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Drop Dead Gorgeous

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Their last words were: "Wait, catch my good side!"

"And now she's dead
Forever dead
Forever dead and lovely now"
Tom Waits, "Dead and Lovely"

There seems to be nothing more dramatic to crime stories than a dead, naked woman. Whether fully or partially nude, dead women are far more likely to be sexualized than males. Often this is justified by the murdered women being the victims of sexual crimes, while other times the purpose seems purely to titillate the audience.

Add a perverted character to the mix, and naked corpses might lead to I Love the Dead.

The trope is quite likely to be used as a form of Fan Disservice.

Contrast Jacob Marley Apparel.

See also Death by Sex, The Murder After, Disposable Sex Worker, and Interplay of Sex and Violence. Often a result of Monster Misogyny.

If the "corpse" is actually a member of The Undead, it's a case of Cute Monster Girl, Attractive Zombie, and/or Seductive Mummy.

For the 1999 film, see Drop Dead Gorgeous.


Since this is a Death Trope, beware of spoilers.


    open/close all folders 

  • A darkly humorous TV commercial for Crocker jeans features a coroner undressing an attractive young woman's corpse, only to find the corpse resisting his attempts to remove her Crocker jeans.
  • An ad for Duncan Quinn ties wants you to remember that they're also useful for strangling half-naked women on the hood of your European sportscar. Duncan Quinn: for the fashionable psychopath!
  • An ad series for Hitman: Blood Money featured assassinated victims of the main character. The two female victims in the series are both sexualized, with one dressed in lingerie and the other naked in her bathtub. As you can imagine, this drew quite the bit of controversy.

    Anime & Manga 
  • You can't throw an amputated ear without hitting one of these in The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service.
  • Happy Sugar Life After Satou kills Shouko the next time we see her is her undress, open eye lifeless body.
  • Ludwig Revolution According to Ludwig. Blanche looks more beautiful dead than alive.
  • My-HiME episode 11, where Orphans (mistakenly called "vampires" by some of the students) randomly searched young females for the mark of the HiME. The one girl at the beginning of the episode who was attacked lived through her injuries. Later in the episode, the same thing happens to Aoi, and everyone thinks Sister Yukariko was the one behind it, because she's spotted at the scene with her bow in her hand, and Aoi has a few arrows sticking out of her.

  • More than one painting has depicted Cleopatra as having been naked at the time of her death.
  • Death of Sardanapalus depicts Sardanapalus watching his naked concubines get slaughtered on his orders in preparation for his immolation.
  • Likewise, many paintings of Dido's suicide show her with at least one breast bared, often both.
  • The work of photographers Kaoru Izima and Melanie Pullen.
  • Murder in the Seraglio by Fernand Cormon is an 1872 orientalist painting depicting a naked harem girl who has been murdered by a harem guard while her dark rival sneers in triumph.
  • Ophelia (Millais), 1851-2, by Sir John Everett Millais. The model for the dead Ophelia became extremely ill while posing in icy water. It was often blamed for her chronic illnesses afterwards.

