When Never Found the Body
is subverted—after a long time. It can be an emotional scene, as friends and family can finally take their loved one to a final resting place. (This can also be used to settle any Wild Mass Guessing
that claims that the character may have survived after all
This is, sadly, often Truth in Television
, and may prove Legally Dead
A variation can be proof of their fate—for example, a burial record or finding a possession in a manner that strongly suggests the person is dead.
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Anime and Manga
- In the old Italian(?) story "Ginevra", the title character's body is found in a trunk, years after she vanished while playing hide-and-seek on the eve of her wedding... she'd accidentally locked herself in.
- More variations of the tale can be found here.
- In Final Watch, Anton believes that Kostya's body has never been found after the events of Twilight Watch. Geser proves him wrong.
- In Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, it's Frank Bennet's truck that's finally found, giving evidence to the cause of his disappearance. When the Cafe is being bulldozed, a skull with a glass eye is found in the garden. Guess what Frank's left eye was made of...
- Brat Farrar by Josephine Tey revolves around the disappearance of Patrick Ashby, who left a suicide note but his body was not found. The body turns up near the end of the novel, many years later.
- Used very poignantly in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the original novel), where a group of Paris sewer cleaners stumble upon the long-rotted remains of Quasimodo and Esmeralda. Together.
- In Blackwater, Brodie thinks Otis might be the one sending him notes pressuring him to tell the truth about how Pauline died, but then Otis' body is found at the bottom of the river.
- The victim in the Sano Ichiro novel The Fire Kimono. He was thought to have been killed in a massive fire that ravaged Edo, but his body is found decades later under a tree toppled by a windstorm. Rather than being burned, there were signs he had been killed with a sword, starting Sano's investigation.
- In the British series Case Histories the detective is charged with finding a girl who disappeared thirty years ago. He finds her in her neighbor's garden.
- In the Pretty Little Liars series, Alison's body is found buried behind her house long, long after she goes missing.
- Mundo Cani's skeleton is found underneath the earth in The Book of Sorrows, some time after his Heroic Sacrifice in The Book of the Dun Cow.
Live Action Television
- An episode of CSI has a woman lose her daughter, son and husband in a car accident. The son ends up being in a box in her attic. The daughter and husband turn up too, but they ended up being alive, at least until the wife killed the husband in a fit of crazy.
- In another episode, a corpse found inside a house's chimney leads to the discovery of another corpse matching a young woman who dissappeared a year ago. Her father had stolen the first corpse from a morgue and stuffed it in the chimney since he was sure the house's owner was the culprit and by planting the corpse, the house would be investigated more thoroughly than the first time and his daughter's body found.
- Very often the break in the case on Cold Case Files.
- And on the fictional version, Cold Case, for the episodes where it was a missing persons case that went cold, rather than a murder case—although we the audience have already seen the victim's body at the beginning of the episode and know that he/she is dead.
- Bones: Exty years after Brennan's parents disappeared (when she was 13), the body of her mother is found. Many other episodes involve this as well only for victims unrelated to the main cast.
- In a 1970 episode of the soap All My Children, a teen named Bobby Martin goes up in his family's attic to wax his skis. The actor was then abruptly fired and so Bobby was never seen again. Years later, the show lampshaded this by having a character go into the same attic and find a skeleton with a pair of skis, wearing a ski hat with "Bobby" on it—a comedic example of a Bus Crash.
- In new Battlestar Galactica, Starbuck comes back from the dead and finds her own body. She and the deeply religious Cylon Leoben are completely freaked out by it. He actually takes off.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations 2, Yutaka Kazami takes Paul Holic's body and hides it inside a sculpture so it isn't found during the investigation. It's only found 18 years later when Tsukasa Oyashiki buys back the mansion that the murder took place in.
- Referenced in Lust over Pendle when Draco is escaping Malfoy Manor while it's under attack from the Ministry. The Bride is a family ghost who, legend has it, is supposed to have been a Muggle who married into the family, only to vanish during the wedding celebrations after everyone had gotten snowed in and someone decided it'd be a good idea to play a game of hide-and-seek. Her body was found several years later, locked in a trunk. The Bride, by the way, guards one of the alternate escape routes - the one Draco ends up having to use - and demands a password from Draco before she'll let him past. He figures out the right one.
- Used in Marble Hornets when Beardy is killed and then taken by The Operator in Entry #49. It isn't until Entry #65 that Tim stumbles across his body while in an Eldritch Location. Despite the passage of time (almost 2 years) the body shows no sign of decay. However, Tim is forced to leave the Eldritch Location before he can do anything about the body.
- The body of Anastasia Romanov was finally found, disproving all who claimed to be her.
- There was a news about a woman who found the body of her son, who had hanged himself in the basement years earlier. Nobody had happened to have gone into that room since then. They had thought he ran away from home.
- In Calgary, a car was pulled from a lake. A bystander told the police of a woman who had disappeared in the area many years earlier. The car's license plates were checked, and the woman's disappearance was solved.
- This is a very common occurrence—people driving into lakes, rivers, etc because they've gotten lost and/or disoriented, disappearing off the face of the earth, leaving their grieving friends and family utterly bewildered as to what happened to them, only to be found even decades later, finally answering their loved ones' questions and giving them some measure of peace.
- The Franklin Expedition into the arctic vanished in the 1840s, and Lady Franklin made many petitions to the governments of the major powers to go looking for it. She even became an expert in the arctic herself and outfitted several missions to find her husband or any trace of his fate. While they didn't recover the body itself, the searchers found a record of his burial along with a grim hint that the expedition ended in disaster.
- In 2014, they found one of the ships, identified as the Erebus.
- The body of mountain climber George Mallory was found in 1999, 75 years after his disappearance at Mount Everest. It is assumed he was descending from the summit when he had died. The body of his companion, Andrew Irvine, has not yet been found. It is highly possible they actually had been the first to climb to Mount Everest, before Tenzing and Hillary.
- The body of Carole Pappas, wife of baseball player Milt Pappas, was finally found in 1987, five years after her disappearance—inside her car, in a pond only a short distance from her home.
- Many of the "Updates" on Unsolved Mysteries dealing with mysterious disappearances were like this, with the victim's remains being found. The families of the victim's will often consider this at least a partial Bittersweet Ending, since they at least have closure.
- A community member of Rooster Teeth, known to the masses as David "Knuckles Dawson" Dreger, deleted all of his accounts, and went missing for a month while leaving his phone and wallet at home. His body was found a month later, after a dedicated effort to bring him home by fans and Rooster Teeth employees alike.