructose Riboflavin]] was presumed dead for centuries before he turned up alive in Earth's solar system.
* Several times in ''Webcomic/KevinAndKell''; Fenton, Vin, [[spoiler:basically all the Witnesses Relocated by the bird conspiracy]].
* Discussed and {{lampshade|Hanging}}d in ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0793.html here]]. Apparently, being GenreSavvy requires you to be GenreBlind.
* Seems to be going on in ''Webcomic/GirlGenius''. Baron Wulfenbach died when his hospital exploded--but his body wasn't found, and indeed, one of his aides tried to rescue him ''before'' the hospital exploded and couldn't find him. [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20120120 When his son notes this]], he's told that the Baron left clear orders: if the Baron ever ''seemed'' dead, they should immediately proclaim his son the new Baron.
-->"I always wondered how he planned to run off and leave you holding the bag. Impressive."
* In ''Webcomic/TheRedStar'', [[http://www.beyondrealitymedia.com/the-red-star/issue-3/page-11/ Maya tries to argue for her husband's survival on this basis.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In ''Machinima/RedVsBlue'', [[spoiler: The Meta]] fell off a cliff after suffering injuries that [[NoOneCouldSurviveThat no one else could survive]], hooked to a falling ''Pelican''. His body was ID'd by the army, as implied by the fact that the guy debriefing the [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience Reds and Blues]] saying that they'd found three freelancers, and there were only three at Avalanche, including the aforementioned.
** Played straight with [[spoiler: Grif]]. Invoked and lampshaded while he's hanging there.
** Invoked in ''Relocated''. Lopez claims he killed Sister back at Blood Gulch. Grif doesn't believe it.
--->'''Grif:''' I'll tell you what: you produce a corpse, I'll believe it.
--->'''Simmons:''' Huh?
--->'''Grif:''' Listen, once when we were kids, we went ice skating, and she fell through the ice. She was under there for three hours, and when they pulled her out, not only was she still alive, she was pregnant. If you can explain that to me, I'll believe you when you tell me she's dead.
* In the story ''[[http://matthewe.com/sliced-bread-2/ Sliced Bread 2]]'', Dennis' response to Greyghost describing that his archnemesis was finally dead:
--> "Hold on a second," I said. I was never a big comic book guy, but [[GenreSavvy I've read enough to know what kind of a deal this was.]] "Did you actually see him dead? You personally saw his corpse and verified beyond doubt that it was him and he was dead?"
--> "[[SubvertedTrope Mm? Yes.]]"
--> "Okay then."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales'', "[[Recap/DuckTalesS1E53HeroForHire Hero for Hire]]", the police only find the Webbed Wonder's costume, not the body, after a supposedly fatal crash. [[GenreBlind This raises no one's suspicions.]]
* Many times throughout ''WesternAnimation/BatmanTheAnimatedSeries'' and in the rest of the {{DCAU}} The Joker seemingly faces his demise, only to turn up later unharmed.
** ''WesternAnimation/BatmanMaskOfThePhantasm'' has Joker being taken away by The Phantasm, presumably to be killed. Guess who showed up later in the series, unharmed? Go on, guess!
** An episode of the animated series called "MadLove" (which was based off an earlier DCAU comic story) had Joker plummeting into a smoke stack. Later on, Comicbook/HarleyQuinn is in her cell at Arkham, and she sees a rose from Joker next to her bed.
** In ''[[Recap/{{SupermanTheAnimatedSeriesS2E16-18WorldsFinest}} The Batman/Superman Movie]]'' Joker is left for dead in a falling airplane; with explosions going on all around him, Joker simply laughs as the aircraft plummets into the water. A news reporter says that it is unlikely that Joker survived.... [[JokerImmunity yeah right.]] (Curiously, this was one time [[OutOfCharacterMoment even Batman seemed to have doubts whether he had survived.]] When Harley - who Batman had managed to rescue - shouted "Puddin'!" in anguish, he replied, "Right now, he probably ''is''.") Joker is later confirmed to have ''[[UnexplainedRecovery somehow]]'' survived thanks to appearances in ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' and {{Flashback}}s in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker''.
* ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyond'' (which is part of the above mentioned DCAU):
** After Blight is trapped in a sinking/exploding submarine, GoingCritical, Batman drops by Paxton Powers' office. The CoincidentalBroadcast mentions that Blight's remains have yet to be found. Paxton smirks and says "So, he melted with the sub." Batman responds "[[GenreSavvy Sure he did,]]" and walks off. Possibly a subversion, since Blight never appeared again on the show. He did return in the comic books based on the series, but was frozen at the end of the issue.
** The situation is repeated in "Inqueling" after Inque's daughter Deanna doublecrosses her mother. In an echo of the previous scene with Paxton Powers, Batman turns up to warn Deanna not to get too comfortable: "She's been dead before." Sure enough, Inque reappears in "The Call, Part 1," proving Terry right. (Deanna's fate is never mentioned. She's last seen reacting fearfully to every shadow, as her shapeshifting mother could be literally anywhere.) The storyline with Deanna is actually resolved in the comics, where an origin of Inque is also revealed. In the comic story, [[spoiler:Deanna is in the hospital, with the same disease her mother had that forced her to adopt her powers, and Inque seems willing to forgive, pausing to feed a small droplet of her own substance into Deanna's IV cord before vanishing.]]
** In a {{Flashback}} scene in [[WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker The Movie]], Harley Quinn [[DisneyVillainDeath seemingly falls to her death]] after her fight with Batgirl. Gordon does point out that a body was never recovered, but doubts Harley would be starting trouble again after decades. [[spoiler: She is alive, and is not amused with the criminal activity of her granddaughters.]]
* A crime in the ''WesternAnimation/ChipNDaleRescueRangers'' episode "To The Rescue" has all the earmarks of a crime committed by Aldrin Klordane, who is supposed to have drowned over a year ago. However... [[spoiler:he still manages to be the mastermind behind a new crime, in addition to very much alive]]. Detective Drake points out the possibility of his survival using the title of this trope.
* The finale of ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda'' is surprisingly silent on this subject. While the [[FinishingMove Wuxi Finger Hold]] is never expressly claimed to be fatal, the reactions of Po and Tai Lung (and Shifu's expression when he threatens to use it) all suggest it is at least likely to batter someone to a pulp, if not unsurvivable--and the [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything suspiciously-shaped cloud]] after Po uses it would suggest there isn't anything left. Whether to avoid the typical DisneyVillainDeath, as a SequelHook, or because the snow leopard is just too {{Badass}} to kill off, however, [[spoiler:his death--if such it was--[[OffscreenMomentOfAwesome happens off-screen]]... so it all becomes moot, due to this trope. And since Po's excited words to Shifu are "I defeated Tai Lung!" not "I killed him," then…]] For the record, [[spoiler: Tai Lung does not appear in [[WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda2 the sequel]], nor is there any evidence of him still being alive. However, WordOfGod has cheekily refused to confirm it either way]].
* In the original ''WesternAnimation/StarWarsCloneWars'' animation, [[spoiler: Asajj Ventress]] is thrown off a temple on Yavin 4 and is presumably killed. [[spoiler: She actually survives in the Expanded Universe. And survives more "death scenes", including one where they ''did'' "find the body", because she knows a technique that can fool even a Jedi into thinking she's dead.]]
* In the Season 2 finale of ''WesternAnimation/TeenTitans'' [[BigBad Slade]] is thrown into a pit of lava. Later, in the third season, Robin comments that "he was never captured, never found" to justify his Slade paranoia. Comicbook/{{Cyborg}} immediately points out the absurdity of it all, "The dude fell in a pit of '''lava''', who lives through something like that?" Ironically, it turns out [[spoiler:he ''did'' actually die, but he manages to [[DeathIsCheap come back anyways]] with some help from [[DealWithTheDevil Raven's demon father]].]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'' episode "[[Recap/JusticeLeagueS2E19And20Hereafter Hereafter]]", some of Superman's enemies teamed up and attacked him with a gun that makes everything disappear. There was no sign of Superman's body or anything that might have been his body but Batman was the only one who saw it as a reason to doubt Superman actually dying. Comicbook/VandalSavage also figured out Superman was alive (he was sent to the future) but it's not clear if he already suspected it from the beginning.
