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Ashes to Crashes

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"If you see an urn full of ash anywhere in a work of entertainment, you can guarantee the ash will come out eventually. The only factor left negotiable is what degree of slapstick is involved."
Andrew Hussie, Homestuck Book One

If there are funeral ashes, 99.9% of the time those ashes will end up being scattered inappropriately. In turn that gives another meaning to "ashes to ashes, dust to dust."

This trope does involve a bit of artistic license. Cremation containers in real life (be they urns or boxes, though generally only urns seem to exist in media) are purposely designed to be difficult to spill, with lids that screw on, latch, or otherwise seal into place, and the ashes themselves being placed inside another, more tightly sealed container (usually a plastic bag) inside, specifically to avoid a tragedy like this happening.

Since ashes and funerals usually denote the death of a character, the examples below could be very spoiler-heavy.

A subtrope of The "Fun" in "Funeral"; this can also overlap with Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie when the inappropriate scattering is intentional and requested by the deceased. Not to be confused with Ashes to Ashes, which is an elemental power.


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  • One Doritos ad had a guy eating the chips accidentally knocking over the ashes of his roommate's grandpa. He decides to crumble Doritos over the ashes, which brings the grandpa back to life.
  • Four men are playing football in the house when one of them knocks over an urn and empties the contents, which is immediately blown away by the wind. They're horrified when one of them says he can fix the problem but it will cost $20. They all chip in and give him the money. He comes back with a bunch of cigars, a lighter, hands each guy a cigar, grabs the (empty) urn, and says, "Everybody start smoking."
  • A car commercial begins with two guys driving through a bumpy forest up to a cliff to scatter the ashes of Uncle Carl (whose urn was safely buckled in the back seat). When they get to the top, they find that the ashes spilled out all over the back seat. They are then seen vacuuming up to make sure they get them all. This ad contains one of the best-ever Do Not Attempt disclaimers: "Drive like this and you could wind up like Uncle Carl."

  • Jeff Foxworthy, in one routine, talks about the party that he threw when his parents were away, in which the urn that contained his grandma's ashes was knocked off the mantlepiece and then vacuumed up. He talks about how his mom gets all sentimental and goes in there and starts talking to grandma and "I don't have the heart to tell her I had to smoke a carton of Marlboros just to get her back up there."

