Autopsy Snack Time
Hey, drop by for lunch some time! I'll slice us up some fresh pastrami! Hey, Bonds... you ok? You look a little green around the gills!Just as Vomiting Cop can demonstrate that someone in law enforcement isn't (yet) jaded about gory death, this trope shows just how jaded someone who works with dead bodies can get. Whether they're a Creepy Mortician showing an abnormal indifference to morbidity, or The Coroner whose mid-autopsy noshing is being Played for Laughs, expect all but the most sober of works to show people in the funerary trades munching sandwiches or french fries, or at least sipping coffee, while they've got a body on the slab. In real life, the risks associated with bloodborne pathogens (such as HIV and the hepatitis viruses) means that there are strict rules in place against this sort of thing, and no self-respecting coroner/medical examiner should engage in this practice. Common sense also plays into it, as a contaminated sample is useless for analysis and not all causes of death are immediately apparent. A variation, where the character is sucking on a lollipop or hard candy is closer to Truth in Television; a real tactic used by some pathologists is to keep a lollipop, mint, etc, in their mouth in order to reduce the impact of any unexpected smells and fight the gag reflex. Compare The Snack Is More Interesting, Pass the Popcorn, Nausea Dissonance, Inappropriate Hunger.
— Leon, Police Quest 3
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- There's a cell-phone service commercial in which a morgue worker's breakfast burrito falls into the cadaver he's working on, and he blithely picks it up and continues eating it. "What, you think this is wrong? What's wrong is paying too much for cell phone service."
Anime And Manga
- In Psycho-Pass, Yayoi Kunizuka continues eating her noodles while looking at pictures of an exceptionally gruesome murder case
- There is a scene in Fell where the coroner of Snowtown eats his sandwich above a cadaver. One of the sandwich's tomatoes falls onto the cadaver; however, this doesn't stop the coroner from picking it back up and eating it. Fell is horrified, but the coroner just says that because it was an organic tomato he'd have to go out of the city to get a new one.
- In Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), the character Sphinx is working as a coroner and puts his sandwich down on a cadaver's chest to answer the phone.
- The low-budget horror flick Street Trash has one scene that takes place in a morgue, and the coroner is munching away at a box of Chinese food while talking with the cops.
- In the Hungarian movie Kontroll, ambulance workers talk about a recipe while picking up the remains of a man who has been hit by the subway.
- In the German comedy movie Neues vom Wixxer, the coroner Dr. Brinkman lets his little son (plus a bunch of other kids) have a birthday party in the morgue.
- Lampshaded in Diary of the Dead, when some EMTs are collecting bodies from an apartment and the cameraman who's filming them grouses about how one of their crew is eating his lunch off-camera, despite the gore.
- Friday the 13th
- When Jason's body is brought to the morgue in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the doctor who checks him in is eating a sandwich, and places it on the corpse temporarily to sign some papers.
- In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the second coroner who walks in on a Voorhees-possessed medical examiner is carrying a pizza, and was presumably intending to eat it right there in the autopsy room. In a slightly more literal sense from the same scene, one of the coroners doing said autopsy eats the (miraculously still intact and beating) heart of Jason Voorhees, causing him to become inexplicably possessed by Jason, setting up the rest of the film.
- In the Robert Altman movie Pret-a-Porter, a coroner has a snack while autopsying a corpse (in the presence of several police officers investigating the death, too!)
- In Arachnophobia, a funeral-parlor worker is eating a BLT when the photographer's boxed corpse arrives from South America. When the phone rings, he sets his sandwich down on the table normally used to prepare bodies, where a cat nibbles on it.
- When Ernie the undertaker is introduced in Return of the Living Dead, he's shown eating a sandwich over a body he's embalming.
- In the horror anthology film Body Bags, the host character 'the Coroner' (played by John Carpenter) is introduced cutting a slab of meat with an electrical saw and preparing to eat it. The real coroners at the end also get make sure to get some coffee before starting their autopsy of the fake coroner, who's actually a zombie.
- The local coroner in Wolf Cop likes to place his snacks on the bodies as he's examining them for cause of death. It's a very laid-back, don't give a damn, town so it explains why he still has a job.
- Doc Proutie from the Ellery Queen novels occasionally snacked while at the crime scene to pick up the body du jour.
- At least once in the Aubrey-Maturin books, Stephen and a fellow naturalist move immediately from dissection to dinner, using the same knife.
