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Personal Effects Reveal

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Sometimes, the character is really Killed Off for Real. Corpse and Meaningful Funeral and everything.

Someone has to go through their belongings, packing them off to their family or what have you. There are surprises, usually — of every stripe, from the good to the horrifically bad — though sometimes it just grieves the character doing it. Perhaps because so little is left of the dead person, which may make him reflect that he will never know him now, perhaps merely because of the reminder.


Often contains a photograph, similar to the Fatal Family Photo, but in this case, the character will obviously be unable to ask who is in it. Adds a bittersweet note to the discovery.

Another version of this trope is when someone is searching a dead enemy soldier and discovers his family photo, reminding him (and the audience) that these people were something other than Faceless Mooks.

Contrast If You Die, I Call Your Stuff — this trope demonstrates the respect Due to the Dead. Removing stuff from the body includes only what is culturally acceptable to remove; otherwise, see Robbing the Dead.

Spoilers ahead.



    open/close all folders 
  • A promo in Hong Kong for safety harnesses had a group of building workers about to work on the outside of an in-progress building via a higher floor. One worker deems the safety harnesses as "stupid" while his co-workers prep their harnesses. While on the scaffolding, said worker accidentally falls to his apparent death or serious injury. One of the final shots of the promo has the worker's wallet on the floor, opened to reveal a photo of him happily smiling with his wife and daughter and has blood splotches on it.
    Anime and Manga 
  • It's not death (she's just been fired) but a very important scene in RahXephon is when Megumi Shitow is sent to pick up her older sister Haruka's old stuff from her office and finds a certain picture there...
  • Although there's no reveal, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED gets great effect from having Natarle order Sai to pack up the personal effects of Kira and Tolle after they are declared MIA following a mid-series Wham Episode.
    • Also, in Destiny, Lacus has an experience similar to this trope with the photo of the pre-plastic surgery Meer, after the latter dies. It really doesn't help that Meer herself was carrying the photo with her and gave it to Lacus when she lay dying in her arms. Later, she and the others find an electronic journal that Meer was also carrying, and which depicted what Meer thought and felt as she went through the process to "become Lacus".
  • Rurouni Kenshin: After the death of his first wife Tomoe, a depressed Kenshin reads through her diary and comes across an entry that explained the death of her fiance, Akira. Seeing that name reminds Kenshin of the man he had slain months earlier as Tomoe's first love - and that Kenshin himself was the man who had killed her first shot at happiness, which makes him all the more depressed.
  • In [C] - Control, Kimimaro was looking through his father's things and found a book. This book revealed that his father had been an Entre and has a picture of his mother holding him as a baby. It showed that his father did care for him.
  • In My-Otome, after Erstin dies when Nina destroys her Slave while trying to attack Arika, Miss Maria finds a letter in her possessions addressed to Arika and Nina, and gives it to Nina. The letter reveals that while she was a Schwarz agent at the school and her mother warned her not to get close to anyone, she found herself becoming close to her friends. She then says that despite this, she couldn't go against them in the end, but believes that Arika and Nina are stronger than she is. Nina, disagreeing with this, breaks down in tears.
  • In Bleach, Sosuke Aizen, after apparently being killed, leaves a letter behind for his lieutenant Momo Hinamori, which Rangiku says is a great honor for a lieutenant. He's actually trying to manipulate her into getting killed by Hitsugaya, since (he claims) he can't bring himself to kill her himself.
  • In the 2003 anime version of Fullmetal Alchemist, two Ishvalan boys have one of their mother's effects in their possession for a while before realizing what it is. The revelation that eye medicine is inside her locket gives her running into their room when soldiers came an entirely new meaning; she was unable to see them and was trying to confirm that they were safe when she was killed.
  • In Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, after defeating Rolo, Alice finds his locket, showing Lelouch, Nunnally, and Marianne; he's an Artificial Human conditioned to think that he's Lelouch's long-lost twin brother.
