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Lonely Funeral

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"Eleanor Rigby died in a church
And was buried along with her name
Nobody came..."

So, you have this character that's important to the story. Maybe a Tragic Hero, or a family member or friend, The Rival, or a major antagonist. They die in a dramatic scene, and there's a funeral. With three people attending. For added pathos, it may be raining. Seems only the True Companions and possibly Worthy Opponent care enough to be there.

This can be used to show how the person had pushed everyone away until he was Hated by All, or how trivial and shallow his life was, or how fair-weather his so-called-friends were, or how his reputation lasted after death, or What You Are in the Dark resulted in his death with no one knowing the truth, or the simple fact that no one even knew this person. Perhaps these people are, justifiably or otherwise, discouraged or actively banned from attending.

Distinct from And There Was Much Rejoicing in that the reaction needn't be positive, only largely indifferent except for a select few, and usually Played for Drama instead of laughs. Often goes with Downer Beginning.

If the person has no time for a formal funeral, it is not an example of this; they may substitute To Absent Friends or other forms of Due to the Dead, such as visiting the grave.

Compare Dying Alone and Unmourned Death. Contrast Dead Guy on Display.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Code Geass, Suzaku's grave is visited only by the cat Arthur. As some blogger put it, "if the cat is the only person at your grave, you must have really sucked in life." Of course, that scene happened long after the actual funeral and he is Not Quite Dead but still. It signifies how, in the end, everyone saw him as a traitor. To everyone.
  • One episode of the Galaxy Angel anime Ranpha had Forte fake her death as part of a scam she made by pretending to be dead in a coffin. When they got out of the coffin, they found only Vanilla and Nomad doing her funeral, most of their friends attended another man's funeral who was a high ranking officer, while they were buried in some asteroid as its the only thing they could afford.
  • Sherry's funeral in Gungrave was attended only by Harry mostly because all of their friends and family are dead.
  • In Puella Magi Tart Magica, the final chapter notes that the funeral of Isabeau de Bavière was barely attended by anyone, which was said to be a rarity for a queen's funeral. Given that she was the Big Bad of the series and known to the French as The Woman That Sold Her Country, it's no surprise.
  • Defied in Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, where D and a human woman swear that, when one learns of the other's death, they will make all haste to the grave site, so that at least one person will mourn the other's passing. D outlives the human (being half-vampire) and keeps his promise, observing her burial but keeping his distance from the crowd of family and friends. One of the woman's grandchildren notices him in the distance and goes to talk with him for a while, and D notes that he's glad that the woman's fear that she would die unmourned turned out to be unjustified; more significantly, he was relieved she turned away from her dark motives of revenge, living out the rest of her years in peace.

    Comic Books 
  • In the Chick Tract ''Mean Momma'', the titular character's father was buried, with only a minister and a gravedigger attending the funeral.
  • During the events of the miniseries 52, Booster Gold appeared to have been killed; no one came to his funeral (even the heroes who carried his coffin were a bunch of Super Zeroes who were paid to do it.) Turns out he had faked his own death as part of a plan against a villain; whether the funeral was part of that or really represented the regard people had for him is unclear. However, in Booster Gold's case this trope has special meaning: He needs his time-traveling life to be a Stable Time Loop, which means he can't be remembered after death, because he knows he wasn't famous in the future. If he had a lonely funeral, it's because he spent his whole life ensuring it'd be that way.
  • In A Death in the Family, a total of five people attend Jason Todd's funeral: Bruce, Alfred, Jim and Barbara Gordon, and a priest. Though there are a number of reasons as to why. First, Jason was only in his mid-teens at the time, and as the narration states "Jason's life was too short for his passing to cause many ripples." Second, Dick Grayson, the first Robin and Jason's surrogate brother, had been on an adventure in space at the time, and didn't find out about Jason's death until he returned to Earth. Third, Jason was usually busy with his duties as Robin in Gotham, preventing him from forming friendships with civilians or other heroes.
  • In an issue of JLA (1997), we see Superman attending the funeral of Metamorpho; the only other people there are Metamorpho's family, his personal rival Java, the gravedigger, and the minister. This isn't because Metamorpho is unpopular or unloved, but rather because superheroes come back to life so frequently that most people find it difficult to care about funerals. Especially in the case of Metamorpho specifically, who's died and come back more than once by that point. As if to drive the point home further, Metamorpho and many of the heroes whose markers were shown in the scene (Hal Jordan, Barry Allen, Oliver Queen, Ice, and the original Hourman) came back over the ensuing few years, as did Tomorrow Woman, who debuted and died in the very same issue.
  • In one of the first issues of the modern Justice Society of America series, at Wesley Dodds' funeral, Wildcat remarks that when Madam Fatal died, the only people who came were the cast of the local production of La Cage aux folles (Madam Fatal was a male actor who fought crime in old-lady drag, and had been all but forgotten). This may have been sparked by the fact that the only people present were JSA, though the topic at the time was mortality in general, and Wildcat was also wondering how, or if, he himself would be remembered.
  • In Kingdom Come, nobody came to Dodds' funeral at all.
  • In The Punisher MAX, the only person present at Frank Castle's funeral is Nick Fury.
  • In Suicide Squad, Emilia Harcourt, a NSA representative attached to the Squad, muses there are very few greater accolades than this when one is part of the intelligence community. At Amanda Waller's funeral, only her children and Harcourt herself show up.
  • Watchmen: Only a handful of mourners turn up to The Comedian's funeral. As Ozymandias observes earlier in the story, "The Comedian made a lot of enemies, even amongst his friends." Aside from the small number of fellow vigilantes who attend the funeral, the only other mourner is one of The Comedian's arch enemies.
    Rorschach: Is that what happens to us? No time for friends, only our enemies leave roses? Violent lives ending violently.

