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Disposing of a Body

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"Take away the horror of the situation. Take away the tragedy of her death. Take away all the moral and ethical considerations you've had drummed into you since childhood, and what are you left with? A 105 lb. problem."
Robert Boyd, Very Bad Things

Following a death, either accidental or deliberate, no matter how skilfully the responsible party covers it up, there remains the problem of disposing of the most obvious and most damning piece of evidence for the crime: the body itself. (There have been jurisdictions where no corpse means no murder.)

A well-designed Death Trap may include its own way to eliminate the victim's corpse, thus combining the two tropes.

There are numerous popular methods for doing this:

A common way to indicate that a bad guy is not to be messed with is if they have an original and well-thought-through method in place to entirely obliterate a human body if needed. This indicates either that they're Crazy-Prepared, or that it's something they frequently find themselves having to do.


Pretty much any action movie with a significant body count won't even bother with this trope; the exception is if it's supposed to be taking place under The Masquerade, in which case The Men in Black may send in a Cleanup Crew to do the job.

See Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie, in which any post-mortem hijinks are the direct request of the deceased, and Of Corpse He's Alive, when someone tries to pretend a dead body... isn't.

Contrast Dead Guy on Display, when the body is deliberately put somewhere it will be seen, often to send a message to the person who finds it.

This is a Death Trope; spoilers ahoy.


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  • A Doritos ad has a man see his dog burying something, which he quickly recognizes as the family cat's collar. Then the dog is up in his face, growling, and pushes a bag of Doritos with a note reading "You didn't see nuthin" towards him. At the end of the ad, we hear the man's wife asking "Have you seen the cat?"; the man looks up and sees the dog, outside the door, another bag of Doritos in his mouth.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: In Curse-Killing Chapter, Miyo Takano nonchalantly lectures Keiichi about the proper technique for disposing of the body after committing murder.
  • Black Lagoon has Sawyer the Cleaner, a Cute Mute Perky Goth who removes dead bodies for people by cutting them up with a chainsaw. As Roannapore is such a Wretched Hive, this is less to keep the police from catching the killers (because the cops are all thoroughly corrupt) and more to keep the bodies from stinking.
  • Used tragically in The Gods Lie. After her guardian and grandfather's death, 11-year old Suzumura has no clue what to do other than bury the body in her family's garden and take care of her little brother and herself alone until her Disappeared Dad comes back. It's a shallow grave that the protagonist accidentally digs up.

    Comic Books 
  • The EC Comics story "Cold Cuts."
    • Likewise in "...And All Through the House" wherein the matter is somewhat more pressing, due to the presence of a Serial Killer outside the house who our matricidal "heroine" can't simply call the police about.
  • The "Kitchen Irish" arc in Garth Ennis' The Punisher MAX has an old guy who used to do this for the old Irish mob - his method being cutting the body into lots and lots of little pieces. For example, he points out the importance of covering the entire work area with trash bags prior to cutting - as well as doing it naked so as not to catch evidence in one's clothing.
  • In both the comic and the film version of the Sin City story "The Big Fat Kill," Dwight and the girls of Old Town learn that the abusive scumbag that they just killed was a hero cop. Since this could ignite an all-out Mob War they need to make the body disappear so nobody is even sure he's actually dead. They set about disposing of him and his buddies by having Dwight dump them into the Santa Yolanda Tar Pits. Things... don't go to plan.
  • Transmetropolitan: When Spider Jerusalem realizes that he's inspired The Smiler to murderous rage, he acquires Nanomachines designed to break human tissues and clothing down to monoatomic vapor, knowing he'll have to kill more than a few CIA assassins.