- A bizarre variation occurs in American Gods, when Mr. Jacquel slices off a part of the victim's heart while examining her and casually chewing it while recording his observations. This is because Mr. Jacquel is actually an aspect of Anubis, ancient Egyptian God of the dead. It's implied that eating the heart is reverential and a sign of deep respect.
- In Pyramids, the ghost of king Teppicymon XXVII is watching the embalming of his mortal remains and notes with some dissatisfaction that the embalmer accidentally included the wrapper from his assistant's lunch in the stuffing. Presumably this would not have happened if he hadn't been eating it around the body.
- In Robert Heinlein's The Number Of The Beast an attempt by a hostile park warden to threaten and murder the four protagonists (two married couples) ends with two men congratulating each other on their successful use of swords to kill a man with a gun, and a woman noting that the man was clearly not human. This is followed by the fourth protagonist performing the autopsy while her new stepdaughter holds a sandwich for her to eat without touching it with green goo covered hands. Their valiant sword wielding menfolk avoid the room in a desperate attempt to retain their lunches.
- Forensic pathologist Dr. William R. Maples wrote in his memoir, Dead Men Do Tell Tales, about how he'd have lunch in the autopsy room.
- In one episode of Supernatural, the Trickster, a Reality Warper with a notorious sweet tooth, has trapped Sam and Dean in a CSI: Miami parody. While explaining the found body to the two "Horatio Caine"s, he, or rather his double, slurps on a lollipop the whole time.
- One of the coroners in Taggart would do this,
- It popped up in Inspector Morse once or twice.
- On Psych:
- There's an episode where Woody is eating a bag of chips while performing an autopsy.
- There's also a promotional short where Shawn is seen eating a donut straight out of the crime scene.
"That's not a jelly donut."
- In one Night Court episode, the cast is trapped in the building's morgue during a thunderstorm that causes the power to go out; the elderly coroner, however, calmly continues his work, eating a sandwich as he does an autopsy.
- Given a Take That in CSI when Doc Robbins speaks irately of a long-retired coroner who missed crucial evidence in the original autopsy:
Robbins: I once saw him do a Y-incision with one hand while holding a hot dog in the other!
Keppler: I take it he wasn't known for his rigorous analysis?
Robbins: He was known for liking hot dogs.
- This shows up a few times in Law & Order. "This is the cleanest room in the city." It freaks out the detectives.
Det. Ed Green: Is that brain on the phone?ME. Rodgers: It's egg salad. (beat) Probably.Det. Ed Green: You have a different phone?
- On Castle, the Deadpan Snarker ME Pearlmutter occasionally takes a meal in the mortuary.
- In Fringe, Walter Bishop often eats while examining corpses or other Squick-inducing things.
- In one episode of The X-Files ("Bad Blood"), while performing an autopsy Scully finds that the victim's stomach contents include pizza, and comments that it sounds very appealing right now.
- Forever Knight did a variant of this once, with Natalie and her assistant shown in the morgue, looking down at the camera, deciding where to cut first. Then the shot switches and they're standing over a roast chicken.
- On Alaskan Wildlife Troopers, a state trooper investigating a mass caribou slaughter eats a sandwich while examining the rotting carcasses in the field.
- The Big Bang Theory episode "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis" shows Amy Farrah Fowler cutting slices of a human brain for microscopic analysis, while she and Sheldon eat lunch. To make it worse, Sheldon is eating sashimi, and briefly mistakes the samples for his lunch.
- An episode of The Pretender had a coroner using an autopsy table to prepare fugu, prompting Jarod (who was working as a fellow coroner in this episode) to ask, "Gunshot wound to the gill?"
- In The Closer episode "Junk in the Trunk", Tao, Gabriel, Flynn, Provenza and Buzz open the trunk of a car where the car's very obese owner has been decomposing for several days. While the others start coughing and are generally visibly bothered by the sight and smell of the corpse, Provenza just keeps eating his donut.
- Rizzoli & Isles
Jane: Is this from the good fridge or the dead people fridge?
- Korsak is shown chowing down on a doughnut while watching Dr. Isles perform an autopsy in the first episode.
- Maura has occasionally been known to store her lunch in the morgue's specimen refrigerator, leading to a Running Gag of Jane questioning the provenance of any snacks she might be offered.
