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Dateless Grave

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Gravestones in TV and films tend not to have full dates on them, unlike in real life. Presumably this, like so many other tropes, has to do with movies being shown on TV and released on home video. It also helps prevent Continuity Snarl in cases of intentionally Ambiguous Time Period and/or Vague Age.

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


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     Comic Books 
  • Ubiquitous in comics. The X-Men have an entire cemetery full of dateless graves. However, it was averted when Jean Grey "died" for the first time — her original lifespan was 1956 to 1980 (making her 24 when she died the first time), if you were wondering. Granted, it would be awkward to have a bunch of graves with a series of dates written on them for each successive death and return. Also, given the effects of Comic-Book Time, the dates would start getting really confusing.
  • Justified in ClanDestine. Directly after the first arc, in which two relatives died, the two youngest members of the family visit the family cemetery and notice that there are no dates or last names on any of the graves. Their father explains that since the Destines are very long-lived, they don't put anything that could give away their secret on the graves.

  • Thomas and Martha Wayne's graves are seen in The Dark Knight Rises, and both are undated. Bruce Wayne's grave is seen is the same scene, also without dates; had a date of death been etched, it would have been wrong.
  • Averted in the Back to the Future trilogy. George McFly-A's death in the alternate timeline is clearly stated as March 15, 1973 in Part II, and when we see an exact date for Doc Brown's grave in Part III (September 7, 1885), trying to avoid that fate drives the entire movie.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Nick Fury's grave does have dates, they're just obscured by flowers. Averted with Bucky, however, since it's quite hard to redate the Second World War.
    • Spider-Man: No Way Home: In a smiler vein to the Winter Soldier example, the dates on Aunt May's grave are obscured.

  • Averted in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. For the first time in his life, Harry visits his parents' graves in Godric's Hollow, and the dates on the gravestones are practically the only place in the whole series where specific years are given. This heightens the emotional impact of the scene considerably. (The only other bit of dating evidence is from Chamber of Secrets, on Nearly-Headless Nick's deathday cake, which, appropriately enough, is tombstone-shaped.) We can date the series from 1991-1998.
  • In the third The Dresden Files novel, Grave Peril, Harry is given a Prematurely Marked Grave and gravestone by one of his (many) vampire nemeses. The gravestone has no date but reads "Harry Dresden—He died doing the right thing". Harry spends Ghost Story as an Only Mostly Dead spirit and uses the grave (still open and dateless, since they Never Found the Body) as a place to hide during the day. As of Cold Days, he is still alive, the grave is still dateless, and there is still a huge hole in the ground because apparently the city officials were REALLY bribed. At least it's one less thing he has to worry about finding the money for when he needs it for real.
  • Most of the gravestones the protagonists of Galaxy of Fear: City of the Dead see are etched in a language they can't read. The one that does have an epigraph in Basic, too, doesn't have a date listed. This may have been because this is a Star Wars Legends novel; at the time of writing, the only dating system to be established was Before/After the Battle of Yavin. Since the book takes place less than a year ABY, no one would have started using it as a dating system yet.

     Live Action TV 
  • In Smallville, Chloe Sullivan's grave only has her birth and death year. Might be due to the fact that her birthday is a mild Continuity Snarl.
  • Sherlock's grave gives only his name. It's a damn classy gravestone, though.
  • Richie Ryan's tombstome on Highlander lists how long he lived (22 years) but not the actual dates. Of course, part of this may have to do with Richie being an Immortal and him "dying" in a motorcycle race two years before his final, permanent death.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: The grave marker created by Gary Mitchell in "Where No Man has Gone Before". The use of Stardates helped hide the time line during the run of the show. Years were attributed to events as the Movies and Sequel Series came out.
  • Amy and Rory's gravestone in the Doctor Who episode "The Angels Take Manhattan" (in which both characters are separately sent back in time by the same Weeping Angel) contains only their names and their ages when they died.
  • In the Pilot Movie for Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Buck finds the gravestones of his parents, but doesn't find any dates on them. Dr. Theopolis tells Buck that dates weren't that important as people were dying due to the war in the late 20th century.

     Video Games 
  • The Boss' gravestone in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater reads "192X-1964"
  • Averted in Left 4 Dead 2, where graffiti in the safehouses has the birth and death dates of various people, pointing that the game is set in 2009. Banners hanging in the mall further show that the game is set in fall of 2009, at around the time it was released.
  • In Spider-Man (PS4), Ben Parker's grave reads "1953-2010". In the epilogue, May's grave reads "1952-2018".

     Visual Novels 
  • In Melody, there are no dates on the tombstone of Melody's mother.

  • The lost Heterodyne heir's grave in this page of Girl Genius. Although it's not so much to stop the comic from becoming dated as to make sure we don't know what century this steampunk parallel Europe is set in.
    • Though the grave does have a year-of-birth and the number of days he lived. However, Agatha's foot is blocking a clear view of the first two digits of the year, thus making the century of that event unreadable (though based on the shape of the characters we can see, it's likely 1872, which would seem to fit into the Victorian culture underlying the steampunk).
    • On the page previous to that one there's another stone, with 'Born 1575' and five Died dates, from 1602 to 1623.
  • Angelica's grave in Misfile is dateless and surname-less as well.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Corrie visits her mother's grave, and in the only panel showing the dates on the grave, her hand is blocking the last two digits of the year of death, although it is shown that her mother was born in 1968. The strip never makes any explicit reference to what year it is, except for the Y2K arc being set in late 1999.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Elan does not put a date of birth on Therkla's grave, as he does not know when she was born, although the date of death sets the story in the year 1184, according to whatever calendar they're using.
  • In most Nuzlocke Comics that show gravestones of fallen party members, instead of "birth date-death date", they'll be engraved with "level captured-level died".
  • Sleepless Domain: The markers within the Magical Girl memorial park are all of an identical design, inscribed with only the deceased girl's name and her sigil. In addition to concealing the timeframe of the comic, the lack of dates serves in-universe as a subtle way of brushing aside the reality that none of these girls lived to be eighteen.

     Web Original 
  • During an April Fool's day episode of Red vs. Blue, Sarge and Simmon's tombstones only show their death year as 2004, the year the video was released, and the birth year as "????".

     Western Animation 
  • Justified in Justice League, wherein Hawkgirl tries to bury Solomon Grundy according to Earth's customs, but only knows that he was "Born on a Monday."
  • On Futurama, Fry's nephew, Philip Fry, seems to have a lot of biographical information on his grave, but interestingly enough, no dates.
  • In Young Justice Artemis's grave has a middle name reveal, but not a date.
  • In the Defenders of the Earth episode "100 Proof Highway" (a Very Special Episode themed around teenaged alcoholism) Mandrake learns that Kshin has innocently started drinking liquor in imitation of his peers. To show Kshin what this could lead to, Mandrake conjures up a vision in which an aged-up Kshin dies in a drink driving accident. The vision ends with a shot of a gravestone bearing the inscription "Kshin RIP", with no dates given.
  • While not a proper grave, Terra's statue in Teen Titans is the same idea but plays this straight. It's even more notable because her statue in the comics featured one of the few times graves weren't dateless.