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Nobody Left Behind

"Sweet victory! That giant insect's body has crumbled to dust! I am quite relieved to know I won't have to store such an enormous bug."
The Ship, Pikmin 2

Something dies, as it is prone to do. After it takes its last breath, the body dissolves for no apparent reason. Often dissolves into smoke that wisps away as the body dramatically falls to the ground. Why this occurs is generally never explained and no character bats an eye at it happening. Often used in media to avoid showing the kiddies a corpse.

For video games, this is a subset of Everything Fades, though with Everything Fades, bodies may stick around for up to a few minutes after monsters die.

Not to be confused with No One Gets Left Behind, in which not one single person (or unit) is left behind when a force retreats, which is maybe the thing you're looking for. Also not to be confused with Never Found the Body, in which the subject's death was not seen/confirmed, and is most likely Not Quite Dead.

If there's no recognizable body left due to the cause of death being so tremendous as to destroy the body entirely, that's Not Enough to Bury.

Animated Armor may be caused by this. On the other hand, you may never know. See also Disappears into Light and I'm Melting. For the moral equivalent to this, see Self-Disposing Villain. May be the end result of No Immortal Inertia. If he takes his dungeon and doomsday devices with him, he may be a Load-Bearing Boss. Sometimes this results in Empty Piles of Clothing, if it's only the person's physical body that disappears and not what he's wearing. If there's not only a lack of body, but no trace of them having ever existed at all, they're Ret Gone.

This is a Death Trope, so expect spoilers.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bleach, low-level hollows dissolve when they are killed, while the bodies of most Arrancar and shinigami can last a few hours before breaking down (there are some exceptions, related to the manner in which they were killed).
  • Whenever anyone dies in Houshin Engi, their body disappears and their soul flies away as a beam of light.
  • Plenty of examples in Sailor Moon.
    • Neflite/Nephrite is probably one of the more well-known examples, although it happens constantly to both villains and heroes. The latter obviously come Back from the Dead in season finales.
    • Averted in the first season finale: When the Sphere of Destruction from Sailor Moon's final attack starts consuming the area around the Dark Kingdom, the bodies of the four Senshi are shown still laying in the same places they fell.
    • In the anime series, this happen a lot of times with the Monster of the Week, which are usually disintegrated or turned into dust once they are defeated.
  • Digimon: The Digimon dissolve as soon as they die. Though occasionally the good Digimon revert to digieggs for plot-related purposes (exception being Digimon Tamers, also of note, although unrevivable in this season their physical data remains and can be reformatted to create another Digimon, such as Mephistomon or the Devas).
    • Also in Digimon Tamers, agents of the D-Reaper dissolve once destroyed.
    • Pointedly averted in Digimon X-Evolution, where the only times a Digimon disappeared like that is if they were NOT dead, and if they were dead, their body WAS left behind.
  • In Pokémon, Latios, Sir Aaron, and Lucario disintegrate once they sacrifice themselves.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
  • In Death Note when shinigami die, they dissolve into sand.
  • The homunculi from Fullmetal Alchemist disintegrate into nothingness upon dying, as well as the Philosopher's Stone at their core that gives them life. Dismembered body parts also disintegrate as they're regenerated. In the 2003 anime, however, a few (namely Greed and Pride) melted into red goop.
  • Mai-HiME
    • Whenever someone dies as a result of the HiME battles, the victim's heart stops, then their body's color fades, finally ending with slow dissolution into green sparks. Haruka, because she's a Badass Normal, simply refuses to "just die", preferring to get in a parting shot at Shizuru after calling her out on her "disgusting behavior".
    • In the Else World sequel Mai-Otome, the same thing happens to any Otome/Master or Slave/Master relationship. Mai-Otome's problem is that it was porting over yet another familiar element from Mai-HiME while ignoring that the logic that series used for the sparkly deaths was specifically for raising the columns and powering the HiME star.
  • The Zoanoids in Guyver (anime & manga) are engineered to dissolve after dying, in order to leave no evidence of their existence.
  • Carrossea's body in Madlax presumably disappears off-screen as it is never shown after the episode when he dies. That is probably because he was Dead All Along.
  • InuYasha: Happens fairly often to youkai slain by Inu-Yasha. Case in point: Hiten (the elder Thunder Brother) evaporated after Inu-Yasha delivered a fatal blow with Tessaiga. The many cases where youkai are slain by sacred arrows or the Wind Scar, et al, don't count. When Kikyou and Kagura go through Redemption Equals Death storylines, they also leave no bodies behind when they die.