    Fan Fiction 
  • Camp Nightmare turns this Up to Eleven: the staff bathroom houses dozens of child bodies.
  • In Black Queen, Red King, the Earth Changelings eat their kin's dead bodies and those of the humans they kill in order to keep the police and other humans from finding them. The main character also eats his own severed arm to keep it from being found.note 
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Bolts from the Blue!, after seeing the end result of a werewolf attack on the several Hogwarts students, Madame Bones and Head Auror Rufus Scrimgeour decide that if anyone from the Ministry was responsible for the bloodshed they would personally help Harry Potter dispose of the bodies of the perpetrators.
  • In How the Light Gets In: Sam and Dean at one point talk about when Laurel was in recovery in the hospital (but didn't want her family to know), and Sara decided that Dean "killed her, chopped her up, and dissolved her body in acid in the bathtub."
    • Later in the same chapter, Sara thinks back to her time in the League of Assassins. Their method of disposing of bodies apparently was "the best place to bury a body is in a pre-existing grave".
  • Aldon Rosier in The Rigel Black Chronicles seems quite unfazed by the prospect of disposing of Lee Jordan's body before a teacher arrives, but fortunately he's not actually dead.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Simpsons Movie has a gag where dumping in Lake Springfield was prohibited just as Fat Tony and his goons were about to dump a bag with a dead body inside into it.
    Fat Tony: Very well, I shall put my yard trimmings in a car compactor.
    Lou: Chief, I think there was a dead body in there.
    Chief Wiggum: I thought so too until he said "yard trimmings". You gotta learn to listen, Lou.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Casino gives a very insightful lecture on the subject (straight hole/ground burial)
    Sam It's in the desert where lots of the town`s problems are solved.
    Nicky Got a lot of holes in the desert... and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. Except you gotta do it right. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise, you're talking about a half hour or 45 minutes of diggin'. And who knows who`s gonna be comin' along in that time? Before you know it, you gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.
  • Weekend at Bernie's demonstrates an alternative approach to body disposal.
  • In the post-apocalyptic black comedy Delicatessen, tenants of Clapet's apartment building can buy cheap meat if they lay off the questions.
  • Subverted in the film Shattered where the killers dumped a body in a chemical vat - if they'd not been in such a hurry they might have seen the sign saying Formaldehyde.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Jules and Vincent dispose of the body of Marvin, who Vincent shot in the face, in a car compactor.
  • Ditto in Goldfinger, where a gangster who opted out of Goldfinger's Evil Plan is assassinated, courtesy of Oddjob.
  • In the Spanish film Volver, a woman hides her husband's corpse in the freezer of a restaurant while the owner is away after her daughter kills him in self-defense when he tried to molest her.
  • In every version of Sweeney Todd, Todd disposes of his victims by delivering them to his butcher neighbour to grind into meat pies.
  • Me, Myself & Irene has the hero and Love Interest find a shovel, quicklime, and lawn darts in the trunk of their car, making them think that the hero's split personality was planning to kill her and hide the body. When "Hank" resurfaces he points out that they stole this car from a Dirty Cop, he was probably planning to kill all of them.
  • Le père Noël est une ordure ("Santa Claus Is a Stinker"), a cult French film adapted from a stage play, has the dead body cut into small chunks, individually wrapped in festive Christmas wrapping; the chunks are then launched into the enclosures of various carnivores at the zoo.
  • Psycho has the in-a-trunk-in-a-car-in-a-lake variant.
  • In Rear Window, after a man kills his wife, he gets the body out of the apartment by cutting it up and smuggling it in a briefcase in three trips before dumping the parts into the river.
  • In The Reckless Moment, Lucia finds Darby's dead body and decides to throw it in the ocean nearby her house.
  • In the famous climactic scene of Fargo, Grimsrud is caught in the act of disposing of the body of his double-crossed partner, Showalter, via wood-chipper.
  • Eating Raoul uses the Eat the Evidence variety. The clue is in the title.
  • In Fried Green Tomatoes, Big George and Sipsy know that it doesn't matter why they killed a white man, all that matters is that they did and they'll be strung up for it. So, to cover it up Big George starts slaughtering the hogs a little early for his barbecue.
  • Shallow Grave presented the issue to a group of friends when their recently-acquired renter keels over in his room. They end up chopping him to pieces and burying him in a shallow grave. Then things start getting worse...
  • In The Ladykillers (1955), the criminals dispose of the ever-accumulating bodies by taking them to a nearby railway bridge and dumping them on passing freight trains. In the 2004 remake, set on the Mississippi, the same but with a landfill barge.
  • The German Black Comedy Drei Chinesen mit dem Kontrabass has the protagonist and his friends with the body of his fiancee which he isn't sure whether he killed her or not. He didn't. So they cut the body up and borrow a grain mill from the Granola Girl next door to shred the bones.
  • In the film noir Rider On The Storm, the heroine kills a rapist in her house, and then calmly proceeds to dump his corpse in the ocean. The lack of a body drives most of the plot. It's never discussed why she doesn't, say, call the police.
  • The Trouble with Harry is that he's dead, several people think that they did it, and none of them want his body found anywhere that might incriminate them.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2 the South African baddie invites one of his hapless henchmen into his office which is covered in plastic for an apparent renovation. The Dragon then shoots him in the head and wraps him up in the plastic. This becomes a Brick Joke when he's being chewed out later by the boss and keeps looking down at his feet. "I'm checking to see I'm not standing on plastic."
  • In GoodFellas, the boys bury a dead body in a relatively shallow grave and have to go back and dig him up six months later when they find out that that area is going to be developed and they'd certainly find the body — this is very bad for them because said body was a made man, and if their boss finds out, their lives are forfeit.
  • Nicolas Winding Refn's Pusher 3 includes a particularly long and gruesome example when Milo and his old comrade Radovan dispose of two bodies by butchering them in his restaurant.
  • Very Bad Things is a Black Comedy about a bachelor party trying to cover up the fact that a stripper died in their hotel room.
  • Desert Heat features bodies being dumped into a canyon from the bed of a truck multiple times.
  • In Domestic Disturbance Vince Vaughn disposes of Steve Buscemi's body (this happens to Buscemi a lot) by incinerating it in a brick kiln. When the young protagonist immediately reports this to the police they handwave it away by saying that an investigation would entail expert criminal pathology.
  • One of the final scenes of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me is Leland disposing of the body of Laura Palmer, by wrapping her in a tarp and pushing her into the river. This, naturally, leads right into the opening scene of the TV series, to which the film is a prequel.
    Pete: She's dead. Wrapped in plastic.
  • In Barton Fink, we never find out what Charlie does to get rid of Audrey's body, but the police find the headless body soon afterwards and reveal that he's really "Madman" Mundt, a wanted serial killer. It's heavily implied that her head is in the box he leaves in Barton's room.
  • This sets off the plot in I Know What You Did Last Summer since what the characters did was try to dispose of the body of a hit-and-run victim.
  • Nikita. The psychotic Victor the Cleaner is called in to fix up a hit that's gone wrong. After pouring Hollywood Acid over several bodies in the bathtub, he's pissed off when one body starts thrashing about as he's not actually been killed.
  • In How to Get Rid of Cellulite, the protagonists plan to get rid of a body by cutting it up, tying it up to weather balloons and allowing them to float across the border. They first test the method using beef with GPS locators.
  • In Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law, Zak (Played by Tom Waits) is badgered by a petty hood to "drive a car crosstown" for a thousand bucks. Halfway there, he's stopped by cops, who beeline for the car trunk, which contains a body. Obviously in on it, the cops arrest Zak, who, needless to say, has no explanation for either the car or the body.
  • In the 1973 B-Movie The Baby, the female Wadsworths end up being buried in the Gentry's backyard, with a pool being built over the top of the grave. Worse, Mrs. Wadsworth was actually Buried Alive, having been pitched into the hole with her daughters' corpses after getting her legs broken before the hole was filled in!
  • Rob Roy. When Grahame is killed, Rob tells one of his men to cut open his belly, put a rock in it and drop the corpse in the lake.
  • In Ariel, Mikkonen requests to be buried at a dump after he's been stabbed. Kasurinen obliges him.
  • Fright Night 2: New Blood: Charley sees Gerri disposing of one of her victims after she makes sure there are no cops around, wrapped up in a garbage bag.
  • The Big Bad in Ant-Man uses a Shrink Ray to murder a troublesome S.H.I.E.L.D. official in a company restroom and (to add insult to injury) scoops up what little remains there are in a paper towel and flushes it down the toilet.
  • In Andhadhun, Simi and Manohar stuff Mr. Sinha's body in a suitcase to get it out of the apartment and later dump it off a bridge.
  • Wild Things 2: Brittney and Maya dispose of their fellow conspirator Julian Haynes when he's about to crack under pressure, then dump his body in an alligator-infested swamp. An insurance investigator who was tracking them leads the cops to the site, but they're too late to recover the body.
  • Berlin Syndrome: Andi makes Clare help him do this after he kills a man who she tried to get help from.
  • In The Comedy of Terrors, Trumbull and Gillie would wait until the mourners have left and dump the body into the grave and recycle the coffin for the next funeral to save money. Trumbull complains when Black's body is left in a crypt and is considering exchanging it when no-one is looking.
  • In The Mad Magician, Gallico gets rid of Ormond's body disguising it as an effigy of dressed in the opposing team's football uniform and placing it on the bonfire the university is constructing to celebrate their victory. The next day Frank Prentiss reads in the paper how only the shinbones and a section of spine were found in the ashes.
  • Ms. 45: After she kills the second man who rapes her, Thana first stows his body in her tub, then cuts it up before taking pieces away inside bags to drop off elsewhere at different places.
  • The cornerstone of Looper concerns a world where time travel has become a reliable possibility, and it has become a popular method of underworld assassination to send a target back in time to a prearranged trigger-man at the right time and place with a gun, a tarp, and all the time in the world to do the rest.

