Usually when someone dies in fiction their body is ignored. If they're important (or just important to the plot), you may see them being buried or inspected at a local morgue, but due to the Law of Conservation of Detail they are usually quickly forgotten. Sometimes, though, the deceased gets a lot more attention.
Sometimes a character has a pragmatic reason to kill a dead person again, or is too emotional to stop themselves even though their victim is long past resistance. In this case, however, a character makes a deliberate decision to humiliate or punish the dead person even further. Sometimes they're so angry that death just isn't enough, sometimes they need a Dead Guy on Display to show the public that an enemy is truly, thoroughly defeated, and sometimes they're so evil they want to play with them some more. Spite, revenge, intimidation, and depravity are common motivators for desecrating the dead - for both Heroes and Villains.
It isn't always the physical corpse that's being desecrated; the spirit of the victim can be targeted for further abuse, a grave or monument can be defaced, or the works of the person can be destroyed even if they could be utilized for the betterment of society because it's more important to erase the creator.
The message sent is often dependent on what kind of character does the desecration:
- Villains and Villain Protagonists:
- It's usually a For the Evulz or Kick the Dog moment proving just how depraved they are.
- Affably Evil, Wicked Cultured, and Noble Demons usually avoid this whenever possible because Even Evil Has Standards, so desecrating the dead may point to a Complete Monster.
- It's more common as a threat than as an actual action, both because the villains usually lose or die before they have the hero's corpse to play with and because it's an easy way to show their depravity without actually having to show anything.
- Usually a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment because the dead villain really deserved it, or a case of Pay Evil unto Evil. If it's a Dead Guy on Display, it may simply be to raise morale.
- If not, it's likely a morally gray moment or sign of an approaching If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!-type Moral Event Horizon. To keep them heroic, they can be disturbed by their own actions and look for a way to make up for it.
- May be a sign of Sanity Slippage or morality slippage if they've been pushed into it by a villain's torment or goading.
- Antiheroes / Antivillains:
- Often exists to prove to the audience that they really deserve their darker reputations.
- They may be the Poisonous Friend, doing what they feel has to be done but the morally purer characters can't.
- Any of the above:
- Like any other blatantly obnoxious action, it may be intended to provoke someone (probably the deceased's friends and/or loved ones) into losing their temper and doing something foolish.
Compare this to Kick Them While They're Down (where the victim is usually still alive), Of Corpse He's Alive (where the corpse is used as a puppet to maintain a pretense that the deceased is alive), and There's No Kill Like Overkill (in which the death itself is the abuse).
May overlap with What the Hell, Hero? (if the good guys do this and are called out on it), Creepy Souvenir (when a part of the corpse is kept as a trophy), Dead Guy on Display (when the corpse is displayed publicly, whether mistreated or not), or Last Disrespects (when the abuse happens at the funeral). Eating bits of someone's corpse is a particularly nasty way to desecrate their body: in places which don't have laws specifically forbidding cannibalism, cannibals are tried under desecration of a body. An extremely mild version of corpse abuse might be the Spiteful Spit. Human Resources is when someone extracts something useful from a body - which can overlap with this trope.
Supertrope to Pummeling the Corpse (when a person can't stop beating someone they've already killed because of an emotional breakdown) and Make Sure He's Dead (which is the justified version, and which may overlap with Rasputinian Death in cases where the dead has to be desecrated to keep them that way). Compare Dead Guy Puppet.
As a Death Trope, spoilers may be unmarked. You have been warned.
When a Protagonist Desecrates the Dead:
- Bleach anime episode 272: defied. After Ichigo enters his ultra-powered Hollow form and apparently kills Ulquiorra, he prepares to stab Ulquiorra's body with his zanpakuto. His friend Uryu Ishida grabs Ichigo's arm and pleads with him not to mutilate Ulquiorra's body, warning Ichigo that if he does it he won't be human anymore.
- In the Relight special of Death Note, Light dances on and practically humps L's grave while gloating about his victory over the Great Detective.
Light: What do you think of that, L?! This is my perfect victory! That's right! I WIN!!!
- Sheila did this in the backstory of Superior, taunting Exa with his mother's corpse after having just wiped out his entire village (neither of them saw each other's faces due to the smoke).
- In Gunjo, the Brunette and Blonde visit the Brunette's childhood home, where she proceeds to kick over the funeral shrine for her father, who is shown in an earlier chapter physically and verbally abusing her when she was a teenager.
- In One Piece, Kozuki Oden is shown in the flashback to be using his friend's newly cremated remains to cook a pot of oden and dine on it. But subverted in that it's really his own weird way of Due to the Dead, by having one last meal with his late friend. It also establishes that he's an iconoclast who does things he sees as right, social norms be damned.
- Munchkin has the "Mutilate the bodies" card, which can be played after any combat, allowing its player to go up a level by gratuitously hacking to pieces anything or anyone that fell during the fight.
- In All-New Wolverine #12, Old Man Logan comes across the grave of his universe's version of Gabby, a clone of X-23, in the Wastelands. He proceeds to smash and spit on the headstone, ranting that she doesn't deserve to be remembered. It's later revealed that his universe's Laura and Gabby killed each other, under circumstances that strongly imply Gabby underwent a FaceHeel Turn.
- Frank does this in the final arc of The Punisher MAX, digging up the body of Wilson Fisk's son to bait him out (a Call-Back to when Nicky Cavella did it to the bodies of his own family, see Villains).
- The Boys Spin-Off Butcher, Baker, Candlestickmaker was a series of flashbacks of The Leader Billy Butcher's life told through him reminiscing with his father's corpse at the open-casket funeral of which he was the only attendee. However, since his father was an abusive monster, the story ends with him pissing on his dead dad's face.