  • In Get Backers, Amon's body dissolves into feathers after he gave his heart to Shido to bring him back to life. Shido's body stuck around, possible because his death was more mundane.
  • Dragon Ball Z
    • Goku fades away when he dies. Kami has taken it to the other world so that Goku can have his body in the afterlife for training. Otherwise, people usually stay put when they died.
    • Piccolo and Guru (the second time) disappear as well.
      • Ironically this does NOT happen to the bodies of Burter, Guldo, and Recoome. Even though Guldo and Recoome look like they should have been obliterated by Vegeta's energy blast their corpses are still intact even though they are shown to retain their bodies when we see them in Other World.
    • Later, when Vegeta sacrifices himself in an attempt to kill Buu, his attack drains so much energy from his body that it turns to stone, which quickly crumbles into dust and is blown away by the wind.
  • Naturally shows up in .hack. When a monster is killed, it slumps to the ground, then vanishes. When a PC is killed, their body goes limp, and turns grey, and vanishes if there's no-one left to revive them. When someone gets data-drained, however, their sprite starts fragmenting, and drifts away piece by piece.
  • In Saint Seiya, the final barrier between the Hades and Elysium is the Wall Of Lamentation, seemingly indestructible. Only by channeling the Cosmo of the Twelve Gold Saints of the Zodiac Houses, and creating sunlight in the depths of Hades, can it be breached. All Gold Saints, living or dead, friends or foes, burn their Cosmo, there is a blinding burst of light... And Shun and Seiya can only weep, for all that is left of the heroic Saints of Athena is their Gold Cloths shining in their wake.
  • Anything that dies in Psyren dissolves into sand in a few minutes, due to the changes in the environment after the meteor hit Earth.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Stakes of Purgatory do this when they die.
  • Kira users in Nabari No Ou fade into dust when they die. Their clothes don't dissolve, leaving an interesting scene.
  • Late into the Magic World arc in Mahou Sensei Negima!, a special attack is introduced that causes anyone it hits to vanish in seconds. This only affects (most) residents of the magic world because said residents are actually part of an elaborate illusion, with the attack simply hacking them back out of existence.
  • Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt: When Panty and Stocking kill a ghost, it explodes. Becomes a plot point when they are tried for the murder of a friendly Ghost, as the fact that there was a body meant that they didn't do it.
  • In Samurai Deeper Kyo, this becomes a case of Chekov's corpse. When members of the Mibu clan die or are killed, their bodies vanish into nothingness. Near the end it is revealed that this happens because the members of the Mibu clan are in fact puppets created by the long dead True Mibu, and vanish into nothing because they were originally created from nothing.
  • This happens to Nia Teppelin from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in the final episode.
  • When a robot dies in Casshern Sins it turns to dust.
  • In the final episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica you can briefly see the body of a Magical Girl doing this. It's hard to see though because the shot is panning out and she's dressed in green while laying on grass. This now happens to every Magical Girl upon death because of Madoka's wish. Evidence to support this is that Sayaka didn't leave a body behind either.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In This Island Earth, the Mutant dissolves after being killed. This is given a Hand Wave as its body being obliterated by the change in pressure as the ship approaches Earth.
  • Star Wars
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope after Darth Vader kills him on the Death Star.
    • Yoda's body dissapears after he passes away naturally in Return of the Jedi.
    • Canonically stated to have happened to the corpse of the redeemed Anakin Skywalker in Return of the Jedi. The "body" Luke cremated on Endor was actually just his armour.
    • And almost every Jedi who dies in the the Expanded Universe, though this usually only happens to those who become Force Ghosts, the main exception being Qui-Gon Jinn, who (canonically) became a Force Ghost but didn't disappear. Sith and other users of The Dark Side, on the other hand, often explode instead of fading away when they die.
      • An exception for the Sith is Darth Nihilus, whose body very visibly crumbles quietly away under his robes once the Exile turns his back.
      • Darth Sion from the same game likely crumbled into a pile of decayed flesh and splintered bones when he died, considering which state he lived with.
      • Really only one Sith explodes, Darth Maul and Count Dooku's corpses were still intact (although admittedly the former may have died moments after he fell out of our sight)
  • In Blade, vampires collapse into ash when killed.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, defeated Evil Exes turn into a shower of coins, as they do in the comic. This is particularly amusing considering it not only takes place in Canada, but when Scott slays bystanders their coins take the shape of their bodies on the floor.
    • In fact, the comic comments on this when Gideon Graves is killed and those in the audience get hit in the head with the showering coins.
