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Dead-Hand Shot

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Buried in a salt field; a very bitter end.

This is a stock type of camera shot that is also popular for posters and cover art. The story typically has death or murder as a central element, but featuring a corpse front and center, especially a very maimed one, prominently on the box art is usually not considered a good way to sell. So a compromise is used, an artfully limp and bloody hand is shown, perhaps holding (or dropping) an important object. Of course, the hand may be separate from the body, or itself badly damaged.

Sister Trope to Last Grasp at Life and Hand Sliding Down the Glass, where the focus on the hand is because it's the last part of a falling/drowning person to disappear. Contrast Raised Hand of Survival, where a hand is moving and indicates the character is alive.

Subtrope of Gory Discretion Shot. See also Empathy Doll Shot and Dead Man's Trigger Finger. Has nothing to do with a shot of Dead Hand.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to a middle school student whom Vampire Princess Miyu bit for blood and accidentally killed by fully draining her in the fourth OVA. First there's a Scream Discretion Shot to the school building and a bunch of students as another girl finds her, then a while later the girl's body is shown from a long distance, and last but not least there's a shot of her hand and some strands of her long hair.
  • In Code Geass, after being shot, Shirley pronounces her love for Lelouch in front of him before dying as her hand drops in her own blood.
  • Happens in Fullmetal Alchemist: The Conqueror of Shamballa, mixed with an Empathy Doll Shot. A scream is heard, followed by a gust of wind, then cue a hand underneath a pile of debris right next to a teddy bear.
  • Subverted when Bradley is chasing Lan Fan's blood trail in Fullmetal Alchemist, there's a brief moment where her hand pops into screen giving the impression that she is dead. Seconds later, it is revealed that she only cut off her arm and tied it to a dog to lure Bradley away.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, as Vegeta draws his final breath on Namek, his tear-blurred vision fades from his point of view, and we next see a close-up of his gloved hand falling onto the ground, followed by a shot of his body shivering with his eyes closed before becoming still and lifeless, followed by a gust of wind blowing on his body.
    • In the movie Dead Zone, this is how the death scene of two members of the Quirky Miniboss Squad is handled. Goku uses a Kamehameha to launch Ginger into a building that he earlier knocked Nicky into using his Power Pole. Ginger hits Nicky, Kamehameha and all, and the building explodes. Ginger's twitching hand sticks up from the rubble afterwards before going limp.
  • Goblin Slayer provides pretty bloody examples:
    • The Warrior kid rushed to save Wizard from goblins as they are currently stabbing her with a poison knife, and they proceed to dogpile him and hack him to pieces. His arm is seen falling to the ground as he struggles before being cut off.
    • In a flashback, Goblin Slayer's older sister was also killed and eaten by goblins. Her fallen arm was visible, then dragged as easily as if it were dismembered. It actually was.
  • Flashbacks to the background story of the Uchiha Clan massacre in Naruto would show a bloodied hand ripping out of the paper doors, while the shadowed figure of the perpetrator Itachi Uchiha looms above the body.
  • Happens to Nono Motoe in Blood-C. Or better said, we see her legs after she and her twin sister Nene are horribly eaten alive in front of their friend Saya Kisaragi. And then it's subverted: it was all an act. They do get killed off again... and it's much worse.
  • Wolf's Rain: A flashback of Toboe's life as a pet had him accidentally kill his own elderly owner because of his unrestrained playfulness. The last shot is off the woman's gasping pleas to Toboe to get off her and her outreached hand falling to the floor as she dies.
  • Gundam
    • In ∀ Gundam, all that can be seen of Will Game are his hands, limply dangling from the cockpit hatch. When Sochie (in a then-rare moment of humanity towards someone of the Moonrace) says they need to help him, Loran sadly says that "those are nothing but hands anymore."
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Shinn often has traumatic flashbacks to his sister Mayu's detached hand gripping her pink mobile phone after she and Shinn's parents have been accidentally blown up during a battle. He keeps the phone as a gory Tragic Keepsake.
  • In Street Fighter Alpha: The Animation, when Shun dies in his "brother" Ryu's arms, right after the kid's last words we see his hand going limp.
    • Similarly, in The King of Fighters: KYO manga, Maki Kagura's bloodied hand is the only thing we see of her after the teen Goenitz kills her in front of her twin sister Chizuru.
  • In Another, the last we see of the nurse Mizuno Sanae after she's been crushed inside a malfunctioning elevator is her limp, bloody hand poking out of the wreckage.
  • In the first episode of Madlax, the titular Action Girl is speaking to an injured boy named Pete whom she has just rescued in the jungle. They're talking about having a date once they're done, but in the middle of their conversation Pete passes away from his injuries; the first signal we get is how he stops talking after he tells Madlax his name, and the second is how his hand goes limp.
  • Death Note: Villain Protagonist Light Yagami concocts a plan to trick the man tailing him, FBI agent Raye Penbar, into revealing his FBI badge and information so Light can kill him. Using the Death Note, he makes a drug addict and failed bank robber called Kiichiro Osoreda hijack the bus where both Light and Raye are currently on. Then Light tricks Osoreda into picking a piece of the Death Note causing him to be able to see Ryuk. Horrified at the appearance of the shinigami, the hijacker empties his handgun at him to not use, then he makes the bus driver stop the bus and quickly makes for an exit only to get hit and killed by speeding car as soon he gets out of the vehicle. The last we seen of the man is his lifeless hand lying on a large pool of blood.