  • In Bakuman。, Moritaka Mashiro, looking through his uncle Nobuhiro's office, finds an old yearbook and realizes that the woman Nobuhiro was in love with is the mother of Miho Azuki, whom Moritaka loves.
  • Kagerou Project: After her mother Shion's demise, Mary reads the small blue book she always wrote in, discovering that she only kept Mary inside because she was afraid that going outside would result in Mary getting hurt, and she loved her too much to bear thinking about it (while it is implied Mary believed it was because her mother resented her). Of course, considering that Shion only died because Mary ignored her warnings and went out when she wasn't looking, this makes Mary break down.
  • In Valvrave the Liberator, when the surviving members of the Karlstein team get H-neun's earrings.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of the The Avengers, Jarvis remembers going through the dead Swordsman's effects and finding a picture of a couple. He presumed it was his parents, but he could not even tell if they were alive or dead.
  • In the "Sin-Eater" story of Spider-Man, Spidey is checking out the home of his murdered friend, police captain Jean DeWolff, for clues and finds her collection of Spider-Man photos. He's quite cut up to realise that she apparently had something of a crush on him and this fuels his anger when he finds her murderer and comes this close to beating him to death.
    • In Ultimate Spider-Man, Gwen Stacy meets an untimely death at the hands of Carnage, and Peter and MJ clear out her high school locker shortly after the situation is resolved.
  • In The Sandman arc Brief Lives, Bernie Capax's son realizes he didn't know his father at all when he discovers his stash of expensive art, drugs, weapons, and fake passports after his death. The reason for this is his father was 15,000 years old at his death, a fact he had kept hidden from his family.
  • Variation in Watchmen: Rorschach's rooting around in Edward Blake's apartment after his murder turns up the fact that he was the Comedian. The plot kicks off from there.
  • The "Archer's Quest" storyline has Green Arrow going through his own personal effects after coming Back from the Dead.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In How the Light Gets In: Following Laurel's death, Oliver packs up the Black Canary outfit and gathers all her personal items in the lair to give to her family. It's a horrifically agonizing affair and he considers keeping something for himself (ultimately deciding to keep her scarf), nearly breaks down when he finds a picture of her daughter and makes a point to treat everything "with the tenderness he should have shown Laurel while she was here."
    "He puts it all in the box and tries not to think about how fucked up it is that someone's whole life here can be summed up in a box full of random crap. It's not even a big box."
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Variant in that the personal effects in question are from hundreds of years ago: In chapter 26 of the sequel, Picking Up the Pieces, Gentle Step reveals that as Captain-General, she was allowed access to the personal journal of King Blueblood the First, and learned from it about how he'd spared Chrysalis and Shining Armor's child, and as a result she knows full well that the present Queen is their descendant.
  • The Hunger Games Prequel Collection: Some time after losing Iry in the Forty-first Hunger Games, Terra enters her late sister's room and is immediately confronted by Iry's belongings. The sight of them proves too much for her and she is left feeling that she can no longer live in the house in District 8's Victors' Village she was assigned after winning her Games.

  • Used as part of The Reveal in The Usual Suspects. The gold watch and lighter featured in the opening as belonging to Söze are given back to Verbal Kint when he leaves the police station.
  • In The Village two town elders open a keepsake box at the film's climax, and it contains color photographs and decades-old newspaper clippings, revealing that the film takes place in modern times.
  • Done very clinically in Equilibrium, with Errol Partridge's stuff, although the main character later grieves for him.
  • Maverick packing up Goose's stuff in Top Gun.
  • In Tuskegee Airmen two of the students go through their friend's footlocker reminiscing over a photo while one of them is wearing the deceased's favorite hat. This nearly sparks a fight since it's not their responsibility to clean it up, but they blame the Army for driving him to suicide.
  • Early in RoboCop (1987) an officer is mentioned being shot off-screen. The next day the captain comes into the locker room with an empty box settling the debate on the officer's condition.