    Comic Books 
  • Happens in Chew, when the title character is gathering evidence.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: Taken up to eleven by Nemesis, who interrupts Grand Master Torquemada's holy ceremony of consecrating the imperial family's remains by eating his mother's ashes, swallowing his father's heart, and gulping down his sister's blood.
  • In Vertigo Comics Proposition Player, secondary character Bob dies in a fire and, because of reasons, he goes to the afterlife as a pile of talking ashes in an apartment in Las Vegas. Being it a comedy comic, he'll find himself in many plights, complaining that part of himself is lost under the bed and stuff. He'll find a somehow happy ending while still being scattered ashes.
  • In Spider-Man 2099, Corrupt Corporate Executive Tyler Stone gives a mocking eulogy to the ashes of his son before flushing them down the toilet.
  • A side scene in Transmetropolitan features Spider watching a TV show where two astronauts confess that they found Timothy Leary's ashes floating in space and snorted them in an attempt to get high.
  • In the X-Men comics, Destiny note  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. Mystique realizes this and laughs her ass off. Doubles as a heartwarming moment, because at that point Mystique was a person who seemed to always be angry at the world, and so Destiny promised to make her laugh even if it were the last thing she'd do. And she did.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Big Lebowski: After Donny's fatal heart attack, he's cremated and Walter completely botches the scattering. He doesn't account for the wind and the ashes scattered towards the Pacific Ocean end up blowing into the Dude's face.note 
  • In The Cheap Detective the main character's partner's widow drops his ashes in a toilet. After a short scuffle, the main character and the widow then shoot the ashes still in the toilet and unceremoniously flush them.
  • Chocolat: Definitely not played for humor.
  • The main characters of Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror are on a road trip to deliver their late friend Kirk's ashes, but a car accident causes them getting spilt all over his former girlfriend.
  • 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!"
  • Danger: Diabolik: Poor Ralph Valmont.
  • Date Movie has the urn containing the ashes of the female lead's grandmother dropping and smashing during a disastrous dinner date. This being the romantic equivalent of Scary Movie where nothing makes a lick of sense and every visual spoof is incredibly over-the-top, a mummified corpse of the grandma then falls out of the broken urn.
  • Dragonslayer: Subverted. Ulrich's ashes were intended to be used at the Lake of Fire to resurrect him. Galen didn't figure it out 'til the film was almost over.
  • Due Date jerks back and forth between comedy and drama. Darryl accidentally makes coffee out of his father's remains and they recover the ashes from the coffee filter but Ethan drops them and ends up sobbing on the carpet.
  • In Fletch Lives, Fletch tosses Hamilton Johnson's mother's urn at him and his biker-gang crony, creating a diversion and allowing Fletch and Becky to escape.
  • In The Frighteners, the Defective Detective dumps out the ashes on purpose to get the good guy's goat, not realizing he just let the Big Bad out to play.
  • Howling III: The Marsupials: The ashes of a deceased werewolf emerge from the remains of a funeral pyre to attack a group of hunters.
  • 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.
  • Kenny & Company: The Bully Johnny has Kenny cornered in a mean old lady's house. Kenny throws books at Johnny, which only slow him down. Then he grabs the nearest thing available - the urn of the old lady's husband's ashes - and throws them in Johnny's face, which blinds him long enough for Kenny to get in a good punch.
  • 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 cremated) when spreading the ashes of his father.
  • Meet the Parents: When Greg pops a bottle of champagne, the cork knocks over an urn containing the ashes of Jack's mother. The well-named cat Mr Jinx uses Grandma Byrnes' spilled ashes as an impromptu litterbox.
  • Played with in Men with Brooms. Coach Cutter dies of a heart attack and is cremated, and his will states that his ashes are to be placed in a curling stone and that his old team should use that stone to win the Golden Broom. The stone in question is shattered in the final delivery, and since the game of Curling evidently includes rewarding points for the ashes of a dead man landing on the ice, this gives the team just enough points to win the game. Throughout the rest of the movie leading up to that, the stone spends quite a bit of time sliding around on the roof of Neil's car as they drive around, or being used as a blunt weapon.
  • In Of Dice and Men, Brandon describes how he once threw a vase containing his grandmother's ashes at the wall because he was upset over a ruling in a football game.
  • The Opposite of Sex has Dede steal Tom's ashes and use them to blackmail Lucia and Bill for money.
  • Johnny in Red Roses And Petrol unknowingly snorts his fathers ashes, thinking it really is cocaine. The fact that he's reminiscing and watching old home movies of his dad at the same time makes it something of a (twisted) tribute.
  • The Return of the Living Dead. Don't cremate the living dead. Please, don't.
  • In 3 Idiots: In order to gain the key information to locate their missing friend, Farhan and Raju confronts the real Ranchodas Shamaldas Chanchad into revealing that their friend was his imposter and eventually his friend's location... by stealing his father's ashes and even threaten him to throw and flush it in a toilet. Sure, it turns out that they stole the wrong urn, but the trope's still present.
  • Thunderstruck 2004 is all about a few young men making a pact that if one of them dies, the rest will bury said person next to AC/DC's Bon Scott. Naturally, the guy's being cremated. They steal the ashes from his ex (she demanded half of the ashes), but about three-fourths into the movie, the inevitable spilling of the ashes happens during a bar fight (people who thought the ashes actually were Bon Scot's tried to steal it). Luckily, there's the sister of said dead guy with the other half of the ashes.
  • Double Subversion in A View to a Kill. James Bond tries to — and succeeds in — avoiding knocking over the urn containing Stacey Sutton's grandfather's ashes during a fight, but later in the same fight, she has to smash the urn over the head of one of the Mooks.
    Bond: All the king's horses and all his men won't do much for that.
    Stacey: That's all right. It was Granddad's ashes, but he always loved a good fight.
  • Averted in The Way (2010). The hero drops a box holding his son's ashes into the water, and manages to save it before it gets swept away.
  • Whatever Happened To Harold Smith? opens with the title character's ashes being scattered by his son Vince while riding in a roller coaster. Vince neglects to account for wind and ends up dousing everyone behind him.
  • Zathura: The game-come-alive launches meteorites through the ceiling of the boys house. One strikes the urn holding their grandmother's ashes. "Grandma!"