    Fan Works 
  • Dragon Ball Reboot: During the Time-Compression Montage near the end of the prequel issue, Gine's adoptive father Oniott succumbs to his unnamed illness, and a funeral is promptly held for him on Planet Vegeta. Despite being a Retired Badass general with a long and impressive service record in the Saiyan Army, the only Saiyans who bother to attend are Gine, Bardock's team (who are probably only there to support Gine), and a few no-name guards. However, according to Gine, this is seemingly normal for Saiyan culture.
  • In Foundations the only people at Romilda's funeral are Harry and Draco. Harry was her Healer at Saint Mungo's and Draco is there to lend him emotional support.
  • Half Past Adventure: Robin throws one for the deceased Plant Mook Shillelagh after the latter gets team-killed, despite them having tried to kill zhir. Zhe even throws in a short eulogy.
    I didn’t know them, and the only interaction I had with them was trying to kill me. I don’t know if they had some goodness in their soul, or even if they had one in the first place. But now I never will. Wherever they are, if they’re anywhere, I hope someone treats ‘em with the dignity they never got a chance to earn.
  • The oneshot Never Forget Me revolves around Twilight Sparkle being invited to Trixie's funeral and being the only attendant. Trixie had no family and no friends, so Twilight was the only person in her will.
  • In The Night Unfurls, Luu-Luu's funeral is a private affair, so it counts as this.
  • Nosflutteratu: Rarity describes Fluttershy’s funeral this way. Though her account may not be completely reliable.
  • The funeral of Old Man Henderson is only attended by Jimmy and Kary, as well as the priest giving the funeral service. This is because Henderson didn't have any friends other than his party members, who, aside from those two, were all dead, and the only reason they survived is because their players couldn't make it to the final session, so they were Put on a Bus. The man himself actually requested that he not have a funeral and that his body just be chucked into the dump, claiming nobody cared about him in life, so nobody will care that he died, and his player was very touched that they gave him one at all. As Henderson's only living acquaintences, they also ended up getting his life insurance money, which they used to go to a good college together.
  • In An Uncle's Journey Harry and his aunt and cousin are the only ones at his uncle's funeral, with Harry attending only because his cousin asked him to.
  • In What the Heart Wants Harry, Hermione and Ron are the only attendees at Snape's funeral. And the latter two are there solely to support Harry.
  • Subverted in Words From Our Heart. The one-shot revolves around Trixie's suicide note. She fully expected no one to turn up to her funeral. Instead, the entirety of Ponyville turns up.
  • In Rumours of the Pond Harry is the only one at Snape's funeral.
  • What It Takes: It's revealed Quentin's funeral was one of these in the epilogue, being small and brief. Of his family, only Sara is confirmed to have attended; Laurel did not, but she does visit his grave briefly to mourn him.
  • In "Forfeit" Nobody but the Kanker Sisters' mom including their three fathers attend their funeral. It's left ambiguous if their dads only were there out of obligation or it was to make up for the fact that none of them were remotely involved in their lives.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Grave of the Fireflies, Setsuko's funeral is this. It is already heartbreaking enough that her brother Seita tried everything he could to make sure that they could survive and failed. How does it feel when you are alone in cremating her? It's no wonder he lost all reason to live after this.
  • At the very beginning of Up, the now widowed Carl Friedricksen is the only mourner seen attending his late wife Ellie's funeral. The funeral is never shown — we see Carl alone with the casket (hopefully just after everyone else is gone), but that may be intended to underscore how alone he is without Ellie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • A Carol Christmas had Carol's aunt Marla who had only her niece and her work partner there. Later on, Carol saw her funeral with only her assistant and her friend there.
  • Zig-zagged with Martha's funeral at the end of The Children's Hour. At least a dozen people attended but they kept their distance. The only characters near Martha's casket are her best friend Karen and her aunt (who raised her).
  • In The Bad and the Beautiful, Jonathan Shields' father had plenty of mourners at his funeral, but only because he willed the last of his money to pay for them to attend.
  • Bang the Drum Slowly: No one from the team save Henry went to Bruce's funeral.
  • Big Fish: It seems like no one but Ed Bloom's son Will will attend his funeral, but all of his old circus friends and acquaintances come and share stories about Ed.
  • The Bodyguard From Beijing has The Dragon stealing his brother's corpse from a morgue (being an assassin killed by the titular hero) and then holding a private ceremony where he burns his brother's corpse. Before swearing he will make the hero pay for the murder.
  • Creed II shows Spider Rico's funeral in a deleted scene. The church is mostly empty, as the attendees consist solely of Rocky, the priest, three cooks from Rocky's restaurant where Rico liked to hang out, and three other people.
  • In Charade, there is a funeral scene that is minimally attended, mostly by people making sure the corpse is actually dead. The widow even points out the policeman in attendance, and says that even he wouldn't be there if her husband hadn't been murdered.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Dark Knight Rises. Only four people attended Bruce Wayne's funeral: Gordon, Blake, Fox, and Alfred, but the entire city honors Batman's sacrifice.
  • An extreme and sad example in Dear John…. with Mr. Tyree, who was hardly a bad person, but misunderstood and speculatively suffering from Asperger Syndrome. There was only one attendee at his funeral, the eponymous John.
  • In the Lifetime movie From Homeless To Harvard, Liz's mother Jean, a drug addict who died from AIDS, is buried in a charity plot with only a tiny handful of people attending her makeshift funeral. She receives no headstone, there is no memorial service or priest, and her coffin is a plain wooden box with her name written on it in marker, misspelled as "Gene". As a final insult, her abusive father doesn't even bother to stay for the whole funeral; when her distraught daughter asks what they should do because there's no priest, the father coldly says, "She's dead, put her in the ground," and leaves.
  • Predicted in GoldenEye. Being a James Bond film, of course, it didn't happen but the prediction still holds true. When Bond finally does die, Moneypenny will probably be the closest thing to a friend in attendance. Although after the reboot, Felix Leiter could come as well. But that still makes two.
    • 006's prediction does eventually come true at the end of No Time to Die. Only M, Q, Moneypenny, Bill Tanner and Nomi are present for a private vigil. Leiter couldn't come because he died earlier in the movie.
  • Hunt for the Wilderpeople: After Bella dies, there are only seven mourners at the church service, including Hec and Ricky.
  • The Great Gatsby (1974): Only Nick Carraway, Henry Gatz and one other man show up at Gatsby's funeral and burial to demonstrate how fair-weather his social circle was.
  • Parodied in I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. A crowd of people show up for Junebug's funeral. When they realize they're at the wrong funeral, they all leave, taking all of the funeral decorations as they go. The only people left are Junebug's immediate family.
  • John Wick: Chapter 4: After John finally succumbs to his wounds after winning the duel for his freedom, the only people attending his funeral is Winston, The Bowery King, and Wick's dog.
  • Memories Of Me: It seems like no one but Abe Polin's son and his partner attend his funeral — but then all of his background actor friends come walking through the cemetary to pay their respects.
  • Milk: Subverted. Harvey Milk's close friends wonder why so few people are attending the funeral service until they step outside and see the street packed with mourners holding a candlelit vigil.
  • In Night School (1981), Elanor is the only mourner at Victor's funeral. She leaves before the priest has finished his service.
  • In The Normal Heart, due to the impact of the ongoing AIDS epidemic and most of their friends dying of the disease, only less than a dozen people attend Nick's funeral, including Ned Weeks, Felix Turner and Tommy Boatwright, who gives the eulogy.
  • At the start of Plan 9 from Outer Space, the old man played by Bela Lugosi attends the funeral of his wife. Ed Wood's usual budget doesn't allow for very many extras, though it actually helps the scene by emphasizing how little the old man had (and how much he's just lost).
  • In Return of the Jedi, Luke Skywalker gives his father Anakin a Jedi's funeral by himself on Endor while the rest of the Rebels are celebrating their victory, since he's the only person who saw what happened in the Emperor's throne room and knows that Anakin died a good person.
  • In The Shout, Tom the shepherd's funeral is attended only by The Vicar, Anthony the organist, and three mourners, one of whom leaves partway through the service.
  • Star Trek: Generations: As both were stranded on a deserted planet, Picard is the organizer and sole mourner of Kirk's makeshift funeral.
  • The only people to attend Choon-Hwa's funeral at the end of Sunny are her recently reunited group of high school friends. The funeral isn't exactly "lonely" though as her friends start dancing during the wake.
  • In Van Helsing Helsing is the only one who mourns Anna, while Carl presides the funeral. On a bright note, her spirit is now reunited with her father and brother.
  • In When Darkness Falls, Nina gets honor murdered by her family, making it look like a suicide. Only shortly after, her body is flown into the country she was born and buried there. The family tells nobody about that, not even her younger sister, who is sedated at that time, and eventually, probably no one comes to her funeral.

