Drop Dead Gorgeous
And now she's deadThere seems to be nothing more dramatic to crime stories than a dead, naked woman. Whether fully or partially nude, dead women are far more likely to be sexualized than males. Often this is justified by the murdered women being the victims of sexual crimes, while other times the purpose seems purely to titillate the audience. Feminist literature is stocked to bursting with analysis and condemnation of this trend. Add a perverted character to the mix, and naked corpses might lead to I Love the Dead. The trope is quite likely to be used as a form of Fan Disservice. Contrast Jacob Marley Apparel. See also Death by Sex, The Murder After, Disposable Sex Worker, and Interplay of Sex and Violence. For the 1999 film, see Drop Dead Gorgeous. Since this is a Death Trope, beware of spoilers.
Forever dead and lovely now.
Forever dead and lovely now.
open/close all folders
- The pictured ad apparently wants you to remember that Duncan Quinn's high-quality ties are also useful for strangling half-naked women on the hood of your European sportscar. Duncan Quinn: for the fashionable psychopath!
- An ad series for the Hitman video games featured assassinated victims of the main character. The two female victims in the series are both sexualized, with one dressed in lingerie and the other naked in her bathtub.
Anime and Manga
- Mai-HiME episode 11, where Orphans (mistakenly called "vampires" by some of the students) randomly searched young females for the mark of the HiME. The one girl at the beginning of the episode who was attacked lived through her injuries. Later in the episode, the same thing happens to Aoi, and everyone thinks Sister Yukariko was the one behind it, because she's spotted at the scene with her bow in her hand, and Aoi has a few arrows sticking out of her.
- You can't throw an amputated ear without hitting one of these in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
- The work of photographers Kaoru Izima and Melanie Pullen.
- Ophelia◊, 1851-2, by Sir John Everett Millais. The model for the dead Ophelia became extremely ill while posing in icy water. It was often blamed for her chronic illnesses afterwards.
- Murder in the Serail◊ by Fernand Cormon is an 1872 orientalist painting depicting a naked harem girl who has been murdered by a harem guard while her dark rival sneers in triumph.
- Death of Sardanapalus◊ depicts Sardanapalus watching his naked concubines get slaughtered on his orders in preparation for his immolation.
- More than one painting has depicted Cleopatra as having been naked at the time of her death.
- The first Blacksad book begins with a murder scene: the victim is a woman, wearing vaporous night clothing, with one breast exposed. In the flashback to her murder, her night gown was noticeably closed. The writers revealed in a background making-off album that the implication was that the murderer played around with the corpse just for kicks.
- In Sin City, it's precisely this that sets Marv on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge Goldie's death. Notably they actually just had consensual sex, but her murderer killed her while Marv was stil sleeping.
- DC stirred up controversy by starting a contest asking for amateur artists to draw a series of four panels in which Harley Quinn is attempting suicide. The final panel for the contest is supposed to be Harley sitting naked in a bathtub and about to electrocute herself with appliances. Although the contest is apparently going more for a Harold Lloyd in Never Weaken vibe, online critics felt the company was eroticizing misogyny.
Films — Animated
- In Corpse Bride, Emily is a primary character with an active role in the movie, but she is still dead. Even after having been murdered by Lord Barkis, her fiance in life and decomposed over several years, she is genuinely pretty.
Films — Live-Action
- Several James Bond films feature the trope:
- One of cinema's most enduring images is the naked body of a murdered woman painted gold in Goldfinger. Of course, the murder method is pure pseudoscience.
- Quantum of Solace has a Shout-Out to the Goldfinger body when Agent Fields is discovered to have drowned in oil and her apparently naked body laid out across a bed.
- In Casino Royale Vesper Lynd's corpse has a Sexy Soaked Shirt.
- Most slasher movies are based around the concept of naked or partially clad girls getting killed.
- The first victim in the first Lethal Weapon movie had on just a skimpy robe which was worn open and fluttered around her otherwise nude body.
- In Frenzy, a naked victim of the killer floats in the river in the film's first minutes.
- In Psycho, Janet Leigh's character is slashed to death while taking a shower. Camera angles and fast cutting give the impression of a naked body, though no actual nudity is shown.
- Perfume features a lengthy montage of the naked corpses of virgin girls who have been dumped around the city by the Villain Protagonist, who kills them to steal their scent.
- In The General's Daughter, the woman of the title is found naked, strangled, and bound to the earth. It turns out she was recreating a previous sexual assault when a psycho soldier found her and killed her.