  • Told in a giant flashback, this trope is what starts off The Bridges of Madison County
  • In Hamburger Hill soldiers follow a blood trail after an ambush and find an NVA soldier's abandoned equipment, including his helmet, canteen, and wallet, but no actual body. Inside the wallet is the picture of a pretty young woman. The sergeant is unmoved, commenting that the victim was an "FNG-type, walking around the A Shau Valley with a half-empty canteen" that made a lot of noise. The new soldiers in the squad who see the picture are clearly thinking of their own girlfriends back home.
  • At the beginning of Memphis Belle, the airmen go through a dead crewman's effects to make sure nothing embarrassing gets sent back to his wife (like adult books or letters to a mistress).
  • On Who Framed Roger Rabbit, as Eddie Valiant remembers his late brother Teddy, the camera pans over Teddy's desk, perfectly preserved since his death. On it are items like a scrapbook of news clippings of their cases involving toons and photos of them acting goofy, which contradict everything the audience knows about Valiant up to this point. (Note that in this case, it's the audience doing the discovering, not another character, and that the revelations also apply to a living character, not just the deceased.)
  • This happens in Bullitt as Bullitt and Del go through the dead couple's suitcases and realize why both were killed.
  • Happens twice in Taking Chance: First when the mortician takes all of the items Chance had with him when he died and carefully cleans the blood off, and again later when Chance's family receives the belongings.
  • A brutal one in Once Were Warriors. After the daughter Grace hangs herself, her mother finds the notebook Grace uses as a diary, which her father had ripped in half in a rage. The mother pieces it back together and reads in it that shortly before her death, Grace had been raped by one of her father's friends.
  • Towards the end of We Were Soldiers, one of Colonel Moore's men brings him a diary they found on the body of a Vietnamese soldier Moore had killed during the battle. Slipped between the pages of the diary is a photo of the girl back home the soldier had hoped to return to.
  • This sets off the plot of Spectre - after the events of Skyfall, Eve goes looking around the ruins of the Bond family estate and finds a picture of a young James with an older gentleman, custody papers from after James's parents were killed, and a ring with an emblem on it. These all lead to the current plot - the man is the head of SPECTRE who adopted James after his parents were killed.
  • In The Bridge on the River Kwai, the Japanese soldier that Warden kills with his knife is shown lying dead on the ground with a photo of a young woman beside him.
  • Star Trek:
  • Alien: Covenant. After her husband is killed in an accident, a grieving Daniels goes through his personal effects. After watching a video of him mountain climbing, she chooses a piton to remember him, which she wears on a cord around her neck. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when she later uses it as an Improvised Weapon.
  • Also used for a (literal) Chekhov's Gun in Black Rain. US detectives Nick Conklin and Charlie Vincent have to hand over their firearms to the Japanese police before they're allowed to work in Japan. Charlie is later murdered (as he didn't have a gun to protect himself) so his personal effects are handed over to Nick. Masashiro, the Japanese detective they are working with, informs him that it's a Japanese tradition to keep an item for oneself in memory of the deceased. So Nick gives Charlie's badge to Masashiro...and keeps Charlie's firearm for himself.

  • The Alice Network: Implied and exploited. When the Asshole Victim is killed, the murderer leaves a photo of him surrounded by swastika-wearing German officers in the hopes that the police won’t investigate too closely after the Personal Effects Reveal shows how awful he was. We don't get to see the police going through the murdered man's belongings, but it looks like the murderer was right about what the police would think of her victim — she's never caught, after all.
  • Dragon Bones has a premortal example: Ward doesn't even know his father is dying when the local Friendly Ghost, Oreg, turns up and hands him his father's ring. It is revealed that Oreg is much more than a harmless ghost, and always serves the head of the family as slave. Ward is not surprised that his father kept secrets, as the man was so paranoid he almost killed Ward to prevent attempts of Klingon Promotion. His father is still alive and makes him swear to give the ring to his heir when the time comes.