  • In Stephen King's short story "1922", Hank James of the Sweetheart Bandits has a Lonely Funeral because the townsfolk blame him for the deaths of his partner-in-crime Shannon Cotterie and their unborn child. The funeral is attended by only the preacher and Henry's father and mother, the latter being already dead herself.
  • Adrian Mole: A minor character in Cappuccino Years is Archie Tait, an elderly man who has devoted his life to supporting Socialist Labour, and sacrificed everyone he knows to this cause. Adrian and a very few other people attend his funeral.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Alta: Prince Toreth. Given an insultingly extravagant state funeral that not even his own parents attended, only his brother and the other jousters of his wing.
  • A Christmas Carol
    • Scrooge is shown in the Bad Future that he will die alone and unmourned if he doesn't repent, with his former business acquaintances cruelly mocking his death, and stating they might go if the service is catered.
    • It's also mentioned early on that Scrooge was the only person to show up to Marley's funeral. The 1999 adaptation shows the funeral, attended only by Scrooge, the priest, and a few business associates.
    • Some adaptations play with this. At least one film version had half of Camden Town show up to the funeral - so they could celebrate the fact that he was finally gone.
      • Another adaptation still has this happen to Scrooge even after he repents, but with one notable exception - a single mourner does show up for his funeral: Tiny Tim.
  • In Dorothy Gilman's The Clairvoyant Countess, Mazda Lorvale's funeral had no mourners.
  • At the end of The Day of the Jackal, the assassin is discreetly buried under the pretext of him being a foreign tourist killed in a road accident. The only attendee is Inspector Lebel who tracked him down and killed him. Lebel develops a grudging respect for his target over the course of the novel, it's likely Due to the Dead.
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld:
    • Guards! Guards! opens with a copper's funeral, with only his three squadmates attending, to show just how little regard the Night Watch is held in.
    • The sequel Men at Arms has something similar happen to Edward D'Eath's father, which helps send him off the deep end.
  • Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: In Turn Coat, Morgan had no mourners at his funeral, owing to the story they put out, but they engaged in To Absent Friends.
  • Early Autumn: When family outcast Horace Pentland is buried the day after Jack, the only people that show up are Olivia, John, Sabine, Aunt Cassie, and some random old lady from the town who never misses funerals. The minister doesn't even come.
  • Charlotte from ghostgirl was an orphan and an extremely unpopular girl at her school, so no one stayed for her memorial service. Students showed up but only to skip school. They didn't stay long enough to appear in photos.
  • Gatsby's lonely funeral from The Great Gatsby was used to show how fair-weather all of his friends were. The only attendants were Nick, Gatsby's father, a half-dozen servants and (to Nick's surprise) the unnamed owl-eyed man from the library.
  • In Maniac Magee, Grayson's funeral is shown to have Maniac himself as the only mourner; by the time Maniac runs off, even the priest hasn't shown up.
  • In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Michael Henchard, having finally hit rock bottom, leaves instructions on his deathbed that he is to have one of these. He insists that his stepdaughter Elizabeth-Jane Farfrae, his only living "relative", not be told of his death (which becomes impossible to honour when she and her husband arrive at his house half an hour after he dies), that church bells not be rung to signal his death, that his funeral have no mourners, that his grave have no flowers, and that no man remember him. Elizabeth-Jane, who had been hoping to reconcile with him before he died, is devastated by the self-loathing of his final wishes.
  • Le Père Goriot: At Goriot's funeral, the main character and another person are the only ones at the funeral. Even Goriot's daughters don't show, only sending empty carriages with their armories on them (as they had married into higher social classes than Goriot was from, and though rich, he lived poorly so he could keep sending them money).
  • Linked: Clayton Pouncey's grandfather was a member of the KKK "and worse", and took his five-year-old son to a mass cross-burning, the Night of a Thousand Flames. After hearing this story, Pouncey's friend Jordie muses that that explains why barely anyone attended Pouncey's grandfather's funeral (and some of those who did, like a younger Jordie, were ignorant of the old man's past and/or just wanted to be there for his family).
  • The medical examiner who did a post-mortem exam on one of the Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up murder victims in Past Mortem (by Ben Elton) attended the man's funeral afterward. He mentions that the only other attendees were five relatives, The Vicar, and a victim of the dead man's Drill Sergeant Nasty behavior who shows up late to pay some Last Disrespects.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: The only people present at Bothari's funeral are Miles and Cordelia. Bear in mind, though, that in Barrayaran culture, mourning the dead isn't a one-off event. It may take Bothari's daughter another ten years to come to terms with the horrifying things that she has learnt about him, and to prove herself as an independent person who doesn't need her dead father's approval, before she can allow herself to mourn for him, but she comes back to burn a grave-offering for him eventually.