- Near the end of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the narration for one panel states Batman decided to quickly pay his last respects to the recently-deceased Joker before fleeing the police. The panel the narration is in shows Batman spitting on said character's corpse.
- A Diplomatic Visit: As explained in chapter 18, Balanced Meal is the founder of the PVE (Pony Vegan Environmentalists, a notorious hate group that targets all non-ponies). When Luna asks where his grave is (with this trope clearly in mind), Celestia (who is equally disgusted by his actions) says that he's buried in a cemetery with considerable magical protections to prevent this from happening, and remarks that had it not been, she would have seen to it that his grave spontaneously combusted right after the funeral; more recently, she's considered asking Discord to do something about said protections so that such desecrations can actually happen.
- AWE Arcadia Bay (Rogue_Demon): When Trench has a psychometric vision of what Nathan did to Rachel, he puts a few rounds from the Service Weapon into the dead man's skull, reducing his head to a bloody paste.
- Development: When Wednesday gives Lydia a human heart from a cadaver as a gift, Lydia declines and insists she returns it. Not because she finds it gross or indecent, but because she has hung around the undead long enough to know that the cadaver would want it back.
- Gamera vs. Zigra. After killing the spiky shark-monster Zigra, Gamera bangs a rock against Zigra's spines like a xylophone, playing the first few notes of his own theme music.
- The Corruptor: After Uncle Benny commits suicide in front of Bobby Vu and his gang (who came to kill him), Bobby instead choose to continue shooting Benny's corpse.
- Sergeant Donowitz has the pleasure of killing Adolf Hitler in the movie theater in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds. The theater is burning, the exits are blocked, and bombs are set to detonate. But that's not enough for "the Bear Jew," who repeatedly changes magazines to continue pumping bullets into Hitler's body.
- In The Searchers, Ethan Edwards demonstrates how much of an anti-hero he is by shooting out eyes of a dead Comanche warrior. He explains to his allies that, according to the Comanche religion, one can't enter the afterlife without eyes, so he's just doomed the dead man to wander the Earth forever.
- One of the last scenes in A Serbian Film is Milos repeatedly bashing the face of his brother Marko's corpse with a statue, even after Marko's skull had cracked open and his brain matter is all over the place, after Milos found out Marko had manipulated him into partaking in a snuff film involving paedophilia and necrophilia, and had raped Milos' wife for good measure.
- In the Spanish film Torrente 3, after killing an Elite Mook with their guns, Torrente and his sidekick not only empty the whole magazine into his body, but they also throw the guns on him, then they spit on him.
- In Troy, Achilles promises to disfigure Hector's corpse after he kills him. After he does the deed, he drags the body behind his chariot and later, we get a close up of Hector's body to see that Achilles made good on his promise.
- A pragmatic variation occurs in The Untouchables (1987), when the eponymous squad has captured one of Al Capone's henchmen and is trying to get him to talk about Capone's finances. When the henchman refuses to talk, Malone wanders outside, grabs the corpse of a Mook killed in the preceding gunfight, and after pretending to threaten to kill him if he won't talk, shoots the corpse through the head, spattering the henchman with gore. The henchman, believing he'd witnessed an actual execution, is very cooperative afterwards.
- Best Seller: After one of Madlock's hitmen kills a witness that Cleve visited to corroborate his story for Meechum, Cleve is so pissed off that he shoots the hitman's already dead body a few more times before exiting the scene.
- In Assamese horror film Kothanodi (The River of Fables) Wicked Stepmother Senehi drags her stepdaughter's corpse by the hair to be buried in the backyard.
- A Dog's Purpose has Bailey wondering what happened to the family cat, and he sees that the family is burying the now-dead cat in the front yard. Not knowing that the cat is dead, Bailey goes outside, digs up the cat's body, and brings it back inside to show them that he found the cat. Elizabeth screams at the sight of this, and Bailey replies "My bad" before heading back outside.
- The Northman: After defeating the undead mound-dweller by decapitation, Amleth shoves the warrior's head between the corpse's legs. And as part of his psychological campaign against Fjölnir, he mutilates the corpses of the men he kills.
- Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia: After learning that Garcia his dead, the protagonist finds his tomb and decapitates the corpse so he can bring the head.
- In The Belgariad, Urgit (the king of Chtol Murgos) mentions having personally buried his father, Taur Urgas, face-down in a ditch. After first slitting his throat, just to be really, really sure he was dead. While Taur Urgas was an ordinary mortal man who'd been dead for quite a long time by that point, he was such an internationally infamous Ax-Crazy brute that everyone considered this to be reasonably fair.
- Pointedly averted in Big Red. The narrator notes that after the dog Big Red had killed Old Majesty, the terrifying bear that had been harassing the country, he didn't tear at or worry the corpse. He simply lay down. The author sees this as nobility of spirit.
- In Doglands, after killing four Angry Guard Dogs, Furgul and Dervla use two of the dog's bodies as beds. They're bony but still more comfortable than sleeping on the cold, grimy floor. It's predominantly a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment as the dogs were attempting to kill Furgul.
- In Hide Me Among the Graves, Christina and her siblings have to find and destroy a small stone statue that provides the physical anchor for an inhuman creature preying on their family. They learn that it was buried with their father — in fact, in their father, so that they're faced with the necessity of digging up his corpse and cutting it open to retrieve the stone.
- Discussed for Laughs in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Arthur Dent threatens to have Mr Prosser (the council worker who knocked Arthur's house down) hung, drawn, and quartered, and then to cut him up into little bits, and then take the little bits and jump on them.
- In Protector of the Small, Keladry normally buries enemy dead before they can be defiled by the Stormwings (see "When other people..." section below), but she allows them to have the Big Bad and his Dragon because they're so monstrous. She also finds a young woman named Peliwin who was taken captive by Scanran soldiers cutting apart the body of a soldier who "hurt" (read: likely raped) her, and gently tells her to stop.
