Pietà Plagiarism


Michelangelo Buonarroti's sculpture depicting Mary holding the body of the crucified Christ is the best-known example of one of the most popular poses in art. There is a whole class of artwork, referred to as "pietàs", that depict Mary (usually seated) holding the dead Jesus, going back to at least the early 14th century. It includes two other pieces by Michelangelo himself—one in the Cathedral Museum in Florence and known as the Deposition or Florentine Pietà, the other one in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan and known as the Rondanini Pieta, as well as a third work in the Academia in Florence not generally attributed to Michelangelo today.

This specific pose is often used either following a Heroic Sacrifice or on a comic book cover, in which case it will likely be accompanied by a Tonight, Someone Dies. It's frequently gender-flipped (i.e. the man holding a dead/dying/comatose woman), perhaps because the latter is considered more dramatic in modern media.

A subtrope of Faux Symbolism. May be mixed with Touch of the Monster. Sister Trope to Cradling Your Kill, Cradle of Loneliness, and Died in Your Arms Tonight. See also Background Halo and Sistine Steal for related subliminal symbolism. Compare "Last Supper" Steal and Crucified Hero Shot for other examples of frequently homaged Christ-iconography.

Owes its existence to Pop-Cultural Osmosis.


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  • Kookai used it (here and here) ,to express a "love at first sight post catatonia".
  • Appears in one of the Compare the Meerkat adverts.
  • Taxi Vancouver had David Billings build a sand Pietà, depicting a mother grieving her dead daughter, to raise awareness of drowning and drowning prevention.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note:
    • The first opening sequence features Naomi Misora cradling (apparently recently killed) fiancee Raye Penber about halfway through as just one of countless biblical references.
    • Also, Light Yagami holds L's dead body in this position, while grinning evilly after L dies in his arms.
  • Final Fantasy VII Advent Children used this in promotional artworks, most notably for the front cover of the OST. It shows Cloud and Kadaj.
  • CC in the first Code Geass OP. It's self-conscious, given that she seems to be in a church.
  • The Mazinger series:
    • Mazinger Z: Several times in the manga and in the anime series Kouji held Sayaka -or vice versa- in that position, usually when one of them lay unconscious on the ground. Actually the cover of one of the volumes features a grim-looking Kouji holding a fainted Sayaka.
    • UFO Robo Grendizer: It happened near from the end, when Rubina got murdered and Duke held her as she died.
  • Sailor Moon R does this near the end, when Prince Dimando carries his brother Safiiru's lifeless body away of the battlefield, after he's killed by Wiseman. This is repeated in the S season, after Super Sailor Moon rescues Sailor Saturn from her last fight with Pharaoh 90 and takes her back to Earth, now as a newborn baby, in her arms.
  • Space Warrior Baldios: At the end of the movie, that is how Marin holds Aphrodia as he treads around a desolate beach After the End.
  • The DVD cover for Anime Legends: Wolf's Rain Complete Collection II depicts (among other things) Kiba holding Cheza in his arms. Which should be impossible, because (in case there's anyone who isn't aware of the show's basic concept) Kiba is actually a wolf and is only projecting the illusion of being human - he doesn't really have arms, and couldn't possibly hold this pose in wolf form - it would look pretty silly too.
    • Turns out this is an actual scene from the show. Presumably he's actually carrying her on his back.
    • In addition, it isn't as though weight would be an issue, seeing as how Cheza is literally a flower. Within the context of the show, it seems significant that she's the only one able to be carried like that by the wolves.
  • Quite unsurprisingly given the title, the Girls Love manga Pieta uses this pose at a climactic moment, with one of the protagonists holding the other after the latter's suicide attempt.
  • Used on the spoileriffic Vol. 6 cover of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS Japanese DVD, which has Subaru cradling the seemingly dead body of her older sister Ginga.
  • Daram holds his girlfriend Harulu like this After the End of Space Runaway Ideon. It is especially poignant since both characters are dead at that time and appear as spirits. Don't ask.
  • Ranma ½ several times, but at least twice in a definite parallel: first, a chapter-cover illustration with Ryoga thus cradling an unconscious Akane during an ice-skating battle; second, at the end of the series when Ranma thinks Akane has died.
  • One chapter of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro ends with X holding Yako like this. An image of the sculpture is behind them, except Mary and Jesus are wearing bondage masks.
  • In One Piece, Usopp holds Sanji like this when he thinks he's dead. Turned out he was just checking the wrong side of his chest for a heartbeat.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Alphonse carries Ed into Winry's house that way.
    • Armstrong holds a dead child like this as seen here.
    • Also seen when Riza Hawkeye is dying from having her throat slit. Roy Mustang cradles her Pieta-style, urging her to stay with him, until May Chang performs the alkahestry ritual that saves her life. Once he realizes she's going to live, Mustang scoops her up again the same way, this time pressing his face into her hair.