  • The Royal Artillery Memorial (1919) in London. Revolutionary in that one of the statues of four soldiers around it actually lies dead- but he's actually covered by his gas cape; his outline and his boots are visible- the only part of his actual body shown is his hand. (It's still an incredibly moving piece of sculpture.)

    Comic Books 
  • The cover to Captain America #25 features Cap's gloved hand laying dead on the cover, amidst newspaper scraps. This was the issue where he supposedly died.
  • Before Watchmen: In Minutemen, The Silhouette's death is depicted with a bloody slashed hand, instead of her mutilated corpse. The Liquidator, her killer, is also seen this way, his hand sticking out of a bathtub instead of the audience seeing his corpse.
  • The Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers: Had an Anyone Can Die story and the final issue had a variant cover with a hand lying limp on the ground.
  • In issue 234 of Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Antoine D'Coolette is heavily injured when Mecha Sonic self-destructs. Sonic says he can get him to a hospital in time, but as he scoops up Antoine and starts running, Antoine's hand falls limply. According to Ian Flynn Antoine was originally intended to have died in that issue, but was saved partly due to fan reaction.
  • In issue #44 of IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, Bebop and Rocksteady deliver a brutal No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on Donatello, apparently killing him; we see them walk out with Donnie's limp bloody hand in the foreground.
  • Poe is left holding Gia's detached twitching arm when she's torn from it and killed in Lab Rats.
  • The eighth issue of ROM: Spaceknight combines this trope with Empathy Doll Shot in a flashback sequence where Rom recounts how he and the other Space Knights failed to prevent the Dire Wraiths from destroying planet Angelica. The last panel of the flashback sequence shows a lifeless hand and a doll among the ruins observed by Rom and the other Space Knights.

