Shrine to the Fallen
passed on after an illness, your lost love or just that one person you couldn't save, some characters are so attached to a deceased loved one that they have a hard time letting go. A shrine to the dearly departed is often a good way to inform the viewers of this connection, especially if the shrine is to someone who kicked the bucket before the show even started. In fiction, showing a child or bereaved spouse praying at such a shrine is a visual shorthand for the Disappeared Dad or Missing Mom. These are typically created with a photograph and a number of votive candles or incense, but traditions vary from culture to culture. In Asian cultures, shrines to the dead are a traditional part of the mourning ritual and are placed either in a prominent position in the home or, if the household is wealthy, a place can be purchased/rented at the local temple. There are even shrines for the anonymous dead or women who died unmarried (so they don't come back as a Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl). The main Western variant of the "shrine" is for the family of a deceased person (especially parents for children) to keep the deceased's bedroom exactly how it was when they were alive, and not using it for anything else because it would be the final admittance that the deceased is never coming back. Sometimes they will leave a chair for the deceased; this is especially noteworthy if said chair was the deceased's favorite. Compare and contrast Stalker Shrine in which this idea takes on a much more sinister note, and Shrine to Self when you just love yourself that much. Compare The Dead Have Names, another way to commemorate the fallen. As this is a trope about deaths, there may be some spoilers.
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Anime and Manga
- The Masaki family has one in Tenchi Muyo! for Tenchi's mother, who died during a snowstorm.
- Isshin keeps a wall-sized poster of his deceased wife and often makes a show of crying to her over his children.
- Byakuya also has one for his dead wife, Hisana.
- Orihime's brother, unconventional as it may be.
- It's eventually revealed on the anniversary of her death that Ryuuken keeps a discrete one for his wife on his desk at work.
- Played for Laughs in Ranma ½, where a seemingly crazy widow treats a shrine to her dead husband almost like an imaginary friend.
- In one mystery on Detective Conan, Conan deduces that the name placard of such a shrine is the hiding place of a valuable stamp.
- In another, Heiji and Kazuha almost fall to their deaths investigating a memorial rock that has incense placed on it.
- In yet another, a similar rock commemorating the drowning of a young boy is the plot point to the mystery.
- Sano finds out about what happened to his mother this way in Rurouni Kenshin (he prays to it under the guise of wanting to eat dinner faster)
- In The Kindaichi Case Files, the body of one of the victims is found under such a memorial, and Kindaichi takes that to be a sign that the murderer wasn't the monster he claimed to be.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Vi Vid, the "Yagami Family" keeps a small shrine to the first Reinforce in their house, shown with a picture and a food offering.
- Pegasus from Yu-Gi-Oh! has a tower room and portrait dedicated to his dead fiancée.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, the Fujioka family has a photo of Haruhi's mother in their living room.
- The first chapter of Sangatsu no Lion features a standard family shrine in the Kawamoto home, with Hina offering some of the curry she and her sisters made to their deceased mother and grandmother.
- In Naruto, Kakashi has a small shrine to his fallen friends, which is a small rock with their names scribbled on it.
- There was a public one for Vita in Transmetropolitan.
- Batman kept Jason Todd's Robin costume on display in the Batcave.
- In Nth Man: The Ultimate Ninja , Dr. Yagyu kept his son's room locked and intact after he died from pneumonia. He eventually opens the room and passes on his son's possessions after adopting John.
- In Y: The Last Man, the Washington Monument becomes a shrine to men, all of whom but one died in the Gendercide that kicks off the plot. It's lampshaded that this is because of the monument's phallic interpretations.
Film - Live Action
- Since India is one of the countries where this is Due to the Dead, a large garlanded picture of a dead family member is extremely common in Bollywood Movies, usually as a shorthand for a character's offscreen death, or as a quick way of telling the audience that someone is a widow, a widower or an orphan.
- Mr. Miyagi has a shrine to his wife in the original The Karate Kid (1984) movie.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie keeps the desk of his dead partner/brother in the same state as it was the day he died. It has been covered in dust and cobwebs over the years.
- In Little Shop of Horrors, Orin has a closet shrine to his mom, complete with candles.
Somewhere in heaven above me,I know that my mama's proud of me!
- Similar to the above example, Jason Voorhees keeps a shrine to his mother's severed head in Friday the 13th Part 2.
Film - Western Animation
- Alluded to in Phoenix and Ashes. When Reggie Fenyx comes home on medical leave, he finds that his mother preserved his room as it was when he left for World War I (though at least it got cleaned regularly). He muses that had he died in France, the room would have become his memorial.
- An extra note should add it technically does function as such, since Reggie is no longer the same boy who left; that boy "died" in the trenches. War Is Hell indeed.
- In Timothy Zahn's "Conqueror's" trilogy, the alien Zhirrzh have many of these. Each contains a large number of ceramic cages, each of which contains what appears to be a small sausage. While these are clearly shrines to the fallen, the humans quickly find out they aren't exactly passive...
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, it's revealed that there is a large statue in Godric's Hollow that basically functions as a shrine to Harry's parents. Various witches and wizards have carved messages on the statue. It's a variant on the trope because the messages are all really for Harry, who is still alive.
Live Action TV
- In Dead Like Me, Reggie makes one out of toilet seats for George.
- Red Dwarf: Back To Earth implies that an extra bit of the ship has been built (or at least cleaned up specially, which is a pretty big deal for Lister) just to house a commemorative gravestone to Kochanski. Who turns out not to actually be dead anyway.
- Battlestar Galactica had a shrine to the fallen onboard. It was a big one.