- In The Stolen Throne, Prince Maric puts the puppet king Meghren's head on a spike in front of Fort Drakon in retaliation for Meghren doing the same to Maric's mother Moira the Rebel Queen a few years before that.
- In The Stress of Her Regard, Shelley's attempt to obtain a magical resurrection for his recently-deceased daughter requires him to smuggle her corpse through a security checkpoint disguised as an oversized puppet. And the guards insist on him putting on a show with the puppet before letting him through. The entire experience is deeply unpleasant — and all for nothing, as the resurrection fails.
- Tales For The Midnight Hour: "The Egyptian Coffin" centers around a night guard who habitually messes with the exhibits to assuage his boredom and irritation with his unwanted job. The night the museum transfers him to an Egyptian exhibit, the curator warns him against his usual tricks, because the Egyptians had curses in place for those who disrespected the dead. The guard ignores him and pays the price.
- Discussed in the Trail of Glory novel 1824: The Rivers of War by Eric Flint. After the first battle of Arkansas Post, Sheff has to stop men in his squad from mutilating the corpses of dead freebooters:
At the very end, he found himself using the bayonet—the threat of it, at least—to drive off some of the men of his squad. The killing was done, but they kept on.
"Stop it, boys!" He shifted the musket to his left hand and dragged off one of his privates. "He's dead, Adams. You just mutilatin' yourself now. Obey me, damn you!"
- In the Warrior Cats book Mapleshade's Vengeance, Mapleshade murders Ravenwing, one of the cats she blames for her kits' death. After the other medicine cats bury him, she digs up his body for the crows to feast on him.
- The Way of Kings (first book of The Stormlight Archive): Kaladin ends up mutilating Parshendi corpses and attaching bits of their natural armour to regular armour in order to anger them over disturbing their dead. Normally he wouldn't do something so grisly, but his commanders are actively trying to get him and his men killed, so he goes to whatever lengths necessary to keep them alive. If that means drawing every arrow from the Parshendi archers toward him, so be it.
- In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, after the Wicked Witch of the West melts, Dorothy sweeps her goopy remains out the door. It's not portrayed in a mean spirited manner though. Dorothy just wanted to clean up the mess.
- A Christmas Carol Goes Wrong has Marley falling out of his coffin during the funeral, leading to Scrooge and the undertaker kicking him into the grave.
- On Babylon 5, Vir answers Morden's question "What do you want?" with "I'd like to live just long enough to be there when they cut off your head and stick it on a pike as a warning to the next ten generations that some favors come with too high a price." A couple years later, he gets his wish, as Londo has Morden executed and puts his head on a pike for display on the Palace grounds on Centauri Prime.
- On Bosch, Detective Bosch gets a tip-off that his prostitute mother was murdered decades ago by a man named "Fox" Mitchell. Mitchell was an alias of Arno Epperson, the man was a big-time police informant for narcotics so LAPD protected him from homicide investigation and even gave him a new identity as "Dave Arenson". After Bosch finds out that "Arenson" died of cancer 2 years ago, he visits Epperson's grave and spits on it as he can't ever bring Epperson to justice. Turns out the murderer wasn't Epperson, but his wealthy and well-connected friend, Bradley Walker who would go on to being the Police Commission President.
- Hawaii Five-0: Realizing the North Korean government has given them the wrong dead guy and unwilling to bury a substitute, Steve and Cath journey into North Korea to retrieve the body of a fallen friend. Finding out his corpse has been badly mutilated angers Steve greatly..
- Murdoch Mysteries: In "Winston's Lost Night", Winston Churchill speaks out against the desecration of the tomb of Muhammad Ahmad al-Mahdi in response to someone in a gentlemen's club who praised the action. The story was that Kitchener had ordered the act in revenge for what the Mahdi's troops had done to General Gordon, and the Mahdi's skull was taken from his tomb so Kitchener could "use it as an ink pot." It turns out that this act, carried out by Churchill's friend Reginald Mayfair, was the motive for Mayfair's murder by one of the Mahdi's former soldiers, who happened to be working in a bar where Churchill and Mayfair were drinking.
- In the Ray Bradbury Theater episode "The Handler", embittered small-town mortician Mr. Benedict secretly subjects the bodies of his deceased clients to ironic insults, like coating a fat woman's body in cake frosting or embalming a white racist with black ink.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "Suspicions", it is revealed that the Ferengi have very strict rules about the handling of their dead that precludes medical examinations being performed on their bodies. When Dr. Crusher is convinced that a Ferengi scientist had been murdered, but can find no leads through any other means, she conducts an autopsy to confirm her suspicions, violating Ferengi customs and jeopardizing her commission and licence.
- Star Trek: Voyager. In "Emanations", Chakotay leads an away team to a cobweb-filled burial chamber. Chakotay takes great care to avoid disturbing the dead, even refusing to scan the bodies, only to be told by the Doctor that the cobwebs were a by-product of their decomposition. "In essence Commander, you were strolling through dead bodies." In a further irony, the aliens get annoyed that they didn't scan the bodies, as it would have told them something about what happens after death.
- Trotsky: Trotsky orders his men to use wooden crosses from a nearby graveyard as fuel after his train has been stalled. Outraged funeral goers attack them, only to be killed.
- In Homer's epic poem The Iliad, the Greek hero Achilles slays the Trojan warrior Hector. After doing so, he ties Hector's body to the back of his chariot and races around the Trojan beach as revenge for killing his much-loved cousin and best friend Patrocles, proclaiming Greek superiority to Troy for twelve days and twelve nights. The Trojans do get their revenge, though, and even the Gods themselves are offended by Achilles's actions — it is the involvement of the Gods that prevents Hector's corpse from being further mutilated, and the end of the Iliad involves Hector getting a proper burial by the Trojans.