    Live-Action TV 
  • All in the Family: In "Edith's Final Respects," Edith — to her surprise — is the only one to attend her Aunt Rose's funeral. (This is a twist on the trope, as Aunt Rose was fairly well respected. However, Rose is also very aged and had few surviving close friends or family that were able to attend the funeral, a reflection of real life.)
  • The A-Team: In "A Nice Place to Visit", the team attended the funeral of a friend of theirs they had served in Vietnam with. Besides the team and Amy, the only people there were the priest conducting the service and the man's wife.
    • A subversion of sorts. The townspeople wanted to attend the vet's funeral but... they were intimidated into not attending by the local town heavies. Who were also the men who killed him.
  • One of the corpses of the week on Bones has only his mother coming to his funeral. Or would have, if Brennan, Booth and the team hadn't shown up.
  • A less serious example that soon turns to comedy is on Chuck. Casey pretends to play dead and has a funeral to lure his trio of former teammates out, and agents are supposed to be hidden among the guests attending, but Chuck points out that the only people there are him, Sarah, and the agents.
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • "Penny and Dime" opens with two different funerals. Before the opening credits, we get a wake held by the Kitchen Irish for their associates who were killed when Frank Castle shot up their clubhouse. The only survivor of the massacre, Grotto, isn't part of this wake, due to dying at Frank's hands a few days later. He instead gets a private funeral service at Clinton Church with only Matt, Karen and Foggy in attendance.
    • After Elektra dies, Matt and Stick are the only ones who show up for her burial.
    • The Defenders (2017): After Matt's apparent "death" at Midland Circle, we see Karen holding a lonely vigil in Matt's church. When Foggy drops in, she asks him to stay and pray alongside her. The camerawork when Karen and Foggy are sitting in the pews deliberately echoes the camerawork of Matt, Karen and Foggy sitting in the same pews at Grotto's funeral, minus Matt of course.
  • Dexter: Due to the fact that everyone assumed him to be the Bay Harbor Butcher (instead of Dexter) Sergeant Doakes has a funeral attended only by his mother, his two sisters, his former partner and Dexter himself. Emphasized when the former partner suggests starting up a memorial fund in his name, and everyone looks at her like she's high.
  • In EastEnders, the only person who attends Steven Beale's funeral is Abi Branning, Billy Mitchell, and Jay Brown (The latter two because they were the undertakers). Probably didn't help that shortly before the funeral it had been revealed that Steven had been lying about dying from a brain tumour.
  • On ER, when Dr. Romano dies, the only person who attends his memorial service was Dr. Corday.
  • A French Village: Only Gustave, Daniel and Suzanne come to Marcel's funeral.
  • Game of Thrones: The Night's Watch burn their dead in on massive funeral pyres. Meanwhile, heartbroken Jon Snow honors the girl he loved, Ygritte, by himself, building a funeral pyre for her, and laying her to rest in the "true North" as she would have wanted. Alone, he burns her body on the pyre, per Watch and wildling procedure, and sheds Manly Tears for her.
    • In House of the Dragon, few people attend the funeral of Rhaenyra Targaryen's sixth child after the Tragic Stillbirth. Especially compared to the attendance for the earlier funeral of Rhaenyra's brother Baelon, who also died by stillbirth. It still turns into an Awesome Moment of Crowning when Ser Erryk Cargyll brings the Targaryen crown to Rhaenyra.
  • Get Smart: Max was pretending to be dead; the only people who showed up to his funeral were himself (in disguise), 99, the Chief, and a couple of KAOS agents.
  • Gilmore Girls: Luke's unlikable uncle dies and he has to arrange the funeral. Nobody attends the funeral but Luke and his friend Lorelai who goes with him to support him despite not knowing the deceased herself. Luke freaks out a bit because he sees himself in his uncle, but Lorelai assures him he's respected and liked.
  • On the The Golden Girls, when Frieda Claxton, a despised neighbor of the Girls dies, they plan and attend the funeral, being the only ones there (and even they only attended out of guilt because she died right after Rose told her to “drop dead”). It is Played for Laughs when a woman stops by and reveals that she the deceased was a great supporter of charity, but keen on anonymous work, but she was at the wrong funeral. When the woman found out who she really was, she kicked the coffin, since she hated her as well.
  • It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: Played for Laughs in the episode "Mac And Charlie Fake Their Deaths". Besides the rest of the gang, only two people attend- Mac and Charlie's mothers, and one of them falls asleep during the ceremony. The two guys, hiding in the air vents, are pissed off that they didn't get a better ceremony.
  • Leverage, subversion: Sophie apparently gets killed by an IED sent by the villain of the week, and we cut to her funeral, where Eliot is giving her a speech...until he gets to her name, at which point he stutters out one of her aliases. Cut to the crowd, which is actually pretty big.
  • Lost:
    • The funeral of "Jeremy Bentham". The only person who attends is Jack Shephard.
    • This is also true of the fake funeral of Locke's father in a season 2 Flash Back.
  • An episode of Louie has the title character attend the funeral of an extremely, nauseatingly unpleasant producer who is universally despised by comedians, precisely because Louie knew that no one would come, and couldn't sleep. There, he meets none other than Robin Williams (playing himself) who came for exactly the same reasons. They promise to do the same for each other. They learn that the nasty man was actually deeply loved and respected — by the staff of his favorite strip club. But since no one wanted to go there with the weasel, no one knew about his soft side.
  • The first time Lancelot dies on Merlin, he gets an elaborate memorial service. The second time (after Morgana brainwashes him into seducing Guinevere and then ordering him to kill himself), Merlin is the only one who attends his Viking Funeral.
