Gravestones in TV and films tend not to have full dates on them, unlike in real life. Presumably this, like so many other tropes, has to do with movies being shown on TV and released on home video.
This trope also applies to newspapers (on a larger scale).
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
- Ubiquitous in comics. The X-Men have an entire cemetery full of dateless graves. However, it was averted when Jean Grey "died" for the first time — her original lifespan was 1956 to 1980 (making her 24 when she died the first time), if you were wondering.
- Granted, it would be awkward to have a bunch of graves with a series of dates written on them for each successive death and return.
- Also, given the Sliding Timescale Marvel uses, the dates would start getting really confusing.
- Justified in ClanDestine. Directly after the first arc, in which two relatives died, the two youngest members of the family visit the family cemetery and notice that there are no dates or last names on any of the graves. Their father explains that since the Destines are very long-lived, they don't put anything that could give away their secret on the graves.
- The 2007 police comedy Hot Fuzz, especially the Sandford newspaper.
- In fact, the movie's time period is pinned down. Nicolas asks a clearly under-aged kid in a bar his birthday. The kid says 8th of May 1969, to which Nick replies, "So you're 37?" Which puts the movie in 2006, or early 2007.
- Thomas and Martha Wayne's graves are seen in The Dark Knight Rises, and both are undated. Bruce Wayne's grave is seen is the same scene, also without dates; had a date of death been etched, it would have been wrong.
- Averted in the Back to the Future trilogy. George Mc Fly-A's death in the alternate timeline is clearly stated as March 15, 1973 in Part II, and when we see an exact date for Doc Brown's grave in Part III (September 7, 1885), trying to avoid that fate drives the entire movie.
- Avoided in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For the first time in his life, Harry visits his parents' graves in Godric's Hollow, and the dates on the gravestones are practically the only place in the whole series where specific years are given. This heightens the emotional impact of the scene considerably. (The only other bit of dating evidence is from Chamber of Secrets, on Nearly-Headless Nick's deathday cake, which, appropriately enough, is tombstone-shaped.) We can date the series from 1991-1998.
- In the third The Dresden Files novel, Harry is given a grave and gravestone by one of his (many) vampire nemeses. The gravestone has no date but reads "Harry Dresden - He died doing the right thing". Harry was shot and killed at the end of the 12th book after calling in every chip to rescue his daughter. This will not be the end of the series, and likely not Harry either.
- Since there was a 13th book (and presumably will be more in the future), the above is a given.
- As of book 14, he is still alive, the grave still dateless, and there is still a huge hole in the ground because apparently the city officials were REALLY bribed.
- Most of the gravestones the protagonists of Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead see are etched in a language they can't read. The one that does have an epigraph in Basic, too, doesn't have a date listed. This may have been because this is a Star Wars Expanded Universe novel; at the time of writing, the only dating system to be established was Before/After the Battle of Yavin. Since the book takes place less than a year ABY, no one would have started using it as a dating system yet.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, Chloe Sullivan's grave only has her birth and death year. Might be due to the fact that her birthday is a mild Continuity Snarl.
- The Bill.
- Sherlock's grave gives only his name. It's a damn classy gravestone, though.
- Richie Ryan's tombstome on Highlander lists how long he lived (22 years) but not the actual dates.
- Of course, part of this may have to do with Richie being an Immortal and him "dying" in a motorcycle race two years before his final, permanent death.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: The grave marker created by Gary Mitchell in "Where No Man has Gone Before".
- The use of Stardates helped hide the time line during the run of the show. Years were attributed to events as the Movies and Sequel Series came out.
- The Boss' gravestone in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater reads "192X-1964"
- Averted in Left 4 Dead 2, where graffiti in the safehouses has the birth and death dates of various people, pointing that the game is set in 2009. Banners hanging in the mall further show that the game is set in fall of 2009, at around the time it was released.
- The lost Heterodyne heir's grave in this page of Girl Genius. Although it's not so much to stop the comic from becoming dated as to make sure we don't know what century this steampunk parallel Europe is set in.
- Though the grave does have a year-of-birth and the number of days he lived. There is just something in the way to keep us from seeing what century that year was in.
- On the page previous to that one there's another stone, with 'Born 1575' and five Died dates, from 1602 to 1623.
- Angelica's grave in Misfile is dateless and surname-less as well.
- In Kevin & Kell, Corrie visits her mother's grave, and in the only panel showing the dates on the grave, her hand is blocking the last two digits of the year of death, although it is shown that her mother was born in 1968. The strip never makes any explicit reference to what year it is, except for the Y2K arc being set in late 1999.
- In The Order of the Stick, Elan does not put a date of birth on Therkla's grave, as he does not know when she was born, although the date of death sets the story in the year 1184, according to whatever calendar they're using.
- Which fits with the dates given on the deva's Belkar-evilness-over-time graph.
- During an April Fool's day episode of Red vs. Blue, Sarge and Simmon's tombstones only show their death year as 2004, the year the video was released, and the birth year as "????".
- Justified in Justice League, wherein Hawkgirl tries to bury Solomon Grundy according to Earth's customs, but only knows that he was "Born on a Monday."
- On Futurama, Fry's nephew, Philip Fry, seems to have a lot of biographical information on his grave, but interestingly enough, no dates.
- In Young Justice Artemis's grave has a middle name reveal, but not a date.