    Films — Animated 
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, complete with dropped apple. Of course, it's only "sleeping death".
  • In Atlantis: The Lost Empire, the last shot of the dying King Kashekim as he pleads to Milo to save Atlantis is his hand becoming limp as death claims him.
  • Towards the end of Tarzan, a dying Kerchak's hand falls to the ground after he tells Tarzan to take care of the other gorillas. It was even animated in a slow-mo like fashion.
  • The Plague Dogs: The scene where the dog shoots the hunter in the head.
  • Hercules:
    • As soon as Atropos cuts Meg's Thread of Life, we see a close-up of her hand going limp.
    • Earlier in the film, we have an unusual version, where the Hydra's clenched fist going limp is treated dramatically after the monster is crushed by an avalanche caused by Hercules. However it's not in empathy for the monster, it's for Hercules, who was seemingly crushed too, but who actually happens to be held in the fist.
  • As the rats clear away the wreckage of their hoist device in Don Bluth's The Secret of NIMH, they find the limp arm of their leader, Nicodemus, which is the only part of him visible amid the large pieces of debris.
  • The Lion King II: Simba's Pride: After Zira falls to her death in a raging flood, the last we see of her is one of her paws being submerged.
  • In the animated adaptation of Persepolis, there is a scene where Marjane sees the dead hand of a friend of hers, buried beneath bricks and mortar during the Iran-Iraq War.
  • The Prince of Egypt:
    • After Moses accidentally causes an Egyptian slave-driver to fall to his death, there's a brief glimpse of the dead man's arm amid the wreckage of the structure he landed on.
    • During the final plague, as the Angel of Death descends upon Egypt to claim the firstborn, an Egyptian boy is seen carrying a large jug into a building. The Angel, as a swirling light, enters and exits quickly. The sound of breaking earthenware is heard and his arm falls through the doorway indicating his sudden death.
  • In Beauty and the Beast, as the Beast lies dying in Belle's arms, he caresses her face until his paw goes limp, followed by a close-up of his eyes closing with his last breath.
  • A variation in Aladdin and the King of Thieves. After Siluk ends up getting turned to gold by the Hand of Midas, his golden form falls into the water below and lies still on the bottom, with the last shot of him being his left hand and its tiger claw gauntlet, both of which were now solid gold.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the flashback of Tom Riddle shows a hand hanging from a sheet-covered corpse on a barrow, carried by four unnamed medic wizards down a stairway. We later learn that the dead girl is "Moaning Myrtle," the very girl whose ghost haunts the ladies' room in the second floor, and that she was killed by the basilisk on the orders of none other than Tom Riddle himself.
  • The image comes from the Mexican film Bajo la Sal (Under the Salt). The movie itself also uses this shot several times to depict the murdered women found this way.
  • Brick uses this on the poster and in the film for the protagonist's dead ex-girlfriend in the beginning.
  • Citizen Kane starts off with a shot of Kane's hand holding a snow globe, then dropping it when he dies.
  • George A. Romero's Dawn of the Dead (1978) movie has a zombie hand too, and those are the living dead. The hand doesn't have the courtesy to lie there prettily though. It grasps.
  • In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, when Scarlet Witch kills Captain Marvel's Alternate Universe counterpart, we get a shot of her hand dramatically going limp after she's crushed under the rubble.
  • After Kate is slashed to death in Dressed to Kill, the last we see of her is her bloodied hand, shuddering in its death throes, protruding through the partially open elevator door.
  • The first Saw film has promotional posters featuring both a severed hand and a severed foot, with corresponding taglines ("Every piece has a puzzle." and "Every puzzle has its pieces."). Later films have posters with similar depictions focused on other body parts, such as two severed fingers for Saw II, three teeth for Saw III, and John's severed head on a pound for Saw IV. Saw VI brings back the severed hands with a leather glove-like stitching.
  • The horror movie House, starring William Katt.
  • The ending of the 1930 film version of All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Captain Barbossa drops an apple as he dies.
  • William Wallace after his execution at the end of Braveheart.
  • After Neil kills himself in Dead Poets Society... though the drama is ruined somewhat by the subsequent slo-mo shot.
  • Seen with Wilson's suicide by gunshot in The Great Gatsby (2013).
  • Orange Juice's death in the film version of Life of Pi.
  • Cora's death in The Postman Always Rings Twice.
  • Welcome to the Punch (2013). During a struggle in the morgue, the detective protagonist bumps into a laden gurney and a hand drops out from under the sheet. This is how he discovers his partner has just been murdered, due to her habit of writing notes on the back of her hand.
  • Mad Max:
  • In Batman Forever, when Two-Face falls to his death in Riddler's Drowning Pit, the last we see of him is his hand sinking into the water as his Two-Headed Coin falls into its palm (Tails up) before it goes under.
  • In Jane Eyre (1943), at the moment when Helen Burns's death is revealed, we only see her lifeless hand clasped in young Jane's as we hear Jane trying to wake her, then screaming.
  • Jurassic Park (1993):
    • When Jophrey the worker is (apparently) killed at the beginning, his death is signified by a closeup of his slowly relaxing hand slipping free from Muldoon's grasp in dramatic Slow Motion.
    • A much more, uh, literal variation is done with Arnold. After being attacked by a raptor, Ellie bumps up against a cabinet, and Arnold's hand comes down and appears to grab her shoulder. She sighs in relief, only to turn and discover it's just his arm.
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park:
    • Another very literal interpretation is done with the helmsman of the Venture: all that's found is his severed hand gripping the wheel.