  • In Elektra defeated villains disappear in a puff of green smoke, something unique in Marvel Universe films. They're ninja — it's presumably deliberate so that the Hand's secrets are kept secure.
  • Captain America: The First Avenger has anyone caught within the shots of various Tesseract-powered weaponry disintegrating completely in a blue mist.
  • Harry Potter:
    • This is how Voldemort dies in the film version of Deathly Hallows. After all his horcruxes are destroyed and he finally gets blasted, his body dissolves into something similar to pieces of skin, like dandruff, which blow into the wind.
    • The movies apparently like this trope, if the deaths of Professor Quirrell, Nagini, and Bellatrix Lestrange are any indication. Well, at least for villains. Good guys seem to leave behind bodies when they die (well, except for Sirius)).
  • In Return Of The King, well, how else do you expect a giant flaming eye to go once the deathblow is struck?
  • The standard fate for most Indiana Jones villains.
  • In X-Men: First Class, Darwin is vaporized immediately by the blast he took, and one of his teammates even said, "We can't even bury him."
  • The probable first appearance of this in film (and the definite first appearance of the Stop Trick that enabled it) was in A Trip to the Moon. It reappears in a lot of other films by Georges Méliès.
  • In The Darkest Hour, the main "aliens" can shred a human body into dust in a slightly disturbing manner.
  • At the end of The Rock, Sean Connery's character, an alcatraz inmate, runs off and asks Cage's character to tell the authorities that he was killed. Nicholas Cage's character does so, and when asked about the body, says that this occurred to him as a result of the bioweapon MacGuffin.
  • In Eragon, Durza disintegrates after Eragon stabs him.
  • In Your Highness, Leezar disintegrates when Fabious stabs him with the Blade of Unicorn.
  • After Alice defeats Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master he dissappears, leaving behind only his clothes. Alice kicks away the glove for good measure.

    Gamebooks 
  • In the Lone Wolf series, amongst others, the Darklords and their sorcerous servants the Nadziranim fade into nothingness when killed. As for their undead underlings, Vordaks and Helghast, they dissolve into foul-smelling liquids when destroyed.

    Literature 
  • The Dresden Files is a fairly realistic urban fantasy, and, as such, most things do indeed leave the expected corpses. However, some things, such as demons and various Eldritch Abominations, manifest a body when they come into the real world, and when defeated, this body turns to ectoplasm which slowly evaporates. In other words, a thoroughly Justified Trope, used selectively for effect.
  • Likewise justified when embodied Auditors die in Thief of Time, because they build their human bodies out of molecules from dust and random debris, and can only keep them intact and functional by actively exerting their willpower.
  • An interesting variation occurs in The Iron King. When fey of any kind are killed, their bodies disappear and leave something else behind (be it a thornbush, needles, ice, branches, etc.). This, however, does not always happen instantly, the time it takes can vary.
  • In The Dark Tower series, we meet Father Callahan from Salem's Lot who finds that, when vampires die, they helpfully follow this trope.
  • This is mermaids' usual fate, according to Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid". They turn into ocean foam when they die.
  • Star Wars: in The Last Command, Joruus C'baoth's body is consumed by blue energy, presumably based on what appears to befall the Emperor's body in Return of the Jedi (especially considering the entire final battle draws heavily from the climax of that film).
    • During Galaxy of Fear, people attacked by Eppon can be turned to jelly and absorbed/eaten by it, leaving Empty Piles of Clothing. Unaware of what's happened, some characters speculate Imperials got them, but Imperials wouldn't leave the clothes.
  • Justified in His Dark Materials, where daemon bodies flash out of existence as soon as they or their owners die.
  • The Silmarillion: "Then [Fëanor] died; but he had neither burial nor tomb, for so fiery was his spirit that as it sped his body fell to ash, and was borne away like smoke [...]"
  • In Dracula, Dracula and his Brides are said to crumble into dust on death. Justified in text as a side effect of their unnatural preservation being removed and centuries of decay catching up with them. Subverted with Lucy, whose body remains intact, as her mortal death had occurred only a few days before her Vampiric one.
    • This opens a plot hole that dozens of stories by other authors are built on: turning into a dust cloud or mist and traveling in that form is explicitly one of Dracula's powers.
  • Draconians in Dragonlance self-destruct in various ways when they die, with the exact manner depending on their sub-species.
  • In Dragon Weather, a slain dragon rots extremely fast. Lord Obsidian notes that this is useful for making sure that a dragon is not faking.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Queen of the Black Coast", the hyenas transform back into men before crumbling.