  • In the Clive Cussler novel Atlantis Found, Dirk Pitt comes into possession of a number of Nazi relics, including the ashes of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun. Shortly before presenting the rest of them to the president, he flushes the ashes down the toilet of a White House restroom.
  • In Iris Rainier Dart's I'll Be There (a sequel to Beaches), Cee Cee Bloom boards a jet and attempts to scatter the ashes of her dead friend Bertie. Due to her holding the bag the wrong way, the ashes blow back into the jet and all over her and the pilot. To add to her embarrassment, she's forced to pay a hefty fee for the cockpit to be cleaned.
  • From the Life Is A Road series, the protagonist is on a trip to scatter his friend's ashes. He's pulled over by a cop, who (amongst other things) field-tests the ashes for cocaine. The protagonist says his friend would have laughed his ass off.
  • During the funeral of the late Beano the Clown in Men at Arms, Beano's ashes are ceremoniously poured down another clown's trousers, as part of the Fool's Guild's rote based approach to humor that lacks anything resembling actual comedy.
  • One of the Nightside books mentions a local ne'er-do-well who, along with a group of friends, went to Graceland, dug up Elvis Presley's body, cremated it, and snorted the ashes in the hopes that all the drugs Presley did during his lifetime would still get them high. Alex Morrissey, the barman of Strangefellows, calls this "the most disgusting thing I've ever heard, and there's a lot of competition".
  • In Mick Herron's Nobody Walks, ex-spy Tom Bettany ends up with his son Liam's ashes in an urn. And then there's a scuffle in the flatů
  • In one of David Sedaris's essays, he describes the death of a cat that came with an apartment he rented. He had it cremated, but because it had been an indoor cat, rather than scatter the ashes outside, he shook them out on the carpet and then vacuumed them up.
  • In the Colleen McCullough novel The Touch, a woman murders the man who raped the mentally challenged girl she has cared for since birth. She's executed after refusing all attempts at a defense, feeling completely justified in her actions. Afterwards, the family of the girl has her body cremated and her ashes spread over the grave of her victim, ensuring that even in death, she'll be able to torment him.
  • In The Wish List, Lowrie throws a jar full of the ashes from Meg's mother at Franco. Since Belch was possessing him at the time, the blessed material traps Belch in Franco.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 10 Items Or Less, one of the characters' family members' ashes are spilled in the store and a customer rolls through it with their shopping cart and tracks them down an aisle.
  • In The 100, Jasper gets drunk and steals Finn's ashes and ends up taking them to the drop ship, intending to scatter them. Monty is disgusted by his behavior and ends up leaving him there after having had enough of his self-pitying and lashing out. Jasper then trips and drops the ashes. It's a rare example of the trope not being played for laughs.
  • 9-1-1: Lone Star: A man dies and wants his two buddies to spread his ashes on a lake at their favorite fishing spot. However, he died in winter so his friends wait till early spring to fulfill his wishes. They did not wait long enough and it's still very cold near the lake. One of the men has a cold with a stuffed-up nose and a bad cough. Just as they throw the ashes in the lake, the wind shifts and covers up in their buddy's remains. The guy with the cold inhales the ashes which go into his lungs causing massive respiratory problems. The paramedics arrive just in time and he is transported to the hospital.
  • One episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Agents Coulson and Simmons playing the part of father and daughter, taking mom's ashes by train to be buried. This trope is invoked, so the bad guys they are tailing will step the ash. The ash has something in it that lets Agent May track them from atop the train, using special X-Ray Specs.
  • A non-comedic example occurs in Big Love, where the ashes belonging to Margene's mother are spilled on a windy boardwalk after Margene accidentally leaves the urn on the roof of one of the family cars.
  • Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: In "I See You", the ashes of Nathaniel's au pair Heidi end up scattered on Heather and Nathaniel after the former tries to find out what's in the envelope he's carrying. Nathaniel reveals he had been trying to scatter her ashes in the ocean like she wanted; the two settle on dumping them in a drain that leads to the ocean.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Edie throws Mrs. Huber's ashes in Susan's face when Susan confesses that she actually burned Edie's house down. Edie then decides to hose Susan down on her own front lawn so the ashes will be scattered somewhere appropriate at least.
    • Mrs. Huber's evil sister Felicity accidentally knocks over the urn containing her daughter's ashes while driving and has a Karmic Death when, temporarily blinded, she drives into a truck.
  • 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.
  • In EastEnders, during an argument with Stacey, Becca launched Bradley's urn across the room. His ashes, which were going to be scattered soon, landed all over Stacey (who was effectively responsible for his death) and the aftermath of it all is for Stacey to have a bath.
    • Years later, after the death of Stephen Beale, Abi Branning had kept his ashes (since she was in love with him and carrying his child). As soon, as her sister (and Stephen's fiancee) Lauren found out, she attempted to flush the ashes down the toilet. The resulting fight ends with most of Stephen's ashes being scattered across Abi's bathroom.
  • Episodes: After reconciling with his father after his father's death Matt Leblanc decides to fulfill his father's wishes by scattering his ashes in the ocean. Unfortunately the wind is blowing the wrong way, covering Matt with the remains.
  • In one episode of Estate of Panic, a contestant had brought back a $1,000 urn from one of the rooms and told Steve he accidentally spilled some of the ashes on the floor, to which Steve replied that they were his uncle.