  • In American Gods, the junker on the frozen lake has a sacrificed adolescent in the boot, as has every one for the last several winters.
  • In Bulldog Drummond, the criminal mastermind Lakington has developed a method of disposing of inconvenient bodies using a mixture of Hollywood Acids that dissolves a human body entirely, leaving no identifiable traces.
  • A Night in the Lonesome October:
    • One of Jack's opponents murders a policeman and leaves the body near Jack's house, hoping to draw official attention to Jack. Jack's Canine Companion Snuff spends several days dragging the body from hiding place to hiding place toward the river, and is relieved when he is finally able to dump it in.
    • After Jack and Snuff defeat several eldritch Things set loose to rampage through the house, they're faced with the problem of what to do with the remains. They settle on setting fire to them — in the back yard of another of their opponents who tried to poison Snuff earlier in the book.
  • In Weather Wardens, an amnesiac Jo has to help Eamon bury the body of a guy she doesn't know. But a couple of other bodies vanish without a trace due to weather-related issues.
  • In Heinlein's novel Friday, the escape tunnel from a house the title character visits has a lime cavern attached to dissolve the bodies of those caught in that tunnel's deathtraps.
  • In Two Bottles of Relish by Lord Dunsany The killer eats the body...with relish for taste..
  • Edgar Allan Poe:
    • "The Tell-Tale Heart": The Unreliable Narrator hides the body of his victim under the floorboards.
    • In Poe's "The Black Cat," a man bricks his wife's corpse into the wall of their cellar. Unfortunately, he didn't realize the cat had jumped in with her. The cat's howling eventually alerts the police.
  • In R. Austin Freeman's Dr. Thorndyke mystery The Stoneware Monkey, the victim's body is incinerated in a potter's kiln.
  • In Ethan of Athos, Elli Quinn spends an entire chapter disposing of a Mook's body. "Have you ever given thought to the difficulty of getting rid of a body on a space station?" Because of the closed, finite resources of the station there is simply no way to hide or remove it from the station without it being noticed, since the obvious things like dumping it in the recycler or throwing it out the airlock will trigger the standard alarms about overused equipment and safety risks. She eventually hits on the bright idea of buying a large amount of foodstuffs, tossing the body into the waste recycler in its place, and then having the foodstuffs stored for later transport off the station.
  • In No Gods Only Daimons, after an operation gone wrong, Luke sucks the body of the target up into a magically-produced black hole and carries the mass out with him.
  • In the Warrior Cats series, Hollyleaf attempts to dispose of Ashfur's body by tossing it in a stream, hoping he'll be swept into the lake, the Clan would think he just mysteriously vanished, and that would be the end of it. Things don't exactly go as planned.
  • In A Storm of Swords, Tyrion Lannister's hired sword Bronn is sent to kill a blackmailer, and says he'll get rid of the body in one of the stew shops of The City Narrows.
    Tyrion: Remind me never to eat there.
  • Discussed in the Jeeves and Wooster story "Jeeves Takes Charge", in which Bertie wonders how those murderer chappies get about it (fortunately all he has to dispose of is a book).
  • In Native Son, after Bigger accidentally kills Mary Dalton, he considers several ways of disposing her body before deciding on incinerating her in the furnace. It doesn't work.
  • In The Picture of Dorian Gray, after Dorian stabs Basil Hallward to death, he has to do this soon before he's found out and executed for murder. He does so via blackmailing an old lover, Alan Campbell, into disposing of Basil's corpse for him under threat of revealing their affairs. Alan reluctantly does so and then is Driven to Suicide.
  • Sacred Monster: Jack puts Buddy's body in his car and tries to push it into the ocean. Unfortunately for Jack, he's so wasted that instead he disposes of the body and the car in his own swimming pool, and the murder is quickly discovered.]]
  • In Sweet Silver Blues, Garret and Morley kill one of the thugs that ambush them in Full Harbor. To get rid of the body, Garrett drives them to the red-light district while Morley feigns an argument in the back of their coach, cussing out the corpse for passing out drunk so early in the evening. They stop at a bordello, park the corpse at a corner table, and tell the house staff to leave their buddy alone to sleep it off. After taking their turns upstairs, they leave, knowing that the bordello's operators will dispose of the corpse quietly once they realize the "drunk" is dead.
  • The Godfather:
    • The Corleones dump bodies they want to make disappear in the harbor or bury them in Jersey, but a mortician that asks the Don for a favor in the beginning is terrified that he might be asked to dispose of a corpse but instead, Vito asks him to embalm his son.
    • Then there's the infamous "Luca Brasi sleeps with the fishes" scene. The Don's most feared and loyal hit man vanishes around the same time his boss is gunned down, causing some debates in the family whether he turned on them or one of the other families killed him. Then the Tattalias send them Brasi's bulletproof vest wrapped around a dead fish, and their questions are answered.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's Double Star, Lorenzo Smythe, an acting legend in his own mind, has to dispose of three bodies by cutting them up into pieces small enough to go through the oubliette. He's squicked at this until he puts himself into the mindset of one of his characters — "the worst of sadistic psychopaths, who had enjoyed dismembering his victims."
  • The Bastard Operator from Hell series regularly brings up the topic usually in regards as to its application to various users, consultants, or bosses. Usually involving carpet and lime, though occasionally building sites or other methods feature.
  • Scott Adams, in one of his books, suggested a product specifically designed for this purpose, to be called the "Abra Cadaver".
  • In Chain Letter, the teenagers resort to the simple method of a shallow desert grave.
  • In Kane story "Raven's Eyrie", the titular Inn of No Return has a convenient tunnel leading to the nearby fast-flowing mountain river—and the bodies are weighted with stones, just in case.
  • In the second Night World book, vampire sisters Rowan, Kestrel and Jade discover someone has murdered their great-aunt Opal shortly after arriving at her house. They can't risk any humans finding out they're vampires so they can't call the police, forcing them to bury Opal's body in the back garden, then eventually try shifting her to the nearby woods. Unfortunately, their neighbour Mary-Lynette sees them digging up the garden, realizes Opal is missing and starts to suspect they killed Opal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow. Played for tearjerker effect when Sara Lance is killed. As Team Arrow is an illegal vigilante group, they can't take her body to a hospital, so put her in the nightclub freezer because they don't know what else to do. In the end they bury Sara under the headstone put up when she was presumed lost at sea at the start of the series.
  • In the Bottom episode "Gas", Richie and Eddie believe they've managed to kill the Gas inspector when they knocked him out with a frying pan (and hit him a few more times after he hit the floor for good measure). They decide to add an extra entry to his diary ("Left in high spirits, to indulge in my hobby of Bus surfing.") and post his body out of the window onto the roof of a double-decker bus.
  • Breaking Bad: in "The Cat's in the Bag...", the first attempt to get rid of a drug dealer's corpse goes badly wrong when the hydrofluoric acid eats through the bottom of the bathtub and then the floor, dumping a vile pile of half-digested body bits and acid onto the floor below. If you don't vomit, you'll crack up. There later efforts at disposing bodies are less disastrous, thanks to barrels that resist the acid.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • This becomes a plot point in "Dead Things". The Trio commit an Accidental Murder and get rid of the body by making Buffy think she killed the victim. Spike then tries to dispose of the body and stop Buffy from turning herself in to the police.
    • Mostly averted throughout the series, as vampires tend to ash upon destruction because the writers didn't want a good chunk of the episode to involve teenagers trying to dispose of bodies. The episode "The Wish" Lampshaded it when Buffy kills a demon in the opening act and has to figure out how to get rid of the body.
    • The problem occurs more often in the spin-off series Angel; usually played for Black Comedy with disposal presented as a messy business involving An Axe to Grind and being Covered in Gunge. Some demons require different methods.
    Lorne: Oh, relax. It's just a buzz saw. Nothing to get worked up over. It's Gunn and Wes down in the basement. They're dismembering that armor-plated demon.
    Fred: Oh, right. Well, there's been an awful lot of dismembering going on in that basement lately, if you ask me.
    • Done ineptly by Faith Lehane after she accidentally kills the deputy mayor. She ties weights to it and dumps it in a lake, but the weights apparently come loose and the body is eventually found. The splinters in the heart wound tips off the season Big Bad as to who did it. Ironically, the problem could have been avoided had Faith gone to her Watcher first; when Buffy explains the matter, she is told that the Watcher's Council is aware that such "accidents" can occur and they have measures for handling them, implying that the Council had disposed of accidents in the past.
  • Dexter can't really be excluded from this trope considering his thoughtfully planned and executed methods of disposing of bodies. Not only does he completely cover a small room in plastic sheeting and prepare the scene, has everything he needs to both torture his victim (a villainous criminal implied to have no chance for redemption) with pictures of his victims, collect blood for his blood slide collection, then stab the victim in the chest, chop up the body, wrap it up in garbage bags, and deposit them at sea with his boat in the dead of night. Originally he weighted the backs down with rocks and had them sink, but that cache was discovered. He then changed to dumping them in a current which would take them out to sea, ensuring even if they were found, they couldn't be traced. All the while posing as the upbeat forensic blood spatter analyst for the police. Trope mastered.
    • When his cache was discovered and he was forced to investigate it, he wound up discussing this trope with Masuka. Masuka instantly and casually listed the Everglades (presumably for alligators), pig farms, acid, wood-chipper...
  • One episode of Diagnosis: Murder (that was kind of a ghost story) has one corpse turned into an exhibit skeleton.
  • In Dollhouse, Boyd makes Topher do this (hacking the body up and dissolving it) with a death that he technically allowed to learn that "actions have consequences".
  • In the first season of Downton Abbey, Mary has to get rid of the body of a Turkish diplomat who dies in her bedroom, where he's emphatically not supposed to have been in the first place. The trope is Downplayed, as she doesn't mind the body being found; it's just necessary that it be found somewhere that won't lead to a massive life-ruining scandal for her.
  • In Heroes:
    • Jessica buried bodies in the desert.
    • Sylar didn't bother with disposal.
    • The Company had cleanup crews.
    • Angela burned the body of the original Nathan Petrelli.
  • On Misfits, the main characters often end up having to covertly dispose of the many corpses that result from their adventures; being young offenders on probation, they firmly believe that they'd be blamed for the deaths even in cases when it honestly wasn't their fault- and given the state of the police in the neighbourhood, they're probably right.
    • In the first episode, they bury the bodies of Gary and Tony under a flyover. A few episodes later, it turns out that an environmental monitoring station is due to be built there, so they have to hide the bodies in their local community centre; eventually, the corpses are returned to the flyover and dumped in the wet concrete foundations of the building site.
    • Next season, after learning that the body of Sally the probation worker has been hidden upstairs in a freezer for the last couple of weeks, they wrap up the corpse in garbage bags, weigh it down with cinderblocks and dump it in the nearby lake.
    • After Superhoodie (AKA: Future Simon) is fatally wounded, he requests a Viking Funeral from Alisha to ensure that nobody ever learns his Secret Identity. She tearfully obliges.
    • The third season kicks off with the Misfits having to dispose of yet more bodies: this time, it's the villain of the week and her victim, both of whom are buried in some decently forested territory.
    • A mind-controlling villain of the week is given a Viking Funeral by Simon. Exactly as the villain intended.
    • Not long after Shaun dies from being stabbed by Jen in Kelly's body, the team bury him as well; we don't see the burial actually happen, but Rudy does ask to borrow Seth's car so the body can be safely transported.
    • Episode seven has arguably the highest disposal count of the entire series: in this case, the team has to bury the bodies of Shannon Speers, all six zombified cheerleaders and their new probation worker. For good measure, Seth has to do all the work because it was his fault that Shannon was resurrected as a zombie in the first place.
    • In the series three finale, Alisha is murdered by a ghost; with no evidence that her killer even existed, the Misfits are forced to bury the corpse in the same forest as the last few victims.
  • On one episode in NCIS, a drug agent in South America is embalmed alive. That, of course, is Hollywood Tactics: the most sensible thing would have been to dump the body in the jungle for scavengers to render it unrecognizable. If anyone by a miracle found that it was murder they would assume it had been done by the drug cartels long ago (which was of course not the case in this episode).