  • Much of what prompts Michael Noonan in Bag of Bones to suspect that his late wife was keeping secrets from him came from various personal effects of hers (a home pregnancy testing kit, plastic owls, desk calendar entries) he finds after her death. It turns out that not only was she pregnant with her and Mike's first child, she had discovered that Dark Score Lake, where she and Mike had a vacation home, was the site of a brutal rape and murder nearly a hundred years before, but never had the chance to tell her husband either of these things before she unexpectedly died of a brain aneurysm.
  • In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Horus Rising when Captain Loken goes through Jubal's effects, he finds a badge of a lodge. Loken deeply disapproving of the notion of lodges, this leads to some complications.
    • In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, Garro finds that the bolter given to him had belonged to his dead comrade Pyr Rahl; he reflects on how the Death Guard pass on their effects from one man to the next, to remember the dead. Then he sees the belongings of his dead housecarl Kaleb, which no one else would want to claim. Though tempted to throw it all out and so be free, that would be ignoble. He goes through it and finds that Kaleb belonged to the cult that worshipped the Emperor. It makes a great many things about him make sense.
  • In Faulkner's short story A Rose for Emily, inhabitants of a small Southern town find her husband's possessions (she bought for him for their wedding) after her death. Their long since deceased owner is still technically present...
  • All Quiet on the Western Front has a couple of these - one where Paul Bäumer goes through the wallet of a French soldier he killed, and the other where he returns home and to his old room, and it's like it belongs to a completely strange person who in effect is no more. And near the end he also goes through Kat's stuff after he dies.
  • In the Hercule Poirot mystery Murder In Mesopotamia, Anne Johnston, cleaning up the papers in the office after the murder of Louise, discovers early drafts of the death threats sent to Louise. The drafts were obviously written by Louise's husband.
  • Looking for Alaska has Pudge and the Colonel going through Alaska's room in order to throw out her alcohol and try to invoke this.
  • In The Five People You Meet in Heaven, one of the main character's coworkers has to go through his stuff and notes how empty his apartment was.
  • Also apt to happen when coping with deceased characters in the Aunt Dimity series. A few examples:
    • In addition to finding the correspondence between her mother and Dimity, Lori also finds a heart-shaped locket in a box with an initial on the lid. She mistakes the letter for a "W" for Dimity's surname when it was actually an "M" for Bobby MacLaren's. He gave Dimity the locket when he proposed marriage.
    • Fr. Bright and Lori go through the knapsack that was found on the vagrant who collapsed in the cottage's driveway. They follow the clues in the military decorations and other items to learn more about the man, who proves to be Christopher Anscombe-Smith, known as "Kit".
    • In Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin, when Lori enters Miss Beacham's apartment in response to her dying instructions, she is shocked to find the flat opulently furnished with antiques. She also finds a family photo album that shows the gradual decline of Miss Beacham's family.
    • Ruth and Louise Pym find a letter from their older brother announcing the birth of his son many decades after the deaths of their brother (who was killed at Gallipoli in 1915) and their parents. This find prompts them to ask Lori to locate their brother's family before they die.
    • Lori and Cameron enter the apartment of the recently deceased A.J. and Edmund Pym in search of information on them and Edmund's daughter Bree. They find some old family photographs of Aubrey senior and his wife, Aubrey and A.J. at A.J.'s baptism, as well as Edmund, his wife, and young Bree herself.
  • In A Brother's Price, the Princesses' husband Keifer has been dead for six years. At the end of that time, they are engaged to a new young man and show him Keifer's quarters, including the secret passage to the gardens... which they find, between all the used match sticks and old mud tracked in different shoe sizes, that he'd been using regularly. To cheat on them. With his sister. The new man digs through Keifer's belongings and finds a code book implicating his family in a recent theft of cannons, and revealing that he poisoned the Princesses' father.
