"Or after I lop it, I make a puppet, On top of a staaaaaaff"
Killing somebody in cold blood is generally considered bad. So is desecrating their corpse or making light of their death.
...Hey! Wouldn't it be awesomely evil if we did all three at once?
Making a Dead Guy Puppet is a simple process: Simply take a corpse (preferably of somebody you've slaughtered yourself) and use him as a makeshift marionette or ventriloquist
dummy. You can even make an easy-to-carry Hand Puppet
variant simply by cutting off the corpse's head. Be sure you do your routine in front of the corpse's friends and family — they'll love it!
This is usually done mostly For the Evulz
and generally qualifies as a Kick the Dog
action. Naturally, villains who use this tend to have a bad sense of humor
Compare Of Corpse He's Alive
, where the puppeteer is actually trying to convince people the corpse isn't dead. Not to be confused with People Puppets
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Used to horrific effect in Deadman Wonderland where Toto (or Toto's corpse possessed by the Mad Scientist Hagire) uses a soldier's decapitated head as a hand puppet (plunging his hand right into the bloody stump) to taunt the heroes.
- The Spawn comic book spinoff The Violator features a disturbing series of scenes in which The Violator uses a guy's corpse as a puppet. The guy was a member of Cosa Nostra. At first, the corpse is fresh enough to fool the others into thinking that he's still alive so that The Violator can get the drop on the other Mafia guys. The guy's head somehow gets disconnected from the body, so that The Violator is carrying a guy's head around on his wrist, having punched through the back of the guy's head and out through his mouth. At this point, the head becomes a split personality for The Violator, and when this split personality angers The Violator, The Violator then smashes the head against the ground, mangling his own hand in the process, as it is still sticking out of the head's mouth.
- A chapter of The Sandman set in the French Revolution shows decapitated bodies used as giant marionettes after a public execution.
- Ladd Russo from Baccano! uses one of Chane's Lemure allies in this manner.
- Rare heroic example: In the novel On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers, Hurwood dies before he can signal his accomplice on shore from the deck of his ship. Shandy is forced to convert the villain's corpse into a marionette that can perform the necessary gesture, else the accomplice will carry out a voodoo ritual that will evict Beth's soul from her body.
- Lord of the Flies has the infamous pig head on a stick. Jack also tries to mount Ralph's head in the same way, but is interrupted when they are finally rescued.
- Quite gruesome example in A Song of Ice and Fire : after betraying and killing Robb Stark and his direwolf (and also his mother, and his wife and almost all of his captains), the Frey behead his body, hack the head of the direwolf, stitch on his former master's head, and parade the body around the camp. His mother Catelyn Tully has her throat slit, is stripped of her clothes and thrown into the river in a parody of her house' funeral customs.
- In one strip of The Far Side, a bear entertains his cubs by making two human skulls ask each other if there are bears in the cave.
- One Dilbert story had Alice kill the pointy-haired boss and use him as this.
- The graveyard scene in Hamlet has a bunch of lines which could easily be played this way; the most blatant is probably:
Hamlet: [This could be the skull] of a courtier; which could say 'Good morrow, sweet lord! How dost thou, good lord?' This might be my lord such-a-one, that praised my lord such-a-one's horse, when he meant to beg it; might it not?
- It's the basis for the game Dead Bodies, where one player (usually Colin) persists in performing a scene in a play after all of the other actors have died and therefore has to provide everyone else's voice and movement.
- Pictured above is Richard from Looking for Group, who not only makes a Dead Guy Puppet but also sings about it in Slaughter Your World.
- Sluggy Freelance had Zombie-Head-on-a-Stick.
- In The Order of the Stick, the Chaotic Good Lord Shojo does this, in order to make a point that it's the heroes' fault the corpse is dead.
"Wizard": Oh, yes, Lord Shojo! I'm enjoying being a partially-digested skeleton! Especially now that I've learned it happened on a trip that had no actual bearing on the mission for which he had been paid in advance!
Roy: OK, fine. You're right. We'll head to Girard's Gate right now.
Shojo: Great idea! Here, I'll have my best wizard teleport you!
: Sure thing, Lord Shojo! TELEPORT
- Butch of Chopping Block gave Jim Henson the funeral he would have wanted.
- Family Guy: Though it wasn't someone he killed, Peter finds an Indian burial ground in his backyard, including a skull. He names it "Chief Lou Diamond Phillips" and uses it as a puppet, among other things.
- Frisky Dingo - evil alien Killface kidnaps several PR execs to force them to help making his public announcements. When one angers him, he shoots him with a heavy caliber gun, blowing him in half...then picks up the torso-half, thrusts his hand all the way inside him until his hand is behind the corpse's jaw, and starts sarcastically "playing" him literally like a ventriloquist's dummy... for an extended period of time... in front of his twin brother who is begging him to stop. Some time later, the twin brother angers him too, so Killface shoots him in half too... then stacks the torso-half next to that of his brother, and quips "I made you a little friend". Vote Killface for President!
- The Simpsons:
- After digging up Jebediah Springfield to disprove the vocal Lisa Simpson's claims, Chief Wiggum tries his hand at ventriloquism with the city-founder's skull.
- This happens to Mr. Burns when Homer and Smithers think they've accidentally killed him. They haven't.
- In American Dad!, a dozen of Stan's fellow C.I.A agents are murdered in a shoot out after he botches a mission due to his bad-acting (and partly for going slightly off-script). Stan blames himself, but one of the operatives reassures him with his dying breath... only for it to turn out to be Roger, who was using the man's corpse as a puppet and immediately asks Stan how good his acting skills were.