    • In another, a body is found buried 18" underground prompting a discussion between Gibbs and Ducky as to why humans are buried six feet down. According to the writers, that's how deep they have to be so animals don't smell them and dig them up.
      Gibbs: I said I know.
  • Played for laughs in Fawlty Towers. John Cleese, on Parkinson:
    Well, we used to ask people. I had a friend called Andrew Lehmann, who'd worked in the restaurant business, and I knew he'd worked at the Savoy, and I said, "Andrew, what was the worst problem you had at the Savoy?" and he said, "Getting rid of the stiffs." And... your heart leaps with joy because he's just given you a thirty-minute episode in one comment.
    • Apparently, the Savoy Hotel in London has some sort of special allure for gentlemen who would check in, order the finest room service, then down an entire bottle of sleeping pills.
  • The Wire:
    • The Greeks in season two have a very simple process; cut off the head and hands to make identification difficult, and dump it in a body of water. It's foiled when one of their victims has a recognisable tattoo on his knee.
    • Marlo's hit squad Chris and Snoop have a genius system that allows them to off a huge number of rival dealers before the police start to notice (22 bodies are eventually recovered, but their actual hit count is unknown). They take them at gunpoint into one of hundreds of derelict row-houses, kill them and cover the body in lime to hide the smell, then wrap them in a plastic sheet and board the house back up. From then on, as far as anybody knows, it's just one of the many, many abandoned buildings in Baltimore.
    • Other methods are discussed at times, including using a rogue funeral home, (one owned by gangsters or where the criminals have control of the owners) to either hide the bodies or more permanently dispose of it. At one point veteran detective Lester Freamon notes that Leakin Park was a popular dumping ground,note  (to the point where training young police there about how to find bodies and what to do at the crime scene when you did could turn into an all-day affair) and when the police initially can't find Marlo's victims, Lester theorizes that Marlo may be dumping them into the sewer system.
  • In Wire in the Blood, a hospital nurse has access to the perfect way of disposing of her victims: they go into the hospital's cremation furnace.
  • Subverted in the Masters of Horror piece Family. Harold is introduced dissolving a corpse in a bathtub. It turns out he is a deranged man who keeps the skeletons and treats them as actual living persons.
  • Mythbusters:
    • Adam and Jamie tested the ease of moving and burying a body on the Halloween 2012 episode of MythBusters. They were able to perform tasks with simulated cadavers fairly easily (stuffing them in a closet, shoving them out a window, etc.), but Jamie needed over two hours to dig a 2-foot-deep grave when he ran into hard-packed earth. Result: moving the body was "plausible," but digging the grave quickly was "busted." (The latter is Lampshaded in Casino, which recommends digging the grave ahead of time.)
    • In a Breaking Bad special, they found that hydrofluoric acid wasn't corrosive enough destroy a body with any speed, and decided to find an acid that would — settling on an undisclosed ("we're not in the business of showing people how to dispose of bodies") mixture of sulphuric acid And Some Other Stuff. Even that failed to eat through the tub and the floor.
  • Pops up frequently in The Sopranos. Usually the bodies are left where they fall (Either as a deliberate message or because "criminal killed by gang violence" isn't something that really needs to be covered up), but sometimes circumstances require that they address the aftermath. Usually when the victim is somebody that the mobsters can't afford to let it be known has been killed due to the risk of reprisals. The trope is explicitly discussed in the first episode, where Big Pussy explains to Chris why it's better for a dead rival mobster to "disappear" than for them to send a message by leaving his corpse somewhere it'll be found.
    • The most common disposal is a simple burial in out-of-the-way places, but this always carries the risk of being discovered later. Christopher infamously has to move the same body twice, first when his paranoia gets the better of him and then when the second burial site is sold and will be dug up for construction. He ultimately pulverizes the bones before dumping the remains off a cliff.
    • Richie Aprile, a Captain, was chopped up in Satriale's meat market after Janice Soprano killed him in a domestic dispute. Tony had actually already decided to kill Richie because he was planning to rebel, but he can't let it get out amongst the crew so he says Richie joined the Witness Protection Program.
    • Big Pussy was dumped at sea after Tony realized he was an FBI informant. Like with Richie, Tony claims he joined the Witness Protection Program.
    • Tony kills Ralph Cifaretto in a blind rage, and this is a problem for him because he doesn't have a Mafia-justified excuse for doing so. If it gets out to anyone that Tony killed a captain without having a reason, the entire organization would turn against him (Some made men even talk amongst themselves that Silvio Dante, Tony's closest friend and confidant, would be the first person to kill Tony in that case). Tony calls Christopher, who is his nephew and dependent on Tony's patronage to survive in the mafia, to help him chop up Ralph's body in the bath tub and then dispose of his various parts across several different states. When tensions with the New York Lupertazzi crime family heat up soon after, Tony manages to capitalize on the friction by blaming them for Ralph's disappearance.
    • Silvio Dante and Carlo Gervasi kill "Fat Dom", a New York mobster, when he makes one too many wisecracks while visiting them at the Bad Bing. Since this could start a Mob War if the news gets out, they cut him up and dispose of his body in several different states.
  • One of the guys on The Blacklist specialized in getting rid of bodies. He was known as the Stewmaker because he melted them down in a bathtub full of acid.
    • Reddington's lieutenant Mr. Kaplan is in charge of doing this for him, as she organizes Cleanup Crews to get rid of any bodies he doesn't want found.
  • Luther:
    • In Season 2, a Serial Killer who plans to set himself up as a modern-day Bogeyman is found to have got hold of a bus and a huge load of sodium hydroxide via his underworld contacts. He uses the bus to kidnap some schoolchildren whom he plans to have disappear so no one will ever know what happened to them. The police rescue the children and find stacked on pallets a drum of sodium hydroxide for each child, with the paperwork already filled out to have them shipped to India for disposal.
    • In the finale of Season 2 Luther has to get rid of a psychotic gangster killed in self-defense by the woman he's hiding in his flat. At the same time, an ex-cop working as an enforcer is trying to find out what happened to his boss. At first, Luther hides the body on the roof of his apartment complex but has to get rid of it when the enforcer comes around, dragging it into the lift in a huge sports bag. The enforcer catches Luther locking the trunk of his car and forces him to open it at gunpoint, revealing the full of sports equipment. Later the police answer an anonymous tip-off and find the body hidden in the enforcer's car. When he realises he's been set up the enforcer flees, expressing admiration for Luther's cunning.
  • Wiseguy. Vinnie Terranova uses this trope to advantage when called on to kill someone, as he's actually an undercover federal agent. One time he shows his boss a body (donated from a medical facility) buried in quicklime so it's unrecognizable, while the intended victim is actually in witness protection. On another occasion, Vinnie turns up with an urn full of ashes, rather startling the boss in that case as when he told Vinnie to "get rid of him" he actually meant to throw him off the premises.
  • In the short-lived series Missing Persons, a girl is missing and her rich-kid boyfriend is suspected of murdering her. A cop poses as a pimp and sells him a hooker for the night, only to wake him up the next day screaming in his face that he's killed her with rough sex. Faced with this problem and a Scary Black Man roughing him up, the kid blurts out a good place to dump her corpse. The cop goes there and sure enough finds the dead girlfriend, which he reports to the police in an 'anonymous' tip.
  • Orphan Black: Sarah (posing as Beth) buries Katja in a gravel pit after Katja gets shot in Beth's car. The next day, Sarah has to go to Beth's detective job... and discovers that some idiot dumped a body next to an active mining site. Whoops. Luckily for her, Katja's body rolled into a gravel crusher, so the cops don't immediately realize that their corpse looks exactly like one of their detectives.
  • Game of Thrones. After landing in Dorne for a secret mission, Jaime Lannister and his sellsword Bronn have to fight a cavalry patrol, then waste valuable time burying the bodies. Or rather, Bronn has to do the burying, as Jaime only has one hand.
    Jaime: Corpses raise questions, questions raise armies. We're not here to start a war.
  • Person of Interest:
    • In "Cura Te Ipsum", Reese realises the doctor who's this week's POI is planning to murder the serial rapist responsible for the death of her sister.
      Reese: Doctor has everything she needs to erase Benton for good.
      Finch: What do you mean, "erase"?
      Reese: Eight pounds of lye, heated to 300 degrees. Body will dissolve in three hours, give or take.
      Finch: I will refrain from asking how you know that.
    • In the pilot episode, Detective Fusco takes Reese out to Oyster Bay to be disposed of. Unfortunately, he doesn't take the precaution of killing him first, and our One-Man Army easily turns the tables. At the end of the episode, Reese leaves Detective Stills, the (dead) leader of the ring of corrupt police in Fusco's trunk, so Fusco has to take him out to Oyster Bay instead.
    • "In Extremis" it's played for tearjerker effect in a flashback in where we see Fusco breaking down crying over Stills' body as he drags him out into the woods. Meanwhile, Internal Affairs think Fusco murdered Stills, so they use satellite technology to find disturbed earth in Oyster Bay. Fortunately when they go to dig it up, Carter has already located (with the help of a friendly dog) and moved Stills' body.
    • In a flashback, a young Elias survived thanks to two mobsters trying to make this easier for themselves. They have been ordered to kill Elias but do not want the hassle of having to get his body out of the city to a burial site. Instead, they trick Elias into driving with them out to the woods where they can kill him and bury his body. Elias is savvy enough to realize what is going on and ends up killing the two mobsters instead. He then buries their bodies in the hole that was meant for him.
  • Semi-facetiously Discussed in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit when Stuckey (who has spent several episodes getting on everybody's nerves, especially Stabler's) makes a paperwork error that lets a killer go free:
    Stabler: I'll kill him.
    O'Halloran: I'll dump the body.
  • On Orange Is the New Black, after one of Kubra's men infiltrates Litchfield and attacks Alex, Lolly beats the crap out of him, and Alex finishes the job by suffocating him. Neither one of them know what to do next, so one of the other inmates (who is an admitted Serial Killer) calmly and precisely helps them cut up the body, and bury the pieces in the garden. (The idea being that since the soil is turned frequently, as one would expect, most people would not think to look for a body in a garden. It does get found during a construction project later in the season, however.
  • Played for Laughs in one episode of El Chavo del ocho, when as usual, Chavo accidentally hits Mr. Barriga in the head when he arrives to the vecindad, and when he doesn't get back up, the kids think Chavo actually killed him (he's just playing dead to scare them). Don Ramón later plays along with Mr. Barriga by offering the kids to "hide the body" at his house for the time being, and at night, Mr. Barriga pretends to return as a ghost.
  • Motive: A large chunk of "Bad Blonde" consists of the killer and her best friend attempting to work out the best way to dispose of the corpse of the Victim of the Week. They still have the body when they are arrested; although they had finally settled on cutting the body up and dropping the pieces off a boat.
  • Santa Clarita Diet: Most of the episodes involves how Sheila with the help of her husband find ways to dispose of her victims. But most of them end up getting chopped up and stored in freezers so she can eat it later.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The New Exhibit", after his wife Emma is killed by Jack the Ripper's knife, Martin Senescu buries her body under the basement floor.
  • Discussed on Monk episode "Mr. Monk Fights City Hall". The team questions "Hot Dog Czar" George Gionopolis about a councilwoman's disappearance, implying that he may have killed her. He claims innocence, but says if he did kill her, they'd never find the body, while pointing suggestively at a hot dog being eaten by Disher. (Her body later washes up on shore.)
  • The Boys. After killing Translucent, the Boys shovel up what remains of him, including his indestructible skin, put it in a zinc case that Homelander's X-Ray vision can't see through, and dump it into the bay. They know the Supes will find it eventually (a porpoise tips off Deep) so this is just meant to buy time.
  • Treadstone. Samantha McKenna shoots an intruder in her house, and because they're afraid of calling the police she and her husband Doug take the body out in the woods to be buried. Samantha is an ER nurse, so she knows they have to remove the hands, feet (with an electric saw) and teeth (with pliers). "It won't prevent an ID forever, but it'll delay whoever finds him." Later they fake Doug's death and have him pose as the agent who tried to kill him; conveniently he's then ordered to dispose of the corpse.
  • Resident Alien: After finally finding the real Harry Vanderspeigle's body (which disappeared under a frozen lake when he was killed), alien Harry hides it by locking it in a cooler in his basement until such time as he can properly get rid of it.