  • A particularly sad example occurs in Vivian Vande Velde's book Remembering Raquel, a Scrapbook Story told in Anachronic Order where multiple people describe how they were affected by a teenage girl's death. At one point we get the story from the view of the ambulance driver, who says she "let Raquel go" after finding a Do Not Resuscitate form in her bag and assuming it's what she would have wanted. As the story progresses, more of the same forms are found in her notebook, her locker, and her room, and her father eventually realizes that she'd been stealing them from her mother's hospital room so her mother wouldn't let herself die.
  • Lords and Ladies has Granny Weatherwax apparently sacrifice her life fighting the Queen of the Elves. Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick go through her possessions, which contain two surprises. The first is a bundle of letters, strongly implied to be love letters from Mustrum Ridcully, which she claimed to have never received, but apparently actually hung onto for decades. The second is a letter addressed to Nanny: it's the card she holds when "Borrowing" that reads "I aten't dead", and reveals that she found a way to survive after all.
  • The Wrong Side of Goodbye: Detective Harry Bosch is combing through Dominic's Army footlocker, undisturbed since Dominic's death in Vietnam nearly half a century before, when he gets his big break—some photos that turn out to be Dominic's girlfriend and unborn child. This allows Harry to track them down.
  • In one of the Able Team novels, someone searches the pockets of a Columbian cartel soldier and finds a Fatal Family Photo. He says it reminds him of when he had to do this trope with dead friends during the Vietnam War. Carl Lyons cuts him off, saying the man he killed is just an enemy.
  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #12 (The Cat Who Knew a Cardinal), while going through Hilary VanBrook's belongings with the executor of his estate, Qwill uncovers evidence that he was involved in a money-counterfeiting scheme.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries: Early in Castle Clue, Lee is going through a garage full of twenty-five years' worth of accumulation from TenHuis Chocolade. Most of it gets pitched or given away, but the last cabinet drawer contains items belonging to Lee's aunt Nettie from her high school years, including a trophy from a talent show. Lee's delivery of it to Nettie and her friends is what kicks off the latest mystery, since they won the trophy the night that Dan Rice, who was hosting the talent show, was found dead.

    Live Action TV 
  • Battlestar Galactica does this trope once or twice when pilots are killed.
  • One of the last episodes of Babylon 5 has Zack find a vital clue to catching an assassin in the effects of a security guard killed by the assassin for his comlink: the fake replacement comlink.
    • This is actually done when Franklin goes through Captain Sheridan's effects after he died at Z'Ha'Dum and finds a datacrystal in which Sheridan professes his love for Delenn. It's an extremely moving message, and Delenn quotes from it as she enjoins the Rangers and the White Star fleet to launch a desperate final assault on the Shadow's homeworld: "A friend told me, if you're falling off a cliff, you might as well try to fly. Here, and now, I give you one final chance to fly."
  • Happened on Bones after Zach has been revealed as evil, crippled, and institutionalized. Remarkable in that it didn't involve an actual death, but still a major tearjerker.
  • Happens in Brothers & Sisters. One of the central mysteries to the first season is the identity of a baby found in one of William Walker's photographs. And since they can't ask him (being dead and all), the first answer they get to the question is the wrong one.
  • Parodied in the episode of Strangers with Candy where Jerri's father dies. She goes through his closet looking through his stuff—we see some intriguing things like a huge wad of money, a gun, and a KKK outfit... but Jerri just laments that she's still learned nothing about him.
  • Interesting use in an early episode of Lost: the survivors hold a memorial for those who died in the crash, whom they didn't know. They go through their effects to glean what they can for the service.