* 1973/74 ''WesternAnimation/SuperFriends'' episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Professor Ansel Hillbrand was a brilliant marine biologist and engineer. Aquaman suspects that he's actually the BigBad Dr. Pelagian, but an investigation discovers that Dr. Hillbrand died five years earlier in a deep sea diving accident. Oddly enough, his body was never discovered. Guess who Dr, Pelagian turns out to be?
* This wound up being very useful in the 90's ''WesternAnimation/XMen'' cartoon. Initially, they intended to kill of Morph for real, but, after he "died" off screen, they just happened to never show his body or say what happened to it (probably for [[MoralGuardians censorship]] reasons). As a result, when the character became [[EnsembleDarkhorse unexpectedly popular]], season 2 was able to easily able to {{retcon}} Morph as having been rescued by Mister Sinister. The ''X-Men Adventures'' comic, a spin-off of the show, winds up partially averting this Trope. In it, Morph is given an ''on screen'' death, with Beast at his side, and Gyrich even mentions having possession of his corpse. This is completely ignored come season 2 of the comic.
* In ''WesternAnimation/SymBionicTitan'', Young Lance notes at his Father's funeral that "He's not even in there" (the coffin). At first, Lance believed he might still be alive. Also, Scary Mary's body was never found the night of the DeadlyPrank [[spoiler:because she didn't really die]].
* Wreck-Gar of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersAnimated'' is seemingly killed when microbots react negatively with his [[BagOfHolding backpack]] and he falls into a river. Ratchet is unable to recover his remains and only manages fish out trash. The episode ends with him at the bottom of the river trapped with no way of escape...until the next season where he simply frees himself when he hears of a new opportunity to be a hero.
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheLegendOfKorra'', [[spoiler:Bolin and Varrick escape from Kuvira's custody when [[TakingYouWithMe Varrick sets off a mini-nuke on Kuvira's train]].]] They narrowly escape alive, thanks to some [[spoiler:quick earthbender tunneling, but Kuvira, the season's [[BigBad main villain]], [[GenreSavvy puts out wanted posters for them anyway]],]] just in case they didn't die.
* Jack at the end of the ''WesternAnimation/SamuraiJack'' episode "Jack and the Spartans"; he seemingly sacrifices himself to protect the Spartan King from an explosion, and all that's left are the two shields he used. The Spartan King, however, believes that Jack survived, as anyone as badass as Jack wouldn't die like that.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* No one knows what happened to Creator/GeoffreyChaucer, who vanished Jimmy Hoffa-style. Evidence points to his being [[http://www.amazon.com/Who-Murdered-Chaucer-Medieval-Mystery/dp/0312335873 killed]].
* [[ACryInTheDark Did a dingo really take her baby?]]
* Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt went swimming and never came back.
** To say nothing of Jimmy Hoffa, Amelia Earhart, Richey James Edwards, the crew of the ''Mary Celeste'', and all the other examples.
** Also John Darwin, whose empty canoe was found in the sea after he disappeared on a canoeing trip. Five years later, he appeared at a police station claiming to have lost his memory- and eventually convicted, along with his wife, of defrauding his insurance company.
** There's also musician Gerry Rafferty, who hadn't been seen since August 2008 when he left all of his belongings behind at a London hospital and eventually died in early 2011 of complications probably related to his history of alcoholism.
** Though Amelia's things [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amelia_Earhart#Gardner_Island_hypothesis were possibly found]].
* Similarly to Amelia Earhart, they never found out what happened to Antoine Saint-Exupery, the author of ''Literature/TheLittlePrince'', who vanished in his plane. They did [[http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/04/07/world/main610771.shtml find his plane]] after 60 years.
* Natalee Holloway. According to one of Joran's confessions, she apparently had a seizure and passed out or died in his arms, then they dumped the body in the ocean. The chance of finding her now is pretty much nil. Hence, no closure.
* Famous latino lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta, [[HeterosexualLifePartners close friend]] of Creator/HunterSThompson, and inspiration for the character Doctor Gonzo in ''Literature/FearAndLoathingInLasVegas'', in 1974 went sailing on the Gulf of Mexico, on a really small boat, right before a big storm. Never been found.
* Spartacus. It's generally accepted by historians that he died in the final battle, but his body was never found. ''[[Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand Spartacus War of the Damned]]'' manages to hold true to this, [[spoiler:he is mortally wounded in front of Crassus, but is then carried away by his allies, and ultimately dies with them far from Romans.]]