  • On My Name Is Earl one of the people that Earl is trying to make up to just died due to a freak accident with a Murphy bed. They are unable to find next-of-kin so Earl takes it upon himself to arrange the guy's funeral. Problem is that they can't find anyone that knew the guy and it looks like he would get one of these.... and then the IMs start popping up on the guy's computer asking where we was. Turns out the guy lived his life on the internet and that all his friends were on there. Earl and Joy managed to figure out how to use a computer enough to arrange a wake at his old apartment for those who can make it. The apartment is standing room only.
  • On NCIS, when Ducky's mother passed away, he tells Gibbs that he didn't bother with a funeral, as most of her friends had passed away themselves, opting merely to lay flowers on her headstone. Gibbs still seems rather miffed that he wasn't invited to this, or at least told.
  • Nip/Tuck: There was a recurring character who blackmailed one of the main cast into giving her more treatments, beyond the point of reason. Eventually, he was asked to give a eulogy at her funeral and was the only one there: she had alienated her whole family.
  • In NUMB3RS, Charlie went to a funeral of a colleague of Larry's only to see that Larry was the only one there.
  • Once Upon a Time: For Cora.
  • On Orange Is the New Black, flashbacks show Alex at the funeral for her mom, where she and the priest were the only ones there.
  • Person of Interest:
    • In a flashback scene in "Beta", a distraught Grace Hendricks is shown at the memorial for her fiancé, alone except for the attending priest. As Harold Finch has spent his entire life living in isolation and hiding his identity, and his Only Friend was killed in the bombing that supposedly killed him, there are no other mourners to Grace's bewilderment.
    • Near the end of the show's run, when Root died, she was buried in a potter's field with only a number on her tombstone, and only Reese and Fusco came to mourn her.
  • In the Season 4 Finale of Psych, Mary, the expert on the Yin-Yang duo only Shawn, Gus, and an old woman (presumably his mother) attend his funeral.
  • Sanctuary: When Ashley died, only the core cast attended her funeral. The nature of work at the Sanctuary lends itself to people who don't have many attachments, so this makes sense.
  • The Shield: Gilroy's funeral only has attendees beyond immediate family because Mackey is trying to help the widow shield her children from what Gilroy really was.
  • Six Feet Under:
    • One of the people that died was a con artist who had swindled a lot of money. The only one who showed up was his wife who didn't know about it until after he died.
    • One woman who seemed to have no family, friends or acquaintances whatsoever. Ruth was desperate to find somebody to attend, and at the end only the Fishers and Rico were present.
  • Spooks: After Ros dies while attempting to rescue the Home Secretary, only the rest of Section D attend her funeral, which causes Harry in particular a great deal of grief. Noteworthy in that of the many, many, people who have died during the course of the show, she is the only one whose funeral is shown in any depth.
  • Stargate SG-1: The US Air Force's First Contact team (SG-1) make up the majority of the attendees at a rather unpleasant minor character's funeral in "Between Two Fires". They find out that A) he only would have wanted people he respected there, and since he was pretty harsh no-one really liked him and B) he arranged for SG-1 to be there in order to solve the mystery of his death.
  • Supernatural:
    • When John Winchester dies, the only people who attend his funeral (being burned in a field) are Sam and Dean. They invited anyone to said field or even put out death notices through the hunters community. It presumably got around by word of mouth eventually that Winchester was out of the game. Pastor Jim and Caleb would have come, if given the opportunity, if they hadn't been murdered by demons half a season before so the Winchesters would have nowhere to run.
    • In Season 4, Sam and Dean are the only mourners at their half-brother Adam's funeral. After realizing he had been Dead All Along and the thing they had met was a ghoul, they grieve the brother they never knew.
    • Sam and Dean are also the only mourners when they bury their time-traveling grandfather Henry Winchester.
    • Dean mourns alone when Kevin Tran is killed by Gadreel in Sam's body.
  • On That '70s Show, Red has a near-death experience and has a dream of nobody attending his funeral, a side effect (according to Kitty) of "calling everyone a dumbass." Subverted when, in a later dream, Red realizes everyone really is a dumbass, and he'd rather not have a bunch of dumbasses at his funeral.
  • On True Blood, only Sookie and Tara attend Eggs' funeral.
  • In the Christmas Episode of the first season of The West Wing, "In Excelsis Deo", White House staffer Toby Ziegler is called by police to find out why a homeless man who died of exposure had his business card. It's straightforward—the man was wearing his donated coat—but Toby notices his Marine Corps tattoo, and he starts to get bothered by the apparent indifference. Over the course of the episode, he learns that the man was a Korean War vet, tracks down his brother, also homeless, and pulls some strings. Although the number of mourners is in the end still quite small (Toby, the brother, and the President's secretary whose own sons had died on Christmas Eve in Da Nang), the vet is buried in a military cemetery with a full honor guard and a three-volley salute.
    President Bartlet: Toby, if we start pulling strings like this, you don't think every homeless veteran is going to come out of the woodwork?
    Toby: I can only hope, sir.
  • On The Wire, Omar's accomplice Tosha Mitchell is killed by friendly fire during a shootout with the Barksdale crew. Her funeral is sparsely attended specifically because Stringer Bell has sent men to watch it in case Omar appears, and no one else in the neighborhood wants to be seen mourning her in their presence.

