Dead Hand Shot
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 cover to Captain America #25 features Cap's gloved hand laying dead on the cover, amidst newspaper scraps. This was the issue that he supposedly died.
- Before Watchmen: In Minutemen, The Silhouette's death is depicted with a bloody slashed hand, instead of her mutilated corpse. The Liquidator, her killer, is also seen this way, his hand sticking out of a bathtub instead of the audience seeing his corpse.
- Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: Had an Anyone Can Die story and the final issue had a variant cover with a hand lying limp on the ground.
- In Ravages Of Time, this is how Xiao Meng meets his unhappy end, across several pages several pages that culminate thus.
- In issue #44 of IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, Bebop and Rocksteady deliver a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Donatello, apparently killing him; we see them walk out with Donnie's limp bloody hand◊ in the foreground.
- 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
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the flashback of Tom Riddle shows a hand hanging from a corpse on a barrow, carried by four unnamed medic wizards down a stairway. We later learn that the dead girl is the very girl whose ghost haunts the ladies' room in the second floor, and that she was killed by the basilisk on the orders of none other than Tom Riddle himself.
- The image comes from the Mexican film Bajo la Sal (Under the Salt). The movie itself also uses this shot several times to depict the murdered women found this way.
- Brick uses this on the poster and in the film for the protagonist's dead ex-girlfriend in the beginning.
- Citizen Kane starts off with a shot of Kane's hand holding a snowglobe, then dropping it when he dies.
- George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) movie has a zombie hand too, and those are the living dead. The hand doesn't have the courtesy to lie there prettily though. It grasps.
- After Kate is slashed to death in Dressed to Kill, the last we see of her is her bloodied hand, shuddering in its death throes, protruding through the partially open elevator door.
- The poster for the first Saw movie had this.
- The horror movie House, starring William Katt.
- The ending of the 1930 film version of All Quiet on the Western Front.
- Also a scene in the middle showing a French soldier's hand gripping some barbed wire after the rest of him has been blown to pieces.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Barbossa drops an apple as he dies.
- William Wallace after his execution at the end of Braveheart.
- After Neil kills himself in Dead Poets Society... though the drama is ruined somewhat by the subsequent slo-mo shot.
- Seen with Wilson's suicide by gunshot in The Great Gatsby.
- Orange Juice's death in the film version of Life of Pi.
- Cora's death in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
- Welcome to the Punch (2013). During a struggle in the morgue, the detective protagonist bumps into a laden gurney and a hand drops out from under the sheet. This is how he discovers his partner has just been murdered, due to her habit of writing notes on the back of her hand.
- Mad Max. Max forces his way into the hospital room where the Goose lies under an oxygen tent after being burnt alive in his car by Toecutter's gang. Cue the Goose's charred arm falling out from under the tent. Max then pulls back the cover, and only his horrified expression hints at what's under it.
- Subverted at the end of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. After Max causes a crash, the hand of Ironbar falls out of his vehicle, strokes the woman's dollface on his standard, then turns upwards for a final defiant Flipping the Bird.
- The storyboards for Ciem: Vigilante Centipede include a scene of Candi's hand sliding down the glass as she's being knocked out with gas.
- When the Doctor dies permanently in the Doctor Who episode "Turn Left", his body is covered with a sheet, but his limp hand falls into view and drops the sonic screwdriver.
- Used in an On the Next trailer for a Tonight Someone Dies episode of Downton Abbey, which featured the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Subverted, though; the clip of a hand falling limp onto a bed was actually an entirely innocent gesture by a character who fully recovers (though somebody else does die).
- Also subverted in Firefly, when Mal told Simon that Kaylee had died from the gunshot wound that Simon had previously repaired. After Simon frantically runs down to the infirmary... Kaylee is there, smiling and perfectly happy. Cut to Mal laughing his ass off.
- In Game of Thrones, the final indicator that Joffrey has been Killed Off for Real is a closeup of his bloodstained fingers twitching and then going still.
- Rome. After Caesar is murdered, his loyal slave Posca is shown hauling a cart through the streets, and Caesar's bloody hand drops from it.
- Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger The Movie: When Volka is defeated the first time, his hand falls to the floor and the lights in his eyes go out.
- 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.
- The box art for Dead Space.
- Left 4 Dead's cover art◊ is of a dead hand— it's in the opening movie as such.
- One of the very few images of Courier 6 from Fallout: New Vegas is of a very sad-looking hand, poking up out of a shallow grave.◊ It even carries over to his/her Caravan card in the special edition: a gloved hand bursting out of the ground.
- Fallout had such a shot in the Shady Sands ending if you took too long and the town got destroyed by the mutants.
- During a flashback in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, Claire's hand is the only part of her body that's exposed amidst the rubble following the catastrophic explosion that killed her and several other people.
- This is how the intro for Warcraft III ends.
- Used in Sonic 06 when Sonic is killed during the Last Episode.
- One of the endings for Bio Shock 1 shows this for the protagonist, on his deathbed.
- The Game Over screen for King Of The Monsters shows the arm of a corpse hanging over a wrecked car with the smoldering ruins of a Japanese city in the background.
- During the early-game Wham Episode of Xenoblade, the only thing we see of Fiora's likely horrifically-mangled corpse is her arm, before the Mini-Mecha she was riding in is tossed away.
- In the School Days HQ-exclusive bad ending (seen here), Kotonoha is pushed by Sekai onto train tracks and is fatally hit by the arriving bullet train. Right after the train hits, the scene cuts to Makoto holding the poor girl's torn-off hand
- The introduction to Animism: Book of the Emissaries has one after a running man is attacked by a wolf.
- Played with in Haunted Legends 6: The Dark Wishes as Duke Roberto is only believed to be dead due to dark magic, despite receiving one of these during the introduction.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 cartoon loved this trope. Standouts include Splinter (who in reality wasn't seriously hurt, although that didn't stop producers from using the shot to suggest it in the episode's promo), Tang Shen (who did).
- Near the end of the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Undersea Urgency", Jonny and other survivors of a doomed Underwater Base (overrun by CHUD-like creatures awakened by a a seaquake), one of surviving scientists tries to go back for one of the dead creatures (For Science!!). Turns out the creature (and it's inhuman maw full of razor-sharp teeth) is Not Quite Dead. Cue Dead Hand Shot.
- SWAT Kats used this. In "The Metallikats," gangster Katscratch is blasted by Mac Mange's laser gun, and goes crashing into a pile of crates, which collapse down onto him. We see his burned hand sticking out from under them. Then in "Razor's Edge," some of Dark Kat's ninja Mooks throw a guard into another pile of crates, burying him, and we see his twitching hand fumble for, and press, a silent alarm before he apparently dies or passes out.
- In the Superman theatrical short "Destruction, Inc.," we see the hand of a murdered night watchman sinking into a swamp at the beginning.
- One battle scene in Transformers Energon has an unfortunate Autobot do this after being blasted by Tidal Wave.