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Attending Your Own Funeral
Priestbot: "We are gathered here to mourn the death of Calculon; industrialist, private eye... friend."
Calculon: "Mind if I give the eulogy?"
: "Calculon, you're alive!"
A character shows up alive to his or her own funeral, whether through deliberately faking it
, being mistakenly declared dead
, or Time Travel
. The Not Quite Dead
character may either reveal him/herself to be alive or attend the funeral in disguise and leave with no one the wiser. Or sometimes the character won't even know they've been presumed dead until they walk through the door...
Compare Whodunnit to Me
. May cross over with Not Now, We're Too Busy Crying over You
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
- A commercial for whiskey tells the story of a man, John Jameson, who dived into the ocean to rescue one of his kegs and presumably died. The next scene shows his funeral with the narrator telling us "All of Ireland was in attendance, including... John Jameson." Jameson is then seen walking up the beach front holding the keg.
- An extended version of the commercial shows him being grabbed by a Giant Octopus while swimming for the keg, presumably putting him into Badass territory.
- When you wait forever for the cable guy, you get bored. When you get bored, you start staring out windows. When you start staring out windows, you see things you shouldn't see. When you see things you shouldn't see, you need to vanish. When you need to vanish, you fake your own death. When you fake your own death, you dye your eyebrows. And when you dye your eyebrows, you attend your own funeral as a guy named Phil Schiffly. Don't attend your own funeral as a guy named Phil Schiffly. Get rid of cable and upgrade to DirecTV. Call 1-800-DIRECTV.
Anime and Manga
- Yuusuke at the beginning of YuYu Hakusho. Unlike most of these examples, he really is dead, watching it as a ghost at the time. Seeing how much he's missed gives him the resolve necessary to go through some difficult ordeals to get himself resurrected.
- Speed Racer: Rex Racer fakes his own death to become Racer X. One scene at the end of the movie shows him attending his own funeral. Speed Racer himself actually does this in one episode of the original series.
- At the end of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 2, Joseph returns home to New York and hears his friends and family are attending a funeral; only when he arrives, sees their shocked faces, and finally looks at the headstone does he realize it's his funeral. As it turned out, Joseph was in traction for two weeks following the Final Battle and asked his new wife Suzie Q to send a telegram to let everyone know he was alright. Suzie...forgot.
This woman is unbelievable!"
- Although it wasn't really real, Erza in Fairy Tail has a dream were she had really died when she merged with the Tower of Heaven in an effort to stop it from blowing up. She watches her friends in Fairy Tail mourn at her grave, and group of council officials bestow a title upon her. Finally, Natsu crashes the funeral proceedings and tries to convince everyone Erza is still alive, which only causes the entire group to break down into tears. Either way, really dramatic. Luckily, it was only a dream, and Natsu saved Erza before she could really die.
- Pell of One Piece, after his supposed Heroic Sacrifice, turns up alive looking in shock at his own gravestone.
- Tsuna from Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is transported into the future in time for his older self's secret funeral. Not surprisingly, he was pretty freaked out.
- In Gintama, Butt Monkey Yamazaki ends up witnessing his own funeral, which is a pathetic little afterthought tacked onto the real show: the funeral services of Matsudaira's dog.
- Sharon Vineyard aka Vermouth in Detective Conan. She even made herself pass as her own daughter and gave the eulogy!
- Prince Chagum in Seirei no Moribito is seen attending his own funeral among the kneeling crowd of commoners.
- In Hellblazer, Chas tells his drinking buddies of a time when everyone thought John Constantine dead, only for him to turn up alive and well at his funeral. (This wouldn't be the only time Constantine would be presumed dead.)
- In Runaways, Gertrude Yorkes helps bury a future version of herself underneath the HOLLYWOOD sign.
- In Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, Batman attends a funeral for multiple versions of himself, with eulogies telling how he was killed in each one.
- In The Death of Groo, Groo The Wanderer goes to his own funeral, expecting there to be much sadness at his demise. There isn't. Everybody at that funeral had had endless trouble from him, and they were all delighted at his "death."
