Zipping Up the Bodybag

How do you show for certain that a character has been Killed Off for Real and hasn't just been wounded or crawled away to take cover until the end of the fight? Show a close-up shot of the police zipping him up in a bodybag. Pulling a blanket over their heads serves a similar purpose. Dies Wide Open will also often be invoked. Just the sound of the zipper on the bodybag can have the same sort of finality as a nail being put into a coffin. That character is dead. Deceased. No more. He is an ex-parrot.

Unless, of course, it's just a setup for a Bodybag Trick or Waking Up at the Morgue, both of which this trope is obviously related to. Can easily be used as a Meaningful Background Event. Happens about Once an Episode on any given Police Procedural or Forensic Drama.

Sub-Trope of He's Dead, Jim.

Needless to say, this is a Death Trope, so spoilers ahead!


Comic Books
  • When Sam dies before being recruited into the Death Vigil, the thing that most got to him was the noise of his body bag being zipped up.

Fan Works


Live-Action TV
  • NCIS: They did this to Mike Franks. What showing him die wasn't enough? *sob*
  • One of the Horatio Hornblower TV films featured a scene similar to the Master and Commander example above (produced several years earlier), with a character snarking about another sailor taking such care that you'd think he was sending a gift home to his wife. The character doing the careful stitching insisted that he just wanted to make sure it was done right.
  • The Wire, we see Omar's body bag being zipped up in the morgue at the end of an episode. Furthermore, in this scene, it's shown that there was a mistake with the ID tags, which the ME has to correct, which further emphasize the point: he's no longer a character, just a statistic.
  • This is seen a lot in Oz, especially during season four.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Buffy's mother is zipped up in this way, eyes still wide open. So is Ted after Buffy accidentally kills him, but in that case he's Not Quite Dead.
    • Oz is shot with a Tranquilizer Dart by the Initiative and shoved in a bodybag so he can be smuggled out of the college. As emotions are high among the Initiative commandos because one of their own has been killed by a similar creature, this has nasty implications; Oz barely avoids being terminated by Riley Finn.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa," this kind of shot is used when Det. Terry Chasen's body is being wheeled out after he drinks a bottle of port that has been poisoned with strychnine.
  • In the Friends episode "The One After the Superbowl, Part 2", Joey becomes an extra on a stretcher in Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan. His Bad Bad Acting keeps ruining Jean-Claude Van Damme's line "Can't you see what's going on here? This man is dying!", until the line is changed to "Can't you see what's going on here? This man is dead!" and zipping Joey up.
  • Dawson's Creek, in the episode The Perfect Wedding; this serves mostly as a discretion shot so we know Abby didn't survive her fall off the pier without them actually having to show her drowning.

Western Animation
  • The Simpsons: After Red Barclay dies from beef poisoning during a steak eating contest with Homer, the coroners zip up the body bag on Red. They give an extra one to Marge just in case, because Homer doesn't look so good either.