- In the Supernatural episode "What Is And What Should Never Be" (S02, Ep20), a candle lit vigil is held in Indianapolis one year after the crash of flight 424.
- In The World Ends with You, there's one for Beat and Rhyme, after they died in a car accident.
- In World of Warcraft there are a couple of in-game places that commemorate deceased Blizzard employees or their relatives. One of them is even called similarly to this trope's name.
- An Easter Egg in Max Payne 2 is a hidden shrine for a deceased programmer, consisting of a room with just a photo, his name, and birth and death dates. As well as some creepy music.
- Earth And Beyond had a sector with space monuments to space exploration. There were monuments to the dead astronauts of Apollo 1 and Challenger. When the shuttle Columbia was destroyed on reentry a new monument was added to the game to honor the astronauts who died in the disaster.
- In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 5: Rise of the Pirate God, Club 41 becomes a shrine to Guybrush, whose Martyrdom Culture is due to his Heroic (or rather Stupid) Sacrifice for saving the entire Gulf of Melange from the Pox of LeChuck. The Club even has barrels of Grog, Banang, and root beer, along with votive candles, Guybrush's commemorative photo, and a wreath to be used as kindling next to Guybrush's corpse for cremation... unless his spirit can repossess his body in time, that is.
- In Dragon Age II, after Leandra's murder, Hawke refuses to touch anything in their mother's room.
- In Mass Effect 3, the Normandy SR-2 has a wall that bears the names of all the crewmembers who have died over the course of the series. Depending on your actions, it can become a very crowded memorial...
- The disaster variant also shows up on the Citadel in the Docks level, where refugees leave pictures and other mementos of dead or missing family and friends. As the game goes on, the wall gradually fills in with more memorials. You can help Ashley and Cortez make their own additions as well.
- In the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC of Batman: Arkham City, in two weeks the Steel Mill has turned into a shrine to the Joker, who has died of Titan poisoning. The exterior of the former funhouse has been renamed as "Harley's Funland", with statues of Harley guarding the gates and banners bearing the Joker's pictures and writings such as "R.I.P. Joker" and "Joker Forever". The interior is redecorated a little bit, while the centerpiece of the final room is transformed into a chapel interior, with lots of lit up white votive candles surrounding the altar and the monument of the Joker holding a glass globe, with Batman encased inside it.
- In XCOM: Enemy Unknown, there is a memorial wall for every soldier that has died during the game. In the background you can see pictures taped to the wall, with shot glasses in front. As the casualties rise, the number of photographs and shot glasses increase.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, after Mahiru's death, Hiyoko creates one for her, except she made it so poorly that everyone is horrified by it. She then crys afterwards.
- Celebrities often get massive shrines outside their homes (or somewhere associated with them) after they pass on. Princess Diana and Michael Jackson are two pretty good examples; the shrine outside Buckingham's gates was so massive that it actually started to block foot traffic.
- This also seems to happen for victims of drive-by shootings and car accidents, especially if the victim was very young.
- The fictional character Ianto Jones from Torchwood received this in the real world after he died in Children of Earth.
- Like the above example, after the final episode of One Foot in the Grave, many people left flowers and tributes at the filming location where the fictional protagonist, Victor Meldrew, was killed in a hit and run.
- Can often happen at the sites of major disasters or terrorist attacks, where people leave ad hoc collections of notes and mementos to remember the dead.
- When Audie Murphy, the highly decorated WWII veteran and former movie star, died in a plane crash in 1971, near the top of a mountain in Virginia, the local chapter of the Veterans of Foreign Wars decided to build a memorial as close to the site as they could. They cleared and expanded the nearest mountain trail, and built a small stone monument with a plaque in 1974. Over the years, hikers have built a small wall or cairn around it, just by adding one stone per person to the existing pile. They occasionally leave other items as well. The informal add-ons are more impressive when you realize that most hikers tackle this trail because it is a relatively easy one, and have only vaguely heard of Murphy before they reach the monument.
- In Britain, the government is bringing in punitive rules (under the guise of saving money on the welfare bill) to prevent low-income families claiming rent relief on houses thought to be too big for them. This is being called the "bedroom tax", in that a family with two children can only claim the full rate of rent relief on a three-bedroomed house: if and when the children move out and a bedroom becomes vacant, they will then lose a proportion of housing benefit and although the rent remains the same, they then only receive rent relief based on a two-bedroomed house. In at least two areas, this situation has arisen. A family with an only child saw their daughter murdered. They have maintained the daughter's bedroom as a shrine to her memory. But the cut in rent relief still applies to them because they have a theoretically empty room. The parents are, not unreasonably, asking for time and space to work out their grief and do not see why they should be penalised financially on top of losing their child so tragically. Opinion on both sides is vocal and divided.
- It's worth pointing out that the current government has only introduced these rules for (state-owned) council housing. Those renting from private landlords had the same rules imposed on them 5 years earlier under the last government, and the party of that government (which is now the opposition) didn't exactly make any exceptions for these circumstances at the time.
- Queen Victoria had a form of this after the death of her beloved husband, Prince Albert. For the rest of her life, the servants would lay out his clothes and toiletries every morning exactly as he would have used them in life, as though he was going to wake up at any moment and get ready for the day.
- Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo became the great stumbling block of Japanese-Asian relations because the priests there decided to commemorate the Second World War by enshrining the kami (spirit) of everyone who died fighting for Japan; this includes a few thousand war criminals and thousands of foreign nationals who were forcibly conscripted to fight (or perform slave labor) for Japan. Needlessly to say, no one's happy about this. Even today, various Asian families are still petitioning the priests to remove the spirits of their ancestors from those who got them killed.