  • An episode of Family Matters had Carl emptying the urn containing the ashes of his wife's late aunt, thinking the urn was a cookie jar that had been dropped in the ashes from the fireplace. When he realizes his mistake, he desperately fills the urn back up, but it likely contains as much fireplace ash as aunt Edna. (When copping to it, he calls the ashes "Aunt Presto-Log".)
  • Frasier:
    • In "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.
      • Given a hilarious double meaning as Frasier struggles to eulogize his dead aunt: "Aunt Louise... touched us all. (brushes his lapel) She touches us still. (brushes harder)"
    • In another episode, Frasier takes a call on his show from a woman who is concerned about the fact that her husband keeps his late wife's ashes in their bedroom. The conversation ends with the sound of breaking ceramics, and the words, "Oops... I have some vacuuming to do."
  • Grey's Anatomy: Meredith spends "Haunt You Every Day" with her mom's ashes at the hospital (she was uncomfortable with the urn sitting in the back of the closet, and thought she'd be more peaceful at Seattle a Ziploc baggie). Naturally she drops the baggie and it opens when she's trying to move them from her cubby to her car ("Is that disprespectful?") At the end of the episode and at the urging of her patient, she and Richard pour them down the scrub sink of an OR.
  • Grounded for Life (episode "Dust in the Wind") did this with a wild cousin (Ashton Kutcher) who wanted his ashes scattered from a water tower. The first attempt went south when the off-brand Tupperware wouldn't open and was dropped by accident.
  • Mentioned as something of a Noodle Incident in an episode of Home Improvement. Tim and his brother are arguing about what happened at a funeral, Tim's brother says it wasn't his fault... Tim also brings up that he was the one who had to smoke all those cigars...
    Tim's brother: ...I got into the convertible...
    Tim: Now see, there was your first mistake!
  • In John Doe, sidekick art student Karen's ashes are mixed into paint and used to paint a mural.
  • Jonathan Creek: A woman spilling her mother's ashes, and the ashes then vanishing while she is out of the room, forms a minor mystery in "The Letters of Septimus Noone". The woman is convinced that her mother's remains have been called to Heaven. Jonathan finds a more prosaic solution.
  • Just Shoot Me! episode "Bye Bye, Binnie". Nina carries around the urn of her best friend's ashes, acting as if she were still alive. One morning she finds the urn empty and realizes that putting it in the mechanical bull at a bar was maybe not the best idea.
  • Played with in the series Las Vegas episode 'For Sail by Owner'.
    • The crazy owner of the casino, Monica, diednote  and named Ed Deline as her executor. She is cremated and when her stepson, child of the billionaire Monica wed, arrives Ed gives him an urn of ashes. Angered by being given this, he threw the urn against the wall before Ed could tell him it was his father. Monica felt he would want his father back.
    • Later, when deciding where to lay Monica's ashes to rest, they decide the perfect place down the toilet in Monica's suite.
  • A subverted and Played for Drama example happened in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Senseless". Three honor students were murdered by a sociopathic gang member and his two mooks, a pair of brothers who lost their father years ago. When trying to tie the homicides to them, the detectives soon discover the gun used in the crime hidden inside of the urn of their father's ashes, to their mother's absolute horror.
  • Lost : Jacob's ashes are collected by Ilana, who carries them around for half a season before meeting her own demise. The ashes are then found in her possessions by Hurley, who carries them with him for another four episodes, until, in a very Lost-ish twist, The ashes are taken by the spiritual form of the Jacob himself. He then proceed to burn his own ashes, as it was one of the unfinished businesses he had to before his spirit could leave.
  • Subverted in an episode of Mad About You: Uncle Van's ashes are teased to be headed for disaster a few times (Paul moving the urn around constantly because they make him nervous, a piece of food dropped in the ashes attracting the dog's attention, and ultimately the urn being lost at the horse racing track where Jamie planned to spread the cremains). In the end, however, we see the urn safely locked in a trophy case at the track.
  • Married... with Children: funerary ashes were accidentally used in a BBQ, played for laughs and drama.
  • Modern Family: In the episode "Pig Moon Rising", Mitchell accidentally knocks over the urn containing the ashes of Cameron's beloved pet pig, Lily, whom he loved so much he even named their daughter after her. Mitch attempts to hide this from Cam by getting his neighbor's husband's ashes to replace it with, but Cam catches him in the act of pouring them in the urn.
  • Monty Python Reunion Show: they brought out the ashes of Graham Chapman; you can probably guess what happened. They also kicked over his urn at the funeral.
  • My Place: In "Laura 2008", Laura accidentally sinks Michaelis' dinghy, only to then learn that the dinghy also contained the urn holding the ashes of his beloved dog.
  • Night Court: A man named Herb dies, and his two daughters get into a fight over his ashes, ending up in Harry's court. They eventually resolve their differences and agree to abide by Harry's decision. Meanwhile, Herb's remains were left in Harry's chambers, leading to the following dialogue:
    Harry: [referring to the urn] Hey, this thing's empty!
    Art: Oh yeah, sorry about that your honor. I had to use that herb tea to test the coffee maker.
    Harry: Art, this wasn't herb tea! This was Herb!
    • They then glance over at Dan, with a mug of coffee frozen at his lips, and (we sense) about to uncork the mother of all [[Spittake]]s.
  • NYPD Blue: a detective who used to work in the squad died and his widow wants the squad 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 Lieutenant 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.
  • Played with in an episode of One Foot in the Grave; due to a misunderstanding, Victor thinks their neighbour Mr. Sweeney has brought over the ashes of his mother, when in fact it's just an urn of herbal tea that he found on their kitchen table. Naturally, he ends up spilling the "ashes" all over the floor and replaces them with some burned-up toilet roll. We're later treated to Victor vomiting loudly after his wife makes him a nice relaxing cup of tea.