  • The cover art for Volume 13 of Berserk has a bloody Guts, minus a hand and an eye, holding a naked and unconscious Casca like this, in what is presumably the aftermath of Casca being raped by Femto.
  • Gundam:
    • There is official art of Heero from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing holding Relena this way. She returns the favor in Endless Waltz, when Heero collapses out of exhaustion when it's all said and done and Relena catches him mid-fall, then cradles him gently to her.
    • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, this is done with Gundams twice. The first is when the old Shuffle Alliance heal their successors through a Heroic Sacrifice. The second is after the Shining Gundam is destroyed, seen here.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, after Meer Campbell dies in the arms of Lacus Clyne, her friend and unrequited crush Athrun briefly carried around her dead body as well.
      • And some time before that, Shinn Asuka carried Stellar Louissier's body after she perished in his arms, as tear stream down his face.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, after Toguro kills Genkai, Yusuku holds her in his arms, telling her not to die.
    • And Itsuki holds his lover and leader Sensui's body after he dies.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!. Yami pulls this with Yugi after defeating the latter in a duel, the price of which was at least one of their souls, in the episode "Self Destruction (Showdown! The Two Yugis)".
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Yusei carries Ruka this way after her traumatic and exhausting duel with Professor Frank. (Fortunately, she lives.)
  • Pokémon Special:
    • Red holds an unconscious Yellow in this fashion, and to drive the point home, they're both frozen in stone in this position for presumably some time.
    • Wallace briefly holds Steven's dead body in this manner.
  • At the near-end of the series of Tokyo Mew Mew, used twice with Tart and Pudding and Kish and Ichigo. The former being the dead one in both cases.
  • Saint Seiya: When Seiya saves Saori from crows and then catches her before landing
    • In the anime, this is also pulled by Hyoga, who carries Shun in his arms after the other almost sacrifices himself for him, holding Hyoga in his own arms and then burning his Cosmo to its limits to literally de-freeze him.
  • The second opening of Soul Eater shows Soul holding Maka in this fashion, like this. Never happens in the series, though.
  • Tetsuya emerges from a burning building carrying Luna this way in Casshern Sins. Cue music, then the single-handed Curb Stomping of an entire robot army.
  • A slightly more frightening example appears in Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- in the arc that delves into Kurogane's past. During this part, the character, in a bloody, senseless rage, ends up being shown, his entire face, except for his eyes, totally shadowed, holding his mother's bloody corpse. This goes on for quite some time, with the only other feature being shown being the occasional appearance of his mouth, usually open in a shout or growl. Then finally, the character Tsukiyomi stops him and, in an attempt to calm him, closes his dead mother's eyes, telling him that she should rest. During this whole time, he never once dropped his mother's body. here it is
  • In Eureka Seven episode 13, Renton carried the unconscious Eureka this way when Nirvash started to move on its own.
  • The last we see of Hei in the final episode of Darker Than Black Ryuusei no Gemini was him carrying Yin this way. Yin's fate is left unknown.
  • In Naruto, while Neji dies in the arms of the title character, a short while later his friend Lee is seen cradling his corpse while crying for his death.
  • Used in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword manga, with Hylia holding the just-died Link.
  • Several instances in Fist of the North Star:
    • After the death of Shin, Kenshiro holds him in this position before placing him in his grave.
    • There are two instances where both the carrier and the carry-ee both die: Toki and Ryuga and Kaioh and Hyo, the latter of which is accentuated by being encased in lava from an erupting volcano, effectively petrifying them in that pose forever.

  • The Pietà was already a long-established representation of the sorrowful Virgin Mary by the time Michelangelo started work on his first one. It first arose in Germany, where the form is known as Vesperbild ("vespers image", because it portrays a moment after the crucifixion, around the time of evening prayers on Good Friday), and spread to Italy from there. The oldest surviving Pietàs date back to the early 1300s, over 150 years before Michelangelo was born.
  • Some ancient sculptures and paintings depicting scenes from pre-Christian mythology also have Pietà-like configuration, e. g. Niobe holding the body of one of her children, Eos (Dawn) with that of her son Memnon etc.
  • While it lacks the Mary figure, David's Death of Marat has the subject mimicking Jesus' pose. Interestingly, that portrait supposedly was taken from life, er death.
  • An even closer version is this image of the death of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church, from 1851.

    Comic Books 
  • Many, many comic books. The examples below are just a brief overview; for another, see Cracked's 20 Annoying 'Modern' Trends That Are Older Than You Think. As citing the numerous examples would take up way too much of this page, here's a nice big list for ya.
  • Superman:
    • The cover of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, showing Superman carrying Supergirl's dead body, is one of the best known examples in comic books, and is frequently referenced and/or parodied itself and has generated a deluge of merchandising, effectively making the origin of the trope Older Than They Think for anyone who isn't aware that this cover itself is copying an older work, though it differentiates itself by Supes standing, tears streaming and crying out in grief.