- Deadpool did this in spirit form. He found that he was able to possess people and had no end of fun causing trouble, culminating in a giant brawl between Juggernaut, Wolverine, T-Ray, and pretty much every other minor character to appear in Deadpool's book up to that point.
- Pearls Before Swine strip for 1-29-13. Larry the crocodile had apparently been eaten by killer dolphins (long story) and his friends set up a memorial dinner for him. He was actually still alive, and attended the dinner, telling them that he was a ghost and that if they didn't give him food he'd haunt them forever.
- Invoked in the movie Waking Ned Devine, for reasons too complex to go into here.
- Jacques Bouvar does this at the beginning of Thunderball while masquerading as a woman. James Bond shows up to make sure Bouvar will be attending his own real funeral.
- 'Painless' the dentist from the film M*A*S*H gets to do this. He's there because he's committing suicide, and waves goodbye from his casket. He is unaware that the cyanide capsules he's been given are fake, and he's about to get laid.
- Revenge of the Pink Panther: Inspector Clouseau shows up at his own funeral, disguised as a priest. (Someone else died, but everyone thought it was Clouseau.) He only reveals himself to his former chief Dreyfus, and he faints right into the grave upon seeing him, believing it to be a ghost or hallucination.
- Varyemez, a Turkish tragicomedy film has this when a rich industrialist (the protagonist) is believed to have been killed after being kidnapped and a barely-identifiable body is found. His family and business partners had deliberately not paid the ransom upon realising that they were better off without him. Unfortunately for them, he is very much alive and angry at his family's duplicity. As he plans his revenge on them, he attends his own memorial event, watching his wife and son shed crocodile tears and his business partner discussing how to divide up his business.
- In Year of the Devil [Rok ďábla], a mockumentary by Petr Zelenka, one of the characters, Karel Plíhal, stages a "dress rehearsal" of his own funeral, with a coffin, a priest, and a funeral folk-band, and watches it out of hiding.
- The title character of Terry Gilliam's The Adventures of Baron Munchausen does it, or at least he claims to have done it.
- Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. And he brought company.
- The ending of Capricorn One. Several astronauts are forced to participate in a faked mission to Mars. When their ship burns up on re-entry, the authorities plan to kill them. One astronaut escapes and shows up at the memorial service for the crew, exposing the conspiracy.
- Convoy: Rubber Duck is one of the people riding the microbus in the convoy that serves as his funeral.
- In the Czech film Trhák (mockumentary about filming of a musical) a character died, but his actor was filmed attending the funeral - forcing the scriptwriter to explain it away as the deceased man's brother ("look, he's even limping on the same leg").
- In The Weatherman, the main character arranges a "living funeral" for his father, who is dying of cancer. He gets through one line of his eulogy before the power cuts out.
- R.I.P.D.: Subverted in the sense of being undead. While he's disguised as his James Hong character, Nick does attend his own funeral from a distance. He first discovers that he no longer looks like himself when he sprints in and tries to greet his widow.
- In The Living Wake, K. Roth finds out he's dying, so not only does he organize his own wake and personally invite everyone in town, he attends to deliver his own eulogy, and has a little song and dance number that ends with him collapsing right into his already-prepared coffin. Now, that is talent.
- Played for laughs in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues with Brick, who's not all there. After being declared dead due to having disappeared, he shows up at the funeral and gives a eulogy and declares he will get vengeance on his killer. He is eventually persuaded that he is actually still alive.
- The essay, "Dead at 17" (frequently known as "Please God, I'm Only 17"), was written by New Hampshire resident John J. Berrio, after the teenaged son of a close friend died in a 1967 car accident. The story – a cautionary tale imploring that teenagers adopt safe-driving habits – is told from the point-of-view of a teenager who drove recklessly, was involved in a major car accident and suffered fatal injuries. The story begins with hindsight ("I was too cool for the bus" and "All the kids drive"), then progresses as the protagonist's car is involved in the deadly collision, then is examined by on-scene medics and police officers, brought to the morgue to be identified by his shocked parents and then to the visitation (where his grieving friends and family pass by his open casket). The final scene sees the teenager protesting in vain being placed in the ground, pleading for a second chance and promising to be a safer driver.
