Dead Hand Shot

Buried in a salt field; a very bitter end.

This is a stock type of camera shot that is also popular for posters and cover art. The story typically has death or murder as a central element, but featuring a corpse front and center, especially a very maimed one, prominently on the box art is usually not considered a good way to sell. So a compromise is used, an artfully limp and bloody hand is shown, perhaps holding (or dropping) an important object. Of course, the hand may be separate from the body, or itself badly damaged.

Sister Trope to Last Grasp at Life, where the focus on the hand is because it's the last part of a falling/drowning person to disappear. Contrast Raised Hand of Survival, where a hand is moving and indicates the character is alive.

Subtrope of Gory Discretion Shot. See also Empathy Doll Shot.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Happens to a middle school student whom Vampire Princess Miyu bit for blood and accidentally killed by fully draining her in the fourth OVA. First there's a Scream Discretion Shot to the school building and a bunch of students as another girl finds her, then a while later we see the girl's body from a long distance, and last but not least we're shown her hand and some strands of her long hair.
  • Happens in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conquer of Shamballa, mixed with an Empathy Doll Shot. We hear a scream, see a gust of wind, then cue a hand underneath a pile of debris right next to a teddy bear.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, as Vegeta draws his final breath on Namek, his tear-blurred vision fades from his point of view, and we next see a close-up of his gloved hand falling onto the ground, followed by a shot of his body shivering with his eyes closed before becoming still and lifeless, followed by a gust of wind blowing on his body.
  • Flashbacks to the background story of the Uchiha Clan massacre in Naruto would show a bloodied hand ripping out of the paper doors, while the shadowed figure of the perpetrator Itachi Uchiha looms above the body.
  • Happens to Nono Motoe in Blood-C. Or better said, we see her legs after she and her twin sister Nene are horribly eaten alive in front of their friend Saya Kisaragi. And then it's subverted: it was all an act. They do get killed off again... and it's much worse.
  • Wolf's Rain: A flashback of Toboe's life as a pet had him accidentally kill his own elderly owner because of his unrestrained playfulness. The last shot is off the woman's gasping pleas to Toboe to get off her and her outreached hand falling to the floor as she dies.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Shinn often has traumatic flashbacks to his sister Mayu's detached hand gripping her pink mobile phone after she and Shinn's parents have been accidentally blown up during a battle. He keeps the phone as a gory Tragic Keepsake.
  • In Street Fighter Alpha The Animation, when Shun dies in his "brother" Ryu's arms, right after the kid's Famous Last Words we see his hand going limp.
    • Similarly, in The King OF Fighters: KYO manga, Maki Kagura's bloodied hand is the only thing we see of her after the teen Goenitz kills her in front of her twin sister Chizuru.
  • In Another, the last we see of the nurse Mizuno Sanae after she's been crushed inside a malfunctioning elevator is her limp, bloody hand poking out of the wreckage.
  • In the first episode of Madlax, the titular Action Girl is speaking to an injured boy named Pete whom she has just rescued in the jungle. They're talking about having a date once they're done, but in the middle of their conversation Pete passes away from his injuries; the first signal we get is how he stops talking after he tells Madlax his name, and the second is how his hand goes limp.


  • The Royal Artillery Memorial (1919) in London. Revolutionary in that one of the statues of four soldiers around it actually lies dead- but he's actually covered by his gas cape; his outline and his boots are visible- the only part of his actual body shown is his hand. (It's still an incredibly moving piece of sculpture.)

    Films — Animated 
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, complete with dropped apple. Of course, it's only "sleeping death".
  • In Atlantis The Lost Empire, the last shot of the dying king of Atlantis as he pleads to Milo to save Atlantis is his hand becoming limp as death claims him.
  • Towards the end of Tarzan, a dying Kerchek's hand falls to the ground after he tells Tarzan to take care of the other gorillas.
  • The Plague Dogs: The scene where the dog shoots the hunter in the head.
  • Hercules, as soon as the Three Fates cut Meg's string of life, her hand goes limp.
  • As the rats clear away the wreckage of their hoist device in Don Bluth's The Secret Of NIMH, they find the limp arm of their leader, Nicodemus, which is the only part of him visible amid the large pieces of debris.

    Films — Live-Action 


    Live-Action TV 

  • Happens in Tower of God after Nia's death, as to confirm Lurker's statement that he is dead. We see his blood covered legs.
  • This happens twice in Kiss Wood after the Professor is shot by a Watcher and only a hand is shown of Ahbon's corpse as its crushed under rubble. Subverted with the latter, as he survives with only his hand injured.
  • Hai An's death in Infinity Game as the rest of his body is obscured by the explosion smoke.

  • Used at the beginning and end (for separate characters) in the music video for Beast's "Breath".
  • In the video for Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone", the protagonist hangs up the phone, then leaves his hotel room, pausing to shove the dangling arm of a corpse into the cabinet he'd presumably hidden a murder victim in.


    Western Animation