- The Bible: In 2nd Kings chapter 23, in fulfillment of a prophecy made years before in 1st Kings chapter 13, King Josiah desecrates the bones of the dead priests that served the altars of the idols King Jeroboam I of Israel had set up by burning their bones on the altar to desecrate the altar itself, preventing anyone else from using it. He stops when he comes to the tomb of the prophet who declared that he would desecrate the altar and leaves his tomb alone.
- Discussed in Antigone: the plot is driven by a debate regarding whether or not the eponymous character's brother, Polynices, who died trying to seize a power vacuum, deserved a proper burial or further desecration.
- The physics engine in many games such as The Elder Scrolls series allows the player character to manhandle corpses, but this rarely gets you any repercussion other than a passing comment from the NPCs. It doesn't help that one of the most common ways to get new armor pieces is to peel them off a corpse, leaving said corpse in their skivvies (again, with nary a comment from NPCs).
- Ace Attorney has an example in "Trials and Tribulations" involving Dahlia Hawthorne's spirit, as Phoenix Wright and Mia Fey (who is using Pearl's body) taunt and mock her about her failed crimes in order for her to get out of Maya Fey's body. Dahlia must then spend the rest of her time in the afterlife to forever think about these failures, especially since Mia took great glee in pouring salt on Dahlia's wounds. Since Dahlia was an unrepentant murderer who arranged her own stepsister's death, manipulated the man she'd convinced to perform the murder into committing suicide, and tried to frame Phoenix himself for a murder she committed, this is generally considered one of the highlights of the game.
- Appears a few times in the Assassin's Creed series:
- In Assassin's Creed II, Ezio shakes the corpse of Vieri de Pazzi vigorously and screams rather rudely at his face, and is then rebuked by his uncle for not showing appropriate respect. When he later assassinates Fracesco de Pazzi, he leaves his corpse hanging from the Palazzo della Signoria.
- In Assassin's Creed: Revelations, it's revealed that after murdering Al Mualim for betraying the assassin order, Altair decided to publicly burn his corpse in order to prove he was dead. This greatly troubled Abbas, one of his fellow assassins, who believed Al Mualim's corpse had to remain whole in order for his soul to reach the afterlife. In Altair's defense, it was not an act born out of spite, but for pragmatic reasons, as he wanted to make sure it was not another illusion created by Al Mualim.
- The Binding of Isaac has this as a game mechanic where shops and hidden rooms feature a corpse as the "shopkeeper", and destroying said corpse will modestly increase your odds of encountering a Devil Room at the end of that floor, and also has a chance of rewarding you with 2 pennies or (if you are extremely lucky) the Steam Sale pedestal item.
- In the Fallout: New Vegas DLC Honest Hearts, Joshua Graham creates gruesome totems out of the remains of his enemies, the White Legs tribe, to send a warning to any surviving White Legs who threaten the Dead Horses (another tribe who have elected Joshua as their protector).
- In Heavy Rain, Lauren will spit on the Origami Killer's grave if she survives the game but the killer doesn't.
- Discussed in Star Wars: The Old Republic: At one point the Imperial Agent has to track down and kill a former operative. Since he'd threatened to reveal a number of Kaliyo's secrets as well, after he's dead she says she'd like to kick his corpse around a few times, but she doesn't want the explosive implanted in him to go off.
- Warcraft III: In the expansion, the human leader Lord Garithos, an all-around asshole and racist (directly responsible for the Blood Elves fleeing Lordaeron and allying themselves with the Burning Legion) is finally betrayed by Sylvanas and killed at the end of the Undead campaign. As if this wasn't enough, a bunch of Sylvanas' ghouls immediately start feasting on his corpse. Note that this is completely impossible in regular gameplay (heroes don't leave corpses, and units that are even partially eaten can't be raised back) - he evidently just has that much bad karma stored up.
- In Wolfenstein 3D, B.J. Blazkowicz does this to Adolf Hitler in the climax of the third episode, "Die Fuhrer Die", kicking his head off his remains and spitting on his corpse, a case of Kick the Son of a Bitch if there ever was one.
- Duke Nukem does this often, specially to the game's bosses. His most famous ones involve taking down an alien cyclops, pissing on its eye and then kicking it like a football, and, for another boss, ripping its head off and defecating down its neck.
- In Viscera Cleanup Detail the player must incinerate all body parts in a level, which generally involves shoving them all into a bin and dumping them in a furnace with the rest of the trash. Alternatively the player can steal body parts, throw them around, feed them to native lifeforms, etc.
- Sly 2: Band Of Thieves: During a mission in the fifth episode, Bentley tells Sly to smash the coffin of the Evil Wolf Priestess to free the spirits trapped with her. Naturally, Sly verbally expresses his hesitation in doing such a thing to someone's corpse, but Bentley has to emphasize the "Evil" part to get him on board.
- In Smoldeps Magickal Adventure 2 Even Gayer, the titular character Smoldep kicks peoples gravestones for fun. And also For the Evulz. And also because shes a bit of a Jerkass.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: After discovering Chihiro's body, Byakuya strings it up and leaves a message written in blood on the wall in an effort to draw out a serial killer with a similar MO that he believes is hiding among the students.
- In Schlock Mercenary when Tagon is questioned about his willingness to take a job working security for his old enemy General Xinchub's funeral (actually a cover so they can steal the corpse) he says: "Aside from the money? I want to be sure he's actually down there when I dance on his grave."
- Vaarsuvius in The Order of the Stick. After killing a black dragon for threatening the elf's family, Vaarsuvius animates its head as an undead, targets it with an epic spell that kills its bloodline and all of its extended relatives, taunts it for its failure, and then disintegrates it.
- Early in Squid Ninja, the title character would pose his kills with their fingers up their nostrils, as a calling card of sorts.
