Oh, no! Someone just died! The life drains out of him, his Winged Soul Flies Off at Death, his body falls to the floor... and is replaced with a gravestone?
This trope is where a death creates a gravestone on the spot; that is, the very fact of death creates a gravestone. No-one builds it, and there is no time lapse. Usually, no explanation is given besides Rule of Funny and/or Gameplay and Story Segregation. Or it happens in the type of game with Acceptable Breaks from Reality. Often involves Grave Humour, but not always.
Purposes behind the use of the trope vary. Sometimes it's just Rule of Funny / Have a Nice Death. Sometimes the gravestone is used to indicate to players that somebody died. Sometimes it serves a gameplay purpose, like containing loot. It is often used for similar light-hearted symbolism as the aforementioned Winged Soul Flies Off at Death. It may also be used in certain censorship-heavy countries like China as a means of indicating death without showing skeletons which may be regarded poorly by the authorities.
This is not where a gravestone is used symbolically, such as if a "game over" screen is a gravestone, or a gravestone indicates a dead character in the interface. The gravestone must appear in the world.
This may be a Family-Unfriendly Death
- In RuneScape, Instant Gravestones (usually) protect your items when you die. Bigger and fancier ones can be purchased which hold your items for longer.
- In Realm of the Mad God, all players get Instant Gravestones; stronger characters get bigger, more impressive gravestones. Due to the game's use of permadeath, players will often pay respects to a particularly strong character.
- The Oregon Trail contains this, including player-defined inscriptions. People tend to try to invoke Grave Humor with Bottom Of The Barrel Jokes, as future players can read the gravestones.
- All of The Sims games use this, specifically it will be an urn if it's indoors and a tombstone outdoors, and it will change if the player moves the grave marker. If a Sim's grave is on a lot, that Sim's ghost may show up at night. In the sequel games the gravemarkers look different depending on how the Sim died, and how well the player did at satisfying them. In The Sims 2, a Sim that dies of old age while in Platinum aspiration will get a gold and silver coloured marker with the symbol for their aspiration on it. In The Sims 3, the size of a sim's grave marker depends on how many Lifetime Happiness points they earned, and the marker has a symbol on it reflecting how the Sim died.
- Worms games have goner worms blowing themselves up with a Plunger Detonator and instantly being replaced with a gravestone.
- Dying in Terraria will spawn a tombstone stating your cause of death. You can then dig it up if you like.
- The Multiplayer game Glitch has this. When you die a gravestone appears on the spot. Other players can visit the gravestone to mourn or celebrate. The stone disappears after you respawn.
- The RPG Crossfire does this. Gravestones can even be collected by someone.
- In the Warrior Cats fan-made game Warrior Cats: Untold Tales, killing a cat will make a tombstone appear.
- In the Kid Icarus: Uprising Multiplayer, when a player dies, a tombstone will appear where they died. If it gets hit enough, it will explode, hurting everyone within range.
- The 1976 Exidy Arcade Game Death Race may be the Ur-Example. Running over people turned them into grave markers that couldn't be driven over.
- In Warcraft III, units with the Reincarnation ability leave a large cross/ankh-shaped marker on death. Played With, as the unit comes back to life a few seconds later.
- In Maniac Mansion, whenever one of your characters dies, a gravestone appears in the front garden of the mansion.
- In the Chinese version of World of Warcraft, tombstones appear instead of skeletons when a player character dies.
- In Red Dead Redemption, you can watch a Show Within a Show where a salesman sells some concoction to an old man, causing him to dig his own grave, complete with headstone.
- Later Grand Theft Auto games (third game onwards) have a variation. Bodies will eventually fade away and be replaced by a chalk outline (irrespective of whether the police have arrived at the scene or not).
- In Castlevania: Harmony of Despair's multiplayer, dying creates a tombstone which spawns a skeleton.
- In Crash Bandicoot 2: Cortex Strikes Back, being killed by a sledge hammer produces a grave stone with Crash's face on it.
- When a player's character dies in MapleStory a tombstone appears.
- The human enemies in Secret Agent. The higher-ranking enemies turn into lower-ranking enemies until you kill the lowest, weakest form, at which point they become a gravestone (which can be picked up or just destroyed for points.)
- A gravestone appears along with a Have a Nice Death message every time you die in Tomb Racer.
- When heroes die in Majesty, a small grave pops up on the spot where they fell. The actual design of the gravestone depends on what sort of hero they were. If the player has the skill to revive the dead, there is a small window of time in which casting that spell on the grave will bring back the hero... who lampshades the instant nature of it all with a question mark over his/her head, as though wondering what the hell just happened.
- Kingdom Rush: Every time your hero dies and is waiting to respawn, their body gets replaced by a gravestone where they fell.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2 has this happen whenever an undead enemy dies. If three turns pass before the gravestone is removed with a special skill or the battle's over, they revive.
- Dungeon Siege II: When the entire party dies in battle, markers are placed at the locations of each party member containing the gear they had equipped, their inventory, and a portion of the party's gold. The party is then resurrected in the nearest major town and given the option of having their gear returned to them at the cost of the gold left behind, or going out to the location of the markers to retrieve everything. The markers disappear once their contents have been reclaimed.
- There are at least two mods for Minecraft that add this to the game. Both OpenBlocks and the aptly named Gravestone Mod will add a tombstone that appears at the location a player dies at, which contains all their gear and inventory at the time of death. The inventory can be retrieved by mining either the marker itself or, in the case of Gravestone Mod, the block directly beneath the marker.
