Not Enough to Bury

"They're going to bury what's left of ya in a soup can!"
The Demoman, Team Fortress 2

This is not quite Never Found the Body—it's found, all right. More specifically, bits and pieces are found. Usually refers to a very violent death, as either only a few measly fragments of a body is found, or it's been so destroyed you need a mop to clean it up and a bucket (not a body bag) to carry it in.

The inevitable result of Turbine Blender, frequent result of Ludicrous Gibs, and often a consequence of the Chunky Salsa Rule. Note that this doesn't preclude what's left of the person being buried.

As this is a death trope, beware unmarked spoilers!


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In the Naruto anime at least one of Orochimaru's test subjects dissolved into nothing. Based on his expression at the time, Orochimaru had seen it enough for it to be a common occurrence.
  • Dominators in Psycho-Pass, when in Eliminator (lethal) mode, pretty thoroughly destroys whatever they hit. A person hit in the body by one will pretty much be reduced to a puddle of blood with maybe one limb left intact. Decomposer mode, which is designed for use against machines, won't even leave blood.

     Comic Book 

     Fan Works  


  • Tends to be seen a lot in war movies. In scenes showing the aftermath of some type of heavy bombardment, at least one casualty is likely to be found like this - the trope will frequently be invoked word-for-word by the person who found him. May serve as a means of avoiding a teen-unfriendly rating while still conveying War Is Hell. Sadly Truth in Television.
  • The Fifth Element: all that was left of the Supreme Being after her starship crashed was her right hand. She got better.
  • This is the Running Gag when it comes to Steve Buscemi roles in The Coen Brothers movies. He has died in nearly every movie he has been in (Barton Fink, Fargo, and The Big Lebowski) with fewer and fewer pieces of himself remaining each time.
  • Happens at least once in Predator
    Dutch: Did you find Hawkins?
    Poncho: I... can't tell.
  • In Jurassic Park Ellie and Muldoon arrive at the scene of a T-Rex attack:
    Muldoon: I think this was Gennaro.
    Ellie: (about fifteen feet away) I think this was too.
    • Happens to Dieter Stark in The Lost World: Jurassic Park—after he's attacked by compies, Roland's team finds "only the parts they didn't like."
  • In The Crimson Rivers, this is said of the young victim of a traffic accident. All that was left to identify her by was her index finger. Subverted in that the finger actually came from another girl. She did get a grave, though.
  • In the 1966 film based on the Batman series starring Adam West, several goons are dehydrated into dust, to later be rehydrated by the Penguin inside the Batcave. They attack the Dynamic Duo, but the Penguin handled the procedure incorrectly, making them very unstable. When hit, they instantly vanish into antimatter.
    '''Robin: You mean... they won't be coming back!?
  • Goodspeed lies about this in The Rock to help Mason get his freedom, claiming he was "disintegrated" in an explosion.
  • This was used in a movie about a widow who was suing a government contractor after her husband, an Air Force test pilot, was killed flying a Starfighter. A lawyer tries to accuse her husband of taking drugs. She says there was no trace of drugs in his system. He points out that it was impossible to determine given the 'limited material' available for testing. She demands to know what he means, and is later shown saying in fury to a friend, "I buried his hands!"
  • Played for laughs in Casino Royale (1967) - Sir James Bond survives a mortar bombardment of his home but M doesn't. He visits M's widow carrying a small box containing all that's left of him.
    Sir James: ...Should it be given a Christian burial? Just how personal is a toupee?
    Lady Fiona: It can only be regarded as a heirloom.