- Dragon Ball Z Abridged: Yamcha dies in season 1 against one of the Arc Villain's mooks's suicide attack. In season 3 after the surviving protagonists from season 1 find a magical wish-granting dragon on another planet to revive the fallen comrades, Yamcha asks his ex-girlfriend where they did buried his original body. Bulma, the ex, replies coldly, "Buried?" Cue screen shift to the original corpse still in the crater left by the explosion.
- At the end of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Batman spits on The Joker's corpse. This is an example of Kick the Son of a Bitch, since said villain absolutely deserved so much worse.
- In the Animated Adaptation of Planet Hulk, the Red King is humiliated upon death in several different ways. First, the Hulk utterly wipes the floor with him in their battle, only to hold off at the last minute so that the reformed Caiera may get the last blow. Caiera kills him by infecting him with his Spike parasite, causing him to mutate into a zombie. Recognizing him as infected, his own robotic guards turn against him and incinerate his corpse.
- Titan Maximum: After the heroes defeat a monster, Willie makes the robot urinate on it.
- In The Venture Bros., Brock Sampson is attacked by an Egyptian mummy. After beating the crap out of it, he pisses on it, saying that the mummy must be completely desecrated or else it'll just come back to life again.
When an Antagonist Desecrates the Dead:
- In Akame ga Kill!, this happens to Chelsea. First, she has her bloodied and decapitated head placed on a pole in a town for any friends, allies, and strangers to see. Afterward, her body is dissected and whatever remnants of her corpse that remained were fed Koro.
- From Naruto we have a variation that crosses over with Kick Them While They Are Down. When Gato arrives on the scene after Haku's death, the very first thing he does is kick Haku's body in the face as payback for Haku breaking his arm while wishing that he was still alive to feel the hit, much to Naruto's horror. This scene makes watching his Karmic Death at Zabuza's hands all the more satisfying.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dio desecrates Jonathan Joestar's body by severing Jonathan's head and attaching his own so he can claim it for himself. Supplementary materials reveal that Dio actually felt conflicted over doing this to one of the only people he ever respected.
- Walter cements his FaceHeel Turn in Hellsing in truly despicable fashion by doing this to Anderson, who had just received a send-off worthy of a Worthy Opponent, by treading on his ashes and then calling him "garbage". This was enough to send Yumie, one of Anderson's most loyal subordinates, into an utter fury that got her sliced apart, as well as utterly eradicate any respect that Alucard may have had for him.
- Wyald's Dead Guy on Display antics in the Black Dog Knights arc from Berserk mark him as probably the most despicable Apostle the Hawks have fought, even more so because the bodies he uses are innocent people that he and his men brutalized and dismembered for helping the Hawks.
- In Birthright, Kallista does this to Kylen after he is killed by Mikey, by possessing his corpse and using it to tear itself apart.
- In one arc of The Punisher, the Big Bad claims that after he's found and tortured Frank to death, he'll rape his corpse for a year.
- Nicky Cavella famously dug up and pissed on the remains of Frank's family in The Punisher MAX, which he did for the purpose of pissing Frank off. It worked. Frank's response was killing every criminal in the city that he could until the city agreed to rebury them before then going after him.
- Saga: After the Time Skip in issue 55, The Will presents Marko's skull to Gwendolyn, who appreciates it so much she strips down and has sex with The Will right in front of it.
- In "King Goldenlocks", a king orders his servants to take his son Goldenlocks to the woods, kill him and mutilate the body, expecting them to leave the corpse to rot on the spot.
- Code Prime: Like in canon, Megatron has no problem using Dark Energon to raise the dead as Terrorcons to do his bidding, but what seriously crosses the line of this trope is when he takes Marianne's preserved corpse and uses cybernetic augmentation and Dark Energon to revive it as a mindless puppet of his will, which he uses to operate the Dark Queen Knightmare. Seeing this outrages everyone, and nearly drives Lelouch into an emotional breakdown.
- In Dear Diary, a group of Team Plasma grunts decide to desecrate the graves of Blair's dead Pokémon out of frustration with Professor Juniper not cooperating with them. Mauve and the reserve Pokémon of Blair's team decide to stop him.
- Fairy May Cry: The sequel story, Devil's Retribution, reveals that the Order of the Sword headed by Sanctus had found Sparda's corpse years ago, and had been using it for all sorts of experiments, most notably impregnating a woman with his DNA and reproductive organs, allowing Nero to be born. Everybody in Fairy Tail, especially Sparda's son Dante, is enraged when they learn the news, and Zeref, who was friends with Sparda, states that their actions are beyond forgiveness.
- The Flash Sentry Chronicles: Malafear, the Big Bad of Dragon's Awakening, murders Fira, the wife of Silverbolt, by stealing her soul and mockingly compliments Silverbolt on picking a "good one", only to kick her dead body away and let it land in an undignified heap while saying her element power is of no value to him. This sends Silverbolt into a rage and attack Malafear. This also causes Spike, who is witnessing these events via a Pensieve Flashback, to go into shock upon witnessing the death of his mother.
- While neither family member is sympathetic, in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: 25 Years Later Manny sets Frank's grave on fire.
- In Licence to Kill, drug kingpin Franz Sanchez captures a Hong Kong agent who he believed tried to assassinate him (in fact, it was an unrelated plot by James Bond to avenge his friend Felix Leiter). The agent commits suicide by Cyanide Pill before he can be questioned, and Sanchez shoots his corpse several times to vent his anger.
- The French Foreign Legion film March Or Die from 1977 has young Englishman Fred Hastings captured by the hostile Rif tribe and crucified on a Saint Andrew's cross. When the Legionnaires arrive in formation to retrieve the body, one of El Krim's men begins abusing the corpse to further humiliate the Legionnaires.