    Comic Books 
  • The first Blacksad book begins with a murder scene: the victim is a woman, wearing vaporous night clothing, with one breast exposed. In the flashback to her murder, her night gown was noticeably closed. The writers revealed in a background making-off album that the implication was that the murderer played around with the corpse just for kicks.
  • DC stirred up controversy by starting a contest asking for amateur artists to draw a series of four panels in which Harley Quinn is attempting suicide. The final panel for the contest is supposed to be Harley sitting naked in a bathtub and about to electrocute herself with appliances. Although the contest is apparently going more for a Harold Lloyd in Never Weaken vibe, online critics felt the company was eroticizing misogyny.
  • In Sin City, it's precisely this that sets Marv on his Roaring Rampage of Revenge to avenge Goldie's death. Notably they actually just had consensual sex, but her murderer killed her while Marv was still sleeping.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): After her brutal murder Artemis's body is depicted in an attractive pose with her significant clothing damage evident but not so much the damage to her.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Corpse Bride, Emily is a primary character with an active role in the movie, but she is still dead. Even after having been murdered by Lord Barkis, her fiancé in life and decomposed over several years, she is genuinely pretty.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Action Jackson, a coroner laments that most of the beautiful women he sees naked are dead, while looking at the corpse of such a woman.
  • In After Hours, the protagonist discovers Rosanna Arquette's naked body in her bed after she has committed suicide by sleeping pills. He had rejected her advances out of fears that she had terrible burn scars, so he pulls the blanket off of her and inspects her body, finding only a tattoo.
  • In Angel Heart, Mickey Rourke discovers the naked body of Lisa Bonet, and it turns out he murdered her and suppressed the memory. The squicky sex and violence of the film caused quite a stir over Lisa Bonet's involvement, who was known at the time for her role in The Cosby Show.
  • In Assassins (1995), Miguel Bain (Antonio Banderas) kills two Interpol agents, one of them an attractive blonde, while they're making out in a hotel hallway (they're supposed to be guarding several other agents who are dealing with Julianne Moore 's character Elektra). The blonde's shapely, black-stockinged legs, wearing shoes with very high heels, are prominently displayed as Bain drags her body into an empty room to hide it along with the body of her male partner and that of a hotel maid who inadvertently witnessed the shootings and got shot dead in consequence.
  • A gag in Bad Boys II involves the heroes discovering the corpse of a naked woman with gigantic breasts. Martin Lawrence's character hides underneath the sheet with the body and stares at her breasts while mooks search the area. Negative reviews of the film made particular mention of this scene's poor taste.
  • The 1964 Mario Bava film Blood and Black Lace (original Italian title: Sei donne per l'assassino), just as the page image implies, features the dead bodies of the killer's gorgeous victims prominently, starting literally at the beginning of the movie when a fashion model is brutally strangled and beaten to death and then dragged away by her ankles by the murderer, her skirt riding up to reveal her gartered thighs.
  • The Richard Burton version of Bluebeard (1972) fairly oozes this trope, since the classic Bluebeard legend is all about the titular character killing off one beautiful wife after another; in this version, Burton's character, Baron Sepper, does away with six lovely wives in six different ways. The most prominent corpses belong to the characters played by Karin Schubert, shot in the back by her husband while hunting (her body is shown afterward laid out for her funeral in a diaphanous evening dress, photographed and then kissed by Burton, in a scene that has strong overtones of I Love the Dead), and Sybil Danning, who is killed by being impaled by a falling chandelier together with her lover (Nathalie Delon); the two bodies, nude except for black stockings, are shown afterward looking very little the worse for wear for having been skewered by a huge ivory tusk. The frozen bodies of all of Bluebeard's victims are shown together when Joey Heatherton (playing the Baron's latest wife) discovers the walk-in freezer where his dead ex-wives are stored, and then again at the end of the movie.