  • "Dead Body Disposal" by Necro gives various advice on how to dispose of a body and make it harder to find.
  • The Dixie Chicks "Goodbye Earl" uses a tarp and a remote, rural lake to get rid of Wanda's abusive ex-husband.
  • The music video for "Lay It Down (Saturday Night)" by Samantha Fish features Fish in the woods, digging a grave for the body of a man who tried to cheat her in a poker game.
  • "Arthur, où t'as mis le corps ?" ("Arthur, where didja put the body ?"), written by Boris Vian and sung by Serge Reggiani, starts off like this: a band of thug murder an antiquarian to steal his stock. One of them, Arthur, is tasked with disposing of the body. Problem is, he can't manage to remember what he's done of it.
  • Grupa Operacyjna: "Pomocy" has Mieszko considering getting rid of his ex-patient by throwing her out a window, but decides against it as she wouldn't fit in it.


  • Our Miss Brooks: In the penultimate radio episode, "New Girl in Town," Harriet Conklin tricks the eponymous "new girl's" mother into believing Mr. Boynton and Miss Brooks are burying Mr. Boynton's old girlfriends in the athletic field. In reality, Mr. Boynton and Miss Brooks are only burying the bodies of Mr. Boynton's dead lab mice.
  • In the Suspense episode "The Pasteboard Box," a man murders his twin brother and dismembers the body to dispose of it more easily, but just can't get rid of the pasteboard box containing the head.
    Tabletop Games 
  • Delta Green operations will usually leave bodies behind, and often it's better getting rid of them than explaining to the authorities. The "Tradecraft" chapter on the Agent's Handbook rulebook has a quick guide on the rules for different methods of getting rid out of of bodies, from dissolving in a polypropylene barrel to dumping the body into the water.

