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Autopsy Snack Time

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"Hey, drop by for lunch some time! I'll slice us up some fresh pastrami! Hey, Bonds... you ok? You look a little green around the gills!"
Leon, Police Quest 3

Just as Vomiting Cop can demonstrate that someone in law enforcement isn't (yet) jaded about gory death, this trope shows just how jaded someone who works with dead bodies can get. Whether they're a Creepy Mortician showing an abnormal indifference to morbidity, or The Coroner whose mid-autopsy noshing is being Played for Laughs, expect all but the most sober of works to show people in the funerary trades munching sandwiches or french fries, or at least sipping coffee, while they've got a body on the slab.

A common form of Black Comedy in such situations is to have the food come in contact with the stiff, for example getting dropped and landing inside of an incision, or set down on the autopsy table while the mortician grabs something else, only for the diner to pick it up and resume eating as if it was nothing.


In real life, the risks associated with bloodborne pathogens (such as HIV and the hepatitis viruses) means that there are strict rules in place against this sort of thing, and no self-respecting coroner/medical examiner should engage in this practice. Common sense also plays into it, as a contaminated sample is useless for analysis and not all causes of death are immediately apparent. A variation, where the character is sucking on a lollipop or hard candy is closer to Truth in Television; a real tactic used by some pathologists is to keep a lollipop, mint, etc, in their mouth in order to reduce the impact of any unexpected smells and fight the gag reflex.

Compare The Snack Is More Interesting, Pass the Popcorn, Nausea Dissonance, Inappropriate Hunger, and Impromptu Campfire Cookout.



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  • There's a cell-phone service commercial in which a morgue worker's breakfast burrito falls into the cadaver he's working on, and he blithely picks it up and continues eating it. "What, you think this is wrong? What's wrong is paying too much for cell phone service."

    Anime And Manga 
  • In Psycho-Pass, Yayoi Kunizuka continues eating her noodles while looking at pictures of an exceptionally gruesome murder case in which people are dismembered, murdered, plastinated, and turned into publicly displayed sculptures by a Mad Artist.

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Batman: Shadow of the Bat had Batman eavesdropping on a conversation between a police officer and a coroner who is in process of snacking on a chicken wing amidst an autopsy.
  • There is a scene in Fell where the coroner of Snowtown eats his sandwich above a cadaver. One of the sandwich's tomatoes falls onto the cadaver; however, this doesn't stop the coroner from picking it back up and eating it. Fell is horrified, but the coroner just says that because it was an organic tomato he'd have to go out of the city to get a new one.
  • Dr. Fatty in Inspector Canardo hasn't been shown eating the treats Canardo bribes him with during the autopsy but he did say that he drinks the alcoholic stomach content of people that are brought to him (autopsy is a lot like cuisine, you must taste all the sauce).
  • Robin: While a young coroner at the Kane County morgue is worrying about the evidently misplaced body of Johnny Warren one of his superiors is casually eating lunch while prepping a cadaver. Johnny wasn't actually misplaced, he just got up and left.