- Panic Room. After getting his face burned in the home robbery, Junior tries to cut his losses and split. Upon learning that there's more money in the safe than Junior had told the other two robbers, Raoul shoots him in the head. He drags Junior's body indoors and shoots the corpse again out of spite.
- In Demon Knight, Brayker Dies Wide Open. Jeryline respectfully closes his eyes before refilling the Key with his blood and taking his place as the new Demon Knight. When the Collector finds Brayker's body, he mockingly opens the eyes.
- It is revealed in 300: Rise of an Empire that Xerxes decapitated Leonidas as he laid dead, right after the events of the first film.
- In the 1943 Film Serial Secret Service in Darkest Africa a German warship is given permission to bury their dead on neutral soil. Instead they dump the bodies overboard and fill the coffins with explosives which their agent can pick up later. Sailors are buried at sea of course, but it's clearly meant to show the callousness of the evil Nazis even to their own.
- The Yautja from the Predator films skin their prey and dangle the body upside down, or simply rip the head and spinal cord and keep it as a trophy. Subverted because among the Yautja (who have Blue-and-Orange Morality) this treatment is a sign of an honourable kill, especially if they take the skull (reserved only for the Worthiest Opponents). Played straight with Yautja Badbloods, individuals who have severely violated the species' honour code and brought disgrace to the species, usually by killing children, pregnant females or other dishonourable prey - these outcasts are hunted across the galaxy and when caught, are tortured to death and the head is removed and thrown away as a final insult to the offender.
- Harry Potter:
- In Goblet of Fire, Voldemort rolls over Cedric Diggory's dead body with his foot after ordering Peter Pettigrew to kill him, while mocking it. Harry is understandably pissed.
Voldemort: Such a handsome boy...
- In Deathly Hallows, as in the book, Voldemort feeds Charity Burbage's corpse to Nagini. Later, he breaks open Dumbledore's tomb to steal the Elder Wand.
- In Goblet of Fire, Voldemort rolls over Cedric Diggory's dead body with his foot after ordering Peter Pettigrew to kill him, while mocking it. Harry is understandably pissed.
- The Cinder Spires: Set in a massive tower named Albion, infiltrating soldiers from Spire Aurora happen upon a young exterminator who was taking an extra job alone. After he is brutally tortured but still alive, the violent and dangerous woman who tortured him tells the lead Auroran to take the man and send him into a nest of young monsters called Silkweavers to hide the remain evidence of her torture on the body and then dispose of what remains where his people can find it and assume he simply was overwhelmed by the monsters. The officer and his close friend find they cannot willingly send a man into such a fate to die, and instead has the exterminaor's neck snapped cleanly before sending it up now to be desecrated. When the heroes happen upon the wake for the exterminator, they realize his neck was snapped and so cleanly it couldn't have been done by the monsters.
- Discussed in the fourth book of Tales of the Magic Land: Urfin Jus incites his army by claiming their enemies wiped out a garrison left to control them, and fed their bodies to pigs. (Of course, the army turns on him as soon as they see the garrison members playing volleyball with the supposed murderers).
- Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton" ends with the title character's killer stomping on his face.
She had drawn a little gleaming revolver, and emptied barrel after barrel into Milverton's body, the muzzle within two feet of his shirt front. He shrank away and then fell forward upon the table, coughing furiously and clawing among the papers. Then he staggered to his feet, received another shot, and rolled upon the floor. 'You've done me', he cried, and lay still. The woman looked at him intently, and ground her heel into his upturned face.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the corpses of Robb Stark and Greywind are both beheaded, and Greywind's head is placed on Stark's body. Meanwhile, Catelyn's body is stripped naked and thrown in a moat.
- In Warrior Cats: Mapleshade's Vengeance, after Mapleshade murders the ThunderClan medicine cat Ravenwing at the Moonstone, where the medicine cats gather at every half-moon, the other medicine cats bury him there. Once they're gone, Mapleshade comes over to Ravenwing's grave and digs his corpse back up so that the crows can eat his body.
- Better Call Saul: After Nacho gives a final "screw you" speech to both the Salamancas, including telling Hector that he messed with his heart medication to cause his stroke and resulting paralysis, and Gus Fring before blowing his own brains out to deny either group the satisfaction of killing him. Hector then shoots Nacho's corpse several more times in anger.
- Doctor Who. The Master uses his Tissue Compression Eliminator to shrink people down to tiny size, carrying the corpse around in a matchbox or just casually tossing them aside.
- Elementary episode "Dead Man's Switch" has blackmailer Charles Augustus Milverton being killed and when the body is found his face has been stamped in. Unlike the book this is because the killer, Anthony Pistone, wanted to hide the scar that has inflicted from his ring, which would prove that they had previous contact and he was in on the blackmailing.
- Game of Thrones:
- After Robb Stark is assassinated, the Bolton soldiers sew his wolf's severed head onto his decapitated body and parade him around in triumph.
- Catelyn Stark barely fares any better, with her throat slit and thrown naked into a nearby river, making a mockery of the Viking Funeral her House usually prefers.
- Obara and Nymeria Sand are killed with their own weapons and then pinned to the prow of a ship by her spear or hung by her whip, respectively, albeit these two thoroughly deserved it.
- After Jeor Mormont is killed, the mutineers of the Night's Watch take over Craster's Keep and Karl Tanner drinks wine from Jeor's skull, as well as talking to it like it's a puppet.
- In Salamander, the loathsome hit-man Noel kills an incorruptible judge investigating the Salamander conspiracy. His blameless PA was in the wrong place at the wrong time, so he kills her too. As an afterthought, the corpses are stripped and placed in a sexually degrading position to further humiliate them, to allow the popular press something salacious to grab onto and divert attention from the reasons for the killing, and basically just for a laugh.