    Video Games 
  • In Liberal Crime Squad, you need to dispose of the bodies of your fallen comrades before you can use their equipment.
  • After Vito comes back from prison in Mafia II, he, Joe, and Eddie Scarpa celebrate with lots of drinks at the Cathouse, but Eddie forgets until after he and Joe are plastered that he has a body in the trunk of his car that needs burying.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins, one sidequest has the Warden getting rid of the "evidence" of deals gone bad. The quest is made easy by a convenient public well. It's best not to think about the people who drink from it.
  • A lot of Ace Attorney cases have this in some form. Ranging from stuffing the body into a safe to the much more obvious and used throwing the body into a lake. Of course, it never actually goes to plan for the killer.
    • A lot of other cases subvert this, by instead using the body in such a way as to throw suspicion anyway from them or onto another person. A lot of killers actually purposely try and lead people to the body, as part of their plan. An example of this comes in Dual Destinies in case 3, where the killer used the way, time and place the body was found to make it seem as though he couldn't possibly be the culprit.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV, you deliver two bodies to an organ harvester, and later help a murderous husband dispose of his wife's body.
  • In Grand Theft Auto III, a car compactor and a dog food factory are used for the same purpose.
  • In Ka-Ge-Ki, losers, although presumably knocked out rather than dead, get picked up by the referee and thrown into a convenient manhole.
  • In Yandere Simulator, if you leave a corpse lying around until the end of the school day, a teacher will eventually find it before closing the school and contact the police, and Yandere-chan will end up going to prison. To prevent this, you need to toss the body (along with your blood-stained clothes and, if another student caught you and is running to the cops, the murder weapon) into a trash incinerator and burn it.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, disposing of a body is a simple as a click of a helpfully-labeled button when looting a corpse. Since nobody exactly cares for dead bodies in the game, however, its main function is to clean the floors so the body in question doesn't block access to whatever it collapsed onto.
  • In No One Lives Forever 2, one of the gadgets Cate can acquire is a body-dissolving spray, which is handy, since the guards raise an alarm whenever they spot a dead body. For some reason, it only works on dead bodies, but Fridge Horror ensues in regards to what it could do to a living body if one spray is enough to completely dissolve 80 kg of human flesh, bone, and clothing into thin air.
  • In Metroid: Other M the Deleter disposes of one of his victims by throwing the body into a pit of lava.
  • Team Fortress 2: In one of the comics, The Administrator's assistant Miss Pauling finds herself tied up by the Sniper, who intended to kill her and Demoman if she'd failed to give her the answers he wanted (the graves were already dug outside). She casually adds that she injected him with poison during the capture, then adds that he could have dug a lot less if he'd cut the bodies up to accelerate their decomposing, something she's learned through long experience (having had to get rid of a lot of bodies for the Administrator).
    Trust me, ten minutes with a hacksaw will save you thirty with a shovel.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Dayshift at Freddy's, this is one of your tasks in the first game's Purple Guy route.
  • In the case of the Urashima Woman from Spirit Hunter: NG, her swollen stomach was filled with rocks to weigh her down, then she was stuffed into a suitcase and thrown into the Urashima Lake. The killer disposed of dead fetuses in the same lake, which went on to haunt the place just like the Urashima Woman herself.