  • In Arachnophobia, a funeral-parlor worker is eating a BLT when the photographer's boxed corpse arrives from South America. When the phone rings, he sets his sandwich down on the table normally used to prepare bodies, where a cat nibbles on it.
  • In the horror anthology film Body Bags, the host character 'the Coroner' (played by John Carpenter) is introduced cutting a slab of meat with an electrical saw and preparing to eat it. The real coroners at the end also get make sure to get some coffee before starting their autopsy of the fake coroner, who's actually a zombie.
  • Lampshaded in Diary of the Dead, when some EMTs are collecting bodies from an apartment and the cameraman who's filming them grouses about how one of their crew is eating his lunch off-camera, despite the gore.
  • Friday the 13th
    • When Jason's body is brought to the morgue in Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter, the doctor who checks him in is eating a sandwich, and places it on the corpse temporarily to sign some papers.
    • In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, the second coroner who walks in on a Voorhees-possessed medical examiner is carrying a pizza, and was presumably intending to eat it right there in the autopsy room. In a slightly more literal sense from the same scene, one of the coroners doing said autopsy eats the (miraculously still intact and beating) heart of Jason Voorhees, causing him to become inexplicably possessed by Jason, setting up the rest of the film.
  • In Gone in 60 Seconds (2000), the character Sphinx is working as a coroner and puts his sandwich down on a cadaver's chest to answer the phone.
  • In the Hungarian movie Kontroll, ambulance workers talk about a recipe while picking up the remains of a man who has been hit by the subway.
  • The coroner in Lake Placid Vs Anaconda not only eats lunch while displaying the gruesomely-mangled body of a crocodile victim, but he uses a chicken wing to demonstrate what the croc did to the dead man's leg and offers to share his meal with the cops (leading to the Vomiting Cop trope).
  • In the uncensored cut of the Hong Kong action movie Naked Killer (1992), a cop is eating while viewing a dismembered body, and the victim's severed penis falls into his roll. Which he then unknowingly eats.
  • In the German comedy movie Neues vom Wixxer, the coroner Dr. Brinkman lets his little son (plus a bunch of other kids) have a birthday party in the morgue.
  • In the Robert Altman movie Prêt-à-Porter, a coroner has a snack while autopsying a corpse (in the presence of several police officers investigating the death, too!)
  • When Ernie the undertaker is introduced in The Return of the Living Dead, he's shown eating a sandwich over a body he's embalming.
  • In Serial Killing 4 Dummys, the biology teacher is eating a ham sandwich while watching his students dissect fetal pigs.
  • In Some Guy Who Kills People, Sheriff Fuller surveys the crime scene where Wade Hutchinson's body has been hacked into pieces with a machete while eating a box of popcorn he takes off his deputy.
  • The low-budget horror flick Street Trash has one scene that takes place in a morgue, and the coroner is munching away at a box of Chinese food while talking with the cops.
  • In Terrifier (2018), a medical examiner asks the cop who drops off two dead bodies to get him a breakfast sandwich with back and then they have a whole conversation about how can he eat when he's surrounded by dead bodies.
  • In Voyage of the Rock Aliens, a man is murdered while eating chicken. When his body is wheeled into the police station, a cop pries a drumstick from his hand and takes a bite.
  • The local coroner in Wolf Cop likes to place his snacks on the bodies as he's examining them for cause of death. It's a very laid-back, don't give a damn, town so it explains why he still has a job.
  • In The Little Things (2021), medical examiner Flo Dunigan asks out Denzel Washington's deputy sheriff Joe Deacon at the end of a long autopsy scene by asking "Are you hungry?"