  • In the Only Fools and Horses episode "Ashes to Ashes", Del and Rodney are trying to dispose of a relative's ashes. The ashes end up being sucked up by a street sweeper. Made funnier when it turns out that the guy was actually a street cleaner himself. They eventually conclude that this was the best possible funeral for him.
  • Psych: At the beginning of the episode, there is a car chase which results in Shawn spilling something over Carlton and Juliet. Later, as they explain how they came to that point, it is revealed that, yes, it was human ashes.
    Juliet: We are covered in human ash.
    Shawn: It's not a competition, Jules.
  • Pushing Daisies episode "Girth", but they're not human ashes.
  • An episode of the Israeli sitcom Ramzor had two of the leads house-sit for an old woman, who shows them an urn in an unoccupied room, saying it belongs to her son. After she leaves, the inevitable happens. The end of the episode reveals that those weren't ashes, but rather the expensive cocaine her son brought over from Columbia, and he's furious to find out what happened.
  • Reba: when Brock's father dies, Brock enlists his first wife, Reba, to help him scatter the ashes in a sand trap at the local golf course. They get arrested for trespassing and improper disposal of remains. The police scoop up all of the ashes and sand and give it back in a comically huge bag. The end of the episode reveals that Brock put half of the sand/ashes in a mud pit at a strip club, and snuck the rest into the golf course again.
  • Reno 911!: The deputies attempt to comply with a former officer's wish to have his ashes fired from a cannon. It doesn't end well.
  • Republic of Doyle: Jake catches the urn containing the ashes of a client's dead husband...and holds it upside down.
  • Rescue Me: While on the way to scatter Lou's ashes, Franco and Black Shawn open their windows just as Mike opens the box of ashes in the car and the ashes turn into a cloud inside the car. They then replace the ashes with cake mix.
  • It's pretty clear what's going to happen to Nana's ashes in The Royle Family as soon as the new Dyson vacuum cleaner is unveiled, but it's no less funny for all that.
  • In Sex Education, Adam smashes Aimee's grandmother's urn on her new boyfriend's head. She's royally pissed at him for this.
  • A very sad example from Sisters Grief-stricken over her husband's death, a blind Teddy begins shrieking incoherently and flailing her arms, resulting in the Dramatic Shattering of the urn containing his ashes.
  • Six Feet Under :
    • The Chenowith family adores this trope. First Brenda opens her father's funeral urn, looks inside, and says, "Hi, Daddy!" Later, the rest of the family argue about where they should scatter his ashes, with various locations being shot down for requiring a permit, involving a long drive in bad traffic, or just being too cliche. Margaret finally just grabs the urn and dumps the ashes off the balcony of her condo, declaring, "There. Now he'll be in Westwood for all eternity."
    • In another episode, a young actress's friends decide to divide her ashes into several tiny urns which can be worn as a necklace around the neck. It seems sweet... But in the end, they decide to open them sniff the ashes like coke. The Snark Knight is not too thrilled about this. It doesn't help that the actress had died of a coke overdose.
  • Subverted in Slings & Arrows with a straight spreading of the ashes over a river/pond with swans. Though it the character doing the spreading, later speaking to the ghost of the deceased tells him his ashes were eaten by swans.
  • Spin City: Involving the ashes of James' favorite cow from back home, a humongous cooling fan, and in an attempt to cover it up, ensemble-wide cigar-smoking.
  • Subverted in an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. A girl angrily remarks that her father is just a pile of ashes somewhere. John notices the significance of this, but it's not the ashes themselves. She had earlier told him that she had picked out a grey suit for her father. He was still alive.
  • Titus : After Titus' mom, Juanita, commits suicide Dave accidentally dumps the ashes on Titus' head.
  • In one segment of Trigger Happy TV one of the actors posed as a grieving niece, sprinkling the ashes of her uncle from a ship. She made sure to say just enough to let the father of a nearby family know what was supposedly in the urn before spreading them. She had also positioned herself so that the wind carried said ashes towards the family.
  • Two and a Half Men: After Alan gets Charlie's ashes he considers where to scatter them. After rejecting Charlie's original request ("I really don't think Pamela Anderson would agree to swallow your ashes"), he decides to scatter them on the beach. As he turns to the back door, he sees a stranger out on the deck (Walden, the new series lead) and is so startled that he spills all the ashes on the living room floor.
    Berta: I'm not cleaning him up.
    • It happens a couple more times, once while introducing long-lost daughter Jenny to her dad, and once when Walden is startled by a pretty stranger on the deck. Walden sheepishly lampshades it by saying at this point, Charlie's eternal remains are mostly carpet lint.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019) currently provides the page image; Klaus ends up accidentally spilling his adopted dad's ashes while reaching for a drink.
  • In Wonderfalls, Jaye decides to honor Rue McClanahan's character by throwing her ashes over Niagara Falls in a toy barrel (she had been famous for being the first woman to go over the falls in a barrel and live). Well, most of her. Some of her got in the cash register.
  • One Scene From A Hat in Whose Line Is It Anyway? was 'inappropriate things to do with a loved one's ashes'. Colin's response? Vacuuming them up.
    Drew: It was inappropriate, what do you want?
  • One episode of the WKRP in Cincinnati revival involved one of the station's other seldom-seen DJs dying, and the attempts to fulfill his last requests, which was to have his ashes scattered in a particular reservoir. It turns out the reservoir is now drained, and the gang was given the wrong set of ashes. They dump them in a pathetic little pile in the empty pit anyway and the DJ's uncremated body turns up at the other family's funeral.