  • The Halo Expanded Universe novels reveal that this is a regular hazard with space travel. Even when a slipspace drive is offline, nearby items and people run the risk of simply disappearing. And when the drive is active ships have a chance of going into slipspace and never returning.
  • In Dean Koontz's Phantoms, a small California town is wiped out by an Eldritch Abomination, but most of the residents are never actually found, having been eaten. The few bodies they do find suggest it's better that way.
  • Almost every monster in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books. Sometimes a piece of the monster will remain if it was cut off before the monster died (such as the Minotaur's horn), or if severing it causes the monster to die (such as Medusa's head).
  • This also apparently happens to monsters in The Kane Chronicles, which Word of God confirms takes place in the same universe as Percy Jackson.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, this happens to Saruman's body after Wormtongue kills him. In contrast to Voldemort, this does not happen when he is killed in the movie.
  • In Bloodsucking Fiends and its sequels, victims of vampires who haven't ingested vampire blood disintegrate. This includes Barry in Bite Me.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Invaders is probably the most iconic series with aliens disappearing upon death. Note that they could inflict the same thing to humans with their Disintegrator Rays.
  • Lampshaded on Stargate SG-1 in the Show Within a Show Wormhole X-treme! The lead actor is having trouble in a romance scene because the background is littered with the bodies of dead Mooks his character killed in the previous scene (which is kind of distracting, ya know). The staff remove the bodies and hope no one will notice the change in scene continuity (one writer proposes that they write it so that the alien weapons disintegrate bodies, but his idea is quickly shot down).
    • The reason the idea is shot down is because this is a nod to the zat'nik'tel, which was earlier shown to disintegrate bodies (or objects) with its third shot, an idea so despised it was quietly forgotten.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon explicitly stated that his vampires turn to dust when they die to emphasize that Buffy isn't killing people every week, and to avoid 20 minutes of cleanup at the end of each episode.
    • Averted in the third season episode "The Wish". Buffy kills a demon but it doesn't fade away and the Scoobies realise they'll have to bury it. Vampires, as Buffy notes, are so much easier. Stake, dust, no cleaning up.
    • In "Hells Bells" a demon attacks Anya during the wedding and is killed by Buffy. When it refuses to go "poof" Willow suggests covering it with flowers.
    • Also averted with the Master, who only partially dissolved, leaving a skeleton. Justified because, as an older vampire, he is significantly more powerful (and it allowed a plotline for the second season premier).
  • Likewise in Charmed.
    • Except in episode 15 season 5, "The Day the Magic Died", all magic ceased to exist for a day, and the demon they killed left a dead body and green blood stains. They had to quickly hide it in a closet, until magic returned. Justified in that it's explicitly explained that the demons deliberately set it up so that their body disappears after they die, in order to maintain The Masquerade.
    • Lampshaded in episode 8 season 1, "The Truth Is Out There and It Hurts": After a warlock from the future gets killed, he is sucked into a vortex of some kind.
    Prue: I love it when they clean up after themselves.
  • This is very common in Sentai Tokusatsu shows. The Monster of the Week would generally vanish once vanquished with various cheesy effects — or eventually explodes, especially in older shows.
    • A good example is Uchu kara no messeji: Ginga taisen (better known as San Ku Kaï in Europe or Sankuokai in Latin America). Every villain of the week would explode (or sometimes liquefy or burn...) with color or visual related to their nature or powers.
    • Also generally used and abused in Power Rangers, where monsters tend to explode into a fine powder. But averted in Power Rangers S.P.D., where the villains use mecha rather than growing, and as such leave behind scrap. One early episode featured the main characters assigned to cleanup duty, picking up the massive debris left behind by the giant robot fight.
    • Semi-averted in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue and Power Rangers Dino Thunder, where exploding monsters do leave chunks of burnt meat, which the villains then juice up to resurrect them at giant size. When they get blown up a second time at giant size though, there are (usually) no remains. Also oddly inverted at the end of Lightspeed Rescue, where Diabolico leaves behind an intact corpse for Bansheera to revive, despite his death exposion visibly reducing him to nothing but a wisp of smoke.
  • In First Wave, the invading aliens secretly use partially-human bodies as vessels. To prevent them from being analysed by humans and exposed as alien, they dissolve immediately after death, which also means anyone who sees an alien die becomes aware that something strange is going on.