    • On the Venture's deck, a crew member's dead body is signified by his arm sticking out from behind a control panel (which is obscuring the rest of him), holding the remote control for the ship's hold doors in his hand.
  • In the climax of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze the turtles are in a fight with Shredder, who had been mutated into a Super Shredder, knocking over everything in his path on a rampage, including the foundation of the pier that they are under. Leonardo even tried to warn him that he would kill them all including himself if he kept it up, but he kept going. Eventually, the pier collapses and the turtles barely escape with their lives. They then see the Shredder's hand emerge from the rubble, as they all groan and prepare for the worst, only for it to then fall limp.
    Leonardo: That's the end of the Shredder.
  • In An American Werewolf in London, a somewhat tipsy man named Sean goes venturing into the woods to look for his missing friends Harry Berman and Judith Browns, who are late for a dinner party. Suddenly, he steps on something. He looks down to find that it's Harry's hand... and only his hand.
  • In Selena, after Selena is shot by Yolanda, the audience is shown a closeup of Selena's hand slowly dropping the ring that Yolanda gave her.
  • Silent Fall: When Jake visits the scene of the Wardens' murder, there's a shot of a bloody hand sticking out from under a sheet.
  • In The Ten Commandments (1923), after the massive church wall collapses onto the protagonists' mother, her hand is shown sticking out from the rubble. She's not dead yet, as after they get her out she exchanges a few last words with her sons, but the dramatic effect is the same.
  • In the work safety PSA "Think About This", after a hapless worker is fold-spindle-mutilated by a cotton baler, there is a shot of his mangled arm protruding from the resulting plastic-wrapped bale.
  • In Blade, Whistler is bitten by vampires and badly wounded. He takes Blade's gun and orders him to walk away. We hear a gunshot and see the gun fall from his bloody hand.
  • The final shot from The Great Ziegfeld as Ziegfeld's hand falls limp after his final flashback and his call for "more stairs".
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country: As McCoy tries to save Klingon Chancellor Gorkon after an assassination, Gorkon gestures to Kirk, resting his hand upon his head and weakly says "Don't let it end this way, Captain...", when his hand slowly slides down and he dies.
  • Green for Danger: When Freddi is sleeping in her room that is slowly filling with coal gas, there is a shot her hand falling limply over the side of her bed, although she turns out to be merely unconscious and Sanson arrives in time to save her.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Cold Case. Having tracked a Serial Killer to a local park, the detectives are searching for him when they find a woman's hand sticking up out of the ground—she's a victim who once evaded him, but he's clearly tracked her down and finished the job.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Gridlock": In the prologue, as a couple who snuck into the Motorway's fast lane fall victim to the monsters lurking down there, a bloody hand is pressed against the car's windshield.
    • When the Doctor dies permanently in the paralell timeline of "Turn Left", his body is covered with a sheet, but his limp hand falls into view and drops the sonic screwdriver.
    • A gruesome one in "The Caretaker". When the Victim of the Week gets blasted by the Skovox Blitzer, a hand is severed from the arm with charred smoking flesh and bones jutting out.
    • "Heaven Sent" shows a bloody hand fading to ash in the cold open. The same shot is seen multiple times throughout the montage as the Doctor repeatedly goes through the time loop.
  • Used in an On the Next trailer for a Tonight, Someone Dies episode of Downton Abbey, which featured the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic. Subverted, though; the clip of a hand falling limp onto a bed was actually an entirely innocent gesture by a character who fully recovers (though somebody else does die).
  • Also subverted in Firefly, when Mal told Simon that Kaylee had died from the gunshot wound that Simon had previously repaired. After Simon frantically runs down to the infirmary... Kaylee is there, smiling and perfectly happy. Cut to Mal laughing his ass off.
  • When a gasoline smuggler crashes his lorry in Foyle's War, the fire mostly obscures his burning remains—except for his hands on the driver's wheel.
  • In Game of Thrones, the final indicator that Joffrey has been Killed Off for Real is a closeup of his bloodstained fingers twitching and then going still.
  • Money Heist: In the Season 2 premiere, Oslo's left hand ceasing to shake is what shows that Helsinki's Mercy Kill of him was successful.
  • Rome: After Caesar is murdered, his loyal slave Posca is shown hauling a cart through the streets, and Caesar's bloody hand drops from it.
  • Tokusou Sentai Dekaranger The Movie: When Volka is defeated the first time, his hand falls to the floor and the lights in his eyes go out.
  • The Power Rangers franchise gets in on this with the opening episode of Time Force. Alex is killed by Ransik near the end of the pilot, and upon his death we are treated to his hand falling and hitting the ground from two different angles as dramatic music swells.
  • In the Highway to Heaven episode "Keep Smiling," Jane is setting Margaret's hair. As she briefly leaves the room to make tea, Margaret appears to be in some distress. The camera slowly pans down from her troubled face and zooms in on her hand as it falls from the armrest. Jane returns to see that Margaret has suddenly died in her chair, kicking off the plot of the episode.
  • A variation in the Mini Series "The Murder Of Mary Phagan", when we see the dead girl's feet when Newt Lee, the night watchman at the factory where she worked, discovers her body in the basement.
  • When the Camellia Blooms: The series starts with a How We Got Here scene when the body of a woman is discovered on the river bank. As the body is taken away on a stretcher, a hand flops out from under the sheet. On the wrist is a bracelet identical to the one worn by Dong-baek, heroine of the series.