    • Inverted here.
    • Superman did this to Supergirl long before the Crisis in Warworld. A reviewer made the next quip: "Again with the anticipation. Superman cradling a Supergirl literally at death’s door. All they need now is copious amounts of blood and a sweatband."
    • Kal-L, the Golden Age Superman, does it again in Infinite Crisis with Lois Lane's body. And the next panel is a re-creation of the original Action Comics cover, just in case you didn't notice that it was homage time.
    • The final page of Final Crisis #6 has Supes doing it again, this time with Batman's corpse. At this point it seems to be mandatory for Crisis comics.
    • In The Supergirl from Krypton Superman does it twice: he holds Harbinger's body in his arms after she gets killed while protecting Supergirl. Later on, after knocking his brainwashed cousin out, Superman holds her in his arms.
  • Supergirl:
    • In the Post-Crisis New Krypton storyline, Supergirl holds her dying father's body while he dies.
    • In Red Daughter of Krypton, villain Worldkiller-1 holds a dying Supergirl in his arms before dumping her in the Sun (a move which was fortunate for her and incredibly dumb of him).
    • In Justice #12 Kara does this to Poison Ivy after knocking her out with a blast of heat vision.
    • And a drawing by Arthur Suydam of DC zombies has it too, with everyone but Supergirl a zombie, and her with an apple in her mouth.
    • Many Happy Returns provides two examples: Kara is holding Linda in the cover of the second-to-last issue; and at the end of the story, Linda holds a semi-unconscious Kara in her arms.
    • In Supergirl (Rebirth) #3, Cyborg Alura holds Kara's foster mother in her arms.
    • In a classic issue Linda carries her ill college professor in her arms when she flies to the Fortress of Solitude after he passes out.
  • Power Girl:
    • The seventh issue of Infinite Crisis inverts the iconic "Superman carrying Supergirl'' image when Power Girl -Earth-2's Supergirl- holds her cousin's body while Earth-2 Superman dies.
    • In the cover of Supergirl vol. 6 #20, Power Girl is holding the body of a dying Kara.
  • Tom Strong #22.
  • A cover done for a Guardians of the Galaxy storyline that never actually came to be.
  • X-Men
    • The cover of Uncanny X-Men #136 (Cyclops holding Dark Phoenix) is equally well known; ironically, it wasn't until the next issue that Phoenix died.
    • The cover of Uncanny X-Men #255 shows Mystique kneeling, holding the body of Destiny in a pietà pose.
    • ''X-Men Annual" #1 (2006) shows Mystique sitting on the ground holding her injured daughter Rogue.
    • X-Treme X-Men #2, where the villain arranges a dead (at the time) Psylocke and bloody-and-broken Beast in a reversal of the Pietà. Might be calling back to the Dark Phoenix cover, as a good portion of the fandom indulges in Shipping where these two are concerned.
    • The cover of Obnoxio the Clown #1 (and only issue, sometimes called Obnoxio the Clown vs. the X-Men) has Obnoxio holding Kitty Pryde's body like this - and cracking a joke.
    • Most recently in the cover of Wolverine and the X-Men Vol. 2, Issue 11 is one of the more direct references.
  • The cover of The Death of Captain Marvel is very explicitly based on the Michelangelo work.
  • One of the most notorious examples is from the cover of one of the Teen Titans "Drug Awareness issues", with Speedy holding an unnamed child.
  • A Death in the Family, with Batman holding Jason Todd as Robin's body. This picture comes from the in-story moment where it happens.
  • In a Silver Age Batman comic "Robin Dies at Dawn", the Dark Knight cradles the body of Dick Grayson as Robin on the cover after the latter is killed distracting a monster. He's having a nightmare.
  • Captain Atom probably deserves mention for doing it twice, first on the cover of #8, with Plastique cradling a badly wounded Cap, with bonus points for Cap having a very visible wound in his side, and then inverting that image on the cover of issue #44, with Cap now cradling an unconscious Plastique. (Both are a more direct homage to the Pieta than most comics versions, including the seated posture and the draped legs.)
  • It's a fictional comic book, but the cover of issue 1 of Rage: Gay Crusader from the US version of Queer as Folk.
  • Dark Reign had one of these in a promo poster.
  • Witchblade #128's cover.
  • Issue 217 of Hellblazer literally copied the statue.
  • Two-Face holds a drugged and bleeding Batman like this in Batman: Jekyll and Hyde.
  • One of the earliest Star Trek: The Next Generation comics had Data cradling Geordi's dead body this way.
  • The Avengers: Red Zone Part 5 cover features this with Iron Man holding a very dead Captain America. Note that Tony's angst is so great that even the armor is emoting.
