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How long has he been dead? Orderly:
Five hours. Nina Sharp:
Death. The End. Once you're down for the count, you aren't getting back up. There's no way you can tell the police or other law enforcement agencies who dunnit to you
. Fortunately, the authorities have advanced technology at their disposal that can either revive you or scan your post-mortem mind in order to gather information. So just lie back on that slab and start talking.
When it is inspired by or refers to an old legend that a murder victim's eyes will hold a reflection of the last thing he saw, it is Eye Remember
Sometimes overlaps with Dead Person Conversation
and I See Dead People
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Anime & Manga
Films — Animation
Films — Live-Action
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: Breaker stabs two needles in the sides of an dead assailant's head claiming that he can scan the mind for about three minutes after death. The guy is eaten by nanomachines before he can reveal anything more than a single image.
- In the first movie, Hellboy dugs up corpse Ivan and reanimate him to have a guide in the Russian cemetary.
- In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Dr. Krauss uses his magic gas stuff to briefly reanimate one of the Tooth Fairies for interrogation.
- The Princess Bride. Miracle Max uses a bellows to allow a mostly dead Westley to reveal that his motivation for living is "true love".
- A shinto priest allows the victim to speak through him by magic and give his version of the murder in Rashomon.
- In The 6th Day , the mind scan used to imprint clones with their donors memories also works on corpses for a few hours after death. As well as imprinting clones, the recordings can also be reviewed via computer, seeing through the eyes of the donor.
- In Dark Star, dead and cryogenically frozen Commander Powell can still be asked for advice.
- In Rashomon a medium calls back the dead man's ghost to testify.
- Journeyman Wizard by Mary Frances Zambrano has the heroes perform a Questing (the magical version of this), only to bring back the deceased's vengeful ghost instead.
- Played for laughs in a Discworld story, "Theatre of Cruelty", in which it's mentioned that the existence of zombies mean that the victims are sometimes the key witnesses in their own murder.
- Also played straight-ish(as straight as any trope on the Disc can be played, anyways) in Making Money, where a dead professor from the Unseen University is brought back to consult on an ancient civilization.
- In the Babylon 5 Expanded Universe novels, Technomages have developed a technique to extract memories from dead brains with nanotechnology. It's not pretty.
- Heretics of Dune: An Ixian Probe can scan the mind of a recently dead person. Taking the drug "shere" will prevent a probe from working long enough for the brain cells to die and become unreadable.
- Necroscope: Harry Keogh can converse with murder victims due to his clairvoyance. There are also various vampire necromancers that bind souls to corpses so they can torture the truth out of them.
- Strange does this with some enemy soldiers in the Napoleonic War chapters of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.
- Speaking with the Dead by Elaine Cunningham (Realms of Mystery anthology), as one can guess is about this with a "little" twist.
- In Xenos, Inquisitor Eisenhorn and Commodus Voke attempt to interrogate the high level psyker they kill. The psyker turns the interrogation into a portal to the warp, sending multiple daemons to attack the gathered Inquisitors.
- This is, perhaps unsurprisingly, one of the key tricks of Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, later to be Johannes Cabal the Detective.
- In the Nightside series, Walker gets pretty sick and tired of people reminiscing about the time he invoked this trope, using his Voice to question a dead body.
- There are various ways to do this in The Dresden Files, most of them against strictly-enforced rules. Rules enforced with pointy objects and angry wizards. Molly does one of the legitimate ones, on what turned out to be the victim of a succubus. Awkwardness ensued for the watchers. Most of those other ways tend to involve Necromancy, and invite Wardens to come and behead people.
- The so-called "mechanical educators" in E. E. “Doc” Smith's Skylark Series can be used to read dead minds, as long as they're relatively intact and haven't been dead for more than a few hours.
- The first chapter of Greg Egan's Distress features police with a technology that briefly brings back people from the dead, which is used to aid in solving murders.
- Odysseus Grant demonstrated that this was part of his bag of tricks during Kitty's House of Horrors. It is not something he does lightly.
- Dungeons & Dragons has the third-level clerical spell Speak with Dead. Although it actually draws information from an "imprint" left on the body rather than truly bringing them back to life. It allows you to ask one question of the dead person per two caster levels (up to 10 for a max-level cleric).
- Nearly every gameline in the New World of Darkness has a Discipline/Spell/Manifestation/Contract/what-have-you to provide this sort of power, though the Sin-Eaters tend to do it most often.
- Exalted has several ways of doing this, most of them involving summoning up ghosts. One notable thaumaturgic ritual requires you to remove the flesh from the skull, use bronze wire to fix the jaw in place and ritualistically make out with it for a few minutes before you can interrogate it.
- Wereravens in Werewolf: The Apocalypse have the unique ability to absorb the last sight of the dead by eating their eyeballs. Among other uses, it lets them find out what killed the poor sap. Allegedly, this is an acquired taste.
- Magic: The Gathering: In the backstory of the Innistrad block, Liliana Vess comes to the plane seeking the demon Griselbrand to kill him and to reclaim the portion of her soul she sold to him. She soon learns that the last remaining person who knew Griselbrand's whereabouts is dead. This would be a dead-end for most people, but Liliana happens to be a necromancer...
- There's a scene in Zork Nemesis where you have to cut the head off a corpse, then mount it on a machine so you can ask it questions.
- In Arcanum, you can summon spirits of dead people. Some will have side-quest-relevant info, but most will only complain about the pain (which, as you discover later, is main-plot-relevant!).
- The Nameless One from Planescape: Torment can do this once he learns the Stories-Bones-Tell ability.
- The party ends up assisting a Necromancer in interrogating a dead goblin early in Icewind Dale II, garbling information about an incoming attack. Unfortunately, you're always just too slow to do any good with the information.
- Done with magic crystals in Pathways Into Darkness.
- The Constantine videogame has a mission in which John uses necromancy to learn about the final moments of a murdered angel.
- Trouble In Terrorist Town has gathering information from corpses as a major part of its gameplay and the main way to find out who's the traitor. They provide the living innocents who died, what weapon was used to kill them, how long since they died, the last person they saw, what their last words were, and anybody they killed.
- A subplot in Diablo III involves you contacting a the spirit of a long-dead mage for information. But he refuses to answer your questions unless you help bring him back to life.
- This is fairly routine in Fallen London, since Death Is Cheap for the entire city barring a few causes of death. You just wait for the victim to come back to life.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
- The arrest of Yanni Yogi is based on testimony from a spirit medium channeling the murder victim.
- And in the third game, you get to cross-examine a ghost using the same method.
- Atsuki Saijo of Lux-Pain can read thoughts, and though quite risky, this includes the last thoughts of a deceased person.
- Kore the dwarven paladin use Speak with Dead in Goblins on the dead goblin fortuneteller Young-and-Beautiful.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Parodied when Xykon needs the help of a dead goblin to find his keys.
- Played straighter later, when Durkon casts Speak with Dead on a deceased Draketooth clan member. The end result is still humor at the Order's expense, since a dead brain takes the questions very literally.
- It also shows up in Casey and Andy while they are visiting a fairly D&D-ish world, but the target turns out to have a special "Zealot" prestige-class that enable him to resist the post-mortem interrogation.