  • "Eleanor Rigby" by The Beatles. The lonely title character dreams of someday being married, but ultimately dies, her funeral service attended only by the equally lonely Father McKenzie. The lyrics specifically state that "nobody came" to her funeral.
    Father McKenzie wiping the dirt
    From his hands as he walks from the grave
    No one was saved
  • Harry Chapin describes one in "Corey's Coming":
    The scene at the graveyard, just three of us were there
    Me and the gravedigger heard the parson's prayer
  • "The Ballad of Curtis Lowe" by Lynyrd Skynyrd features a quick reference to Curtis's lonely funeral.
    On the day old Curtis died nobody came to pray
    old preacher said some words
    they chucked him in the clay
  • Occurs in "Reuben James" by Kenny Rogers:
    Just the Preacher, me and the rain
    Just to sing one last refrain for Reuben James
  • The Voltaire song "When You're Dead" tells the story of a guy who gets yelled at by an old curmudgeon for copying his style of hats, and tells him to get off his lawn despite how cordial the guy tries to act towards him. The chorus warns no one will mourn at his funeral when he dies. By the end of the song, the guy tries to go over to the house to reach out to him one last time only to find he's not there. He asks one of the neighbors what happened to the old man, but they don't really know, nor do they seem to care.

  • The Six Shooter: Britt's narration at the end of "Jenny" mentions that Ned was buried the next day, and that the only flowers on the grave was a bunch of wild prairie daisies. He, of course, knows who left them there, but does not say anything.

  • In Death of a Salesman, Willy Loman's funeral is attended only by his wife, his sons, Charley and Bernard. He wasn't mourned by half as many as the man who inspired him to become a salesman (and was the subject of the Title Drop).

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham Knight, this is considered one of Joker's worst fears as seen during a fear toxin-induced hallucination, in which only Harley is attending. His worst fear is that in spite of everything he did in life, now that he's dead in time nobody will remember him.
  • In Fable II, Hammer's adoptive father, the head priest of the Temple of Light is killed trying to protect Hammer. You, Hammer, and three monks attend the funeral. Nobody from the town, whose prosperity is given to them by the Monk's holy tree, attends. To make matters worse, the monks depart immediately after the prayer, ignoring Hammer as she calls them out for their callous nature and the callous "business as usual" way the world is treating the death of this man.
  • In Fatal Labyrinth, having little to no gold reserves results in the Game Over screen depicting nobody attending your funeral.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, the ending shows a funeral for Ramza's sister Alma, attended by a handful of elderly people, who were merely mourning the extinction of the noble Beoulve family. Ramza himself, meanwhile, is condemned as a heretic and denied even a marker (although he is the real object of mourning by two of those present at the funeral). Thankfully, neither Alma nor Ramza are actually dead, though only Olan saw this. Although the massive bloody war that just shook the world and killed countless people could be a factor there; all of Alma's friends were dead and the only people that survived the war to come were the old nobles who were safe from the war and too old to fight in it.
  • In L.A. Noire, Cole Phelps' funeral is sparsely populated due to making several enemies in the Marines and the police force. What's worse is that half of those are crooked cops who put him on the path leading to his death, with the guy who ruined his life delivering his eulogy. Only his former company sergeant, his ex-wife and kids, lover and handful of ex-partners are really there for him. And then there's that guy from outside that bar.
  • The Legend of Tian-ding ends with your titular hero's death, in the hands of your own protégé who mistook you as one of the Les Collaborateurs. You unfortunately died a traitor because your allies aren't able to clear your name; you're then buried in an unmarked grave where only a handful of still-surviving resistance members (countable on both hands) mourns your passing. But eventually in the years to come, the truth comes to light, at which point you're honored with a statue in your likeness.
  • The titular character is Driven to Suicide at a tender young age in-between the events of LISA: The First and The Painful. Brad, her Aloof Big Brother to the point that she wasn't even aware he existed, is shown to be the only one to have attended.
  • The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The only person who bothered to visit her grave and pay respect to her was Big Boss (Naked Snake). Well, at least he consistently did it, and even during her final moments, he was there. Possibly done to show how shallow the other higher-ups were, and how they didn't really care about her sacrifice. Also, due to the nature of her final mission, she was never even given a proper funeral. She is buried as an anonymous soldier.
  • In Shadowrun Returns, Sam Watts's funeral is attended only by the Player Character, Jake Armitage, Coyote, and Sam's sister who hired his killer.
  • In A Way Out, Leo's funeral (should the player decide to shoot him) plays out this way. It's justified because Leo is an escaped criminal who had assaulted and even killed several police officers, and held one (Vincent) hostage. Naturally, his marker is quite small and cheap-looking, with a small picture and a plain flower bouquet, and only his wife and son are seen paying their respects.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Kiyotaka Ishimaru recounts the story of his grandfather, a genius who managed to become Prime Minister, but quickly fell from grace due to a scandal. After he died, only family members attended his funeral.
  • The funeral of the main character of the short visual novel Funeral is one of these, with only the three members of his immediate family, who have become estranged from him, in attendance. We soon learn that he was the head of a multinational corporation and a Serial Rapist, who had lied to his family about what he had been up to, until the truth had come out, #metoo style, and taken a devastating toll on the family, to the point of the family being torn apart.
  • She's alive and well in the final game, but in the unused, beta Shizune route of Katawa Shoujo Misha's funeral is surprising scarce. Almost no one came. Despite her perky facade she had a Friendless Background due to being bullied for being lesbian. Hisao and Shizune were literally her only friends.
    Hisao: There was a surprisingly small number of people at the funeral
    Hisao: In the days after, I was able to rationalize it. Bit by bit. I had to.
    Hisao: It's the summer, after all. And Misha was pretty sociable, but she really didn't hang out with a lot of people. I think really only Shizune, myself, and Yuuko knew her all that well.
    Hisao: Even so it's depressing.
    Hisao: I don't think her parents were there.