  • Happens in Tower of God after Nia's death, as to confirm Lurker's statement that he is dead. We see his blood covered legs.
  • This happens twice in Kiss Wood after the Professor is shot by a Watcher and only a hand is shown of Ahbon's corpse as its crushed under rubble. Subverted with the latter, as he survives with only his hand injured.
  • In Ravages of Time, this is how Xiao Meng meets his unhappy end, across several pages that culminate thus.
  • Hai An's death in Infinity Game as the rest of his body is obscured by the explosion smoke.

  • Used at the beginning and end (for separate characters) in the music video for Beast's "Breath".
  • In the video for Golden Earring's "Twilight Zone", the protagonist hangs up the phone, then leaves his hotel room, pausing to shove the dangling arm of a corpse into the cabinet he'd presumably hidden a murder victim in.
  • The music video for "Links 2 3 4" by Rammstein ends with a shot of a dead man's right hand, which is in a position similar to a Nazi salute and is swarmed with ants. This ties in to the song's themes of left-wing politics and anti-Nazism (the ant colony representing Communism).


  • In Dead Winter we get a shot of Trenton Bradley's hand still clutching onto his (now emptied) pistol and his police badge embedded into the ground in one of the panels showing how big the explosion Monday caused was.
  • Girl Genius: In the flashback to the night the Other attacked Castle Heterodyne, Agatha's brother and Carson's son were both killed by falling debris and their hands are shown resting on the floor beyond the debris when Carson found them.