  • In The Other Grey Meat, John must dispose of Ole Corpsey™ after he discovers his remains in the bunker.
  • In one 8-Bit Theater comic, Black Mage tried to cut up a corpse and deposit it in numerous garbage disposals. What he didn't count on was that his knife, usually used to stab his 'friends', couldn't handle the bones. Not that he's a first-time murderer or anything.
  • In The Letters Of The Devil, Chuck reveals that he had an aide dispose of Lucy Tripp's body.
  • Niels once asked the manager of his recycling plant how he gets rid of bodies. He holds up a bag of fertilizer that he explains is 10% recycled ash.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Redcloak disposes of Tsukiko's body by having mind-controlled ghouls eat it. Then having the ghouls eat each other. And the last ghoul set itself on fire. He's... thorough like that. In this case, the disposal is presumably for the sake of preventing the body being raised or spoken to, since he's very candid about having committed the murder.
  • In Homestuck^2, the original Vriska Serket, her namesake Vriska Lalonde-Maryam (dubbed Vrissy to save on confusion) and Tavros Crocker find themselves lumbered with the corpse of a prominent religious figure, namely Gamzee Makara, and end up having to sneak it through a school. Vriska is confident that they can just dump it in the incinerator, until she's reminded that they no longer live on a Death World and schools don't have incinerators rated for corpses, and then the bell rings for end of period and things get way more chaotic from there.