- On an almost annual basis, readers of Dear Abby and Annie's Mailbox (previously Ann Landers) will request that Berrio's essay be republished, hoping teenagers who are newly licensed will read it and decide to adopt safe driving habits.
- The use of first-person POV has led some people to believe the young driver wrote this himself.
- Mark Twain's novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: Tom and his two friends Huckleberry Finn and Joe Harper are hiding out on an island playing (although they sort-of really mean it) at being pirates and are assumed dead. They get tired of sleeping rough and want to go home, but decide to stick it out just long enough to attend their own funeral and then enter dramatically through the door.
- In the Raffles series, A. J. Raffles did this, as part of a gambit to throw a too-persistent ex-girlfriend off his trail; it was the second time he'd been thought to be dead, but the first funeral. The other time, he'd jumped from a ship in the Mediterranean, and been mistakenly reported to have washed up dead on shore.
- Rumpole of the Bailey: In "Rumpole and the Last Resort", Rumpole lets it be thought that he is dead, partly to lure a solicitor that owes him a great deal of money out of hiding and let She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed pwn him good; as a bonus, he gets to hear Judge Bullingham giving a eulogy for him, which he greatly enjoys.
- In the fourth book of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Percy shows up after spending two weeks on Calypso's island to find that everyone thought he was dead and were holding his funeral.
- Prince Josua at the end of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn.
- Mr. Sellars at the end of Otherland, also by Tad Williams.
- Aethelstane in Ivanhoe does this at his own funeral. Specifically, he throws open the door and appears wearing funeral garments and looking as if he had just been raised from the dead.
- In Lady Slings the Booze, one of Spider Robinson's Callahan series, Nicola Tesla (actually alive and well, thanks to a certain time traveler) mentions attending his own funeral in disguise.
- The novel Interview with the Vampire had Louis going to his funeral after his plantation burned down. His aged younger sister attended.
- In Isaac Asimov's short story Obituary, a scientist who's embittered by lack of success and recognition finds a way to bring a duplicate of an object from about three days in the future; unfortunately, if the object is a living creature, the process kills the duplicate. He uses this to fake his own death and thereby get to read his obituaries. Needless to say, his greater plan to achieve lasting fame by this is one last failure.
- In The Hobbit, Bilbo returns from adventuring just in time to attend his own estate sale.
- The Westing Game: Sam Westing, aka Sandy McSouthers, along with Attending Your Own Will Reading and Wake, complete with a fake body in the open casket to pull off the deception.
- Aversion: In the novel Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen, Joey wants to attend her own funeral (in disguise) in order to interrogate her husband about why he tried to kill her. Her partner-in-crime convinces her to wait in the car.
- In American Gods, Mad Sweeney the leprechaun attends his own wake, where he debates the interpretation of his life story provided by one of the other characters and tosses back a few glasses of whiskey. By the next morning, he seems to have shifted from Only Mostly Dead to Killed Off for Real.
- Tom Holt's Paul Carpenter pulls this in book three of the J.W. Wells & Co. series... after faking a relapse of death. Considering that he died something like three times per book and usually recovered by the next chapter, this is hardly surprising.
- G. K. Chesterton's Father Brown does it in "The Resurrection of Father Brown". He was drugged by Hollywood Atheists who wanted to make it look like he was trying to fake a miracle by coming back to life. They were foiled when the modest and sensible Father Brown declared that it hadn't been a miracle.
- The final chapter of the fifth Clue book, "Mister Boddy's Funeral" has the guests all assembled having been invited to their host's funeral when he himself walks in, leading to confusion until it is revealed one of the guests arranged for the funeral with the intention of murdering Mr. Boddy on location, to make things convenient.
- In Anne of Ingleside, one of the Gossipy Hens at the quilting bee mentions a story about a man who went out West and reportedly died. The body was sent home, but the funeral director advised them not to open the casket, so they didn't find out it was someone else's body until the supposedly dead man came home just in time to walk in on the funeral.
- In Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Scrooge doesn't attend his own funeral per se but the ghost of Christmas future does show him his own grave.
- In Privilege, the Spin-Off of the Private series, Ariana attends her own funeral. The body they cremated is actually that of Briana Leigh Covington, who she killed in order to access her money and assume her life.
