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Peaceful in Death
Only the dead have seen the end of war.
George Santayana (often misattributed to Plato)

A dead character has a peaceful expression. Sometimes noble and dignified as well.

May follow Go Out with a Smile, Obi-Wan Moment, and Big Sleep, but may also have died in visible misery and pain, with Dies Wide Open. May be part of This Was His True Form, and result from Dying as Yourself.

The mundane (or Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane) equivalent of Died Happily Ever After... and it certainly can be Truth in Television. Not to be confused with Drop Dead Gorgeous, where the female body remains a sex object even when it's dead.

Real Life embalmers are paid good money to achieve this effect. The muscles in the face tend to constrict slightly during the embalming process, often resulting in the appearance of a faint smile on the corpse.

As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • How the eponymous boxing legend dies in Ashita no Joe. He seems to be peaceful, knowing he has won the match despite it costing his life.
    • That scene has inspired countless homage, from the tearjerkingly straight such as Kamina to the ones played for laughs such as Animate Tenchou.
  • Evoked in Billionaire Birthday Blues, Yone closed the deceased Reika's eyes to at least eases her pain. Girl maybe a Rich Bitch but, human being is still human being.
  • Grimmer in Monster, upon finally feeling emotion.
  • Buccanneer, King Bradley, and Hohenheim all go out like this as Fullmetal Alchemist finally comes to a close. All three are smiling and lying on the ground very calmly and serenely.
  • One Piece seems to say that anyone with the Will of D tend to go out like this. Look at Ace and his parents all smiling and at peace at their deaths.
    • Roger died happy knowing that he lived a life filled with no regrets and that he wouldn't be forgotten. Rouge died happy knowing that her son would live and have a relatively safe childhood. Ace died happy knowing that he was able to protect Luffy, and that, despite having the blood of a "demon" in his veins, he was truly, honestly loved.
  • Babel from Saint Seiya.
  • Togame in Katanagatari after her Dying Declaration of Love.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Maria is found this way in the fourth arc. Battler notes that the murderer apparently went out of their way to make her look that way, and it actually looks pretty squicky, since she's lying so peacefully in the lap of her mother, whose face was half-blown off, surrounded by adults whose faces were half-blown off.
  • In Naruto, Chiyo's brother Ebizo laments that she's not pretending to be dead, but notes how peaceful she looks.
  • Code Geass: Shirley after giving Lelouch a Dying Declaration of Love and dying in his arms.
  • Nuriko of Fushigi Yuugi dies smiling. Another Suzaku warrior even comments how peaceful and beautiful he looks in death.
  • Jonathan Joestar of Jojos Bizarre Adventure is able to leave life peacefully after making sure that his bride Erina and the orphaned baby girl they rescued will survive. He dies hugging the (still alive) head of his friend/brother/mortal enemy Dio Brando. Like with most parts of Jonathan's life, Dio messes this up too by hijacking Jonathan's body and using it to wreck havoc in the future. Thankfully, Jonathan's sacrifice wasn't in vain, since Dio is ultimately wiped out for good by Jonathan's great-great-grandson.

    Comicbooks 
  • Although we don't see his face, the first Dove (of the superhero duo Hawk And Dove) is at peace in death, to the point of being one of the few dead characters that were immune to being raised as a zombie by the dark-emotion-powered Black Rings in Blackest Night. Considering he was an avatar of peace, this is appropriate.

    Films — Animation 
  • Parodied in Kung Fu Panda. Shifu looks like he has died with a serene expression on his face and then he opens his eyes, saying that he's not dead ("You idiot") he's at peace.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Parodied in Scary Movie 3: As two parents attend the funeral of their daughter: "My sweet sweet Brenda—-She looks so peaceful..." (cut to Brenda with her face frozen in an expression of utter terror and her hands sticking out like claws)
  • When the Bad Ass Vampire Lord David finaly died in The Lost Boys he mysteriously lost his wicked stubble and looked about ten years younger - A Lost Boy if you will. A lot of people has said that the perfect ending of that movie would be a shot of a "Missing Child"-Poster from 1950 with Innocent David on it.
  • In American Beauty, the peaceful face of Lester in his moment of death is not only the result of his growth through the entire film, it also pretty much encapsulates the theme (the spiritual joy of finding "beauty" in the seemingly banal or even supposedly ugly products of everyday life).
  • In The Storm Riders, a martial artist uses magic to allow his dead girlfriend to rest peacefully.
  • The justification for the midpoint plot in Brainstorm; seeing the peaceful expression on a just-deceased colleague's face inspires Christopher Walken to find out why "Why do you have to die to let go?"