    Web Comics 
  • The B-Movie Comic: The first victim of the alien invaders in the second "movie".
  • In Breakfast of the Gods, Honey Nuts mascot Buzz Bee is the first casualty. Only Cap'n Crunch, his crew, Tony the Tiger, and the Freakies are present for the burial (and the Freakies seem to be there by default because the grave is dug right next to their tree), apparently because the deceased was an annoying Motor Mouth.
  • In The Order of the Stick, one of the bonus comics in the print volume War and XPs features a very poorly-attended funeral for Lord Shojo.

    Web Original 
  • Chris' funeral in A Girl Who Brought Down the World. Nobody comes at it.
  • Only the other five Elements of Harmony bothered to attend Pinkie's funeral in Rainbow Dash Presents Bittersweet, and of those elements, two of them mocked Pinkie for how she died, one of them made the funeral about her, and one got drowned out by dubstep (though to be fair, that was to comply with Pinkie's last will and testament).
  • In StewdioMACK's "Mack Dies", Mack fakes his death. Nobody shows up to the funeral except himself in a funny hat “disguise”.
  • In There Will Be Brawl, Red's funeral was only attended by Leaf, Samus Aran, K.K. Slyder, and Barbara the Bat. Subverted by the fact that many other people loved him, but didn't attend his funeral because they were out avenging his murder.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of Freaky Stories featured a wealthy man who wasn't on speaking terms with any friend or relative and made a will leaving his fortune to anyone who bothered to attend the funeral. The only person to do it was an old woman who didn't even know him. She simply needed a bathroom and crashing the funeral was the only option. Seeing the blank condolence book, and feeling bad about crashing the funeral, she signed her name and wrote a note thanking him for 'helping her in her hour of need'.
  • In God, the Devil and Bob, Bob's father Tom is such an asshole that the only people at his funeral are Bob, his wife and kids, and three other people. The priest doesn't even know his name.
  • The Harper House: The Harpers are the only ones attending the funeral of the elderly couple that died in the house they moved in since their relatives forgot about them and no one even knew that they were still living there (nor bothered to check).
  • King of the Hill: This was the eventual fate of Cotton Hill. An unrepentant asshole in life, as well as an abusive husband and father, nobody was really that sorry to see him go. Having outlived all of his war buddies meant he had no one; not his ex-wife, his widow, his infant son, his illegitimate son, or his grandson. The only people present at his funeral were his son Hank and three of his friends, the latter of whom were mostly along for the ride.
  • In The Loud House episode "A Flipmas Carol", Flip sees a Bad Future where he died and no one attended his funeral. His tombstone was also a pizza box.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "The Wizard of Evergreen Terrace", Homer imagines himself dying after a lifetime of mediocrity: in Homer's imagination, the gates to the Graveyard of the Future open, where his funeral is taking place. Ned Flanders, having become a Cardinal, does the ceremony, while President Lenny and two bodyguards, Barney Gumble with his arms full of Oscars, as well as the robot from Lost in Space and Heckle and Jeckle, stand by.
      Ned: No, Homer wasn't a great man, nor even an adequate man. And he certainly never accomplished anything. Uh, President Lenny, do you have anything to say?
      Lenny: Nah.
      Ned: All right, fair enough. Toss him in the hole, boys.
      (a dump truck lets loose a mound of dirt, along with the body of Homer J. Simpson, into the hole below. After the dirt settles, his feet stick up, unburied)
      Heckle: There goes a real sack of crap!
      Jeckle: Indubitably, old chum! (several dogs start to chew on Homer's feet)
    • When Bleeding Gums Murphy died in "'Round Springfield", the only person who went to the funeral was Lisa. Marge and Homer didn't even actually attend the funeral, they just waited for Lisa at the edge of the cemetery, Homer buying hot dogs. Reverend Lovejoy didn't even get his name right.
    • In "Raging Abe Simpson and His Grumbling Grandson in "The Curse of the Flying Hellfish"", Mr. Burns and Abe Simpson are the only people attending the funeral of Asa Phelps. The only reason they're there is that they've entered a Tontine over a set of priceless German paintings that they stole from the Nazis during World War II.
    • In "Selma's Choice", Marge's Aunt Gladys dies. When the family arrives for the funeral, there are many people attending. After Selma says that Gladys "wasn't a rich woman," everyone aside from her, Patty, Marge's mother and the Simpson family all get up and leave. One man returns upon hearing she was rich in spirit, but it turns out he'd forgotten his hat.
    • In "Cremains Of The Day", Larry dies. The only people attending his funeral are his mother, the Simpsons, Moe, Carl, and Lenny. To make things worse, Homer, Moe, Carl, and Lenny barely knew him.