    Video Games 
  • One of the endings for BioShock shows this for the protagonist, on his deathbed.
  • The Game Over screen for King of the Monsters shows the arm of a corpse hanging over a wrecked car with the smoldering ruins of a Japanese city in the background.
  • During the early-game Wham Episode of Xenoblade Chronicles 1, the only thing we see of Fiora's likely horrifically-mangled corpse is her arm, before the Mini-Mecha she was riding in is tossed away.
  • In the School Days HQ-exclusive bad ending (seen here), Kotonoha is pushed by Sekai onto train tracks and is fatally hit by the arriving bullet train. Right after the train hits, the scene cuts to Makoto holding the poor girl's torn-off hand
  • The introduction to Animism: Book of the Emissaries has one after a running man is attacked by a wolf.
  • Played with in Haunted Legends 6: The Dark Wishes as Duke Roberto is only believed to be dead due to dark magic, despite receiving one of these during the introduction.
  • Used in conjunction with Raised Hand of Survival during the special animated promotion for Elsword's Lu and Ciel: when Karis kills Ciel this trope plays out, soon followed by the latter.
  • At the start of Final Fantasy XIII, we know that Nora is dead when they zoom in on her hand in Snow's grasp and the fingers go limp. The whole of her is shown when he loses his grip, but it's a signal that she's already gone when she falls.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, as a fatally wounded Elise perishes in Xander's arms, her hand goes limp.
  • The Honor and Glory promotional cinematic for Overwatch includes a shot of a Bastion unit dying with a trembling outstretched hand like this near the end of Reinhardt's rampage through the enemy ranks.
  • The intro to the first case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney ends on a shot of the victim's hand as he sits dead in a chair.

    Western Animation 
  • Season 3 of Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous used this trope to show that the monstrous Scorpios rexes did indeed die as a result of the Jurassic Park Visitor's Center collapsing on top of them, with one of the hybrids' hands (and jaws) protruding lifelessly from the rubble.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) cartoon loved this trope. Standouts include Splinter (who in reality wasn't seriously hurt, although that didn't stop producers from using the shot to suggest it in the episode's promo), Tang Shen (who did).
  • Near the end of the Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures episode "Undersea Urgency", Jonny and other survivors of a doomed Underwater Base (overrun by CHUD-like creatures awakened by a a seaquake), one of surviving scientists tries to go back for one of the dead creatures (For Science!!). Turns out the creature (and it's inhuman maw full of razor-sharp teeth) is Not Quite Dead. Cue this trope.
  • SWAT Kats: The Radical Squadron used this. In "The Metallikats," gangster Katscratch is blasted by Mac Mange's laser gun, and goes crashing into a pile of crates, which collapse down onto him. We see his burned hand sticking out from under them. Then in "Razor's Edge," some of Dark Kat's ninja Mooks throw a guard into another pile of crates, burying him, and we see his twitching hand fumble for, and press, a silent alarm before he apparently dies or passes out.
  • In the Superman theatrical short "Destruction, Inc.", we see the hand of a murdered night watchman sinking into a swamp at the beginning.
  • One battle scene in Transformers: Energon has an unfortunate Autobot do this after being blasted by Tidal Wave.
  • Code Lyoko: In "The Key," after the Schyphozoa has drained Aelita's memory, the girl drops in a Crucified Hero Shot to the floor. The camera focuses on her hand, which reaches for some semblance of life, but then drops back.
  • The DiC Entertainment G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero two-part episode "The Greatest Evil" had the episode's villain, a drug dealer known as the Headman, die from an overdose. The very end of the episode shows his lifeless hand protruding from the rubble of his lair to confirm that the overdose killed him.
  • The Angry Beavers episode "Open Wide for Zombies" ended with Edgar the Swamp Witch drowning in the swamp, the last we see of her being her hand sinking into the marshy depths.
  • Transformers: Prime's second season finale, "Darkest Hour", shows Optimus Prime's hand popping out from under the wreckage of the Autobot base. This eventually turns out to be Subverted, as in the episode after that he turns out to be alive albeit mortally damaged.
  • The Periwig-Maker: A little girl watches as her mother, a victim of The Black Death during the 1665-66 London Great Plague, is loaded onto a corpse cart. The mother's hand and arm flops out from under her shroud as her body is thrown onto the cart, and the little girl sobs.


Video Example(s):


Victor Dies

Victor becomes the victim of a hit-and-run accident, although we don't see a proper glimpse of the impact, only his hand and hat fall into view.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeadHandShot

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