  • The "Death of Captain America" plotline has Steve Rogers taking a bullet and collapsing outside the court, only for him to be cradled by Sharon Carter and a federal agent. (spoilers).
  • Marjane in Persepolis recounts how she got into the Iranian art school; in the entrance exam, she drew a copy of Pietà, with Mary replaced by a veiled Iranian woman, and Jesus replaced by a martyr.
  • Spider-Man''
    • Spider-Man holds Gwen Stacy in this way, in the last panel of The Night Gwen Stacy Died.
    • The Ultimate Universe has Mary Jane holding Peter like this in the final pages of The Death of Spider-Man saga.
  • For the Marvel reprints of ElfQuest, a new series of covers was made. Issue 24 also used this pose for Clearbrook and One-Eye.
  • A cover of Batman and Son has Batman do this to the Joker.
  • In All Fall Down, the Ghoul holds Portia this way after rescuing her.
  • Towards the end of Life with Archie: The Married Life, after Archie's Heroic Sacrifice for gay friend Kevin Keller, both Jughead and Kevin hold Archie's lifeless body in this way while the former cradles it in his lap as the entire crowd weeps and holds each other close.
  • A variant occurs in Tales of the Jedi with Ulic cradling the robes of Arca Jeth, who was a Jedi Master and became one with the Force upon death. It's also shown on the cover of that issue.
  • Vampirella: One of the covers for issue #7 (Dynamite Series) shows Sofia Murray in Mary's place and Vampirella herself in Jesus's place.
  • The finale to Civil War II ends with Miles Morales holding a defeated Tony Stark. This stands out as being one of the most blatant copies so far, with the characters in nearly 1-1 positioning as the original sculpture, including hand placement, etc., to the point that it verges on self-parody.

    Fan Works 
  • In With Strings Attached, immediately after the Heart of Evil has been destroyed, the Hunter comes walking through a curtain of rain carrying Paul's naked body (though he isn't dead, and he didn't perform a Heroic Sacrifice; he got drained by wraiths that he overconfidently attacked).
  • In A Captive Light a Digimon fanfiction, Kari cradles TK's body after Ken's monsters attack, with the intent of actually killing his hostage. The holding and sobbing last for a good chapter and a half, and reduced more than one reviewer to tears.
  • HERZ: Shinji held Gendo in this position as his father died in chapter 10.
  • In chapter 11 of Last Child of Krypton, Shinji sees a vision of another Shinji holding Asuka in this way. The narration notes that they looked like “some Renaissance statue”.
    The other had sunk to the ground, holding the broken body of Asuka in her plugsuit, like some renaissance statue.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: When Asuka is dying, Shinji carries her this way. Since both teenagers are inside their Humongous Mecha at the time when it happens, Unit-01 cradles the broken, motionless body of Unit-02.
  • In Prison Island Break, Sonic does this when Manic dies, right outside the prison chapel. It may be written, but the imagery brings reviewers to tears.
  • A fan-art for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic specifically recreates the Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 cover with pony characters. Note that, given the little "Z" bubble, Twilight might just be sleeping.
  • In Time Fixers Nicktoons Of The Future, Danny carries his son, Darry, this way after the latter uses his Ghost Rage technique to defeat Dan Phantom and uses up all his energy, nearly dying as a result.

    Films — Animation 
  • Nearing the end of The Nightmare Before Christmas, Jack lies defeated in the arms of a graveyard statue of an angel.
  • Meg's death in Hercules. And it's not just Hercules cradling her in his arms as a powered mortal, but he also holds her spirit once he is restored to godhood as well.
  • In Tangled, Rapunzel is holding Eugene/Flynn after the latter's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • At the very beginning of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the Archdeacon actually does this to Quasimodo's mother after she has been trampled to death by Frollo for being a Gypsy and is about to drown baby Quasimodo by dropping him into a well because of his hideous appearance.
    • Quasimodo himself does a version of this pose, holding Esmeralda over his head after saving her from being burned at the stake, and claiming sanctuary in the Cathedral. She revives.
  • In Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, where Stitch has died, Lilo holds him in this fashion. It's okay though, he gets better.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014). Peter Parker holding Gwen Stacy after she dies from her fall. That she is hanging from his web puts her body at just the right height for him to start holding her, and then he slowly lowers her to the ground.
  • Cries and Whispers: When a dying—actually, already dead, it's pretty weird—Agnes begs for comfort, Anna cradles her body in a classic Pieta pose.
  • In Frankenstein (1931), when the father carries the lifeless body of his drowned daughter through the streets of the village.
  • The Bodyguard (1992). There could not be a more obvious example.
  • The live-action Martial Arts Movie The Protector ends with the hero and the lead villain falling through a skylight onto the mounted skeleton of the elephant he was supposed to be protecting from poachers; his body ends up cradled in the elephant's tusks.