    Literature 
  • Colt in The Zombie Knight, because Geoffry won't find his children. Not that he stays that way for long.
  • In James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novel Deus Sanguinius, when Rafen goes to pay his respects to his dead mentor (and engage in Talking to the Dead), he is struck by how peaceful he looks, unlike the contortion racking him, as he died Fighting from the Inside to warn Rafen.
  • In the appendices of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, it is said that Aragorn's face upon succumbing to death struck all who saw it as peaceful and noble.
    • Likewise with Boromir.
    • But subverted with those in the Dead Marches.
  • Lady Vivienne de Jourdanet of the Camberian Council dies peacefully of old age in the arms of her eldest son the morning after Liam's investiture in King Kelson's Bride. Despite the wars, rebellions and persecutions, some Deryni manage to do that.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Roads Must Roll, a man is murdered while trying to negiotiate with the striking workers. The main character is struck by the nobility of his expression, seeing him dead.
  • Discussed Trope in The Outsiders. The kid who dies "Didn't look peaceful. He just looked dead."
  • In Anne of the Island, Ruby Gillis finally admits to Anne that she is dying and confesses it terrifies her: all she will lose in life, and she has not readied herself for Heaven. But after she dies that night, her face shows that Death brought a wisdom that years of experience might have earned her.
    • Captain Jim in Anne's House Of Dreams. His Life Book has just been published, which he's thrilled about, and he settles down for the night to read it. Anne and Gilbert find him dead the next morning. He's stretched out on the sofa with a peaceful expression on his face, holding the book, which is opened to the last page. Earlier in the book, he had mentioned that he hoped to have a quick and easy death; it would seem that he got what he wanted.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Tywin Lannister appears to have a faint smile while lying in state, and his children note how inappropriate the expression seems on him.
  • Dracula, surprisingly enough for all those who first knew him through Popcultural Osmosis.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front, when Paul is killed, his facial expression is described as "calm, as though almost glad the end had come."
  • In Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The First Circle, a character freezes to death in a cell, and when they took him out, he was smiling. (The readers know that he had come to the conclusion that he had done the right thing.)
  • In Eragon, Brom gets encased in a diamond tomb after he dies. Eragon comments that he looks so peaceful.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, Rachael notes, on Catarina's death that the woman doesn't look peaceful.
  • In Angie Sage's Physik, after Alice takes a bullet for Jenna.
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Remus and Tonks are described as "pale and still and peaceful-looking" in death.
  • The Last Dragon Chronicles: Henry Bacon died this way.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: Despite the horrific manner in which King Renly Baratheon is killed, his body looks remarkably at peace. The corpse is later dressed and positioned in a way to make him appear regal and dignified, and Margaery Tyrell (his widow) can't resist mentioning how handsome he was, with Littlefinger agreeing.

    Theatre 
  • In Street Scene, Rose says of her mother: "She looks so quiet and natural. You'd think she was asleep."
  • In Boris Godunov, Shuisky testifies to Boris that he saw the slain Dimitri this way in the church at Uglich.

    Videogames 

    Web Comics 
  • In the final arc of Dominic Deegan, Quilt sacrifices himself to ensure the Infernomancer's death, avenging his fallen friend Bumper and doing his part to save the world. Quilt shuts his eyes and smiles as he disintegrates. Contrast with the Infernomancer, who dies screaming.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Durkon is defeated by Malack. As the vampire drains his lifeblood, Durkon begs Malack to at least let his friends live. In deference to the friendship they shared in the short time they knew each other, Malack agrees. The lives of his friends assured, Durkon is able to die in peace. He sheds a tear, knowing that according to the Oracle's prophecy he will finally be able to go home. He dies with a smile on his face and X's in his eyes. He gets better(?) after Malack raises him as a vampire.

    Western Animation 
  • Discussed in The Simpsons episode "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish". Marge lets Homer sleep in on what he believes will be the last day of his life because he "looked so peaceful lying there". "There'll be plenty of time for that!"


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