  • In an early episode of Stargate SG-1, when it's believed Daniel's been killed (this is before it became a character trait, believe it or not), the rest of SG-1 go through this. Carter ends up finding Daniel's journal from the original movie, among other things.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Geordi and Wesley do this for Data after he's believed to have been killed in "The Most Toys", including working out which possessions go to which crew member. They end up discovering a photo/holograph of Tasha Yar, a book on William Shakespeare (a gift from the captain), and a set of playing cards. Wesley is also surprised to discover Data's medals—including several of Starfleet's highest honours. The audience knew about these from the earlier episode, "The Measure Of A Man", but the characters apparently didn't.
    Geordi: Not bad for a walking pile of circuitry and memory cells.
  • Averted in Angel. After Doyle's death, Cordelia tries to do this but finds that Doyle didn't have any personal effects kept in the office, so she couldn't learn any more about him.
    • But then, it turns out he did leave something behind (albeit not something tangible): his visions. At the end of the episode, Cordelia even frames a drawing she made of her first vision as a reminder that something of Doyle's is still there.
  • Warehouse 13 does this at the end of an episode where they investigated the death of a former Warehouse agent. In his personal effects (untouched since he died), they find an engagement ring, meant for Rebecca - who had previously said that her dead boyfriend/former partner "always chose the Warehouse before me."
    Agent Bering, showing her the ring: Looks like he chose you after all.
  • Occurs in the Doctor Who story Terminus, where it is revealed that new companion Turlough has inherited Adric's quarters on board the TARDIS, Adric having been killed off towards the end of the previous season. This leads to a scene in which artifacts relating to Adric's time with the Doctor make cameo appearances.
  • Parodied in Firefly; when River and Simon are kidnapped in the episode "Safe," Jayne rifles through Simon's belongings, stealing his cash and mocking him in his journal.
    "Dear Diary, today I was pompous and my sister was crazy. Today we were kidnapped by hillfolk never to be seen again. It was the best day ever."
    • When they return to the ship at the end of the episode, Jayne tries to return their stuff before they notice, running into Simon on his way out.
  • After Rimmer leaves in Red Dwarf, Lister has to throw out his old things to reduce the weight on the ship and gets teary-eyed at the memories. Kryten then decides to 'cheer him up' by collecting Rimmer's old journals and making 'The Rimmer Experience' ride on the holodeck. Lister suddenly remembers why he hated Rimmer so much.
  • Happens (sort of) on The X-Files in the hunt for Mulder after he goes missing. While looking through his things, Scully finds that Mulder was keeping a terrible secret: he was dying from a brain disorder and had never told her. He had a headstone made and was getting his affairs in order.
  • M*A*S*H:
    • In the episode "Death Takes a Holiday," during a Christmas party for local orphans, Hawkeye, BJ, and Margaret try to help a wounded G.I. After seeing there was no chance to save him, Margaret finds a photo of his wife and kids. BJ decides to try to keep him alive for a few hours more, so his kids "won't think of Christmas as the day their daddy died."
    • In the episode "Who Knew?" has Hawkeye preparing to eulogize a nurse who died after stepping on a landmine. While going through her personal effects, Father Mulcahy comes across her diary, where she revealed her strong feelings for Hawkeye, with whom she'd spent what he'd assumed to be a casual one-night-stand.
  • After prominent drug kingpin Stringer Bell is killed on The Wire, the cops find and go to his apartment... and are shocked to see that it's a tastefully decorated apartment that looks like it should belong to a corporate executive. McNulty in particular is surprised to realise that they knew nothing about the guy they'd been investigating for years.
    McNulty: [After pulling an edition of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations off a bookshelf] Who the fuck was I chasing?
  • Horatio Hornblower: The TV movie/episode The Fire Ships, the men are auctioning off the possessions of a deceased crewmate, to send the proceeds home to his widow. The deceased sailor's best friend, stricken with guilt, hands over all of his money for the entire collection and throws it overboard.
  • Supernatural: It's some time after the death, but the boys eventually find their father's storage locker. Although they were actually looking for something plot relevant, they also find some of Sam's old report cards and the first shotgun that Dean sawed off by himself.