- In After Hours, the protagonist discovers Rosanna Arquette's naked body in her bed after she has committed suicide by sleeping pills. He had rejected her advances out of fears that she had terrible burn scars, so he pulls the blanket off of her and inspects her body, finding only a tattoo.
- A gag in Bad Boys 2 involves the heroes discovering the corpse of a naked woman with gigantic breasts. Martin Lawrence's character hides underneath the sheet with the body and stares at her breasts while mooks search the area. Negative reviews of the film made particular mention of this scene's poor taste.
- In Interview With A Vampire, Kirsten Dunst's character hides the naked body of a woman with her dolls, reflecting her inability to ever grow into an adult. In another scene, a theatrical vampire troupe kills a naked woman onstage before an unwitting audience.
- In River's Edge, a teenager leaves the naked body of his murdered girlfriend at the titular river's edge and shows it to his group of friends, who then swear to silence.
- Whispers in the Dark: Deborah Kara Unger is killed by Alan Alda and her naked body is later discovered hanging from the ceiling.
- In Angel Heart, Mickey Rourke discovers the naked body of Lisa Bonet, and it turns out he murdered her and suppressed the memory. The squicky sex and violence of the film caused quite a stir over Lisa Bonet's involvement, who was known at the time for her role in The Cosby Show.
- In Underworld Evolution, Selene kills Andreas Tanis' vampire concubines. After she leaves, he dumps their naked bodies in the dungeon.
- In a rare male example, the blind butler in Murder by Death is discovered sitting at a desk, naked. When Dora Charleston wonders aloud what anyone would want with a naked body, her husband whispers into her ear. She smirks incredulously and exclaims, "Oh, that's... tacky!"
- This happens in Munich to Jeanette, the Dutch assassin. The protagonist even made a point of pushing aside the front of her bathrobe to expose her body, an act he later regrets.
- The entire plot of the indie comedy Drop Dead Sexy revolves around the theft of the dead body of a beautiful blonde by two small-time crooks so they can hold it for ransom from her equally crooked husband who had her murdered in the first place. The blonde's body, originally clad in a nightgown when the protagonists remove it from its coffin, spends most of the movie stripped down to bra and panties. In a lengthy scene in a morgue, the nude body of another attractive woman, half-covered by a sheet, is prominently featured.
- Joaquin Phoenix gets a little too excited by naked, dead Kate Winslet in Quills.
- In The Secret in Their Eyes, Liliana Colotto is found naked on her bedroom floor after being brutally raped and murdered.
- The Film of the Book of The Lovely Bones was accused by some critics of doing this with the fourteen-year-old protagonist.
- The 2010 film Drop Dead Gorgeous (not the one in the Film namespace) features a model who dies part-way through a fashion shoot, so the crew completes the shoot with her corpse. The dead model's resulting popularity is a satire on the fashion industry for forcing models to lead unhealthy lifestyles and for presenting lifeless expressions and poses as sexy.
- The title character in Frank Sinatra's "Tony Rome" sequel, Lady in Cement.
- Invoked in the animated "Lost Scene" segment of Clerks. Dante and Randall go to visit Julie's wake, an old girlfriend of Dante. When they get to the coffin they see she's only wearing a black bikini top on her upper half, and assume she probably requested it. Hilarity Ensues when they drop their keys in her lap.
- In Action Jackson, a coroner laments that most of the beautiful women he sees naked are dead, while looking at the corpse of such a woman.
- Student Bodies, possibly the first parody of the Slasher genre, has an example in its poster◊, which features a dead, buxom girl sprawled across her classroom desk, with her bare legs prominently displayed.
- In the campy comedy Vampire U, some college students stake a seductive vampiress, and one of the students says "Nice side-boob!" as he admires his handiwork.
- The Dresden Files Book One, Storm Front, begins with Harry called to a crime scene involving a naked dead woman - who died in intercourse with an equally naked man, for good measure. It's not particularly erotic, since both victims had their hearts exploded out of their chests with magic.
- Edgar Allan Poe famously said, "There is nothing more poetic than the death of a beautiful woman."
- The fully illustrated Who Killed Amanda Palmer by Neil Gaiman.
- A number of episodes of Law & Order and its spin-offs. Of course, given that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit partially involves sex crimes, there's a slight justification for it.
- In Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer's body is found naked and wrapped in a sheet of plastic.
- CSI episodes often feature young, attractive, female victims in very limited states of dress.
