"Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake,
Stepped on the gas instead of the brake"
Gravestones should generally be somber or reflective, so in fiction, it's common to put funny epitaphs on them. It could be a poem or a record or suggestion of an ironic or strange death. It could be a pun based on the late character's name. E.g.: "Paul E. Nate - A wonderful husband, father and florist." This is especially common in video games, as the player may blindly ignore the graveyard, or be too busy fighting zombies or whatever. Can be used to as a Shout-Out
or a Take That
, often suggesting the fate of a character from another, rival work. Can be an example of Truth in Television
. Related to, but not to be confused with, Black Comedy
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- Jean Grey of the X-Men is known for her habit of dying and coming back to life. One comic shows Cyclops walking away from her grave stone, which says Jean Grey: BRB◊.
- In The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day, the MacManus Brothers, Connor and Murphy, visit the grave of their friend and partner, Rocco. As they silently pray, Murphy notices that the picture on the tomb is Rocco's mugshot, and that a painted-out police arm is holding his long hair up out of his face in a ridiculous fashion. All reverence quickly disappears.
- In Rango, there's a brief shot of the town's cemetery, featuring a cluster of graves belonging to former sheriffs. Some of them have humorous epitaphs, including "Hold my beer and watch this" and "He's Dead, Jim".
- In This Is Spinal Tap, David St. Hubbins suggests an epitaph for his own grave at one point: "Here Lies David St. Hubbins. And Why Not?"
Live Action TV
- Dungeons & Dragons module I6 Ravenloft. The tombs under Castle Ravenloft had a number of funny inscriptions on their individual crypts.
- "Artista DeSlop — Court Ceiling Painter"
- "Prince Aerial Du Plumette (Aerial the Heavy)"
- "Artank Swilovich: Here interred and with great mourning courtesy of the Barovian Wine Distillers Brotherhood."
- "Sir Sedrik Spinwitovich (Admiral Spinwitovich). Confused though he was, he built the greatest naval force ever assembled in a land locked country."
- "Ivan DeRose, Champion of Winter Dog Racing. The race may go to the swift, but vengeance is for the loser's relatives."
- The tombstones outside of The Haunted Mansion ride at Disney Theme Parks.
- The Lonesome Manor in Epic Mickey, which is based on this ride, has them as well.
- The train ride at Six Flags over Georgia in the late 1970s had a tombstone hidden among the weeds: "I Tole You I Wuz Sick!"
- Six Flags Great America has a ton of these as part of its decorations during Fright Fest.
- In RuneScape, the boss room of Gravecreeper is littered with graves of the game developers.
- The "last rites" option of Saradomin's holy book (like a Bible) reads "Thy cause was false, thy skills did lack; see you in Lumbridge when you get back." (Lumbridge is normally where players respawn).
- Sam and Max in Night of The Raving Dead
- Final Fantasy I had a tombstone reading, "Here lies Erdrick," after the hero (well, hero's ancestor) of competing game company Enix's Dragon Quest I.
- In the original Japanese version and the Dawn of Souls English translation, the tombstone read "here lies Link".
- Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura had these in every graveyard in the game, with inscriptions like. "I told you I was sick!" "Here lies an atheist all dressed up and no place to go." "Quoeth thy Raven nevermore." "Hey who blew out the candle? Hello?" and "There was a light at the end of the tunnel, unfortunately that light was a train."
- There was also a hidden 'Fan Graveyard' as an Easter Egg, where forum members familiar to the devs were eulogized.
- Conkers Bad Fur Day had some fun with raunchy Punny Names; R. Sole is an example.
- Primal had Jen smash a tombstone that read 'RIP Laura Croft 2003' as a Take That to Tomb Raider. The game came out in 2003, obviously.
- Can be found in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island and Tales of Monkey Island.
- Fallout 2 has a number of these, including the "four slugs from a .44" example below.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had a whole graveyard of these in its expansion pack, with new tombstones added with each dead character, regardless of involvment in the main storyline. Every new Sheothian has a unique narrative regarding their personality on their tombstones.
- The Elder Scrolls Legends: Battlespire had another whole graveyard of these, and this graveyard was referenced to in The Elder Scrolls Adventures: Redguard.
- Neverwinter Nights has a tombstone that reads along the lines of "Here lies X, who scoffed at the warnings of lesser men and built this fine tower. He discovered his error a few weeks later. Beware of trolls."
- The graveyard in Nashkel in the first Baldur's Gate game is full of these, including an Easter Egg that'll trigger a Bonus Boss fight if you click on it too many times.
- Baldur's Gate beats this one to death in one town. You get things like "Here lies X, who was killed by (long list of summonable creatures)" followed by the Latin for "do not call up what you cannot put down", implying that this was a hapless summoner who didn't know what he was getting into.
- Dave F. Slain by 13 Gibberlings, 4 Kobolds, 6 Ogres and 2 Dire Wolves. Ne invoces expellere non possis. (Do not call up that which you cannot put down.)