    Real Life 
  • Composer Sergei Prokofiev had the misfortune to die in Moscow on the same day that Josef Stalin died. As he lived near Red Square, it was three days before the throng of "mourners" for Stalin had thinned to the point that his body could be removed. There were no flowers at his funeral, as every flower for miles around had been harvested for Stalin's funeral, while only 40 mourners showed up, as his other friends and relatives were too busy honouring the late dictator. (Many musicians mourned him privately instead - supposedly, the tears being shed by the string quartet performing during Stalin's lying in state were for Prokofiev, not Stalin.) Even the memorial issue of the leading Soviet musical periodical of the day devoted its first 115 pages to Stalin, and only made scant mention of Prokofiev's death on p.116.
  • Subverted by Peter Sellers — due to his perceived reputation, he expected nobody to come to his funeral. Hundreds did.
  • A well-known Urban Legend involved an old woman who needed to use the bathroom in a funeral home, so she wrote her name on the list of people attending the funeral of some old man. She was the only guest. It turns out the deceased party was very rich and estranged from his family to the point he wrote in his last will that all his money would be inherited by the people who attended his funeral.
    • An alternate version of the legend involves the person going to church to pray and, seeing that the guest list is empty, writing her name because she feels sorry for the deceased.
  • American founding father Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, a pamphlet frequently seen as among the influential publications of The American Revolution, had a whopping six people show up at his funeral. Why? He had written a thesis (The Age of Reason) promoting deism and damning Christianity, which was...not a popular opinion at the time. (Publishing a letter calling George Washington a treacherous hypocrite and, also, either an apostate or an imposter didn't exactly expand his circle of mourners either.)
  • There are conflicting accounts of what happened to the body of Harold Godwinson after his defeat and death at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The most romantic one was that after it was located by his mistress on the battlefield, he was unceremoniously buried under a pile of rocks by the coast in an attempt to degrade him, but his grave looking out toward the sea makes it appear as if his ghost guards England ever after even though he failed in life. In any event, he died a lonely death for a king and given that it was worth a man's life to say anything good about Harold, only his most devoted friends and family would have attended. And a lot of them were dead themselves.
  • In the Archdiocese of Louisville, there is a "Joseph of Arimathea Society"note  designed to prevent this. They provide flowers and graveside prayers for bodies left unclaimed in the morgue.
    • A similar organization is Garden of Innocence, a nonprofit that provides funerals for abandoned and unidentified children. They bury each child with a handmade blanket, a toy, and a poem written just for them. According to their website, it started in 1999 when the founder read about a baby that had been found dead in the trash. After a month of not being able to forget about him, they called the county coroner's office and asked what had happened to him. They were told the baby was still there, and would be buried in an unmarked grave if he was not claimed. The founder asked, "How do you a claim a baby that's not yours?" and was told, "Show me you have a dignified place to put him."
  • When the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald died, hardly anyone turned up, not even his own wife (most likely because she had been institutionalized for schizophrenia). The service was actually horribly reminiscent of Jay Gatsby's funeral, even down to one of the few mourners (reportedly Dorothy Parker) calling him a "poor son of a bitch".
  • One man faked his own death to find out his true friends (the people who showed up at his funeral). The only person to show up was his mom.
  • Lee Harvey Oswald's funeral was attended by his wife, mother, children, and few else. This is likely due to the funeral being held in (semi-)secret and occurring the same day as that of John F. Kennedy, the president he assassinated, whose funeral was a very big deal. Oswald's funeral attracted so few people, the reporters present were the pall-bearers.
  • After his death in qualifying at Imola, driver Roland Ratzenberger's funeral was attended by few within the Formula One community. The reason? The legendary Ayrton Senna had been killed in another accident at the same race. FIA President Max Mosley, one of those who did attend, later stated, "Roland had been forgotten. So I went to his funeral because everyone went to Senna's. I thought it was important that somebody went to his."
  • US Supreme Court justice James Clark McReynolds was such a bigoted (even by the standards of his time) Jerkass (William Howard Taft remarked that he seemed to "delight in making others uncomfortable", and he was anti-Semitic despite serving with three Jewish Justices) that when he died (after a lonely stint in a hospital), no Supreme Court justice, past or present, attended his funeral.
  • During the early years of the AIDS crisis in the 1980s, there were many of these considering that most of their family members had disowned them for being gay and had them kicked out of their houses and given that the disease was in its infancy, many people were unaware of how AIDS was transmitted.
  • A variation has become common during the COVID-19 Pandemic, with many funerals being conducted by livestreaming with only funeral home staff physically present.
  • Grady Franklin Stiles Jr. (an American freak show performer and murderer also known as "Lobster Boy"), was an alcoholic who abused his family and shot his oldest daughter's fiancé on the eve of their wedding. He was so hated by his community that only ten people came to his funeral, though not one person volunteered to be a pallbearer to carry his coffin.
  • In this Reddit thread, someone posted a story about their cruel great-grand aunt. After various incidents where she mailed racist letters to neighbors, called the police on people she didn't like, and tried to commit arson, she was committed to a psychiatric hospital in her 40s after trying to stab a family member with a broken bottle. She was mean and rude to family members who tried visiting her, and left nasty messages after her niece's husband died of cancer. When she died, her funeral was attended by so few people that someone had to go outside to look for one more pallbearer to carry her casket. The priest stated that hopefully she would find the peace of mind she never had in life.
  • The Man of the Hole, the last member of an unknown and uncontacted indigenous tribe in Brazil, was found dead on August 2022 with his body ritualistically covered in macaw feathers. According to experts, he probably knew he was about to die and the feathers were likely part of his tribe's funeral rites that he had to perform himself.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Tragic Funeral


Scrooge's Future

The Ghost of Christmas Future shows Scrooge exactly where he'll be going in the future if he doesn't change.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / BadFuture

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