- Played with in Space: Above and Beyond where the alien Chigs mutilate human corpses. At first it's assumed to be For the Evulz or scientific curiosity, but it turns out they just misunderstood the Gospel as meaning that humans can come back to life after being killed.
- Star Trek: Voyager. Invoked in "Nemesis". The episode features a war between two alien species, the monstrous-like Kradin, and the human-looking Vori. A Vori commander lists the many atrocities the Kradin commit, including regularly desecrating the dead. It later turns out the episode is spent in a brainwashing camp, used to convince people the Kradin are Always Chaotic Evil. At the end Janeway confesses she does not know if the Kradin commit any of those crimes, but they accuse the Vori of the same things.
- Attila. Flavius Aetius presents the young Attila's chief with one of his men who has been tortured as a pretext for taking on a rival tribe. Attila accuses Flavius of having inflicted the torture marks himself as they've been done post-mortem.
- Hannibal: A tactic of several Serial Killers.
- Hannibal Lecter himself likes to arrange his victims' corpses as macabre art pieces to flaunt his victory — and if they're lucky, they're dead before he starts. Standouts include pincushioning people with dozens of implements as an homage to the Wound Man, presenting Beverly Katz's corpse in thin vertical slices, and folding a man's inside-out body into a giant origami heart as a gesture to Will.
- Lawrence Wells "retires" from killing by exhuming all his victims and assembling their bodies into a gruesome totem pole. It's both a bid to Get into Jail Free and a way to flaunt that he'd gotten away with murdering people For the Evulz for thirty years.
- In The Dao of the Awakened, in the letter notifying Hua Yin that Lin Mao, the man responsible for his Career-Ending Injury, was Driven to Suicide, it is stated that his corpse will be fed to dogs.
- In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, a flashforward shows the sociopathic Melissa dancing around the corpses of the Rogers High staff and students. She deliberately misses a step so she can enjoy the sensation of digging her heel into one of the bodies.
- Fen Quest: When Fen joins the Dragon Army, he's sent to meet his unit in catacombs where a seditious gang is desecrating the tombs, with the explicit goal that the restless souls may spook the civilian population. Fen notices the dead sometimes fight back, spilled ashes rising to choke the perpetrator.
- The Murderverse: Played for Laughs in Brothers in Arms 3 — after Vivi Elakha is murdered, their corpse is posed to look like it's dabbing.
- In the Warhammer universe, the forces of Chaos are very fond of this trope - they generally make grotesque trophies of their fallen foes, often decorating their armor spikes with the heads.
- In Pathfinder, spells reanimating the dead are universally evil. The huecuva in particular is created from the corpse of an evil cleric, but appropriately skilled necromancers can turn even good clerics into the undead, which is considered blasphemy of the highest order.
- In the end of Macbeth, Macduff severs the eponymous Villain Protagonist's head after he has slain him and has it paraded through the castle.
- Titus Andronicus. Aaron boasts of doing this For the Evulz.
Oft have I digg'd up dead men from their graves,
And set them upright at their dear friends' doors,
Even when their sorrows almost were forgot;
And on their skins, as on the bark of trees,
Have with my knife carved in Roman letters,
"Let not your sorrow die, though I am dead."
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
- Monokuma considers doing this to Sakura's body after he found out she broke down the door to an important room the students weren't supposed to see before she died.
- Junko does this with her sister's body, first impaling it with a knife to stage a fake murder, and later blowing it up with a bomb to prevent anyone from realizing the setup.
- Dragon Age: Origins: In the Return to Ostagar DLC, you find former King Cailan's naked, bloodied corpse strung up in a morbid display of metal debris shaped like ironic wings. You can then burn the corpse in a funeral pyre... or further desecrate it by leaving it to the wolves... or leave it as a monument to Darkspawn art. Tellingly, that last one angers most of the party, with the exception of Zevran.
- Elden Ring: While exactly how the Loathsome Dung Eater mutilates the corpses of his victims is never completely clear, it's apparently so terrible that the souls of his victims can't reincarnate or move on. Which, for equally unclear reasons, is exactly his goal.
- In Ghost of Tsushima, Jin can find corpses of villagers and samurai alike left impaled on trees or strung up from branches. The impact of this is seen most poignantly in one of Lady Masako's missions, where she has an utter breakdown on seeing her sons hanging from a cliff.
Lady Masako: They strung them up like animals!
- Then there's the assault on the castle, where Jin beheads a captain only to grab his head and shake it at the fleeing soldiers. His uncle is not pleased.
- In Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver, Kain broke into the Tomb of the Sarafan, from which he rose his six lieutenants as vampires from the bodies within. He also took the time to deface the headstone meant for the missing Malek; prominent claw marks mar it.
- Ninja Gaiden II: When Genshin loses to Ryu for the final time and dies, Elizébet kicks him in the head and spits on his pride. Ryu is anything but pleased.
Elizébet: I gave you the everlasting life of a fiend, yet you threw it away! Undone by your pathetic sentimentality.
- Warcraft III:
- A corpse that's been targeted by the health-restoring Cannibalize ability can no longer be targeted by the Resurrection ability (or any ability that works on corpses).
- At the end of the expansion's Undead campaign, Garithos is killed on Sylvanas' orders, and her ghoul bodyguards start chomping on his body. Also a case of Cutscene Power to the Max, as hero units don't leave corpses.
- In Viscera Cleanup Detail some of the alien races deliberately desecrate human bodies, such as the plant mutants in Hydroponics Hell who used dismembered limbs and blood to create ritual circles.
- Kill Six Billion Demons:
- Incubus performed an interesting example of this trope: Their teacher was a Cynic philosopher and wanted their body dealt with in the same way as Diogenes (to whit, letting wild dogs eat the corpse). So when said master died, Incubus did exactly that; chopped the body in pieces and fed it to wild dogs. Whether they did it as an intentional desecration, being too Literal-Minded in their master's teachingsnote or as a genuine mark of respect is left up in the air, though their fellow student Maya clearly views it as the first especially since Incubus killed said master.