    • Interestingly, even this isn't enough to initially convince Crazy Eddie that there are aliens about. Being a conspiracy nut, he claims that he knows about a body-dissolving compound used by the government to hide their shady dealings. That's right, a conspiracy nut who denies the existence of aliens.
    • A later episode shows that the "dissolving" effect is only activated by uploading a Gua consciousness into the husk's brain. A blank husk does not dissolve upon death, which was used to fool the Gua into thinking that Cade is dead.
  • There are never bodies left to clean up aboard the Lexx, because said Living Ship "absorbs" them (along with anything else it thinks won't be missed.)
  • In Red Dwarf, the crew are all killed in a radiation leak. After 3 million years there's nothing left of them except small, surprisingly neat, piles of dust. Lister found them very moreish until he discovered what they were.
  • Mostly averted in Supernatural. While there are monsters that turn to dust or don't leave anything to prove they existed (especially ghosts), the Hunters know how to cover their tracks, and thus get rid of a body of a monster/demon they killed. Also they don't stay too much in the same place after the "job" for the missing person to be obvious or connected to them. A FBI Bloodhound (note that this implies some greater professionalism than your typical province sheriff/cop they have to deal with) actually "tracks" the Winchesters for a year or so and all he can put on their record are some grave-disturbing crimes and murders on ordinary people they weren't responsible for.
    • Although this DOES happen to Dick Roman, the Big Bad of Season 7, once Dean kills him.
    • In the episode "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here", Bobby's body disappears after Dean stabs him as he was a figment of Sam's imagination.
  • In one The Twilight Zone episode, three astronauts from a crashed space shuttle disappear one by one, and they vanish from everyone's memory as well, except for the remaining astronauts until they disappear.
  • 666 Park Avenue: It seems the Drake absorbs anyone who dies there in order to hide the fact.
  • A villain-of-the-week in Time Trax is a scientist from the future whose specialty is high-energy weapons. One of which, a "sonic demolecularizer", is a One-Hit Kill against any person or object, which simply cease to exist as physical entities, breaking up into constituent molecules. The last time Darien tried to arrest the scientist, his partner was killed in this manner. Somehow, this is more horrifying to him than being shot.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borg will often do this. One Borg drone is killed, and another will remove certain key components from the body, after which the dead Borg drone simply dissolves out of existence. It is explained that their link to the Collective is similar to a transporter beam; their bodies are transported away so that their components can be recycled.
    • In Deep Space Nine suicide pills that dissolve the body are shown. The idea is that this way spies can avoid having their government implicated in failed operations.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In The Dark Crystal, both the Skeksis and the Mystics leave no body behind when they die. The Skeksis crumble to dust, but the Mystics simply fade away.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In both Vampire: The Masquerade and The Requiem, vampires rot to dust within seconds of their Final Death. This is repeatedly commented on in Hunter: The Vigil — vampires are the only type of supernatural creature to clean up after itself. Everything else leaves corpses to deal with. Usually human.
  • Titanspawn in Scion usually evaporate, melt away, or otherwise cease to exist once slain. The only part left behind is a piece or an item (called a Trophy) that serves as a reward for the Scions that destroyed it. Some of them, like the nekomata, are more complicated.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Necron bodies will seemingly dissipate if a battle seems to be lost. This is because the bodies are being teleported back to their tombs to be repaired.
  • Call of Cthulhu. Several Cthulhu Mythos monsters will dissolve into liquid after they're killed, such as the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath and the Mi-Go.
  • In the d20 Modern Urban Arcana setting, dead shadowkinds (ie creature from the D&D world) are "reclaimed by shadow" (ie bodies are brought back to their home dimension) in 30 seconds tops, except for heroic shadowkinds who fades in between 2 to 5 hours.

    Video Games 
  • Virtually every video game where you destroy and/or kill enemies has them vanish a short time after being killed. This is largely due to programming and performance issues, plus piled up corpses would get in the way of characters that can't jump or RTS units that can't just walk over the artillery riddled tank. Only aversions, subversions, and extraordinary genre examples or types of fade outs (smoke, liquid, etc.) should be noted here.
  • Kingdom Hearts
  • Diablo averts the trope: not only do corpses stay behind, the bodies of acid/poison spitters can continue to damage you if you stand on them.
    • In the sequels, there are certain techniques that destroy bodies, which is important because some enemy summoners can resurrect them.
    • Some enemies (like the Maw Beasts in Diablo II) eat and spit corpses on you.
  • In the Resident Evil series, the Plaga parasites cause the host's body to break down chemically upon death, meaning it dissolves soon after it hits the ground. The C-Virus has a similar effect, except the corpse ignites to cinders due to the heat buildup typical of the T-Veronica virus that was used to create the C-Virus.