  • The last scene of Dead Ringers.
  • The film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street has this. The twist is, they're both dead.
  • Johnny Depp does it again in Dark Shadows. The twist is, they're both undead.
  • The Jane Howell film of Richard III ends with a reversed Pietà pose: Margaret holding Richard's body with its head cradled in her left arm, laughing.
  • Superbad, when Seth carries a drunk Evan out of the party.
  • Happens in The Rocky Horror Picture Show, with Rocky holding Frank-n-Furter. Considering the nature of the movie/play...
  • Used blatantly, and intentionally, in the Argentinian film Hombre Mirando al Sudeste (Man Looking Southeast), because one of its many, many possible interpretations is that the character Rantes is what he says he is, The Messiah (or rather, a messiah).
  • The first example of this in film is, predictably enough, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, as Cesare kidnaps Jane
  • At the very end of Dogma, Silent Bob and Bethany mimic this, with Bethany playing the role of Christ. Don't worry, she's not dead.
  • Another Kevin Smith example: the last "Bluntman and Chronic" in-universe comic shows Bluntman cradling Chronic in a similar way.
  • Used intentionally in Children of Men, with a refugee mother holding her dead (or at least severely wounded) son. The commentary reveals this was a reference both to Michelangelo's sculpture and a real-life photograph.
  • Parodied at the end of Wayne's World when Wayne stumbles out of the burning house cradling the dead Garth and shouting "Why, God?! Why?!"
  • Used blatantly and purposely in Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, when the dead Christ is removed from the cross. Mary cradles him in Michaelangelo's pose while the camera slowly pulls away.
  • In Hannibal, the title character carries Clarice this way towards the end.
  • Parodied in the Strangers with Candy movie when Noblet attacks Jerri over the science fair and then collapses backward into the arms of the other students.
  • Starman carrying Jenny away from an explosion. She gets better.
  • Parodied in Mr. Bean's Holiday - Bean attempts to earn some money by dancing to music from a CD stall, then the music switches to an opera piece, prompting Bean to stage his own improvised opera, with himself and his new friend in the roles of Mary and Jesus.
  • Scott cradles Mike in My Own Private Idaho - more than once. However he's only sleeping. He suffers from narcolepsy and it's up to Scott to look after him, and yes, carry him about when he's asleep.
  • In the Australian film Animal Kingdom, Pope carries Nicole out of the house like this.
  • In We Were Soldiers, an American helicopter returns to base carrying dead and wounded from an intense ongoing battle during the early stages of The Vietnam War. A large black soldier picks up a dead white soldier and carries him away while weeping.
  • In The Fugitive, Richard Kimble holds his dead (or dying) wife in his arms this way.
  • In Don Juan DeMarco, the pose is enacted when John's father is fatally wounded in a sword duel, and dies in the arms of John's mother.
  • The Incredible Hulk carries Betty away from the battle on the college campus.
  • In RoboCop 3, the titular character carries the dying Anne Lewis into a church in this fashion, and sets her down on the altar.
  • Used in Robot Monster, as immortalized on the poster.
  • Scotty carrying his dead nephew Ensign Prescott onto the bridge in The Wrath of Khan
  • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, Severus Snape cradles Lily Potter's body after finding her dead.
  • Used in Transformers: Dark of the Moon when Optimus holds Sentinel's body, which has been on the moon since The '60s and is locked in stasis due to lack of Energon.
  • Erik cradling a wounded Charles on the beach in X-Men: First Class.
  • The last shot of The Roaring Twenties (1939) leaves Eddie dead in Panama's arms after his Heroic Sacrifice.
  • The spectacular shot of Sam cradling Frodo on the slopes of Mount Doom in The Return of the King.
  • In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Sim does this to her brother after they collapsed from a poisoned dart.
  • In The X-Files: I Want to Believe, Skinner holds a semi-conscious Mulder in his lap after rescuing him from nearly being killed by the movie's main villain.
  • The Dark Crystal, Jen holding Kira after she gets stabbed.
  • So many Alfred Hitchcock films.
  • Used at the end of Skyfall when M dies.
  • There is a scene in Pacific Rim where Raleigh helps lower Mako to the floor while cradling her.
  • Happens in Strange Brew. Pam carries Bob this way after he faints when Brewmeister Smith threatens to kill them.
  • In Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris cradles Cameron this way after rescuing him from the bottom of a swimming pool.
  • Subverted in Riddick. Riddick is wounded during a Back-to-Back Badasses fight with the scorpian-creatures. His companion (whom Riddick has predicted will cut and run on him) picks him up, apparently to carry him to safety...but then flips his body over to remove the power node from Riddick's back, leaving Riddick behind. He does return however for a Big Damn Gunship rescue, so he was apparently just being pragmatic.