  • Invoked in the animated "Lost Scene" segment of Clerks. Dante and Randall go to visit Julie's wake, an old girlfriend of Dante. When they get to the coffin they see she's only wearing a black bikini top on her upper half, and assume she probably requested it. Hilarity Ensues when they drop their keys in her lap.
  • In the 1940's B-movie The Corpse Vanishes, the villain, played by Bela Lugosi, drugs high-society brides with a poisonous orchid to send them into a death-like state, then takes the unconscious women to his lair (a funeral home) where he draws their blood for an elixir designed to keep his wife young and beautiful. While the heroine, a plucky newspaper reporter, is investigating Lugosi's lair, she discovers a morgue where the dead bodies of several beautiful young women in wedding gowns are stored in body drawers; these are the missing society brides, who apparently have died from the process. Lugosi's hunchbacked assistant displays a very creepy attraction toward these lovely corpses...
  • Dressed to Kill ends with a sequence where the Creepy Crossdresser killer escapes a mental asylum by strangling a nurse and then stripping her nurse uniform to use as a disguise. The dead nurse (played by a Playboy playmate) is revealed to be wearing some suspiciously sexy lingerie beneath her work outfit. It's kept ambiguous as to whether this sequence is actually happening or is the fantasy of the imprisoned killer.
  • The 2010 film Drop Dead Gorgeous (not the one in the Film namespace) features a model who dies part-way through a fashion shoot, so the crew completes the shoot with her corpse. The dead model's resulting popularity is a satire on the fashion industry for forcing models to lead unhealthy lifestyles and for presenting lifeless expressions and poses as sexy.
  • The entire plot of the indie comedy Drop Dead Sexy revolves around the theft of the dead body of a beautiful blonde by two small-time crooks so they can hold it for ransom from her equally crooked husband who had her murdered in the first place. The blonde's body, originally clad in a nightgown when the protagonists remove it from its coffin, spends most of the movie stripped down to bra and panties. In a lengthy scene in a morgue, the nude body of another attractive woman, half-covered by a sheet, is prominently featured.
  • Feeding Frenzy: There's a long sequence played under the opening credits of Mr. Plinkett dragging the corpse of a murdered prostitute in her underwear, played by Z-movie scream queen Tina Krause in a Dead Star Walking appearance.
  • In Frenzy, a naked victim of the killer floats in the river in the film's first minutes.
  • In The General's Daughter, the woman of the title is found naked, strangled, and bound to the earth. It turns out she was recreating a previous sexual assault when a psycho soldier found her and killed her.
  • Gotham, (aka The Dead Can't Lie) features Virginia Madsen playing the ghost of a murdered woman who makes several appearances to Tommy Lee Jones as a naked corpse.
  • In Interview with the Vampire, Kirsten Dunst's character hides the naked body of a woman with her dolls, reflecting her inability to ever grow into an adult. In another scene, a theatrical vampire troupe kills a naked woman onstage before an unwitting audience.
  • Several James Bond films feature the trope:
    • One of cinema's most enduring images is the naked body of a murdered woman painted gold in Goldfinger. Of course, the murder method is pure pseudoscience.
    • In Thunderball, Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) tries to maneuver Bond (Sean Connery) into a position where he can be shot by a hidden assassin while they're dancing together at an outdoor street festival. 007 realizes what's going on, however, and turns her so that she gets a bullet in her back (leading to a close-up of his fingers on her back as blood seeps between them from the fatal wound). He deposits her body in a chair next to two surprised tourists with the casual explanation, "She's dead on her feet."
    • Quantum of Solace has a Shout-Out to the Goldfinger body when Agent Fields is discovered to have drowned in oil and her apparently naked body laid out across a bed.
    • In Casino Royale (2006) Vesper Lynd's corpse has a Sexy Soaked Shirt.
  • Played for Hypocritical Humor in Kill Bill. On seeing the Bride, Sheriff McGraw proceeds to go on about how beautiful she is and just what kind of person would kill a pregnant woman. Then the comatose Bride involuntarily spits in his eye and McGraw grumbles, "This tall drink of cocksucker ain't dead."
  • In Lady in Cement, Sandra Lomax's body is found nude, with camera angles being used to avoid showing explicit nudity.