  • Able Team. Carl Lyons goes to investigate a case where an informant's head was squeezed in an enormous vise until his skull cracked. The local police, hoping to gross out this supposed 'federal agent', offer Lyons a box of jelly donuts before showing him the crime scene photos. Lyons however is a former LAPD cop so he sees the joke coming, even 'accidentally' dripping jam on the photos and licking it off, until everyone bursts out laughing.
  • A bizarre variation occurs in American Gods, when Mr. Jacquel slices off a part of the victim's heart while examining her and casually chewing it while recording his observations. This is because Mr. Jacquel is actually an aspect of Anubis, ancient Egyptian God of the dead. It's implied by Shadow, who is observing, that eating the heart is reverential and a sign of deep respect - or at least, he notes that that's how it feels, and he's surprised he isn't bothered by it.
  • At least once in the Aubrey-Maturin books, Stephen and a fellow naturalist move immediately from dissection to dinner, using the same knife.
  • Forensic pathologist Dr. William R. Maples wrote in his memoir, Dead Men Do Tell Tales, about how he'd have lunch in the autopsy room.
  • The Dresden Files has Butters, who routinely gets handed the weird cases or the ones that no one wants (because he handled the bodies from when Harry burned down the Red Room, complete with Red Court vampires, and accurately described them as 'humanoid but not human' and no one official wanted to hear it). He is also Harry's informal doctor, which he initially dislikes, because he finds living medicine icky. This leads to Harry lampshading how he can eat his lunch while looking at a three month old corpse, but gets all pale and sickly over suturing up a wound.
  • Doc Proutie from the Ellery Queen novels occasionally snacked while at the crime scene to pick up the body du jour.
  • In Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets, by David Simon, a uniformed cop is chowing down on a beef sandwich after a particularly gruesome body is found. He explains that they only get one meal break per shift.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Number of the Beast an attempt by a hostile park warden to threaten and murder the four protagonists (two married couples) ends with two men congratulating each other on their successful use of swords to kill a man with a gun, and a woman noting that the man was clearly not human. This is followed by the fourth protagonist performing the autopsy while her new stepdaughter holds a sandwich for her to eat without touching it with green goo covered hands. Their valiant sword wielding menfolk avoid the room in a desperate attempt to retain their lunches.
  • In Pyramids, the ghost of king Teppicymon XXVII is watching the embalming of his mortal remains and notes with some dissatisfaction that the embalmer accidentally included the wrapper from his assistant's lunch in the stuffing. Presumably this would not have happened if he hadn't been eating it around the body.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Alaskan Wildlife Troopers, a state trooper investigating a mass caribou slaughter eats a sandwich while examining the rotting carcasses in the field.
  • The Big Bang Theory episode "The Alien Parasite Hypothesis" shows Amy Farrah Fowler cutting slices of a human brain for microscopic analysis, while she and Sheldon eat lunch. To make it worse, Sheldon is eating sashimi, and briefly mistakes the samples for his lunch.
  • On Castle, the Deadpan Snarker ME Pearlmutter occasionally takes a meal in the mortuary. Pearlmutter does at least attempt to justify this trope by pointing out the strength of the cleaning solvents used in mortuary work, stating that the room was probably the most sterile in the city.
  • In the Animated Credits Opening of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Ambrose is drinking a coffee while working on a corpse.
  • In The Closer episode "Junk in the Trunk", Tao, Gabriel, Flynn, Provenza and Buzz open the trunk of a car where the car's very obese owner has been decomposing for several days. While the others start coughing and are generally visibly bothered by the sight and smell of the corpse, Provenza just keeps eating his donut.
  • The Commish. The Title Sequence has Commissioner Scali eating a sandwich while reading a book entitled: Tissue Decomposition: A Homicide Primer.
  • In the Criminal Minds episode "There's No Place Like Home" the ME du jour is eating a sandwich in the autopsy room while he talks the agents through the mutilated corpses.
  • Given a Take That! in CSI when Doc Robbins speaks irately of a long-retired coroner who missed crucial evidence in the original autopsy:
    Robbins: I once saw him do a Y-incision with one hand while holding a hot dog in the other!
    Keppler: I take it he wasn't known for his rigorous analysis?
    Robbins: He was known for liking hot dogs.
  • In one episode of CSI: NY, former ME-turned CSI Sheldon Hawkes admits to current ME Sid Hammerback that the rule against eating in the morgue "never stopped me from sneaking in the odd bag of microwave popcorn."
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "If the Shoe Fits", Lucien arrives at the mortuary to find Gus the pathologist fixing himself a sandwich in the autopsy room with a corpse on the slab.
  • Forever Knight did a variant of this once, with Natalie and her assistant shown in the morgue, looking down at the camera, deciding where to cut first. Then the shot switches and they're standing over a roast chicken.
  • In Fringe, Walter Bishop often eats while examining corpses or other Squick-inducing things.
  • On The Golden Girls, Blanche recalls how a policeman nonchalantly told her about her husband's car accident, while eating a bag of chips. "And then he said, crunching his chips 'Oh, he's dead. Wrong way driver, hit him head on. Totally dead, ma'am. *crunch crunch*'"
  • Happens on occasion in Grey's Anatomy. The characters are surgeons, so they will sometimes eat lunch while working in the surgical skill lab (which typically involves practicing procedures on the corpses of small pigs).
  • House: Unsurprisingly, Dr. House. Typically he takes breaks in the rooms of coma patients so people won't look for him, but he's been known to eat lunch in the morgue as well. To make things worse, he combines it with his Enemy Eats Your Lunch habit.
    Cuddy: You keep your lunch in the morgue?
    House: If I put it in the doctor's lounge, everybody else eats it.
    Cuddy: (Points to a label on one of the containers) That's because it's everybody else's food.
    House: Ohhhhh. I thought it was just everybody else's bags.
  • In the pilot episode of I Am the Night, while Jay Singletary is sneaking around a morgue trying to get a photograph of a famous murder victim, he is almost caught by an orderly who walks right by too wrapped up in a conversation about the smell of his mama's sweet potato pie to see him.
  • It popped up in Inspector Morse once or twice.
  • iZombie takes this a bit literally as Liv, a zombie, eats the brains of the "clients" while on break, usually combining them with other food such as pizza or ramen.
  • This shows up a few times in Law & Order. "This is the cleanest room in the city." It freaks out the detectives.