- The city of Haven in Dragon Age: Origins has a graveyard filled with humorous tombstones, including some Shout Outs to others on the the page. ("Sensal Gaheris: 775-798, 798-801, 801-805, 805-807, 807-809 (VERIFIED), 'BEST TAX EVADER EVER' — CH")
- The Imperial City's graveyard in Jade Empire also has a few Mythology Gags and Shout Outs on the gravestones.
- See also the Cartoon Network Web game Scooby-Doo and the Hollywood Horror.
- Used in Quest for Glory IV, with numerous "graveyard humor" jokes scattered beyond the tombstones.
- And Quest for Glory I, for that matter.
- Not to mention Igor, who is a veritable walking fountain of graveyard humor.
- Also seen in King's Quest VII. Here's a video.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Warriors of the Eternal Sun has these.
- Fable has many of these. Most using the rhyming pun. The deceased tend to be people who worked on the game.
- Betrayal at Krondor had a mix of ordinary and humorous quips on the gravestones, and you were also able to dig up the graves. Most graves had nothing special, some had hidden items hinted at by the eulogy (for example, a gravestone reading "Drank his milk every day" hid a few vials of milk), and some had "The fiend beneath this stone is trapped by dirt, not by death": Zombies!
- Most people who played The Oregon Trail as a kid put "pepperoni and cheese" on their tombstones. The others put profanities on theirs.
- The PC game Sacred does this, including such epitaphs as "And he said, 'How long will the flying spell last?'" and the fourth-wall breaking "For the ultimate cheat of void, enter DOS, type 'format C:\' and enter."
- NetHack. There are randomly generated graves with these. There are loads of them and several places add more to the file (nethack.alt.org has a massive collection). A few examples include:
- Ultima V, VI and VII had a number of puns on grave stones.
- In Veil Of Darkness, the graveyard is filled with these, including one G. Threepwood and how woefully he was under for 11 minutes.
- Chapter 5 of StarTropics 2: Zoda's Revenge takes place in a Wild West setting, where you can find several humorous (and rhyming) epitaphs in a local mining town. "Here lies Lucky Larry. His luck ran out and now he's buried."
- Sanitarium has plenty, mostly for developers. There's also the grave of Joseph Bruener, a character from War Wind II (a game which Sanitarium's developers had previously worked on).
- "This one says Travis W. Nice Goddamn Cat..." Granted, this was on a level that's basically a mangled bunch of all the previous levels, so randomness like this is expected.
- MOTHER 3 has a hurricane of "grave" puns. Also, a "NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED" sign at the cemetery entrance.
- Mortal Kombat 3 features tombstones of the game's developers, as well as one reading "Cage", presumably a reference to Johnny Cage, the character who died before the events of the game.
- Neopets' first Video Game release, Neopets: The Darkest Faerie, lets you read the unusually jovial tombstones around crypts.
- Shadow Warrior has a hidden tombstone that says "Chan — He Slipped in the Shower".
- John Marston has "Blessed are the Peacemakers." As in Colt Peacemakers.
- The graveyards in New Austin and West Elizabeth sometimes boast humorous tombstones such as one reading "Unknown person - So drunk he did not remember dying" or "If you are reading this, I must be dead". The Coot's Chapel graveyard manages to fly a few past the radar with inscriptions such as "Never try to milk a bull."
- Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories' Staunton graveyard is chucked full of these. Hilariously, it becomes increasingly populated as your protagonist kills off selected characters throughout the storyline.
- On a more minor note, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas features "R.I.P. Opposition" tombstones at a San Fierro memorial, referring to the rivalry between Rockstar North and developers of "GTA clones".
- In the Xbox Indie game Doom & Destiny, there are a bunch of these in the graveyard underneath Ben's house.
- Pirate101 gives us a few while looking for Honest Ned's grave in the lighthouse graveyard. If the player has Brigus Latro as a companion, he'll get annoyed and hang a lampshade on it.
- Team Fortress 2:
- Spy: "Here lies Scout. He ran fast and died a virgin."
- Harvest_event has a tombstone reading "RIP The Tenth Class," a reference to players constantly clamoring to discover/add a hidden tenth class or the removed Civilian class from the Hunted game mode.
- Deathcam screenshots are a more ephemeral, digital form of this, since they always read "You were killed by [killer's name]." Some players would have therefore take on names like "An Expired Sandvich" or "Irony" specifically to have fun with this feature. More bawdy players would use names that cause the deathcam screenshot to imply death by more raunchy means for much the same reason.
- Eugene Greenhilt's tombstone in The Order of the Stick, in addition to listing his many dates of death and resurrection, reads, "Master Wizard, Devoted Husband, Passable Father". (He was lucky to get that much. They probably averaged out his treatment of Roy and Julia.) Other visible tombstones display similar humor ("Bloodmak the Unholy: Not coming back as a vampire. Honest.")