- MacGyver: "The Enemy Within" has Mac present at an autopsy that has the coroner halting his duties for an eggroll.
- An episode of Profit has the title character saying that a mortician needs to do all kinds of things around his work. Including celebrating his birthday. And sleeping with a hooker.
- Happens on occasion in Grey's Anatomy. The characters are surgeons, so they will sometimes eat lunch while working in the surgical skill lab (which typically involves practicing procedures on the corpses of small pigs).
- Done occasionally on Scrubs, mostly with all the pathologists and coroners constantly eating lollipops.
- Murdoch Mysteries:
- In "Murdoch Air," Constable George Crabtree is devouring a hot hamburger in a morgue, and Dr. Emily Grace is horrified that he is eating hot meat with bread. Later in the episode, she's enjoying a hamburger, too, while presenting a body and post-mortem results to Detective William Murdoch—who is mildly disgusted by the idea of a hamburger.
- In "Loch Ness Murdoch", Crabtree absently eats ice from the morgue icehouse during a heatwave, then realises what he's doing, and Emily has to reassure him that the ice is fresh. Later, he uses the icehouse to make himself and Emily snowcones.
- Rico and Vanessa from Six Feet Under are eating lunch together in the embalming room. Too bad an inspection appears right at that moment!
- On The Golden Girls, Blanche recalls how the police nonchalantly told her about her husband's car accident, while eating a bag of chips. "He was like, 'Your husband is dead. *crunch crunch crunch*'"
- Became a plot point on an episode of Life, when the mortician's constant snacking helps the detectives to realize that she's pregnant by the murder victim of the week
- In the Big Blackout episode of NCIS, Ducky lets the Navy Yard employees store their lunches in one of the autopsy freezers, since they are connected to the backup generators while the power is out. They are seemingly unbothered by the thought of keeping their food where corpses are normally stored.
- In the Criminal Minds episode "There's No Place Like Home" the ME du jour is eating a sandwich in the autopsy room while he talks the agents through the mutilated corpses.
- The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "If the Shoe Fits", Lucien arrives at the mortuary to find Gus the pathologist fixing himself a sandwich in the autopsy room with a corpse on the slab.
- #4 of Cracked's 4 Bizarrely Specific Rules That Exist in Movie Universes mentions cases in Gone in Sixty Seconds (2000), Scrubs, and others where it appears a coroner can't enjoy his sandwich without a corpse in the room. It even links back to the trope page.
- In Schlock Mercenary a detective mentions that his partner is so desensitized he eats lasagna while watching The Autopsy Channel. (Don't ask why they have a channel for that.)
- Emily Grasile of The Brain Scoop doesn't eat while dissecting and prepping the specimens, but frequently talks about what she wants to eat or how hungry she is, or compares the texture of the dead flesh to food like pepperoni slices.
- Coroner Rick does this on Stroker and Hoop.
- In the South Park episode "Pink Eye", a mortuary assistant eats a Worcestershire sauce-laden hot dog while embalming Kenny's body. When some of the sauce leaked into the embalming fluid though, it led to an epidemic Gone Horribly Wrong. The fact that it is not supposed to be used as embalming fluid is on the label and the Worcestershire hotline asks the caller to press 3 if it has.
- While it doesn't technically involve eating, Hey Arnold! The Movie includes a coroner so adjusted to his job that he sleeps in the same room as the corpses.
- This is sometimes used as a litmus test for rookie cops with the veterans often bringing a snack for the rookie's first autopsy.
- Occasionally, careless medical students will eat right in the middle of dissecting cadavers.
- In his Screenwriter's Guide to the Autopsy, Ed Uthman notes: "For some odd reason, many prosectors report increased appetite after an autopsy, so the first thing they want to do afterwards is grab a bite to eat."
- Several forensic pathologists have admitted to having lunch in the autopsy room in their memoirs.
- This used to be a common thing in the medical profession until the introduction of the aseptic technique by Drs. Ignaz Semmelweiss and Joseph Lister in mid-XIX century. In fact, it was such an ingrained norm that Dr. Semmelweiss was essentially laughed out of professionnote (and later beaten to death in an insane asylum) for insisting on such crazy things like washing one's hands between dissecting a corpse and attending to a newborn, despite the demonstrable tenfold decrease in the dreaded puerperal fever in his hospital. Only after the much more influential Lister suggested basically the same, the notion took root.