- Jagganoth believes in a philosophy that states the body is only a shell that houses the being's death, which grows inside it like a seed: Once one's death has overtaken the body and the soul has moved on, the body is of no further concern. Consequently, while Jagganoth always kills as quickly and as painlessly as he can with no gloating or fuss, the ensuing body isn't always in a fit state for burial. He decapitates Mammon and tears his skull asunder, and then crushes Mottom to death and incinerates her body, in both cases to absorb their Magus Keys as quickly as possible.
When Other Characters Desecrate the Dead:
- Transmetropolitan: After vice-president Alan Schact was revealed as a practicing pedophile by Spider Jerusalem and committed suicide large mounds of human bodily waste were found piled on his grave. A leaked report claimed Spider's DNA was found in the turds.
- The Mountain and the Wolf: The Wolf decapitates, guts, (and castrates in the case of Ramsay Bolton and Euron Greyjoy), and rips out the hearts of his victims. While it comes across as pointless cruelty on his part, they're actually sacrifices for his gods.
- In Book IX of The Thebaid, the Thebans do everything in their power to capture Tydeus' corpse and cut it into so many bits that it will be impossible to give him a burial or a pyre. Considering his dying act, their hatred is at least understandable.
- In the Tortall Universe, this is the entire purpose of metal-winged immortals called Stormwings: they defecate on and claw battlefield corpses to pieces to leave a stinking, rotten mess. (They were created by a mage in an effort to deter humans from warfare, but it didn't work.)
- Forever Amber mentions this trope as being averted in the case of Black Jack Mallard and the two criminals hanged with him, whose corpses were "treated with respect and not, as often happened, carried through the streets and mangled beyond recognition."
- While A Song of Ice and Fire has too many examples to list of Dead Guy on Display (see that trope for specifics), a more extreme version of corpse desecration is performed by Strong Belwas following his Combat by Champion against a Meereenese nobleman. In view of thousands of spectators, he cuts off his dead opponent's head, then squats to defecate in the direction of the city and wipes himself with the man's cloak. Then he loots the corpse and kills the man's horse. Notably, he was deliberately chosen as Danaerys' champion for his lack of "honour", being a freed gladiator, so even if the slavers' champion had won the fight it wouldn't have reflected well on him; as such, the defeat was already humiliating even before the desecration began.
- One episode of Murdoch Mysteries mentions a British army unit that dug up the corpse of an old foe and beheaded it. The victim is the soldier who did the actual beheading, slain by a retired partisan of said foe after a chance meeting.
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc Byakuya Togami comes across Chihiro Fujisaki's lifeless body. Rather than telling others what he saw he decides to crucify Chihiro's body to make it look like the Serial Killer Genocide Jack had murdered Chihiro. Why did he do this? Because one, he wanted to expose Genocide Jack as Toko Fukawa's Split Personality, and two, because, in his eyes, it made the Deadly Game more interesting.
- In Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair after Mikan Tsumiki kills Hiyoko Saionji, who had been bullying her ever since they met (although this is not the reason why she kills her), Mikan ties the knot of Hiyoko's obi to the front of her kimono, which was how prostitutes used to wear their kimono, as it makes it easier to take them on and off. Mikan is non-verbally calling Hiyoko a "trashy skank", which was one of Hiyoko's favourite insults for Mikan.
- Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas ends with Officer Frank Tenpenny's body being reportedly stripped naked and mutilated by several of Los Santos's homeless.
- Halo: If you get overwhelmed and killed, Covenant enemies will do this to your corpse.
- In PVP, some players like to teabag their fallen opponents as further humiliation.
- One mission in the first Mass Effect involves a man trying to get his wife's body back after she's killed in action so he can properly bury her, but the Alliance wants to keep her body to do tests on it since they don't have much data on Geth weapons, which she was killed by. Whether or not her husband gets her back is up to the player's actions.
- Ask A Mortician:
- Several videos in her "iconic corpse" series involve people who have had their bodies stolen, dismembered or otherwise violated after death.
- Her video "Protecting Trans Bodies In Death" recounts the story of a trans woman who died suddenly, and whose body was made up to look like a man at the behest of a transphobic estranged relative (who was technically next of kin because she was too young to have written a will). The video goes on to give advice on how trans folk can make arrangements to avoid this.
- DEATH BATTLE!
- Mixed examples occur in the Dream SMP:
- A heroic example occurs in Season 2 — during Jschlatt's funeral, which no one took seriously, people started looting his coffin (which — in the meta — was a chest filled with items renamed to be Schlatt's body parts, since this takes place in Minecraft), notably both Tommy and Tubbo started dual-wielding Schlatt's bones and Quackity took his heart before straight-up eating it. It just goes to show how much everyone on the server hates Schlatt when everyone involved in desecrating his corpse gets away with it.
- An antagonistic example occurs in Season 3 — after receiving the news that Tommy was brutally murdered by Dream, Bad, Ant and Punz (while Brainwashed and Crazy by The Egg) decide to celebrate by throwing a party in Tommy's house, placing down a cake and swapping out the floor from grass to a garish checkerboard pattern of yellow concrete and quartz. When Puffy finds them, tears into them and kicks them out, they decide to rent a room in Tommy's hotel instead to continue celebrating.
- Mentioned in the "Sternn" segment of Heavy Metal, where Captain Sternn is on trial for multiple charges of murder, piracy, and rape. His attorney urges Sternn to plead guilty from the outset, hoping to avert this trope.
Charlie: The best we can hope for is to get you buried in secret, so your grave don't get violated.
- In Things Mr. Welch Is No Longer Allowed to Do in an RPG:
1167. I can stop rolling [damage dice] at 7x dead.