* Roald Amundsen, and the other passengers of the disappeared plane he was on.
** And many other planes that disappeared without trace, often over the ocean, for example Charles Kingsford Smith and Tommy Pethybridge disappeared somewhere between India and Singapore, or Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli somewhere over (in) the North Atlantic, or John Moncrieff and George Hood over (or in) the Tasman Sea.
* Azaria Chamberlain, in Australia.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Hudson Henry Hudson]] was cast adrift by his mutinous crew, never to be seen again.
* Keith Anderson, father of Jake Anderson from ''Series/DeadliestCatch''. His truck was found locked with the keys in the ignition and blood on the steering wheel, and that's about it.
** [[FinallyFoundTheBody His remains have since been found]].
* Brazilian footballer [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruno_Fernandes_de_Souza Bruno]] was arrested due to the disappearance of a former lover. Police consensus is that she's dead (the corpse was allegedly fed to dogs).
* Byzantine Roman Emperor Constantine XI's body was never found after [[LastStand he went down fighting]] in [[FallOfConstantinople the fall of Constantinople]]. He tore off his imperial emblems and regalia before charging along with his men, so his body wouldn't be distinguished. Legend has it that he did not die, but got turned to marble and [[KingInTheMountain awaits beneath the city]], ready to return one day and take it back.
** Similarly, King Sebastian I of Portugal, whose body was never found after the Battle of Alácer Quibir, in Morocco. The Portuguese-Moorish army was utterly routed by the Moroccans, and Sebastian was last seen leading a [[LastStand desperate charge]]. His eventual successor Philip II of Spain claimed to have recieved it from the Moroccans, though the Portuguese didn't believe him. This led to the [[KingInTheMountain Sebastianism legend]], which says that he merely dissapeared, and would return to Portugal to lead it to glory once more.
* This may have happened with Harold Godwinson after the Battle of Hastings. According to folklore (and several poems and paintings based on same), the monks of Waltham Abbey asked Harold's former mistress Edith the Swan-necked to identify his body; she found it and they buried him in an unmarked grave in the abbey. According to one alternate version of that story, it was William the Conqueror who requisitioned Edith for the purpose and she chose a random corpse to conceal that she thought Harold was still alive.
* Ambrose Bierce, American author and journalist, went off to Mexico in 1913 to observe the revolution and disappeared without a trace.
* David Kenyon Webster, an American journalist, writer and WWII veteran (a fictional version of the character appears in ''Series/BandOfBrothers''.
* New York State Supreme Court Justice Joseph Crater vanished after having dinner with friends on August 6, 1930.
* In 1944, swing musician Glenn Miller was on a flight to France to entertain the US troops when his plane disappeared over the English Channel.
** A BBC documentary unearthed compelling evidence that his aircraft had the misfortune to stray off-course into a designated ordnance jettison zone over the Channel, just as a Lancaster bomber that had been forced to break off from a raid with mechanical problems was ditching a particularly large "blockbuster"; one of its crew testified to seeing an aircraft of the type Miller was aboard in the area shortly before the bomb-load was ditched. Nevertheless, a search of the seabed in the area failed to turn up an identifiable wreck of the same plane.
* The Russian Civil War hero Vasily Chapayev officially perished in 1919 while trying to swim across the Ural River under enemy fire. His body was never found (although some claim he was actually buried on a spot which is underwater now). Several works of fiction (published both during the Soviet times and after the collapse of the Soviet Union) have played with the idea that he had survived and had further adventures.
** One such work was [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soKLBz_qSWM an official 1941 propaganda short film]] featuring Chapayev getting out of water and leading the people against the invaders. Talk about a slow swimmer...
* Pretty much the basis for anyone who thinks UsefulNotes/OsamaBinLaden was not killed by a team of US Navy Seals, as President Obama announced he was. Although it has been officially confirmed, some still have doubt due to the fact that Obama never released any pictures of Osama's body before it was given a burial at sea.
* Actor Pierre Kirby, who played in a few martial arts movies made most of his money through... delivering yachts in South East Asia. He didn't come back after one of those. Someone presumably saw him some time later in a hotel in Hong Kong. After calling out his name he turned around and walked away, never to be seen again.