    • The remake of Resident Evil for Nintendo Gamecube pretended to avert this to give you a nasty surprise. Any zombie killed remains behind, unless you burn the corpse or destroy the head. Later on it turns out they're Not Quite Dead; about an hour after killing a zombie it gets up and starts running around as the more powerful and deadly Crimson Head. Other enemies play it completely straight and vanish once you leave the room.
  • In Crysis, the final function of the nanosuit involves completely incinerating itself and the downed user (your character or one of his similarly-equipped Red Shirt colleagues) from the inside out to assure enemy forces aren't able to capture information from their corpse. Nifty. The Aliens do this too, their machines always self-destruct.
  • Doom
    • Averted in the first two games, where corpses remain as 2D textures.
    • Played straight in the third game, for the performance reasons listed above. Power gamers, annoyed that their rigs weren't being used to their full potential, rapidly modded the game to force bodies to stay put.
      • Only demons burn away when they die. Zombies are left behind, unless you splatter them. Then they’ll disappear.
  • Averted in Primal. Corpses remain permanently, unless Jen is killed before passing the next Checkpoint. Then the corpse vanishes when its monster is respawned. There aren't enough monsters per area create an overload of corpses. Corpses also have energy for Scree to drain and may contain objects necessary to continue.
  • Oddly, this happened more often as the Tomb Raider series went on, despite the technical progress; in TR 1 and 2, enemies pretty much never disappear, 3 had them disappear after you had turned away for a little while, in 4 and every subsequent game corpses always disappear right in front of your eyes after a few seconds. However, Underworld has been confirmed to be averting this.
  • In Ōkami and Ōkamiden, your enemies turn into flowers when you kill them. Instead of spurting blood, they will literally shoot pure flowers from their veins. Issun explains this in the first game as "When a demon is exorcised, the gods power can return, and nature thrives." This doesn't explain how the flowers the Demons leave behind disappear too.
  • Since Shadow of the Colossus only has 16 enemies anyway, and they're too spread out to risk piling up, the corpses of killed Colossi remain throughout the whole game, and you can even have flashback-styled fights with ones you've already killed. The small creatures, however, such as lizards, disappear after you kill them.
  • Both played straight and averted in Metal Gear Solid 4. When killed, the elite FROG soldiers immediately dissolve into dust. However, when a normal soldier is killed, his body remains and must be disposed of to keep other soldiers from discovering it.
  • Spaceship wrecks in EVE Online last for about two hours before vanishing.
  • Baldur's Gate averts this trope. Everything you kill lies there dead for the rest of the game, unless you killed it in some way that doesn't leave a body (e.g. vaporizing zombies with your enchanted mace).
  • Golden Axe is possibly the oldest game that doesn't do this: in the arcade version, every enemy you defeat fades to gray and remains on the floor like that. In most ports, however, the enemies do disappear, probably because of memory constraints.
  • The first few Fallout games averted this in that corpses tended to stick around for several days unless the player managed to obliterate their opponent with certain energy weapons. After the corpses decay/presumably are eaten a pool of blood remains on the spot. Generally the blood pools disappeared after some days but those that did not sometimes hid useful items.
    • During the ambush at the end of the Lonesome Road DLC, the Marked Men always melt into goo after being killed(as when killed with a plasma weapon), to prevent memory overusage from too many corpses in the room.
  • In Total Annihilation, destroyed units leave behind beaten shape of themselves, blocking way for other units and fire. Fortunately, they are easy to destroy. Or they can be recycled for resources, but this takes a lot more time.
  • Averted in Dawn of War, partially because the Necrons can re-use their corpses.
  • Mostly played straight in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, save for one instance: Redeads. When you kill one, it doesn't vanish into flame like every other enemy, it just sort of crumples. This gets especially creepy when now, every other Redead in the area will hobble over to their dead comrade, probably to eat them. Or mourn for them, which is strangely also a horrifying concept. If you remain for a while, however, the Redead's body will seemingly sort of... melt away.
  • Averted in No One Lives Forever, because disposing of the bodies without detection is a major gameplay mechanic.
  • No More Heroes. In the English/uncensored version, the enemies, after being cutting in half, while stay for a few seconds before disappearing, giving enough time for blood geysers to erupt, where as in the Japanese/censored version, they just turn into dust right away. This is noticeable for the bosses. In America, the bosses won't disappear after dying. They'll just sit there, gruesomely dead, where as in the Japan, the bodies will turn to dust when needed. Special notice goes to Holly Summers, whose head gets blown off. In America, the head is gone and you bury her. In Japan, well, it's like in the cartoons where the character has black all over their face. And you still bury her.