    Web Original 
  • "I Like Monkeys": The man tries to get rid of the dead monkeys bodies by flushing them down the toilet, putting them in a freezer, and burning them. None of the methods work.
  • The "Modern Rogue" guys did a whole episode on disolving a body using lye. Staggeringly effective, but they did make the mistake of adding lye to aluminium and nearly blowing themselves up. Watch it here:

    Western Animation 
  • This has happened enough times on Archer that "I shall fetch a rug" has become a Running Gag.
    • "Training Day" had Archer and Cyril planning to bury a dead hooker ( who was just paralyzed) after smuggling her body out in a rug.
    • "Killing Utne" had Malory taking care of a dead UN official and his high-class call girl companion by breaking into her hated neighbor's apartment, staging the scene to look like a murder-suicide, then burning the bodies.
    • Probably reached its peak with "Lo Scandalo", in which Mallory ropes in Archer, Lana, and Dr. Krieger to help her dispose of the body of the Italian Prime Minister, who's been assassinated in her apartment. Krieger's solution is to hack the body up in a bathtub and use the rest of the agents to dispose of the pieces in separate trashcans spread out across the city. In the end, we're left wondering whether it was actually Mallory who killed him.
  • One episode of Family Guy had Lois attempting to dump a body in the river in order to protect her son Chris (who she thought killed the man, but in reality, he didn't). Things got complicated when a policeman came by, but Stewie handled the situation by sliding himself into the collar of the man's shirt and acting like it was his body.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants, "The Nasty Patty": Spongebob and Mr. Krabs think they killed the health inspector (he's just unconscious) and try to dispose of the "body". Burying doesn't work because of the rain (underwater, I know, just go with it), and two cops arrive on the scene to give them a ride back to the Krusty Krab, so they hide it in the trunk of the squad car and then hide it in the freezer (but not before Spongebob has to bring him through the front door, hidden under his hat, because the back door was locked). And then the cops ask for ice...
  • Rocko's Modern Life episode "Ed is Dead: A Thriller", in which Rocko thought he saw Bev Bighead murdering Ed Bighead (she was actually working on a sculpture of him and it fell over and broke), gave many Red Herrings on how she supposedly did this: first Rocko saw her throw a bag (actually containing her failed art project) into a hole shaped like Mr. Bighead (Ed gave her a shovel with a head molded in his likeness for their anniversary), then he saw her take a suitcase out of the house ala Rear Window (but was actually going to the dry cleaners with it), and finally Rock found what he at first thought was Mr. Bighead's preserved body in the basement (like in Psycho), but was actually the neighborhood mad dog that who proceeded to rip him apart.
  • In 1978 short Special Delivery, a mailman slips and dies on an icy porch. The panicked homeowner has to figure out how to get rid of the body.
  • In the South Park episode "Sexual Harassment Panda", Principal Victoria breaks down on a witness stand (About whether or not any sexual harassment occurs at her school and what got said in a particular case) and launches into a non sequitur description of having killed somebody, and cutting the corpse into pieces, and panicking over having tried to burn the body, "but it wouldn't burn! Oh, the smell of it!" before putting the legs into garbage bags and hiding the torso under a bridge; she had to do it! — before the lawyer convinces her to return to the original topic.
  • In DC Super Hero Girls, unsure how to deal with the soul-removed form of one of their supervillains, Batgirl recognizes having to "hide a body" and breezily says not to worry, she grew up in Gotham; she's got this.

    Real Life 
  • Numerous instances, but the most famous incident would be Jimmy Hoffa. He was last seen in 1975, and his body has yet to be found.
  • Siri used to display a list of options as a joke in response to the question "I need to hide a body", including locations such as mines and iron foundries. This is no longer the case after stories began to circulate that an actual murderer named Pedro Bravo tried to use Siri for actual body-disposal advice. While this was later shown to not be true, it was decided that Siri's original responses constituted a major case of Dude, Not Funny! and were promptly removed.
  • Calcium oxide or "quicklime", was once popular in the illegal burial industry as it was believed to accelerate decomposition. This turned out to be a myth, if anything it was a preservative.


Video Example(s):


Magical Girl Friendship Squad

Hoping that the monster you killed is just gonna go "poof!"? TOOOO BAD!

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DisposingOfABody

Media sources:

Main / DisposingOfABody