  • Parodied in Thank You for Smoking, when kidnappers leave an unconscious Nick in this pose in Abraham Lincoln's lap at the Lincoln Memorial.
  • In Mad Max: Fury Road, Immortan Joe is shown holding the dying body of Angharad, wheezing the raspy approximation of a Death Wail through his open mask, while Rictus angrily fires his BFG in the direction of the retreating War Rig.
    Warboy on bike: Are you alright?
    Immortan Joe: ON, ON!!
  • In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this happens to Clark's body after he sacrifices himself to stop Doomsday. Batman retreives the body and solemly passes it down to Wonder Woman and Lois Lane. Lois then cradles Clark's body in her lap while Bruce and Diana flank them.

  • In Justina Robson 's Living Next Door To The God Of Love, the Stuffies' Cathedral has a stained-glass window showing Francine with a "sexy dark chick" in her lap: it's Cadenza Fortitude, the titular God's female version.
  • The grown son in Robert Munsch's "Love You Forever" cradles his ailing mother in this pose, similar to how she cradled him to sleep as a child and as a grown man.
  • The Executioner. On the cover of "Day of Mourning" in which Mack Bolan's long-term Love Interest April Rose is killed, Bolan is shown cradling the latter's dead body. And it's raining.
  • In The Tomorrow Series Corrie is seen this way in Kevin's lap after she has been shot. It is even lampshaded when Ellie says she walks into what looks like Jesus's barn.
  • The Lord of the Rings: When Faramir is wounded, the Prince of Dol Amroth brings him back to Minas Tirith holding him in his arms on the back of his horse.
  • Narrowly averted in The Goblin Emperor. When Beshelar throws himself in front of his emperor to protect him from a blade, he ends up wounded and bleeding in the emperor's lap. The wound is not lethal and before the emperor can start to cradle him or something, he gets up and apologizes.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Bible (2013): Appropriately enough, when Jesus is brought down from the cross, it's staged like the classic depiction.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Used at least once, after Drusilla is restored to health and Spike is injured, she holds him in this manner. Also used in the episode "The Puppet Show", when Buffy cradles the Demon Slaying puppet after his death.
    • Also used when Tara dies, with Willow holding her.
  • Chinese Paladin: Used in the finale, with Xiaoyao Bridal Carrying Ling'er as she dies.
  • Dark Angel: In the episode "Pollo Loco," Max holds her "brother" Ben in this manner after he asks her to kill him and she complies.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor holds the Master in this way in the Series 3 Finale. Somewhat ruined by his odd squatting pose on the floor, although that was only as narmy as the odd position of his legs while dramatically floating.
    • He did it again with Jenny in "The Doctor's Daughter", complete with that little hug-rocking motion. Once again, a secondary character shot the closest thing to family he had left out of almost nowhere; it was a bit of a callback. Given the way the Doctor tends to feel responsible when people die around him, this almost plays as Cradling Your Kill.
    • The scene in "Smith and Jones" where the Doctor carries Martha after she passes out from the lack of oxygen could be seen this way, especially since there was no particular reason she couldn't have stayed where she was besides drama.
    • Used again in "Asylum of the Daleks", with the Doctor carrying Amy. This has been all over the promotional advertisements for the season.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Done a few times, usually whenever Iolaus dies. (Yes, it happened more than once.) In a commentary, Michael Hurst got his Michelangelo sculptures mixed up and compared it to David.
  • Heroes: Used this twice in season 3 in paintings of the future. One of Matt holding a burned Daphne in a possible-future where Sylar goes nuclear and Noah holding an injured Claire, foreshadowing the eclipse during which the powered people lose their abilities.
  • House: One episode had Cuddy holding a young patient who she'd been granted temporary guardianship of this way in a shower to cool her down due to a fever. Then House came in and sniped at Cuddy about her aspirations of motherhood....
  • Merlin: The last episode of the first season plays it straight with Uther holding Arthur. It's ok though, he gets better. Also in the season four trailer, Percival was seen carrying an unconscious Merlin in his arms.
  • The O.C.: Used in, of all places, the first season, with Ryan and Marissa, who had just taken a painkiller overdose washed down with a lot of alcohol in Tijuana. And in a deliberate parallel to the same scene, he carries her the same way in the Season 3 finale, "The Graduates", following a car accident. She's suffered head trauma and he has to carry her away from the burning car. She dies in his arms, and the final shot is him huddled over her body.
  • Power Rangers in Space: Andros holds the body of Karone after Zordon's Heroic Sacrifice to stop the attack on the world. She is revived by Andros' love for her.
  • Revolution: In the first season finale, Miles Matheson is holding Nora Clayton in his arms in exactly this way when she died. He even went down onto his knees when he realized that she died.
  • Seinfeld: Jerry has a bad dream where he ends up in this pose after getting illegal cable and the Cable Police gun him down. Kramer cradles him crying "What have you done to my little CABLE BOY???"