  • Giants: Citizen Kabuto handwaves this trope by revealing that the planet you're on is host to an extremely ravenous race of scavengers who live underground, constantly awaiting fresh meat: Killing enemies greets you with the sight of hundreds of them popping up all around the newly formed corpse and rapidly devouring it before vanishing back underground, leaving only a bloodstain and a power-up.
  • Averted in Thief: The Dark Project and its sequels, which all involved hiding bodies (corpses or unconscious foes) to avoid alerting guards and other traffic (and inspired the body-disposal game mechanic of No One Lives Forever, above). With rare exceptions, such as haunts and fire elementals, all kills in Thief leave a corpse and a liability.
  • In Minecraft, all mobs explode into a puff of smoke when killed.
  • Played particularly bizarrely in The Conduit, where the enemies visibly dissolve or incinerate shortly after death — something that obviously should have an in-universe reason, as opposed to just disappearing because of engine limitations — but no-one bothers to comment it.
  • Nonhuman enemies in Final Fantasy X collapse into pyreflies (supernatural firefly-like insects) when slain. This is because they're the souls of people not given proper burial rites. Machines explode, but their parts and human enemies are subject to Everything Fades.
  • Subverted in Vagrant Story. On the island of Lea Monde, where the main game takes place, everything does fade as part of the black magic infiltrating every part of the ruins. In the prologue to the game, which does not take place on Lea Monde, the bodies of enemies do not disappear.
  • Averted in Far Cry 2, corpses tend to stick around until you leave the area far behind; then the area resets, removing corpses, replenishing supplies and guards, etc. The most obvious handwave is that the next patrol comes by, cleans up, and calls in reinforcements to restock the place, though you never see this happening. The game would quickly become super easy if everything you destroyed stayed destroyed.
  • Played with in Parasite Eve 2. Monsters melt into puddles of goo whenever you kill them, but in the last part of the game, the stage becomes populated with killer cyborgs, and their bodies do not disappear, even if you leave the room and come back!
  • A weapon in Team Fortress 2, a knife called "Your Eternal Reward," allows a Spy to backstab someone, cause their corpse to silently vanish, then immediately assume the victim's appearance, thus blending in near-perfectly with enemies who are left unaware that their real teammate is dead.
    • The 'futuristic space gun' weapons available to the Soldier, Pyro, and Engineer either incinerate or disintegrate enemies on death, leaving behind no remains (the effect is very similar to Half-Life 2's AR2 secondary fire). Unlike the Spy's knife, these are very loud and visibly obvious weapons, and are also shown in the kill feed.
  • Due to censorship, this is cranked up to eleven in the Australian version of Left 4 Dead 2, with bodies often disappearing before they even hit the ground.
  • Both averted and played straight in the Unreal series, which is normally powered by the sheer momentum of its Ludicrous Gibs, but has "gore settings" that can be adjusted all the way down to "bodies are indestructible and digitally disintegrate when killed."
  • Tank and vehicle hulls in Company of Heroes stick around a good long while if they're not hit by more explosions or crushed by heavy tanks, and actually present cover for infantry to use. The Panzer Elite can use repair vehicles to get any Axis tanks back in action so long as the hull remains mostly intact too. Infantry also tend to take a while to fade, and can be 'rescued' by Medics from a Bunker to form a new squad.
  • Destroy All Humans! gives us the disintegrator ray and the Ion Detonator.
  • Averted in Dragon Age: Origins, once you kill someone/something their corpse/skeleton will lay in the place you killed them for the rest of the game. Except for Abominations, they explode after you kill them, and Rage Demons and Shades, they disappear somewhere. Played straight in Dragon Age II, though.
  • Whenever someone dies in The Sims, they transforms into an urn (if inside) or a tombstone (if outside). As long as the urn/tombstone isn't deleted, the sim's ghost will occasionally came around at night. Some pre-made lots come with tombstones and are thus already haunted.
  • In Alan Wake, the Taken dissolve when they're killed. Alan gets freaked out by it.
  • This is common with character deaths in earlier Final Fantasy titles, such as with the deaths of Scott and Josef in Final Fantasy II and also with Galuf in Final Fantasy V.
  • Averted in Counter-Strike, as bodies of players who are killed remain on the map for the remainder of the map, and in the Counter-Strike Source are ragdolled and can be moved around by explosions.