  • All that's left of Bluddbeak from the Redwall novel Triss is scattered feathers.
  • In Discworld, it is said that if someone is affected by the blowfish poison, you don't need to hold a funeral - just repaint the walls.
    • Also from Discworld some of the learning opportunities in the Unseen University have led to unfortunates being returned to the grieving parents as gloop in a bucket, with a note saying "we did warn him".
  • In the third Harry Potter book it's said that the largest piece of Peter Pettigrew that was ever found after he was killed by Sirius Black was his middle finger. He was actually a traitor and cut off the finger to simultaniously fake his death and frame Black for his crimes.
    • Invoked in the second book as well, where Snape comments that whoever faces Neville Longbottom in a practice duel will likely be sent to the infirmary in a matchbox. (In the movie, it's Ron's malfunctioning wand that earns the quip.)
    • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: Barty Crouch Jr. murders Barty Crouch Sr. and transfigures his corpse into a small bone...before burying the bone in the Forbidden Forest.
  • In The Grimnoir Chronicles, the Gravity Master protagonist is seen altering gravity in order to smash people a few times, and it's implied many more times.
    "The learned gentlemen from the university have asked me if I relied on Einstein's General Theory of Relativity or if I used the simpler rules of Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation on the evening in question when I accidentally took Sheriff Johnson's life . Shit. I don't know. I just got angry and squished the fucker. But I've gotten better at running things and I promise not to do it no more."
    Jake Sullivan, Parole Hearing, Rockville State Penitentiary 1928
  • From The Hunger Games, Primrose Everdeen.
    • Also happened with Katniss' father.
    • And an unnamed female tribute who dropped her district token, a wooden ball, onto the landmine-filled floor at the beginning of her Games. According to Katniss, "they literally had to scrape bits of her off the ground."
  • Referenced in Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset: Maureen says of her own apparent death that when a person her size is hit by a semitruck, "they pick up the remains with blotting paper."
  • In the Russian The Silmarillion parody, The Zwirmarillion, this is what happened to Finrod. They buried "several of the largest pieces of him they could find".
    • This is an ""attacked by a predator" example in the Real Life section below, since Finrod died wrestling a werewolf in the original.
  • Happens to Jesmin Ackbar in Wraith Squadron when her X-Wing is disabled and crash-lands at full speed (it doesn't explode, it shreds instantly on impact from kinetic shock). A torpedo is therefore substituted for her corpse during her burial in space.
  • Pulser darts, from the Honor Harrington novels, don't so much tear through their victims as they do shred them. And then there's kinetic weapons, which vaporize anything in range into very small pieces. 'Small' as in 'subatomic'. Graphically illustrated after the fall of the Masadan theocracy; domestic violence rates skyrocketed, as abused wives frequently murdered their husbands. Some of them got... creative.
    They never did find all of Elder Simonds.
  • In Derek Robinson's black comedies of the Royal Air Force, after really bad crashes or flamers, it was often the case that bodies were not available for burial. A particularly egregious example happens in A Piece Of Cake where a grieving relative, innocent of the nature of his nephew's death (he burnt to death in a flamer from a mile up) wants to open the coffin to see poor Maurice's face one last time.... as only deep-fried fragments of the body were retrieved, the rest of the coffin was ballasted by sandbags, to approximate the weight of a full corpse. This is Truth in Television. Similar expedients were used for tank troopers killed in brew-ups or men killed in catastrophic explosions.This has been long-standing practice for a long time and may still happen today, although military authorities are naturally reticent.

     Live Action TV  
  • In Smallville, Gone, Lex tells Clark that there is nothing left of Chloe after the huge explosion in Covenant. Of course, he is lying.
  • On NCIS three American soldiers in Afghanistan were blown up by a bomb and only pieces of their bodies were recovered. And if that wasn't enough, as they were being shipped back to the States to be officially identified, the plane that was carrying them crashed, damaging the remains to the point where most ways of identifying them would be useless. The remains turn out to be those of only two of the soldiers since the third was instead captured by terrorists and held captive.
  • NYPD Blue: the Medavoy subplot of one episode involved a Hasidic Jewish girl who had been killed and butchered and partially eaten by animals, leaving not much body left. At the end of the episode after they caught the guy that did it, Medavoy gave the girl's father some crime scene dirt which had some of her blood in it; in the Hassidem(sp) circle you have to bury the whole body, and Medavoy wanted to give the father as much of the remains as there were available.
  • In the first episode of Torchwood: Children of Earth, the villains blow up Jack with a bomb inside his stomach. In the next episode, they only find small pieces of his body remaining, from which he still manages to regenerate. Unfortunately, he wakes up loooooong before he's done healing. He screams. A lot. Shudder.
  • Implied in ''Casualty after the death of Paramedic Jeff Collier in a car explosion. His wife, ranting at colleagues who are celebrating Jeff's life instead of mourning his death, mentions that he was blown to pieces and there was nothing to celebrate. Pan round to Jamie Collier standing behind her, asking if it's true.


