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Body of the Week

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However bad your Mondays are, this is worse.

A subtrope of Victim of the Week.

Some weekly TV shows revolve around dead people. A homicide unit is pretty boring without a dead guy to investigate. A coroner needs someone to cut open. A funeral parlor that has no corpse is just no fun at all. Thus, these shows feature a Body of the Week.

Most shows of these genres open with a living person who goes on to die early in the episode. On most of these shows, the dead body is implicit. You don't actually need to see the corpse to know that it exists. On others, the body becomes an integral prop. A funeral home needs a casket and mourners to interrupt the family squabbles.

All these shows have in common is the need for a corpse. Every single week.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Case Closed. It's a murder-mystery series. Occasionally subverted; in one episode the "body" in question was a torn-up flag.

    Live Action TV 
  • Death in Paradise is a crime/detective dramedy that takes place on Saint Marie, a tiny island in the Caribbean. It always manages to turn up a body or two each week for the cast to investigate.
  • You know Smallville gets a lot of this when their wiki has a body count page.
  • Six Feet Under, the HBO series set in a funeral home, started every episode with an ordinary person going about their life and having it rudely interrupted in some disastrous way. In most episodes this was done to great comedic effect.
  • Waking the Dead did this, albeit with very old bodies.
  • Police Squad!, a one season comedy starring Leslie Nielson, hung a lampshade on this by opening every episode with a "special guest star" who died moments after appearing on camera.
  • Quincy, M.E. was a Forensic Drama about a medical examiner (Jack Klugman) who solved murders through forensic investigations. The show always opened with a person dying of seemingly ordinary causes.
  • Law & Order from at least season 3 on. With the exception of episodes that deal with cold cases, in which case it's a Skeleton Of The Week. The Cold Open almost invariably involves some random civilian either discovering or becoming the Body Of The Week.
  • NCIS lives and breathes this trope. Even if the episode's A plot focuses on an arc, the body of the week will always occupy the accompanying B-plot. Since the main characters are the NCIS Major Case Response Team, it's rare for a case to be "major" enough to merit their attention if nobody has died.
  • Bones does this with freaky corpses.
  • NUMB3RS has many episodes that deal with dead bodies.
  • Pushing Daisies is interesting in that the corpse is temporarily resurrected for one minute, so you can get some idea of what they were like in life.
  • On Castle, the vic is sometimes only shown after the corpse is discovered, but sometimes shown getting killed.
  • CSI, CSI: Miami, and CSI: NY each have this at the core of their plots.
  • Lucifer: Every episode centers around a murder investigated by detective Chloe Decker and her supernatural partner, Lucifer Morningstar.
  • Murder, She Wrote in which Jessica deduced the murderer (of the week).
  • Perry Mason in which Perry represented someone incorrectly accused of murder (of the week).
  • Monk, where the title character solves a murder in almost every episode. However, there are select episodes where no murder is committed although people do die, or Monk is solving a case that does not involve a murder.
  • Dexter is about a Serial-Killer Killer, so the typical episode will have a Serial Killer or other Horrible Person Of The Week murdered by the end.
  • Ghost Whisperer has a Ghost of the Week (occasionally, two in one episode) in every episode. The ghost's corresponding physical body is usually not seen. Each episode typically deals with the protagonist, Melinda Gordon (who is one of a handful of still living people who can see and interact with ghosts), assisting that week's ghost in dealing with some unresolved issue from their human life. This can range anywhere from discovering the details of how the person died to delivering a final message to their still living family members, oftentimes both.
  • Tru Calling had a corpse supernaturally call out to the title character each week, which sent her back in time to try to prevent his or her death.
  • Midsomer Murders has a habit of at least two murders per episode, usually connected. Lampshaded in "Bad Tidings" when the newly arrived Detective Scott complains that two people have been killed since he moved in and the investigations haven't left him time to unpack. Then someone else turns up dead...
    Scott: Three murders... Is the body count always this high 'round here?
    Barnaby: It has been remarked upon.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger made a lovely habit of putting murders into each episode at least one way or another. People run off the road, airplane pilots killed, person who got in the way of a scheme gets axed, professional hitman at large, et cetera, et cetera. You would be very hard pressed to find a murder-free episode out of the whopping 220 that aired.
  • The Closer and its spin-off Major Crimes have at least one body per episode because both shows focus on investigating and prosecuting homicide in Los Angeles.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street featured at least two murders per episode, all of which were mostly disconnected from each other and investigated by different detectives.
  • The protagonist of Forever (2014) works at the Office of Chief Medical Examiner of the City of New York, stated to be home to the largest collection of slightly chilled corpses in the world, and he works with the local precinct's Homicide department, so this trope is pretty much a given.
  • Harrow is set at the Queensland Institute of Forensic Medicine, Dr. Harrow being considered by many to be the most talented medical examiner in the country. There's always at least one body, even in episodes that are not set at the morgue. Notably, unlike American television shows, the corpses are all nude, with no effort to cover up the breasts of dead women, but as they are treated very matter-of-factly and respectfully, and since they are, well, corpses, there is nothing titillating about it.

     Video Games 
  • In the Ace Attorney series, the player character always seems to wind up solving a murder case, despite not specifically being a homicide lawyer. This is even lampshaded the one time they're dealing with a theft instead of a homicide. And that one gets a body pretty quick anyway.
  • Ghost Trick, by the same crew, has Sissel dealing with a dead body nearly every chapter. Of course, his job is to make sure they never become that dead body in the first place.
  • The mainline Danganronpa games features a corpse turning up in every chapter, since its villain has declared that the only way to escape is to kill someone without being caught. The other students must then try to figure out the culprit - or die themselves.


Video Example(s):


Police Squad! - Guest Stars

In every episode, the special guest star is killed during the opening sequence!

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

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Main / BodyOfTheWeek

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