  • The first victim in the first Lethal Weapon movie had on just a skimpy robe which was worn open and fluttered around her otherwise nude body.
  • The Film of the Book of The Lovely Bones was accused by some critics of doing this with the fourteen-year-old protagonist.
  • A pretty sizable number of beautiful female spies and secret agents become Drop Dead Gorgeous in the Matt Helm series: Nancy Kovack, Cyd Charisse and Daliah Lavi in The Silencers, Nadia Sanders and Camilla Sparv in Murderers' Row, Senta Berger in The Ambushers, and Tina Louise, Elke Sommer and Nancy Kwan in The Wrecking Crew.
  • The female body count gets pretty outrageous in the 1967 flick The Million Eyes Of Su Muru, starring Frankie Avalon; at one point, the villains kill a woman and put her nude body in Avalon's bed in an attempt to frame him, and the climactic battle has the Hong Kong police storming the villainness' lair and engaging in a fierce firefight with her band of beautiful henchwomen, killing most of them in the process and leaving their bodies, clad in tight black outfits, strewn all over the place.
  • This happens in Munich to Jeanette, the Dutch assassin. The protagonist even made a point of pushing aside the front of her bathrobe to expose her body, an act he later regrets.
  • A downplayed male example: the blind butler in Murder by Death is discovered sitting at a desk, naked (the scene is not set up to look sexy; he's just there, bare). When Dora Charleston wonders aloud what anyone would want with a naked body, her husband whispers into her ear. She smirks incredulously and exclaims, "Oh, that's... tacky!"
  • Campily Exaggerated at the beginning of The Nice Guys — a woman's car goes off the road and she crashes in the garden of a young boy who's up sneaking a peek at his dad's magazines. He goes to investigate and finds her sprawled naked on the hood of the car in the exact same pose as the centerfold model, "Misty Mountains"... for it is she. She has just enough time to mutter "how do I look?" before dying of her (presumably internal) injuries. In a sweet ending to such a deliberately exploitative scene, the boy covers her body before anyone else can see her like that.
  • Nocturnal Animals: The corpses of Laura and India are left naked and posed in each other's arms on a red sofa by the band of psychos after what was presumably a rape and murder. The Spoiler Cover of the soundtrack depicts the scene, with a tear through the image to censor a corpse's bare ass.
  • The schlock "horror" film Deadmate features this primarily on its cover, depicting a beautiful, naked, dead woman held in the arms of an amorous coroner in a perverted twist on a classic romance novel pose. The film is about a woman who unwittingly marries a necropheliac coroner, though nothing like the scene depicted in the cover happens in the film. It seems intended purely to titillate the audience.
  • Perfume features a lengthy montage of the naked corpses of virgin girls who have been dumped around the city by the Villain Protagonist, who kills them to steal their scent.
  • In Psycho, Janet Leigh's character is slashed to death while taking a shower. Camera angles and fast cutting give the impression of a naked body, though no actual nudity is shown.
  • Joaquin Phoenix gets a little too excited by naked, dead Kate Winslet in Quills.
  • Rising Sun revolves around a murdered prostitute splayed across a boardroom table in a Little Black Dress. Her corpse and post-coital murder are given a great deal of attention throughout the film as well as on the movie posters.
  • In River's Edge, a teenager leaves the naked body of his murdered girlfriend at the titular river's edge and shows it to his group of friends, who then swear to silence.
  • In The Secret in Their Eyes, Liliana Colotto is found naked on her bedroom floor after being brutally raped and murdered.
  • Student Bodies, possibly the first parody of the Slasher genre, has an example in its poster, which features a dead, buxom girl sprawled across her classroom desk, with her bare legs prominently displayed.
  • In Underworld: Evolution, Selene kills Andreas Tanis' vampire concubines. After she leaves, he dumps their naked bodies in the dungeon.
  • In the campy comedy Vampire U, some college students stake a seductive vampiress, and one of the students says "Nice side-boob!" as he admires his handiwork.
  • What Have You Done to Solange?: Elizabeth is drowned while bathing naked in her bathtub. Her nude body is later carried out by police.
  • Whispers In The Dark: Deborah Kara Unger is killed by Alan Alda and her naked body is later discovered hanging from the ceiling.

