Pietà Plagiarism

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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.

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.

Examples

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    Advertising 
  • 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.

    Arts 
  • 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.

    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.

    Literature 
  • 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.

    Music 
  • 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.

    Theater 
  • 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.

    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 
  • Justice League:
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: A scene from the second season finale is one example that doesn't follow a Heroic Sacrifice, but a poorly timed mistake.
  • Ben 10: Alien Force actually has a shot like this in "What Little Girls Are Made Of", with Kevin holding Ben after he is knocked down in a (brief) conflict with a woman who turns out to be his grandmother. The scene is not dramatic and Ben isn't even unconsious, but he stays in Kevin's arms like that for a good five seconds.
  • Superjail!: When the Littlest Cancer Patient dies, one of the prisoners holds her like this.
  • Transformers Animated, Endgame Part 2: Jazz carries Prowl's body after the third Lugnut Supreme blows up.
  • Spoofed in the Dexter's Laboratory accompanying short, The Justice Friends, in which Major Glory holds Valhallen in his arms after Valhallen injures himself in an attempt to get a bee out of their apartment. When Valhallen states that he is fine, Major Glory casually tosses him aside.
  • The end of the Looney Tunes cartoon "What's Opera Doc?"
  • The Simpsons: The famous "Death of Superman" comic is parodied with Sad Sack.
    • Season 17's "Marge And Homer Turn A Couple Play" features the eponymous couple helping a major league baseball player and his wife patch up their troubled marriage. During Kent Brockman's news report, a file photo is shown depicting a distressed Marge holding a drunken, drooling, beer-hat wearing Homer in the famous position.
  • The aforementioned scene of A Death in the Family is recreated in one of the DCAU Original Movies. More exactly, Batman: Under the Red hood, where Batman *again* carries the deceased Jason Todd.
  • Teen Titans: Robin and Raven, in the episode 'Birthmark,' have this twice - first with Raven holding Robin, then Robin holding Raven.

    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.

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