- In Warframe, the Inaros 'frame has the unique ability of encasing himself in an instant sarcophagus when all his health is gone, instead of merely being downed like other 'frames. If an enemy is nearby, the player can target them and drain their health, allowing Inaros to get back on his feet without needing another player to rescue them.
- Cuphead: Goopy le Grande, one of the first bosses, has this. After you beat his larger, second form, he becomes dizzy, and then his own huge tombstone comes down to crush him dead. And yes, said tombstone is the boss' third form that tries to crush you, requiring you to beat it to defeat the boss for good.
- Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Defeated Unique Monsters leave behind a gravestone when defeated; interacting with the stone will respawn the monster for you to fight whenever you want. This is in contrast to previous entries in the series, where Unique Monsters simply respawned at random times, which was inconvenient for both re-fighting and avoiding them.
- In MapleStory 2, once your Health reaches 0, you are trapped underneath a tombstone. Other players can revive you by destroying the tombstone, but this gives you the "tombshocked" debuff. Dying while tombshocked will trap you under a metal tombstone that cannot be destroyed by other players.
- in the Midway arcade game Boot Hill, when a cowboy is shot dead, he turns into a tombstone and floats over to the graveyard.
- Subverted and certainly NON comedic in a Manga by Junji Ito called "Street of Gravestones",where a small town leaves the bodies of the dead where they fall when they die, as their gravemarker grows up and replaces their body.Being this is a Cosmic Horror Story, bad things happen right at the start when a couple driving to visit hit a pedestrian and try to hide the body.And then they found out what happens to the bodies if you move them.....
- There's a gag in the Looney Tunes short "Baseball Bugs" where a player tries to catch a fly ball ("I got it! I got it!"), gets plowed into the ground by it, and a gravestone pops up where he stops (reading: "He got it").
- In the Betty Boop short Betty Boop, M.D., a wheelchair-bound elderly man takes a swig of Betty's patent medicine Jippo, dances around seemingly rejuvenated, but then lies down in the road and pulls the asphalt over his head, as a scat-singing tombstone pops up. The man's arm then pokes out of the grave to plant a flower on it.
- In an old Raid commercial, some bugs crawling on the floor turned into tombstones when the anthropomorphic Raid sprayed them. See here.
- In the anime Monster Rancher, whenever monsters die they instantly turn into a Lost Disk — a stone disk gripped in a dead shrub.
- One of the Tex Avery MGM Cartoons, Little Tinker, features this after an elderly rabbit, in a fit of mad lust for B.O. Skunk's Frank Sinatra impression, jumps out of her wheelchair, does cartwheels, jumps into the air and lands in the ground. A tombstone then appears that reads "Oh Frankie!".
- There's a running gag in many Garry's Mod videos with the Team Fortress 2 cast, where when someone is fatally injured they'll announce their own death out loud and become a tombstone with the deceased merc's face sticking out of the front, sometimes even just blurting out "Dead!". Other times it will simply be the Heavy's voice saying "Dead." as if it was a sound effect, or even "Dead. Not big surprise.".
- In the What If? session discussing what would happen to a person floating upwards at one foot per second, the final illustration of the hypothetical victim depicts a floating gravestone.
- The Beatles cartoon "From Me To You" has George learning how to surf in preparation for a surf duel against a hulking bully. A wave throws George to shore—he lands buried in beach sand and his surfboard plants itself at the head with "R.I.P." appearing on it.
- In the Mickey Mouse (2013) short "Touchdown and Out" after being trampled in a football game, Goofy gets drilled in the ground and a tombstone and lily pop out with a "cha-ching" sound effect.
- OK K.O.! Let's Be Heroes
- In "We Messed Up" K.O., Enid, and Rad sneak into Mr. Gar's office and Rad accidentally destroys a framed picture of K.O.'s mom Carol. When Enid imagines what them telling Mr. Gar the truth would be like, he yells at them with enough force to launch them to the moon, resulting in the three of them getting instant gravestones. A passing satellite then drops a flower on Enid's grave.
- In "Sibling Rivalry", this happens to Darrell and Shannon after Lord Boxman ridicules them and tells them that his newest robot Raymond is his new favorite.
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- In "Jellyfish Jam", SpongeBob teaches a jellyfish to do tricks. When told to play dead, the jellyfish appears buried under a tombstone.
- In "Demolition Doofus", Mrs. Puff plots to get SpongeBob killed at a demolition derby and has an Imagine Spot of him getting hit by cars from all sides. When the dust clears, all that's left is a tombstone.
- Played with in the Classic Disney Short "Hawaiian Vacation". Goofy's attempts at surfing result in his being plowed into the sand, and his surfboard gets embedded in the ground, forming a makeshift tombstone.
- Star Trek: The Original Series. Played for Drama in "Where No Man has Gone Before", when Gary Mitchell uses his Psychic Powers to create a grave and tombstone for Captain Kirk, whom he's fighting at the time.
- Spoofed in the Mater's Tall Tales short "El Materdor". While in the middle of a matador match, a bulldozer runs Mater into the ground, and two pieces of wood stick up from where he's buried, making it look like a grave. As everyone starts to morn his apparent death, Mater comes out from the ground, and continues the match.
- Private Snafu: Snafu gets one after he is flattened by a Japanese tank in "The Goldbrick".
- Pokémon Black: If the player uses Curse on a trainer, a headstone will appear in the overworld.
- The Quack Pack episode "Need 4 Speed" has Donald Duck have an Imagine Spot of his nephews getting in trouble with the law after getting their first car, resulting in the President of the United States nuking them and leaving three tombstones reading "Huey", "Dewey" and "Louie".