  • Played very, very much for tearjerker value in Styrofoam Plates by Death Cab for Cutie, where the singer calls out the Glorified Sperm Donor father.
    There's a saltwater film on the jar of your ashes; I threw them to sea,
    but a gust blew them backwards and the sting in my eyes
    that you then inflicted was par for the course just as when you were living.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the "Mad Jack" module included with the rulebooks for Masque of the Red Death, the villain is the ghost of a woman who was either Jack the Ripper in life or another serial killer who was murdered by the real Ripper. Either way, she continues killing as an undead specter. In order for the heroes to survive and defeat her, they must take her ashes, found in an urn in a relative's house, and scatter them. (Most villains in this setting have an Achilles' Heel that heroes must discover if they are to be defeated. In this case, it's the ashes.)

    Video Games 
  • A running gag in the Ace Attorney franchise is Ami Fey's urn gets shattered by anyone who handles it, especially her own bloodline.
  • In Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs, Kay accidentally drinks the ashes of his grandfather Desideratus, which he mistakes for dusty old tea. Grandpa's ghost is very unhappy about it, but he decides to stick around to push Kay toward restoring his fallen kingdom.
  • Sims in The Sims 2 who have an enemy that died can grab their urn and smash it on the floor. Be careful not to sweep the ashes to put them in the trash, as that can cause neighborhood corruption.
  • Warcraft III: When Arthas returns as a death knight and quests to retrieve the urn in which his father's ashes are held, Paladin leader Uther asks him if he's "come back to piss on his father's ashes once more."

