: What do you wanna be when you grow up, Dante? Dante
: I'm not sure. I like working with people... But I like being alone, too... Sheldon
: How about being a mortician—best of both worlds. Dante
: Heeeey... Not bad.
Be they morticians, pathologists, funeral house workers or gravediggers - people who deal with the dead have always been assumed to be interesting, because, well, they deal with the dead. That is why in fiction, it is popular to present workers in those professions as either outright creepy, or at least have a way-off sense of humor
. Especially if they don't look creepy (or aren't normally so), looking at something like this for the first time can creep any guy out. They play around with the bodies of the deceased, joke while performing scientific dissections, or at least die first during a zombie attack. They are also suspect for profiting from someone else's death; after all, such a person may seem a little too happy about the fact that, now that Alice
has died, the mortician is going to get paid for the funeral.
If they accidentally encounter a living person instead of an expectedly dead one, it may be related to Waking Up at the Morgue
or Buried Alive
. Also see Black Comedy
Compare The Creepy Undertaker
- In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Ibis and Jacquel's Funeral Parlor is run by two Egyptian gods, one of whom consumes a part of every organ of the deceased.
- Averted (bordering on discussing this trope) in one of Dean Koontz's novels, where it is specifically stated that the morgue crew the protagonists meet are totally unlike the stereotypical image of their profession in fiction.
- averted in The Munsters - Herman works in a funeral parlour and Lily apparently has her hair done by a mortician
- The CSI: Crime Scene Investigation series and its spinoffs, as most criminal shows, features forensic pathologists as side characters. They're particularly fond of one liners whenever they find anything interesting about the person's corpse or death during the autopsy.
- Murdoch Mysteries has a woman pathologist as one of the main characters - a lady capable of "quoting poetry while cutting a man's body open".
- Six Feet Under, a series about a family-run funeral home, subverts this trope. The characters have their issues, but they always attempt to treat the deceased with respect and provide some consolation to the families.
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker has morgue attendant Gordon "Gordy the Ghoul" Spangler, an exceedingly chipper fellow who runs a lottery at the morgue for crime reporters. Played by none other than Piglet!
- Sam leaped into a mortician in an episode of Quantum Leap, who was already regarded as rather distasteful by the people in town, and then he started trying to solve the murder of his most recent corpse, asking questions and pawing through her things. Since he was the protagonist it didn't really play that way, but when a guy whose job involves his arms being elbow-deep in the recently deceased starts demanding answers to questions about your sex life...
- NCIS gives us Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard. His habits include going into unnecessary detail in describing what he is doing around the team, talking to those he is performing an autopsy on, and his criminal psychology degree means that he talks about the mess in a killer's mind with almost as much detail as he describes the mess in the body of their victims. Also, Gibbs will occasionally bring an uncooperative suspect down so Ducky can explain to them exactly what will happen to their bodies if they continue not to cooperate.
- Averted in JAG with recurring character Lt. Commander Teresa Coulter, a Navy pathologist. The only creepy thing about her might be the deep southern accent.
- Due South had Mort, who would sing opera while doing his autopsies.
- The '40s and '50s radio (and later TV) sitcom The Life of Riley had a comedic version of this in Riley's pal Digby "Digger" O'Dell, "The Friendly Undertaker", who specialized in hilariously morbid puns referencing his line of work, such as his usual greeting ("Hello, Riley. You're looking very...natural today") and signoff ("Well, goodbye, Riley. I'd better be...shoveling off").
- Hamlet fits into this trope with the gravedigger, digging a grave while joking about who is to be buried there.
- The gravedigger in Quest for Glory IV is a creepy hunchback who is nonetheless friendly and helpful despite his...unusual sense of humor. His name is Igor, too.
- The player character from the old arcade Nightmare In The Dark, a Snow Bros-like platform game.