- Dexter has done this multiple times, maybe most notably when the Trinity Killer murders a very attractive naked woman in a bathtub in the Season 4 premiere. This is paralleled in the season five premiere when the main characters see Rita's dead body in a bathtub, and Masuka says that he's often pictured her naked "but never like this."
- The Wire:
- Bunk and McNulty investigate the scene of an old crime where a woman was murdered, while delivering a Cluster F-Bomb. They reference crime scene photos showing the victim wearing only an open bathrobe at the scene. In another episode, drug dealers discover that a naked woman has overdosed at their party, so they dump her body in the trash.
- In the fifth season, McNulty and another character have a conversation at the morgue regarding a male corpse, which is laying there completely uncovered the whole time.
- In an early episode from The Shield, Detective Wagenbach can't help but stare at a naked dead woman's breasts. He justifies himself by saying something about how remarkably firm they are, to which detective Claudette Wyms sarcastically replies 'That's called rigor mortis'.
- In a rare male example, the Poirot episode 'Five Little Pigs' features the very sexualised corpse of Amyas Crale. More than once.
- An ill-advised episode of America's Next Top Model had the contestants made up as "sexy" corpses who had each been murdered in a different way "by a jealous model," complete with fake wounds, bruises, etc.
- A Game of Thrones episode ends on the dead body of Ros the prostitute who has been shot to death with a crossbow. The camera pans across her body, and somewhere between her tousled red hair and the soft lighting, she ends up looking like a martyr in a Renaissance painting. She was also scantily clad, a former sex-worker, and killed whilst sitting tied to the end of a bed.
- This trope shows up occasionally in Silent Witness, but the vast majority of dead bodies look like murder victims, and thus are not sexualised. Additionally, both male and female victims are usually naked during autopsy scenes (with censorship from conveniently placed lab equipment), and this is treated as part of the process rather than Fanservice.
- This is a recurring theme in Serbian artist Dead Body Collection's works. Heck, instances of such have shown up on his covers, such as "Throat," "Catoptrophobia," "She Is Like Winter" and "I Slice Her Body, Over And Over."
- The famous music video for Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" features Kim Basinger's corpse receiving quite a lot of Male Gaze before Petty's character takes it on an actual date.
- Kanye West's video for "Monster" features quite a few scantily clad corpses, most of them young women in lingerie.
- "Can't Go Back" by Primal Scream made this trope central to the video, as three professional models meeting their demise. Bobby Gillespie, on the other hand, meets his death the old-fashioned (and more gruesome) way—an axe.
- Perfection Girl is a series of photographs that circulated around the internet of an attractive blonde woman lying in a bed. A block of text linked with the photos claimed that the girl was actually dead, "tricking" people who see the photos into lustful thoughts about a corpse. It's highly dubious that the girl is actually dead, making it sort of an inverse prank.
- Evelyn McHale, photographed minutes after committing suicide by leaping from the Empire State Building in 1947. Called "the most beautiful suicide" by some.
- This trope is mostly averted in Real Life.
- For example, there are a couple of photographs of Marilyn Monroe (head/face shots) taken after her autopsy which are not recommended viewing for anyone who prefers to remember what she looked like alive. The people who prepared her body for viewing at her funeral had to do extensive reconstructive work to restore her beauty.
- Austrian coroner and author of quite dark humoured popular science books, Hans Bankl, stated once that he hardly ever had any cases in his long career. However, as a young doctor he was confronted with the body of a 16-year old trick shot performer, who had killed herself in an unbelievable manner. According to him she was extraordinarily beautiful, even in death.
- One of the most enduring mysteries of the Battle of Waterloo is the strange incident of the body of a "strikingly beautiful" young woman, dressed in the uniform of a French officer of cuiraissers, which was found by several British officers inspecting the battlefield on the morning of June 19, 1815, the day following the battle. The woman's body was found near the hamlet of La Haye Sainte, where some of the fiercest fighting (including the climactic charge by Napoleon's Imperial Guard) occurred. While she has never been identified, the prevailing theory among students of the battle is that she was a camp follower, possibly the mistress of a French cavalry officer, who went forward in a charge alongside her lover and was killed.
- L'Inconnue de la Seine ("the unknown woman of the Seine"), a death mask of an anonymous young woman whose body was supposedly recovered from the river Seine in Paris, was an incredibly popular artistic and erotic icon in early 20th-century Europe (and, eventually, the model for the Rescusci-Annie CPR dummy).