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Chekhov's Ashes

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Proposed By:
JAF1970 on Dec 22nd 2009 at 10:07:53 PM
Name Space: Main
Page Type: Trope

Seen It A Million Times. Up For Grabs.

If there are funeral ashes in a scene, 99.9% of the time, those ashes will end up being scattered inappropriately or dispersed.

  • Frasier. In episode "Martin Does It His Way", Aunt Louise's ashes get blown back at Frasier and Niles. Frasier is still pouring her ashes out of his shoe at the funeral, and at the end, a janitor sweeps them under the rug.
  • A View to a Kill. Stacey Sutton smashes a vase over the head of a baddie threatening James Bond containing the ashes of her grandfather.
    Bond: All the king's horses and all his men won't do much with that.
    Stacey: That's all right. It was Granddad's ashes, but he always loved a good fight.

Feedback: 34 replies

Dec 20th 2009 at 1:47:11 PM

Played For Laughs in Sexy Losers. (NSFW) The nymphomaniac mother, after accidentally fucking her son's girlfriend to death, attends the funeral. The urn her ashes are in is vaguely phallic. She tries using it as a dildo, and it breaks...

Dec 20th 2009 at 2:52:43 PM

The Big Lebowski. This is the fate of Donny, after his heart attack, when Walter completely botches the scattering

Dec 20th 2009 at 3:20:30 PM

Night Court: A bigamist named Herb dies, and his two widows get into a fight over his ashes, ending up in Harry's court. They eventually resolve their differences and the charges are dropped. Herb's cremains are left at court, leading to the following dialog:

Dan: Man, this herb tea tastes terrible.
Harry: That's not herb tea; that's Herb!

Dec 20th 2009 at 4:46:47 PM

Only Fools And Horses had an episode where Del and Rodney are trying to dispose of a relative's ashes. The ashes end up being sucked up by a streetsweeper.

Dec 20th 2009 at 7:17:06 PM

Scattering The Ashes? (I don't know, but this doesn't deserve a Chekhovs Pun title.)

Dec 20th 2009 at 8:46:01 PM

In the XMen comics, Destiny (girlfriend/advisor to Mystique) left very specific instructions for when Mystique was to scatter her ashes. It was to be on the fantail of a particular cruise liner, on a specific date, at a specific time. Mystique waits for the specific time, then tosses the ashes, only to have the wind blow them right back in her face. The fact that Destiny was a clairvoyant means the entire thing was a rather macabre practical joke.

Dec 20th 2009 at 9:38:14 PM

  • Life Stinks: Mel Brooks and friend are scattering the ashes of a fellow homeless person. Just as they let the ashes go a strong wind blows the ashes back in their faces. According to Brooks this really happened to Howard Morris (who played the character who was creamated) when spreading the ashes of his father.
  • NYPD Blue: a detective who used to work in the squad died and his widow wants the sqad to store half of his ashes there, because that was the man's last wish. "Just put the urn in the back of a file cabinet or something, it wouldn't be any trouble." But the Leiutenant refuses on the grounds that it isn't regulation. Sipowitz manages to get the ashes stirred into the plaster being used to repair the bathroom, so he'll be there forever.
  • The Simpsons: Homer's mom wants him to spread her ashes at a certain place at a certain time; it turns out it was her last act of uncivil disobedience, as her ashes interfere with the launch of a missle sending nuclear waste from the power plant to the Amazon rain forest.
@JAF 1970: Court maintainence man Art had fixed Harry's coffeemaker and used the "Herb tea" he found to test it. AIR it's mentioned when they discover the urn empty just before Dan drinks, not after.

Dec 20th 2009 at 9:46:09 PM

Dexter - The main villain in Season 4 keeps the ashes of his dead sister on his mantelpiece when he isn't scattering them next to the bodies of his victims. They're smashed by his long-suffering son in a fight.

Dec 20th 2009 at 11:56:06 PM

Removed because I shouldn't skim examples.

But dude, you didn't have to edit over it.

Dec 21st 2009 at 3:35:16 AM

Dude, really? You spoilered something I wrote in clear text three entries ago?

Dec 21st 2009 at 7:37:47 AM

Literature: There's an Irish short story this troper once heard about in a documentary and long since forgot the author's name. Can anyone identify it from the following description?

The deceased's will states that his ashes should be taken to a public lavatory and flushed down the toilet without undue ceremony. Unfortunately the person carrying the ashes stops off in a pub, gets into a brawl, and the ashes end up scattered on the pub floor amongst the blood and beer and sawdust.

Dec 21st 2009 at 9:05:23 AM

I prefer Chehkovs Ashes because you know that the second funeral ashes appear, they're-a bein' dumped. Usually in the wrong way. Often in someone's face.

Dec 21st 2009 at 4:39:53 PM

Dec 21st 2009 at 4:44:32 PM

  • Subverted in Citizen Cohn. Roy Cohn spreads his mother's ashes into the river properly, but his mother's ghost complains, "You know where he spread my ashes? In the East River! You wouldn't let your dog swim in the East River!"

Dec 21st 2009 at 6:01:00 PM

  • In MS Paint Adventures Homestuck John's topples the SACRED URN, spilling his Grandma's ashes. The strip is nothing if not Genre Savvy: "In retrospect, upon mulling cinematic tropes regarding ash-filled urns, this outcome was a virtual certainty."

Dec 21st 2009 at 9:58:10 PM

There was a married with children episode in which funerary ashes were accidentally used in a BBQ, played for laughs and drama

Dec 22nd 2009 at 9:09:51 AM

Dec 22nd 2009 at 10:03:20 AM

Hate to be a prick, but I believe the proper spelling would be Chekhovs Ashes, not Chehkovs Ashes.

Dec 23rd 2009 at 3:40:09 AM


  • In Like Flint. Derek Flint has apparently been cremated and his ashes are brought (in an open urn) to Lloyd Cramden's office. Cramden's assistant absentmindedly drops the ashes from his cigarette in the urn.

Dec 23rd 2009 at 2:32:28 PM

In South Park, Cartman drinks Kenny's ashes, believing them to be chocolate milk mix. As a result of this, Kenny's soul becomes trapped inside Cartman, providing a story arc for the next few episodes.

Dec 26th 2009 at 11:04:02 AM

Real Life: In one interview, Keith Richards offhandedly mentioned that (having snorted almost everything in creation), he tried snorting his father's ashes, mixed with cocaine. It didn't take his publicist long to claim he was only joking.

Dec 26th 2009 at 8:41:04 PM

Real Life (again): A couple mistook a relative's ashes (which were sent to them by mail from other family members) for herbs and made a pudding out of it. They were informed of the mistake in time to bury their uncle's leftovers. Seconding the above title suggestion.

Subtrope of The Fun In Funeral.

Dec 27th 2009 at 9:45:25 AM

Dexter, again: the ashes of Dexter's real father are in a plastic ziplock bag. Dexter disperses them on a patch of grass in front of a bowling alley.

Dec 27th 2009 at 11:22:20 AM

I'll get this organized a little later. Busy days. (sigh)

Dec 27th 2009 at 11:52:49 AM

Pushing Daisies episode "Girth", but they're not human ashes.

Dec 29th 2009 at 6:10:42 PM

YKTTW Bump. I still am dealing with a lot of Real Life stuff.

Dec 29th 2009 at 9:23:26 PM

Vote for Chekhovs Ashes. I'd be happy to launch this if you like JAF 1970.