  • The Dresden Files Book One, Storm Front, begins with Harry called to a crime scene involving a naked dead woman - who died in intercourse with an equally naked man, for good measure. It's not particularly erotic, since both victims had their hearts exploded out of their chests with magic.
  • In the Len Deighton novel An Expensive Place to Die, the narrator is visiting a shady "sex clinic"/brothel when a naked woman suddenly runs out of one of the rooms, bleeding profusely from multiple wounds (the result of having been put in an Iron Maiden). The woman runs out into the street before finally collapsing and dying, and passersby respond to the sight with catcalls and wolf-whistles, apparently more attentive to her nudity than to her wounds.
  • Hyperion Cantos: When Kassad kills an Ouster and strips off the soldier's space suit, he's surprised that the Ouster inside is a naked woman. The narration gives a rather detailed description of the woman's nude corpse as it floats away. This is only one of many examples of the Interplay of Sex and Violence in Kassad's storyline.
  • Edgar Allan Poe famously said, "There is nothing more poetic than the death of a beautiful woman."
  • The fully illustrated Who Killed Amanda Palmer by Neil Gaiman, "starring" his wife, Amanda Palmer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An ill-advised episode of America's Next Top Model had the contestants made up as "sexy" corpses who had each been murdered in a different way "by a jealous model," complete with fake wounds, bruises, etc.
  • Boardwalk Empire:
    • In the premiere episode, Mickey's gang of bootleggers put their distillery beneath a morgue to hide the smell. The only body we see is a fully nude young woman.
    • Gyp Rosetti uses a waitress he was just having sex with as a naked Bulletproof Human Shield when Benny Siegel starts shooting at him.
  • CSI episodes often feature young, attractive, female victims in very limited states of dress.
  • Dexter has done this multiple times, maybe most notably when the Trinity Killer murders a very attractive naked woman in a bathtub in the Season 4 premiere. This is paralleled in the season five premiere when the main characters see Rita's dead body in a bathtub, and Masuka says that he's often pictured her naked "but never like this."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • An episode ends on the dead body of Ros the prostitute who has been shot to death with a crossbow. The camera pans across her body, and somewhere between her tousled red hair and the soft lighting, she ends up looking like a martyr in a Renaissance painting. She was also scantily clad, a former sex-worker, and killed whilst sitting tied to the end of a bed.
    • Ygritte makes a similarly beautiful corpse on her pyre in "The Children".
  • A number of episodes of Law & Order and its spin-offs. Of course, given that Law & Order: Special Victims Unit partially involves sex crimes, there's a slight justification for it.
  • The infamous Loving murders storyline kicked off with the first victim being discovered lying on her bed, clad in a beautiful negligee (she was preparing for a romantic evening and the final touch was to dab herself with fragrant powder, which turned out to be poisoned).
  • Murder One: The first season's murder victim, Jessica Costello, is shown completely naked and strangled to death, which is even more alarming considering that the character is supposed to be 15 years old.
  • This trope is mentioned though not depicted in Penny Dreadful, in which Vanessa (possessed by a demon at the time) monologues about how dead women were photographed and the pictures circulated to titillate their male audience.
  • In a rare male example, the Poirot episode "Five Little Pigs" features the very sexualised corpse of Amyas Crale. More than once.
  • It's also mentioned though not depicted in Salem in which Sebastian briefly mentions how much he enjoys the beauty of a woman drained of all her blood.
  • In an early episode from The Shield, Detective Wagenbach can't help but stare at a naked dead woman's breasts. He justifies himself by saying something about how remarkably firm they are, to which detective Claudette Wyms sarcastically replies 'That's called rigor mortis'.
  • This trope shows up occasionally in Silent Witness, but the vast majority of dead bodies look like murder victims, and thus are not sexualised. Additionally, both male and female victims are usually naked during autopsy scenes (with censorship from conveniently placed lab equipment), and this is treated as part of the process rather than Fanservice.
  • The early-1990's cable-TV detective series Silk Stalkings, which centered on two detectives investigating murders among the high-society set of Palm Beach, Florida, featured numerous episodes with beautiful, glamorous women being violently done to death, often with their bodies being shown afterwards either at the crime scene or in the morgue.
  • In Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer's body is found naked and wrapped in a sheet of plastic.
  • Utopia: Samantha dies wearing a fetishy goth outfit of a little black dress and torn fishnet stockings. When her friends cover her body with some drapes, Becky tells Wilson to leave her head uncovered because "she's too pretty."
  • The White Queen: A Rare Male Example occurs when King Richard III's corpse is stripped naked after the Battle of Bosworth, and there's a close-up of his face, bare neck and shoulder. As he is a Raven Hair, Ivory Skin Pretty Boy, he looks like a porcelain doll stained with blood and dirt despite the violence that has been inflicted upon him. Richard was given the Mr. Fanservice treatment in a sex scene note  that took place the night before the battle (the image is therefore still fresh in the audience's minds), so the underlying sensuality of his nude dead body is unmistakable.
  • The Wire:
    • Bunk and McNulty investigate the scene of an old crime where a woman was murdered, while delivering a Cluster F-Bomb. They reference crime scene photos showing the victim wearing only an open bathrobe at the scene. In another episode, drug dealers discover that a naked woman has overdosed at their party, so they dump her body in the trash.
    • In the fifth season, McNulty and another character have a conversation at the morgue regarding a male corpse, which is laying there completely uncovered the whole time.