  • Smallville:
    • Clark Kent does it all the time, but most powerfully with Alicia's death. Lana back in X-Ray. Chloe in Dichotic, and the time in Arrival may count. Also Chloe in Abyss.
    • The Season 7 finale had Lex Luthor cradling (Weakened? Paralyzed? Don't really know.) Clark Kent in a similar fashion as the Fortress of Solitude crumbled around them. It's further enforced by the former repeatedly apologizing to him and apparently seeing this event of killing his former-best friend as a great personal sacrifice.
  • Supergirl: Supergirl holds Lena Luthor in the pose after catching her in season two.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Worf carrying Data during the episode "Brothers". Data was only deactivated at the time, though.
  • Upright Citizens Brigade: Spoofed in one episode in the Camp Kalterman sketch.
  • Veronica Mars: Began and ended its second season with the Pietà; in the first case, Veronica tends to Logan, and in the second, it's reversed.
  • The Walking Dead: In the mid-season 5 finale Daryl carries Beth's body out of the hospital after she is shot.


  • The cover art for Electronic Saviors: Volume 2 features a dying male cyborg in a Pieta pose with a female cyborg. The female cyborg is wearing a long cowl, evoking the image of the Virgin Mary.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A picture on the page explaining the rules for Resonance (that's the accumulation of the wrath of the undead creators of the world to you and me...) in the Exalted 2nd ed Abyssals book. Something of an inversion, however — the character doing the cradling is presumably an Abyssal, and has probably just invited the anger of the Neverborn by attempting to do some good in the world — renegade Abyssals can quite easily hit Messianic status, Dark or otherwise.

  • The script of the play for Little Shop of Horrors mentions Pieta a few times when discussing how to act Audrey's death and subsequent feeding to the plant.
  • William Shakespeare example: King Lear carrying Cordelia's body at the end of the play. Well, near the end.
  • The very last pose in Elisabeth. See that show's trope page for an illustration.
  • Miss Saigon: Kim holds her cousin Thuy this way after she shoots him (she was protecting her son from him), and is held this way by Chris after she shoots herself in the end.
  • In Matilda's third B-story segment, the Escapologist carries the Acrobat pieta-style after her fatal fall during the "Burning Woman" stunt.

    Video Games 
  • A pretty clever example occurs in Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. In one particular story mission, you are tasked with preventing someone's assassination in the middle of a play, where said person is playing Jesus. Let's just say things take a turn for the bad, so they cut him off the cross, and Ezio picks him up and carries him off. Perfect Pieta pose included.
  • When Shin Megami Tensei II was remade for the Playstation, its original poster featured the protagonist being held by the angel Gabriel in this position.
  • In the fifth case of the first Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game, Lana Skye holds her unconscious younger sister Ema in this manner after Ema is attacked by a serial killer.
  • Kefka of Final Fantasy VI mimics this as one of his final forms, with himself replacing Christ.
    • Notably, in the Japanese version, the female torso and head floating behind Kefka was named "Maria", as in "Mary", as opposed to the western translations in which she was named "Girl" or "Lady" depending on the console version. (Quite obviously to avoid pushing any berserk buttons, although Lady could very well be taken from Madonna note , an appellation for the Virgin Mary.)
  • Tellah of Final Fantasy IV takes both sides of this trope in the DS remake, holding his daughter Anna as she's just been shot full of Baronian arrows, and then being picked up by Cid after sacrificing his own life to power his uber-doom Meteor spell against Golbez.
  • The standing Pietà could be found on the box art of Shadow Hearts with Yuri carrying Alice. The sequel Shadow Hearts: From the New World mimics this with Johnny and Shania, except that Johnny is not strong enough to lift Shania. The art effectively looks more like the picture above (Lamentation) as Johnny is kneeling. Ruined as Shania's neck is straight up; she is clearly supporting it herself.
    • You can see the sculpture itself in Apoina Tower in Covenant.
  • Mega Man X4, during the infamous "WHAT AM I FIGHTING FOOOOOOOOOOR" scene, where Zero carries the dead Iris.
    • Another one in X8, with X carrying a comatose Axl before and during their journey back to Earth.
    • And again in Mega Man Zero, where Zero saves a falling Ciel this way.
  • Done twice in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Link holds Colin in this manner after rescuing him from abduction by the Bulblins. Later, when Midna uses the power of the Fused Shadow for the first time and it renders her unconscious, she likewise is held in Link's arms until she wakes.
  • An interesting variation from Final Fantasy VIII: Rinoa does this with Squall after she finds him unconscious in the desert after Time Compression, but it's mostly shown from the back - most likely to highlight the wings on the back of her outfit.
    • Also averted in Final Fantasy VIII. Squall carries the unconscious Rinoa piggyback style.