    Web Comics 
  • In The Foxfire Chronicles a funeral urn was once used to dislodge Luke from the ceiling.
  • Homestuck: John 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." The ashes also end up Turning his Nanna's ghost into a game sprite. The author's commentary even name-drops This Very Wiki. He compares the page to one of this site's articles, "but without the 5,000 links to obscure anime underneath."
  • Penny Arcade had a strip where Tycho dies from alcohol poisoning after trying to turn the Prince of Persia (2008) remake into a drinking game (he took a shot every time they used the word "fertile"). At his funeral, Gabe explains that they will be following his wishes of dumping his ashes over the organic produce section at Ballard Market.
  • Sexy Losers: Played for Laughs. (Very NSFW) The nymphomaniac mother kills her son's girlfriend via sexual exhaustion. She attends the funeral. The urn her ashes are in is vaguely phallic. She tries using it as a dildo, and it breaks... She complains about that being the second time that's happened...
  • Something*Positive: Peejee accidentally spills Faye's ashes down her panties.

    Web Original 
  • JonTron does this in the Anti-Drugs Games episode. He states he relates to the main character of Wally and the No Gang since both their fathers don't wear pants before the camera immediately cuts to an urn tipping over prompting Jon to exclaim "Dad!"

    Western Animation 
  • In an episode of Beavis and Butt-Head, the two occupy Stewart's house after the neighborhood is evacuated after a train carrying toxic waste gets derailed (the duo assumed everyone is gone because of Armageddon). Beavis finds a jar full of ashes, and upon Butthead telling him it's the ashes of Stewart's grandmother, Beavis thinks he meant it's the jar she put out her cigarettes in and throws it on the floor. Surprisingly, Butthead actually gets mad at him, though only because Beavis was making a mess.
  • BoJack Horseman: In the season 2 finale, Princess Carolyn offers the urn with Herb's ashes to BoJack...just before her assistant promptly breaks it.
  • The Critic episode "Eyes On the Prize" has this exchange:
    Marty: Don't worry, dad, even if you don't win, you'll always have your Americas Cup! [holds up an elaborate-looking urn]
    Jay! Son, I've been lying to you. That's not the Americas Cup, it's your uncle Alvin's ashes.
    Marty: GWAH!!! [drops the urn, which smashes to the floor]
  • In an episode of The Crumpets, the ashes of Granny's hippie boyfriend Rudy Swan were discovered in a kitchen cupboard by Ditzy, who didn't know what they actually were and had poured them into a sugar container, which is why many characters, who have consumed the "sugar", are hallucinating during Caprice's birthday. After Granny discovered the mishap and is about to give the auctioned urn to its buyer, she burns an inflatable man to ashes to substitute the lost ashes and also puts Rudy's glasses into the urn.
  • On King of the Hill, Cotton Hill's last wish was for his ashes to be flushed down a toilet at a certain veteran's bar that had once been used by George S. Patton. However, the bar's owner won't let him because Cotton is far from the only WWII veteran to make the request, and such flushings invariably result in the toilet backing up; this leads to the main action of the episode, as Hank's friends try to distract the owner long enough for Hank to flush the ashes.
  • Episode 4 of The Legend of Vox Machina sees Grog poking around Pike's shrine looking for something to eat, and chugging down what he thinks is a jar of "herbs and spices." He's quick to spit it back out when Pike (who thankfully wasn't looking at what he was doing), mentions that it's the ashes of her ancestors.
  • The plot of SheZow is kicked off when Guy and Kelly accidentally hurl their aunt Agnes' ashes into the door of a safe, leading to them discovering that she was a superhero in life.
  • 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 civil disobedience, as her ashes interfere with the launch of a missile sending nuclear waste from the power plant to the Amazon rain forest.
  • 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.
  • In "The Sugar Bowl", the premiere episode of Tuca & Bertie, Tuca borrows some sugar from Bertie's boyfriend Speckle which turns out to actually be the ashes of Speckle's grandmother. The results are then baked into a cake which Speckle ends up eating.