  • Mostly averted in the Pikmin games, since collecting dead creatures' bodies is the primary way to grow new Pikmin. The trope is somewhat both lampshaded and justified in the second game's Piklopedia entry for one of the bosses that does actually crumple to dust upon defeat, where Olimar notes how frustrating it is to have no study samples from that family of creatures due to its mysterious self-destruction upon death.
    • Played straight to a very creepy effect in the Final Landing site Formidable Oak.
  • One of the abilities the players can gain in Dishonored is "Shadow Kill", which disintegrates the corpses of people you kill.
  • It's not at all unusual for slain enemies in NetHack to leave a corpse; it will rot over time but not vanish immediately and may have a variety of uses, though not all of them are necessarily always safe.
  • In Onimusha, whenever you slay a Genma the corpse will dissolve almost istantly, leaving souls behind. Enemies killed with a Issen Counterattack will usually fade away faster. Bosses tend to last a bit longer, usually long enough for a cutscene to play, after which you can absorb the usually generous amount of souls from them.
  • Justified in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time and its sequels, as most of your enemies are made of sand. This doesn't stop Shahdee (who appears to be a normal human) from vanishing in a flash of light after her defeat.
  • Averted and played straight in Marathon. Most of the Pfhor varieties and three of their slave races (the Lookers, Wasps and Hulks) leave corpses, as do the automated defense drones and humans. The exceptions are the S'pht, which dissolve when killed, and in the first game, the Pfhor Juggernauts, which explode with incredible force that vaporizes them (and does a lot of damage to anyone not on the far side of a wall). Marathon 2 versions apparently leave remains though.
  • In Sonic Lost World, when Zazz, Zomom, Master Zik, and Zeena were defeated in Lava Mountain, they exploded in a puff of smoke.
  • In The World Ends with You, whenever somebody in the Underground is Erased, they dissolve as a cloud of visible static.
  • In the original Alone in the Dark trilogy, defeated monsters dissolve into bubbles(or maybe it's 3D smoke).
  • The Ninja Gaiden reboot has defeated enemies melt into bloody ooze.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick
  • In Erfworld the bodies of the dead, if not moved or uncroaked, disappear at the beginning of their side's turn.
  • In Homestuck, defeating an enemy game construct causes it to turn into an amount of grist proportionate to the difficulty of the enemy. Grist takes the form of hexagonal blocks, cubes, ovals or diamonds, depending on the type. It functions as a usable material for building and alchemizing objects. This rule does not apply to player characters or characters in the game which are not necessarily intended as enemies, such as agents.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In Justice League, a lot of the beasties from the episode "The Terror Beyond" didn't leave bodies when destroyed, in many cases because they were incredibly squishy. The giant-claw-whale-monster-thing that kills Solomon Grundy dissolves into acid when killed, for some reason.
  • Code Lyoko
    • The monsters explode when killed, and whatever debris they left behind quickly vanish. There is one enemy that does this a little differently. Creepers don't just explode, but also partially melt before vanishing completely.
    • The heroes also disappear when "devirtualized". Of course, this is inside a virtual world and overlaps with Everything Fades.
  • When Jaga dies in the first episode of the original ThunderCats, his body turns to dust instantly, leaving only his empty clothes. A later episode reveals that he is actually trapped in another dimension.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender , Princess Yue's body vanishes shortly after she dies to Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • In The Smurfs cartoon special "The Smurfic Games", Gargamel's cousin Argus disappears when he dies, and so also does his castle before the evil wizard tries to do anything with it.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, once hit with a magic energy wave representing his polar opposite, King Sombra is vaporized.
  • Happens to Candace at the end of the Phineas and Ferb episode "The Curse of Candace".
    Phineas: Ferb, we're gonna need a dustpan and some glue.

    Real Life 
  • Happens to many invertebrates when they die. Unless they have a shell, rigid exoskeleton or calcite support structure, they leave very little behind. This is the reason why most fossils tend to be those of vertebrates.
  • Because Muslim burial practices dictate that a body must be buried very quickly after death, it is very hard for militaries fighting in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan to get an accurate body count on many of their enemies, which may lead to a perception of this effect.
  • Good luck leaving a fossil behind in life heavy areas like the woods. Within a week to a month, the body will be gone. The bones... take a little longer, but they won't last if not calcified.


Nitro ExpressJust for PunNo Dead Body Poops
Nobody Can DieDeath TropesNo Dead Body Poops
MacGuffinImageSource/Live-Action FilmsLondon Gangster

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