     Folklore, Mythology, and Religion 
  • In The Bible, Jezebel's body is devoured by a pack of feral dogs after she is defenestrated, leaving only her head and her two hands (as predicted by Elijah.)
  • At least seven widely scattered places in Britain are claimed as the final resting place of King Arthur. In France and Denmark, similar myths exist concerning fabulous legendary heroes Roland and Holger Dansk.

     Urban Legends  

  • The urban legend of the JATO car. Only fragments of the driver were found.

     Video Games  


  • Code Name: Hunter has an investigator look over a cursed set of drums. The next morning, all that's left is a pile of ash.
  • Discussed in-universe in this Wondermark strip.
  • Subverted in It's Walky! After a hard landing in a danger zone, the SEMME team can only find Allen's ear. However, he turns up in a later arc, unharmed, with no explanation. It's eventually revealed he's a Mobile-Suit Human.

     Western Animation  

  • Happy Tree Friends: Very often, and Played for Laughs.
  • In Beast Wars, when Dinobot makes his stand against the Predacons and calls for Maximal backup, Rattrap half-jokes: "Dinobot versus six Preds ... there won't be enough of him left to make a toaster!" They do actually find Dinobot in one piece, though the damage he took is still fatal.
  • In the pilot of Futurama, Professor Farnsworth hires the protagonists as his new delivery crew and gives them their career chips, which he pours from an envelope labeled "Contents of Space Wasp Stomach".
    • A background joke continues this theme with one half of a phone conversation:
    Farnsworth: Oh, how awful. Did he at least die painlessly? *beat* To shreds, you say, tsk tsk tsk. Well, how's his wife holding up? *beat* To shreds, you say...
  • This was sometimes what happened to Manfredi and Johnson, Those Two Guys often mentioned on The Penguins of Madagascar (although they never die the same way twice). On one ocassion they were eaten by flying piranha and what was left was buried with a teaspoon. In another, their remains fit on a manila envelope.

     Real Life  

  • One way of disposing of a body is reducing it to this. Cremation is a widespread and (generally) more formal and respectful way of doing so.
  • When someone is attacked by a predator, very often, there's not a lot left. Many predators will even eat bones for the calcium.
  • Many of the Sept 11th victims were found in only small fragments. Some still haven't been ID'd.
    • For that matter, most victims of high-speed airplane crashes.
    • Also happens in the case of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster. The shuttle blew up over Texas and various body parts were found scattered on the ground there.
  • When Charles Stephens went over Niagra Falls in a barrel, he strapped himself into the barrel, and strapped a anvil to his feet to stabilize himself. When the barrel finally floated to shore, the only sign anyone had been in it was a right arm. That's what went into his grave, as the rest of Mr. Stephens was never found.
  • Horrifically subverted in the case of the Soyuz 1 incident, which caused the death of cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. Even though little more than a hunk of burnt flesh was all that was left of his body, he was honored with an open casket funeral.
  • Happened to murdered Welsh schoolgirl April Jones. Despite an extensive search, all that has been found of her to date is a few fragments of bone found at the home of Mark Bridger, the man later jailed for her murder.
  • Common for burning tanks, especially when a tank explodes. Occasionally happily subverted, when a crew member managed to escape shortly before the explosion, ended up as an unrecognised wounded in a hospital and was mistakenly reported dead. There was a Soviet WW2 tank commander who had as many as five empty graves and was still alive by mid-1990s.