- A staple of the webcomic Unlife Is Unfair, particularly the name puns like "Dustin Dewinn" and "Rick R. Mortis".
- In Girl Genius, a visit to the Crypt of the Heterodynes reveals many amusing epitaphs. Perhaps most interesting is the tomb of Lazarus Heterodyne, with half a dozen dates crossed out.
- As well as Iscariot Heterodyne, "Every Man's Friend". The pile of skulls next to the crypt has labels like "Friend #115".
- Happens frequently in The Comic Adventures of Left & Right. The grave usually reads something pertinent to the last thing a character was doing.
- In the ending of Let's Destoy the Shagohod! from Hiimdaisy the american president rewrites The Boss grave to "In Memory of a loser who was a loser". No need to say how Big Boss reacted.
- From Hale's Nuzlocke Comics, the prologue graveyard scene has two. A (ghost type) Gengar's epitaph reads "Lolwut?" A Mudkip's says "No one really liked him!"
- Hey Arnold! did this with a Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion.
- The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper did this in the credit sequence, with the tombstones featuring Just for Pun jokes. Sometimes they varied things with jokes like a tombstone reading "I'm with stupid" next to another tombstone reading, "I'm stupid".
- The opening titles of several of The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" episodes.
- The last one to use them actually had a tombstone reading "Amusing Tombstones", signaling the retirement of the gag.
- The Sponge Bob Square Pants episode where Mr. Krabs goes to a graveyard to dig up a million-dollar hat. Squidward was mourning at a tombstone and when Mr. Krabs came to see who it was, he sees that the engraving reads "Here lie Squidwards hopes and dreams." In the same graveyard, there's "Diver Dan", whose tombstone has carved scuba gear on it; "Stupid" next to "I'm With Stupid", complete with pointing hand, and most importantly, the "#1" shaped tombstone of Smitty Werbenjaegermanjensen, whose name extends off the name plaque.
- Beavis And Butthead in their parody of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol: 'Here lies Beavis. He never scored.'
- This became the subject of Memetic Mutation after the Isla Vista killings in 2014 which were carried out by a sexually frustrated virgin named Elliot Rodger: "Here lies Elliot. He never scored."
- Happens once in Messieurs les enfants by Daniel Pennac.
- Arthur contains several on the final page of Arthur's Halloween, with probably the most bizarre being "Here lies the body of Sally Bent: Kicked up her heels and away she went"
- Two examples from Snopes:
- Comedian Spike Milligan's grave says, "I told you I was ill". However, the inscription is in Irish Gaelic, because the bishop wouldn't allow it in English.
- Rodney Dangerfield's epitaph: There goes the neighborhood.
- In the Boothill graveyard near Tombstone, Arizona, there's a grave that reads:
"Here lies Lester Moore, four slugs from a .44, no Les, no more."
- Another one reads, "Hanged By Mistake."
- In a Silver City, Nevada Boot Hill:
"Here lies Butch. We planted him raw. He was quick on the trigger, but slow on the draw."
- Comedian W.C. Fields used to say that he wanted his gravestone to read, "On the whole, I'd rather be in Philadelphia." Sadly, it doesn't.
- Older than You Think: Ambrose Bierce has examples of humorous epitaphs in The Devil's Dictionary, such as "Sacred to the memory of Jeremiah Tree. Cut down May 9th, 1862, aged 27 yrs. 4 mos. and 12 ds. Indigenous."
Here lies the late Senator Vrooman
Whose head was as hard as the heart of a woman
Whose heart was as hard as the head of a hammer
Dame Fortune inspired him to eminence, damn her!
- Robert Burns also wrote humorous epitaphs, like Epitaph on a Wag in Mauchline.
- Groucho Marx once jokingly suggested his tombstone be inscribed with 'Excuse me, I can't stand up'. They put a Star of David on it instead.
- Leslie Nielsen said he was going to put a fart joke on his gravestone. And he delivered.
- Mel Blanc's tombstone displays an appropriate, and well known quote◊
- Jack Lemmon's epitaph: "Jack Lemmon in":
- Merv Griffin's epitaph: "I will not be back right after this message".
- 25 of them here.
- While it is about a grave and not inscribed on it, Lord Byron's quip about Viscount Castlereigh is just too delicious to not mention:
Posterity will ne'er survey
A nobler grave than this:
Here lie the bones of Castlereagh:
Stop, traveller, and piss.
- The tombstone of Swedish author Fritiof Nilsson "The Pirate" famously reads:
Here lie the ashes of a man in the habit of putting everything off until tomorrow. He changed for the better on his deathbed, however, and did in fact die on 31 January 1972.
- Billy Wilder's epitaph makes use of the last line of one of his most beloved movies, Some Like It Hot: "I'm a writer, but then nobody's perfect◊".