    Real Life 
  • Most crematoria will seal the ashes into a plastic bag before placing it in the urn, to prevent this sort of accident.
  • In an interview, Keith Richards offhandedly mentioned that having snorted almost everything else 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.
  • After his death, his family mixed the ashes of playwright Joe Orton with those of his long-term boyfriend Kenneth Halliwell. Since Halliwell had murdered Orton in a jealous rage and then committed suicide, this gesture wasn't quite as sweet as it might seem.
  • Paul Rudd described his surreal experiences with his father's ashes in Ireland on Late Night with David Letterman. Yes, he got "Lebowski'ed".
  • Christopher Titus, according to the "5th Annual End of the World Tour" comedy special, was asked by his hard-drinking Jerkass father Ken to be cremated, have the ashes put in a douche bottle, and have the douche bottle used by a hooker when he died. Titus couldn't do it, so he recruited his brother, Dave, and his sister, Shannon, to spread the ashes throughout several Victoria's Secret's dressing rooms and at Caesar's Palace Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (which Titus almost got in trouble for after he scattered the ashes all over the floor of an aisle while singing "Amazing Grace" and his sister scattered the ashes on blackjack table [causing everyone at the table to lose — which was a sign that Titus' dad was with him in spirit]).
  • A former US Navy sailor requested in his will that he be buried at sea. Unfortunately a navy officer, instead of tipping the urn over the side, took off the lid and tried to scatter the ashes to the winds...which promptly blew the ashes back over his pristine whites.
  • Real-life occurrences of this trope have led to legal reforms in the United States. Under traditional law, if a person died with no surviving spouse, his or her eldest child would be in charge of funeral arrangements. Unfortunately, in the case of second marriages and families, the following situation could often occur: Bob marries Betty, and has children with her, including Junior, their eldest. The marriage doesn't work out, and Betty gets custody, poisoning the kids against Bob. Meanwhile, Bob finds someone new, Veronica, and marries her. This marriage is a happy one, and Bob and Veronica have kids and live happily until Veronica dies of old age. Soon after, Bob dies. Being widowed, his eldest son would (under the old laws) be put in charge of his burial arrangements. However, Bob's eldest son is Junior, whose mother, Betty, had convinced him that Bob was a monster who didn't love his children from his first marriage. Under the old laws, Junior could simply set aside any pre-planned funeral arrangements, and have Bob cremated. Junior would then lead the other children, from both marriages, into the nearby restroom, or to the dumpster, say "This is what I think of dear old Dad", and dump Bob's ashes down the toilet/in the dumpster. His full siblings, by Betty, would cheer, while his half-siblings, by Veronica, would be traumatized. Several States have passed laws to avert the above situation, such as requiring people to prepare advance directives designating who is in charge of their funeral arrangements, requiring appointment by the local probate court, or requiring all of one's children to agree to a specific funeral arrangement before it can go forward. This case, in Tennessee, is an example of this.
  • Sacha Baron Cohen, being who he is, mocked up with this trope in the 84th Academy Awards. He arrived to the Red Carpet dressed as The Dictator and holding an urn which he said was filled with the ashes of his "doubles-tennis partner" Kim Jong-il (whose dream, Baron-Cohen claimed, was "to be sprinkled over the red carpet and Halle Berry's chest again.") As Baron Cohen showed the golden urn featuring the image of Kim Jong-il, he then proceeded to view the bottom of the urn while "accidentally" spilling its contents onto E! red carpet host Ryan Seacrest. The "ashes" were reported to be pancake mix.
  • Ambrose Bierce allegedly kept a relative's ashes in a cigar box and occasionally knocked his cigar into it.
  • This one takes the biscuit. Billy Connolly had been drinking with his friend and collaborator Gerry Rafferty and seeing as Billy was stranded across the other side of Glasgow, Gerry offered to put him up for the night. Cue the inevitable happening, Billy being caught short in the night, and seeing as the house was not his own and that he was still in an inebriated state, he couldn't find the bathroom. In a panic, he seized a vase (a vase with a lid on it - maybe he should have realised then?) and preceded to urinate in the vase. In the morning, Billy decided to sheepishly explain what he had done - and was met with a bemused silence from Gerry. Gerry then explained that Billy had just peed in the urn that contained the ashes of his grandfather!. Luckily, after a momentary silence, both parties burst out laughing, considering it the most absurd thing that had ever happened and continued their friendship.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Chekhovs Ashes



When JonTron relates to the character Wally from "Wally Bear and the No! Gang" about how both of their fathers never wear pants, the camera immediately cuts to an urn tipping over prompting Jon to exclaim "Dad!"

How well does it match the trope?

4.92 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / AshesToCrashes

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