    Det. Ed Green: Is that brain on the phone?
    ME. Rodgers: It's egg salad. (beat) Probably.
    Det. Ed Green: You have a different phone?
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: In "Lonelyville", Logan is eating a sandwich in the morgue while Dr. Rodgers explains the autopsy results. Rodgers takes the sandwich off him and dumps it in the garbage.
  • Became a plot point on an episode of Life, when the mortician's constant snacking helps the detectives to realize that she's pregnant by the murder victim of the week.
  • MacGyver (1985): "The Enemy Within" has Mac present at an autopsy that has the coroner halting his duties for an eggroll.
  • Officer Slocum from Midnight Caller likes to spend his lunch breaks in the morgue.
  • Mock the Week - Referenced during "Unlikely Lines from a TV Detective Show".
    Ed Byrne: Ugh, God, I have to go to the morgue. He's always eating a sandwich! We get it, you're desensitized, well done! [Sarcastic Clapping]
  • Motive: Angie and Betty often share a glass of wine in the lab; although usually not while there is a body on the slab.
  • In the Murder, She Wrote episode "Smooth Operators", a coroner offers Jessica and her Friend on the Force a plate of danishes lying on a table in the morgue, then eats a hardboiled egg, which he cracks open with one of the medical instruments.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • In "Murdoch Air," Constable George Crabtree is devouring a hot hamburger in a morgue, and Dr. Emily Grace is horrified that he is eating hot meat with bread. Later in the episode, she's enjoying a hamburger, too, while presenting a body and post-mortem results to Detective William Murdoch—who is mildly disgusted by the idea of a hamburger.
    • In "Victoria Cross", Crabtree is eating a hard boiled egg while watching Dr. Grace working on a corpse when she removes a prosthetic glass eye from the corpse's stomach. It makes for a striking visual.
    • In "Loch Ness Murdoch", Crabtree absently eats ice from the morgue icehouse during a heatwave, then realises what he's doing, and Emily has to reassure him that the ice is fresh. Later, he uses the icehouse to make himself and Emily snowcones.
    • While Dr Ogden doesn't often do this, it gets lampshaded in the episode "Mr Murdoch's Neighbourhood":
      Murdoch: I see you aren't letting a decomposing corpse spoil your appetite.
      Julia: Certainly not! One can't perform an autopsy on an empty stomach.
  • The Mysteries of Laura:
    Coroner: Diamond, what did I tell you about bringing food into my lab?
    Laura Diamond (with mouth full of noodles): I ... skipped dinner.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000 S 02 E 06 Ring Of Terror has Joel (in segment 2) [1] performing an autopsy on a Hoover vacuum. One minute into the sketch he grabs an apple and starts eating.
  • In the Big Blackout episode of NCIS, Ducky lets the Navy Yard employees store their lunches in one of the autopsy freezers, since they are connected to the backup generators while the power is out. They are seemingly unbothered by the thought of keeping their food where corpses are normally stored.
  • In one Night Court episode, the cast is trapped in the building's morgue during a thunderstorm that causes the power to go out; the elderly coroner, however, calmly continues his work, eating a sandwich as he does an autopsy.
  • NTSF:SD:SUV::: Parodied when all the characters start nonchalantly snacking while standing over a corpse. Until one of them accidentally takes a bite out of a severed hand.
  • On Psych:
    • There's an episode where Woody is eating a bag of chips while performing an autopsy.
      • Woody does this almost 90% of the time you see him in the autopsy room. One time, a co-worker (who is actually also a murderer) brings homemade donuts to an autopsy and both of them proceed to eat them, as well as make sexual advances upon each other, not caring about the dead body in the room. Of course, one is a murderer, while Woody is wacky.
    • There's also a promotional short where Shawn is seen eating a donut straight out of the crime scene.
      "That's not a jelly donut."
    • Gus always eats food from the houses of dead people, as long as he doesn't actually see anything bloody.
  • An episode of The Pretender had a coroner using an autopsy table to prepare fugu, prompting Jarod (who was working as a fellow coroner in this episode) to ask, "Gunshot wound to the gill?"
  • An episode of Profit has the title character saying that a mortician needs to do all kinds of things around his work. Including celebrating his birthday. And sleeping with a hooker.
  • Rizzoli & Isles
    • Korsak is shown chowing down on a doughnut while watching Dr. Isles perform an autopsy in the first episode.
    • Maura has occasionally been known to store her lunch in the morgue's specimen refrigerator, leading to a Running Gag of Jane questioning the provenance of any snacks she might be offered.
    Jane: Is this from the good fridge or the dead people fridge?
  • Done occasionally on Scrubs, mostly with all the pathologists and coroners constantly eating lollipops.
  • Silk Stalkings: In "Going to Babylon", Chris walks into the autopsy room with a cup of coffee and a muffin. Rita remarks that in all of her time on the force, she has never been able to do that.
  • Rico and Vanessa from Six Feet Under are eating lunch together in the embalming room. Too bad an inspection appears right at that moment!
  • Supernatural:
    • In one episode, the Trickster, a Reality Warper with a notorious sweet tooth, has trapped Sam and Dean in a CSI: Miami parody. While explaining the found body to the two "Horatio Caine"s, he, or rather his double, slurps on a lollipop the whole time.
    • In another episode Sam is telling Dean the squicky details of how a Mad Doctor carries out Organ Theft while Dean is chowing down on a burger. Dean keeps telling him to shut up, but eventually finishes the burger just to show Sam he's not affected.
    • But in "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters", Sam and Bobby autopsy the Monster of the Week, finding him full of icky black goo, plus various other human and animal remains. Dean meanwhile is disinterested and demanding a sandwich the whole time. Eventually they realise Dean is Not Himself and is affected by whatever turned the monster in the first place.
  • One of the coroners in Taggart would do this.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In "The Switch", The Mad Doctor is shown casually slicing up salami for a sandwich in the same room where he is about to perform surgery.
  • Vera: In "Telling Tales", The Coroner Billy swallows antibiotics while he is in the autopsy room with a corpse on the slab: crunching them noisily rather than washing them down with any kind of liquid.
  • In the The X-Files:
    • ("Bad Blood"), while performing an autopsy Scully finds that the victim's stomach contents include pizza, and comments that it sounds very appealing right now, to the point of ordering one later that day.
    • The head mortician in "Irresistible" is eating a Popsicle when in the mortuary.
    • In "War of the Coprophages", Scully is eagerly eating yogurt while consulting with Mulder on the phone about a case of killer cockroaches.