- It's not his funeral but Mackenzie Calhoun of Star Trek New Frontier shows up to the dedication of the new USS Excalibur which has a touching eulogy/speech about since he was presumed dead during the destruction of the last ship of the same name. Its both hilarious and touching.
- Older Than Print: Happens in the story of Amleth — the legend that was basis for Hamlet — as told in the 13th century Danish History by Saxo Grammaticus. Amleth has been sent to England by his uncle Feng to be killed with a Please Shoot the Messenger plot, and everyone thinks he's dead; but (like in William Shakespeare's play) he has escaped and returns to the royal palace just the day they are holding his memorial feast.— Shakespeare, however, alters the plot so that Hamlet arrives just in time to witness Ophelia's funeral.
- In the Highlander spinoff novel, ''The Element Of Fire', Connor Macleod is believed to have drowned while saving the life of a ship's captain. They give Connor a funeral at sea, with his spare set of clothes wrapped around a stone serving in place of his body. After the "burial", Connor climbs up the anchor line back onto the ship.
- Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead has Zak Arranda injected with revival formula and something designed to put him into a coma that looked like death. He wakes up, unable to move, in a coffin during his own funeral - local traditions have the dead buried almost as soon as they're declared dead - and gets to hear his sister weeping over him. Then he's Buried Alive, and only then regains some mobility.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket does this after he's believed to be dead..
- A rather gut-wrenching version happens in Never Wipe Tears Without Gloves. After revealing his sexuality to his mother, Benjamin gets a visit from both his parents. His parents bring roses and cake and while they are eating it dawns on Benjamin that it's not a social call - to his parents this is his funeral. Truth in Television as people who leave Jehovah's Witness have experienced this (including the real life person Benjamin was based on).
- A variant in the X-Wing Series: Corran Horn misses his own funeral, but manages to show up for the final phase of the trial for the murder of Corran Horn.
- Played with in the Honor Harrington series in a way, where the titular character is believed to have died for over two years before returning, and later makes mention of having watched her state funeral on TV, and lamented by her friend Michelle 'Mike' Henke, who laments not being declared dead as she would have enjoyed watching her own funeral.
- Doc Daneeka in Catch-22 had qualified for flight pay simply by entering his name into the flight log. He was declared killed in action when a plane he was 'on board' was downed. He attended his own funeral, mourning that his protests that he was still alive couldn't be officially lodged because he was officially dead.
Live Action TV
- There's a hideous glurge that periodically makes the rounds in email: it's a chronicle of child abuse and murder, told from the victim's point of view, and ends with the lines "My name is Sarah/And I am but three/And tonight my daddy/Murdered me." Multiple people have written to Snopes asking whether this is a true story. (Their response: "As unlikely as it might be that a three-year-old could possess the language skills necessary to compose such a piece, it's even more unlikely that anyone could describe her own murder in the first person.")
- A variant from BBC comedy The Burkiss Way: The reading of Lord Hackingbottmo's will is disrupted when someone points out that he's the one reading it. (Note that this only happens after the reading has already a) included a long list of people who haven't been left anything and b) turned into a spontaneous performance of "Chattanooga Choo-choo".)
Lord Hackingbottmo: I know it better than anyone else!
Guest: But you're not dead!
Lord Hackingbottmo: ...I've got a gum boil.
Guest: That's not enough!
- Ed Reardon's Week: A "Reading Your Own Obituary" variation; Reardon spends an episode trying to steal his obituary from his agent's files to see what his "friend" Jaz Milvane has written about him.
- In Richard Wilson's fictional radio autobiography Believe It!, Richard holds a funeral for his cat when Celia Imrie tells him he died. It turns out the cat just went missing, and returns half way through the funeral. Richard is struck by the revelation that the cat came back to see the funeral, and many years later gathers all his celebrity friends to hold a "dress rehersal" of his own funeral. It doesn't go as well as he expected, and they eventually conclude that it doesn't work if he's there.
Table Top Games
- One of the GURPS books has a short story told from the POV of a newly minted ghost. After attending his own funeral (and weeping over it) he decides to do some world travel. Tries to go to the moon, but doesn't quite get that far.