  • A statue in Chorrol in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion resembles this.
  • Snake holding Big Mama in Metal Gear Solid 4 is an interesting twist, because all the Faux Symbolism up until that point was that Snake was the self-sacrificial, messianic one and Mama was his mother (she even blatantly described Snake's birth as an 'immaculate conception').
  • in the .hack series, Kite holds the dying Mia in this manner.
    • In G.U., Haseo does this when Alkaid is PKed.
  • ...And now someone's gone and made a Real Life statue of Peach holding Mario in that pose. From styrofoam. It's titled "Game Over".
  • In Dragon Age II Hawke does this with his/her mother when he/she is too late to save their mother from an insane blood mage who sought to 'reassemble' his late wife.
    • Later in Act 2, Viscount Dumar does this with his son Seamus after the latter is murdered by Petrice in her attempt to incite war with the Qunari.
  • In Fable III, The Hero does this as Walter dies in his/her arms after the final battle.
  • In Batman: Arkham City, done by Batman during the ending after The Joker dies from TITAN poisoning.
    • Made somewhat hilarious by the fact that he seems to have left Talia lying in a pool of her own blood without a second thought.note 
    • This is also an Ironic Echo to the first image we see in the Catwoman opening - Cain doing the exact same pose with Abel.
  • Despite being the furthest thing from a messiah imaginable, Alex Mercer in [PROTOTYPE] cradles his sister Dana's unconscious body this way when he rescues her from a kidnapping, before he lifts her effortlessly and tears out of the building to find medical care.
  • In Halo: Reach, Carter carries Kat's body this way after she is Killed Mid-Sentence by an Elite sniper.
  • In The King of Fighters 2003, Kyo Kusanagi is seen holding an exhausted and wounded Chizuru Kagura like this after Ash Crimson attacks her and steals her Magic Mirror via pulling it out of her body.
    • In KOF 99, Kensou carries an unconscious Athena after he activates the Dragon Spirit to save both of them. He does this again in KOF 2000, but with a badly injured Bao when he takes a blast of a Kill Sat.
  • In Tales of the Abyss Luke does this for Asch in one of the last scenes of the game. Considering Luke is his clone, the symbolism can get a little weird.
  • The cover art for DoDonPachi Daioujou and DoDonPachi Saidaioujou.
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2: Noel holds Serah in this manner after she succumbs to her seeress powers. Yeul is also seen being held by both Noel and Caius during her many many death scenes in this way.
  • In Prince of Persia: The Two Thrones, when the Prince in his Dark Prince form sees his father Sharaman dead after obtaining his sword, he crumples to the floor in his "My God, What Have I Done?" moment and holds his father in this manner, all the while the Dark Prince's voice taunts him on how to save Sharaman's life.
  • At the end of Pitfall: The Lost Expedition, Harry tries lifting Nicole's body in this manner in his attempt to revive her before setting her down and realizing that he has lost his magical powers the butterfly had given him... or so he thinks. In his Heroic B.S.O.D., he lifts her up again in this manner, thinking he has failed her, before giving her the Magic Kiss of Life, bringing her back to life again.
  • The cover art for MS Saga: A New Dawn.
  • In Spec Ops: The Line when you discover the damages done by phosphorus on the civilians, a dead woman is holding her dead burnt daughter, immobilized in a sitting position
  • In Guardians of The Galaxy: The Telltale Series, depending on your earlier choice, either Drax or Gamora will hold Peter like this after the latter was injured by Hala the Accuser.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • Volume 2 of RWBY had Ruby and Weiss in this position for the teaser trailer, as a pillar collapses behind them. Fans worried about what this meant, but as it turns out, Rooster Teeth were just hamming it up for the promo. The real reason is much sillier: a Food Fight.
    • Done again in episode 19 of RWBY Chibi after an pillow fight done to the same extreme but instead it is Yang holding Ruby who pretends to die.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog has one heralding its finale in Act III: Billy carries the lifeless body of Penny to a stretcher as he sings "Everything You Ever" and makes his final transformation to Dr. Horrible.
  • Invoked at the end of Brad Neely's ''China, IL.''
  • Linkara does this with MarzGurl in Kickassia when she's knocked down by an explosion. Played for Laughs, since the entire time he's doing it, she's protesting that she's fine.
  • Chaos Fighters: Chemical Warriors-RAKSA has this near the end, but subverted that the one being hugged was alive and woke up.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Mortally wounded Pres. Lincoln and actress Laura Keene, Ford's Theatre, Washigton, D.C., April 14, 1865.note 
  • Mortally wounded Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and busboy Juan Romero. Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles, California, June 5, 1968.
  • World Press Photo picture of the year, 2011.
  • Played to chilling effect with a woman hugging her partner who was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen for being an alleged drug pusher. Front page banner of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Pasay City, Philippines, published July 24, 2016.