     Video Games 
  • Deus Ex: If you get gunned down by a MJ 12 trooper, sometimes, they'll ask one of their comrades "Who's hungry?".
  • The hospital crew in Life & Death II: The Brain are always eating pizza while observing the body of whichever poor patient you "accidentally" ended up killing this time around.
  • Vic Farley in Ripper works as the coroner for the Ripper's victims, often while either eating or smoking on the job, though Jake Quinlan doesn't seem to mind. Subverted in that the hospital he works at fires him for this trope later on, and that Farley provides very solid leads in how the victims died.

    Web Comics 
  • In Schlock Mercenary a detective mentions that his partner is so desensitized he eats lasagna while watching The Autopsy Channel. (Don't ask why they have a channel for that.)

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Cleveland Show episode "Who Done Did It?" features a coroner that eats a PB and J sandwich while still wearing his blood covered gloves. Junior of course sneaks a bite of the PB and J after the coroner sets it down remarking he's glad the J wasn't blood like he thought it might be.
  • While it doesn't technically involve eating, Hey Arnold! The Movie includes a coroner so adjusted to his job that he sleeps in the same room as the corpses.
  • In the South Park episode "Pink Eye", a mortuary assistant eats a Worcestershire sauce-laden hot dog while embalming Kenny's body. When some of the sauce leaked into the embalming fluid though, it led to an epidemic Gone Horribly Wrong. The fact that it is not supposed to be used as embalming fluid is on the label and the Worcestershire hotline asks the caller to press 3 if it has.
  • Coroner Rick does this on Stroker and Hoop.

    Real Life 
  • This is sometimes used as a litmus test for rookie cops with the veterans often bringing a snack for the rookie's first autopsy. David Simon's book Homicide also recounts how they'll often treat the rookie to a greasy breakfast before heading to the morgue for much the same reason.
  • Occasionally, careless medical students will eat right in the middle of dissecting cadavers. It's actually considered something of a rite of passage during cadaver lab to become comfortable enough to eat your lunch in the same room with the specimens after an initial period of unease.
  • In his Screenwriter's Guide to the Autopsy, Ed Uthman notes: "For some odd reason, many prosectors report increased appetite after an autopsy, so the first thing they want to do afterwards is grab a bite to eat."
  • Several forensic pathologists have admitted to having lunch in the autopsy room in their memoirs.
  • This used to be a common thing in the medical profession until the introduction of the aseptic technique by Drs. Ignaz Semmelweiss and Joseph Lister in the mid-19th century. In fact, it was such an ingrained norm that Dr. Semmelweiss was essentially laughed out of the professionnote  (and later beaten to death in an insane asylum) for insisting on such crazy things as washing one's hands between dissecting a corpse and attending to a newborn, despite the demonstrable tenfold decrease in the dreaded puerperal fever in his hospital. Only after the much more influential Lister suggested basically the same did the notion take root.
  • An autopsy procedure can take more than four hours when conducted in detail, and involves some significant shifting and turning of the cadaver to inspect it from all sides. An M.E. performing one single-handed is liable to need a snack after that much mental and physical work, albeit hopefully after a thorough clean-up.
  • An interview with the female lead of Bones had her state that this technically was a common occurrence since the crew would break for lunch without taking down the set or the corpses. Humorously, while everyone in the crew eventually stopped losing their appetite around the corpses, she herself had minimal issue with being put off her food as she was a vegan.
  • Science teachers sometimes keep their lunches in the laboratory refrigerator, alongside the frogs, rats or fetal pigs used for dissection studies. If there's no room in the teachers' lounge fridge, they figure it's better than doing without their yogurt or tuna salad.