- More like "Attending Your Own Wake": In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God, when Guybrush (as a ghost) goes through a rip in the Crossroads to Club 41 before going to the Manatee Mating Grounds in order to find the Voodoo Lady's locket (via another rip), Bugeye tells him to be quiet when he and W.P. Grindstump are "in the middle of a pirate wake", and Guybrush is surprised to find his own body holding a dartboard and wearing a party hat. He can look around the club and talk to Grindstump to find out what happened after Guybrush died at the hands of LeChuck. Afterwards, he can exit his own wake and continue on in his quest to get back in his own body, as before.
- Fire Emblem Elibe: Prince Zephiel had barely escaped from being poisoned to death by his own father King Desmond, and decides to pretend he's dead in order to have revenge. He then lies down in his own casket, a knife hidden among his funerary garments, and when Desmond orders to open it so he can see if Zephiel's truly dead...
- Inverted in Hitman: Blood Money, wherein the end of the game is at the titular protagonist's funeral and he is actually the one on the altar; only he gets up and proceeds to kill all of the attendees.
- Nanako from Tsukihime's sequel disc, Kagetsu Tohya, is not technically dead, but her human body died and she couldn't interact with her family ever again, so her family held a funeral. She was actually very touched by the service, and this reinforced her belief that she could continue existing without regretting giving up her life.
- Though Serge isn't there in time for the funeral in Chrono Cross, Serge does visit his grave in Another World and is found there by people who know he "should" be dead.
- Italy does this in Heta Oni; after a hiccup in the mansion's "Groundhog Day" Loop, he winds up caught in the only time loop where he didn't survive, and goes to visit his own dead body before finding the way back to his own reality. It's almost forgettable compared to the things before and after it, though.
- This happens to Vic Vector in My Sims Kingdom - right as he's about to head off on his first mission as a test pilot, it becomes increasingly obvious that Dr. F's speech is in fact a eulogy about his (impending, inevitable) death during the mission. This being a Lighter and Softer world, he actually survives, of course, but it does provide a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Though neither faking it nor technically needing to be resurrected, Red vs. Blue has this happen to Sarge, complete with Grif performing a roast for him, and Simmons campaigning for the leadership position, instead of giving him a Eulogy.
Grif: "Sarge, is he campaigning for your job at your funeral? Classy."
Simmons: I never thought my death could somehow be worse than my life, but here it is. Bitchin'.
- There's a rather peculiar instance in an Everyday Weirdness story called "Procession."
- The Leet World has one of sorts, where Player, having survived a grenade injury, makes the rest of the team hold a funeral for him, so he can see what it's like.
- In A Very Potter Musical, Ginny says that this is what she would do if she had an invisibility cloak.
- In Sonic the Comic – Online! story Skeletons in the Closet Knuckles does not quite attend his own funeral but finds a skeleton that was a previous version of him that was killed by the Gizoid robot, Johnny didn't attend his own funeral but in the story In Memory Johnny from the past reads the plaque about his own death in his future.
- A famous Swedish businessman did not quite attend his own funeral, but got to read his own obituary due to a newspaper error. His horror at his portrayal as "Alfred Nobel, merchant of death and destruction" led him to found the Nobel Prizes so he'd be remembered for something other than inventing explosives.
- As a deliberately engineered example, in 2007, Amir Vehabovic from Bosnia faked his death, forged a death certificate and arranged for a funeral just to see who would show up to remember him. Only his mother attended the funeral.
- Zac Pennington of Parenthetical Girls has held two funerals for himself in his adult life thus far.
- Abraham Lincoln reportedly had a nightmare along these lines approximately two weeks prior to his assassination.
- Some attendees at Andy Kaufman's funeral poked his body, as he'd announced an intention to fake his death. (Probably) an aversion, as he was (probably) really dead.
- Happens every so often in Real Life. Usually due to the person reviving in the coffin or a misidentification at the morgue. One woman wandered into her own funeral as she finally recovered from a New Year's eve party several days earlier and heard that everyone was at a funeral.
Randy: "Calculon's back!"