* This is the reason people generally aren't declared dead until a body is recovered. There is "Missing, Presumed Dead" for those NoOneCouldSurviveThat situations, but you never can tell...
* Many 9/11 victims. Some may have been vaporized in the fires and explosions. This caused concern when it was realized the debris that had to be cleared might include (unrecognizable) human remains.
* During UsefulNotes/WorldWarI Major Whittlesey and his Battalion had been cut off from all Allied Support and was stuck behind the enemy line of the Germans. Despite having hundreds of his men killed and wounded, and having very little ammo and food to survive with he decided to hold the line so that the Germans would not be able to advance forward and compromise the positions of the nearby American command who they had lost contact with. It even got to the point that the Germans demanded that the Major and his Battalion surrender, which he treated with contempt and threw the white flag they offered as a sign that he agreed with the surrender back at them. American reinforcements eventually came and the Major was promoted to Lt. Colonel and given a Medal of Honor. After the war he went home to America and was viewed as a war hero who was requested upon to attend numerous social gatherings and the stress of the war and all the societal demands being made on him began to bother him. One day in 1921 he was on a boat to New York and by morning he was gone and never seen again; it is thought to have been suicide as he had many letters in his room relating to what would happen to his property after his death.
* UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler's body was believed to not have been found. In fact, the Russians did find it and didn't tell anyone. That's been called into question; recent forensic testing on the remains show that the skull the Russians claimed was Hitler's is most likely a woman's skull. The tests themselves are suspect, however, as the Russians cut the time the team was promised to examine the remains from three days to three hours.
** A number of other prominent Nazis also vanished during or after the war and were presumed dead, only to turn up later, either alive or having died abroad. The most infamous example being [[MadScientist Josef Mengele]]. He vanished, with many assuming he died during the war. When "Wolfgang Gerhard" died in 1979 of drowning in Paraguay, it took several more years to confirm that Wolfgang was Mengele.
* The US Military uses the "foot on the body" standard for counting sniper kills for this reason: an enemy killed by sniper fire isn't counted as dead unless a US or allied soldier is able to put his foot on the body, or a similar level of certainty is obtained through other methods.
** This is why U.S Snipers always have "confirmed" listed before their kill counts. For example Carlos Hathcock had 93 confirmed kills, while it is possible that a talented sniper like Carlos Hathcock got many more kills than his official count without confirmation it is just speculation. The policy they have in effect is to have another officer or soldier accompany the sniper and take note of the kill, that way they have an eye-witness that can confirm the Sniper's story.
* Cases of a man dissappearing, missing for over a year and getting declared legally dead, his wife remarrying and his belongings inherited by his legal inheritors, only for him to turn up alive three years later are very common case studies in law school. "Based on a real case" disclaimers optional, but are usually there.
* Invoked with GenghisKhan. He wanted to be [[BuryMeNotOnTheLonePrairie buried in an unmarked grave in accordance with his tribe's traditions]], and so after burial, all the attendants in the funeral escort were killed, and then the soldiers who killed the attendants were killed themselves and anyone who witnessed or crossed paths with the funeral procession were cut down. Modern-day archaeologists believe he is buried near his birthplace in Mongolia, but his tomb has still not yet been found.
** [[ItsTheOnlyWayToBeSure It was the only way to be sure.]]
* On a less dramatic scale, mosquitoes. Many people will swing their open hand or a towel at the offending bug; said bug will seem to have evaporated without leaving a trace. Some will then assume the problem has been dealt with, only to be awoken hours later by a buzzing noise in their ears. Never assume you hit a mosquito unless you have a body to show for it: it will be back.
* The Charley Project, which profiles missing persons, has continued to list many people despite the fact that someone has indeed been charged, tried, and convicted of their murder, or confessed to their murder. For example, nearly a dozen presumed victims of Ted Bundy are still listed on the site, despite Bundy having admitted to killing them shortly before his execution for ''another'' of his gruesome crimes. Or Irene Silverman, despite Sante and Kenneth Kimes having been convicted of her murder due to overwhelming evidence.
* It's generally accepted that UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga perished in the revolt at Honnō-ji, but no one never actually found a body they could prove was his. Due to the temple going up in flames, his remains were never located. The fire might have been started in the first place to burn his body without a trace.
* The Alcatraz escapees. It's believed by some that they drowned, but no bodies have ever been found.
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