  • This is a recurring theme in Serbian artist Dead Body Collection's works. Heck, instances of such have shown up on his covers, such as "Throat," "Catoptrophobia," "She Is Like Winter" and "I Slice Her Body, Over And Over."
  • The famous music video for Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance" features Kim Basinger's corpse receiving quite a lot of Male Gaze before Petty's character takes it on an actual date.
  • "Can't Go Back" by Primal Scream made this trope central to the video, as three professional models meeting their demise. Bobby Gillespie, on the other hand, meets his death the old-fashioned (and more gruesome) way—an axe.
  • Kanye West's video for "Monster" features quite a few scantily clad corpses, most of them young women in lingerie.

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • Perfection Girl is a series of photographs that circulated around the internet of an attractive blonde woman lying in a bed. A block of text linked with the photos claimed that the girl was actually dead, "tricking" people who see the photos into lustful thoughts about a corpse. It's highly dubious that the girl is actually dead, making it sort of an inverse prank.

    Western Animation 
  • Cartoon short Special Delivery is a doubly rare example in that it's both animated and male. When a mailman falls on an icy porch and dies, the man who lives there realizes that he has to get rid of the body, but not before completing the mailman's route. He strips the mailman's corpse; many full-frontal shots follow.

    Real Life 
  • Evelyn McHale, photographed minutes after committing suicide by leaping from the Empire State Building in 1947. Called "the most beautiful suicide" by some.
  • Austrian coroner and author of quite dark humoured popular science books, Hans Bankl, stated once that he hardly ever had any cases in his long career. However, as a young doctor he was confronted with the body of a 16-year old trick shot performer, who had killed herself in an unbelievable manner. According to him she was extraordinarily beautiful, even in death.
  • One of the most enduring mysteries of the Battle of Waterloo is the strange incident of the body of a "strikingly beautiful" young woman, dressed in the uniform of a French officer of cuiraissers, which was found by several British officers inspecting the battlefield on the morning of June 19, 1815, the day following the battle. The woman's body was found near the hamlet of La Haye Sainte, where some of the fiercest fighting (including the climactic charge by Napoleon's Imperial Guard) occurred. While she has never been identified, the prevailing theory among students of the battle is that she was a camp follower, possibly the mistress of a French cavalry officer, who went forward in a charge alongside her lover and was killed.
  • L'Inconnue de la Seine ("the unknown woman of the Seine"), a death mask of an anonymous young woman whose body was supposedly recovered from the river Seine in Paris, was an incredibly popular artistic and erotic icon in early 20th-century Europe (and, eventually, the model for the Rescusci-Annie CPR dummy).