    • After Bobby's death, Dean keeps his flask. After Dean and Sam burn his body, his ghost is able to manifest itself, because the flask was a huge part of him.
  • CSI does this with Warrick, mostly to get something to bury him in, and it's then that Catherine and Greg find the documents and video relating to Warrick's custody fight for his infant son, Eli.
  • Parodied in the penultimate episode of Friends, where the gang find a set of furry hand-cuffs in the closet in Monica's spare room. After going through all of the old inhabitants of the room (Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe), they come to the conclusion that they belonged to Monica and Ross' grandmother.
    Wow, Nana liked it rough!
    • In "The one where Mr.Heckles dies" Monica and Rachel are left all of the belongings of their annoying downstairs neighbor, and they discover he has many similarities to Chandler.
  • In an episode of NCIS Gibbs takes one last look through a box of personal effects gathered from the desk of a deceased agent. He explains to Ziva it's a tradition of making sure nothing upsetting in that box makes it back to the family.
  • In the Australian series Water Rats the police search the flat of a lonely man who committed suicide and find a sex doll there. When his father comes to pick up his personal items, the doll has mysteriously disappeared.
  • Subverted in an episode of Van der Valk: After a teenage petty thief falls to his death while fleeing from the police, the titular detective finds himself going through the personal effects of the tourist whose suitcase the boy had stolen. Much to his dismay, it turned out that there was nothing of significant value in the case; he died over a couple of changes of clothes, some toiletries, and a paperback Agatha Christie novel.
  • In Gilmore Girls, Richard's mother, "Trix," dies, and he's so distraught that Emily takes charge over the arrangements. While going through her things, she and Lorelei discover a letter that Trix sent to Richard right before his and Emily's wedding, begging him not to go through with it. Emily is so furious that she leaves Lorelei to take care of everything, which rapidly proves to be too much for her to handle.
  • In Dharma & Greg, an elderly neighbor dies and the title characters read her diary, which seems to indicate that she died a virgin. This sets up the episode's central plot, which is the neighbor's spirit possibly possessing Dharma's body and having sex with Greg.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • Twice in Persona 3: after the death of Chidori, the members of SEES assemble at the dormitory and show Junpei her sketchbook, in which she had drawn an apparently photo-perfect and idealized likeness of him. He breaks down immediately upon seeing it, but vows to become that person.
    • The second, optional instance, occurs if the player visits Shinjiro's old room. There will be a box containing the character's belongings and equipment which the player can take and add to his own inventory.
  • Pretty much every case in Ace Attorney features the protagonist lawyer learning about his/her victim through evidence left behind after their death. It turns to Tearjerker during case I-4 when looking through Byrne's promise book to Kay reveals his powerful love for his daughter. Kay later finds his diary, which reveals he was the Yatagarasu as well.
  • It's possible to get Barry killed in the first installment of Resident Evil, at which point you obtain a picture of his two daughters, who otherwise are only mentioned when Wesker reveals that he had blackmailed Barry by threatening them.
  • In Elite Beat Agents, the first part of "You're the Inspiration" ends with Lucy and her mother finding a photograph in her dead father's diary. Play it right and it is a picture of them, showing how much he loved them. If you fail... it's a picture of him in a Speedo, resulting in Mood Whiplash.
  • Mass Effect 2: After Liara becomes the new Shadow Broker, you gain access to a huge surveillance network, able to covertly peek in on several people around the galaxy. One of these is an Asari bartender named Aethyta, drowning her sorrows and staring at a picture of Liara. Liara doesn't know who her other parent is. All she knows is that it's another Asari. Do the math... Confirmed in Mass Effect 3. She is Liara's father.
    • If you finish the game, romanced Thane and dig through his file, you can find a letter destined to Shepard after his death. The letter says that Shepard gave him a new will to live despite knowing he'll be dead in a year and that he's ready to spend his last days on life support if it allows him to stay with Shepard a bit longer. It ends with his declaration that he'll wait for her after his death.
      • In the third game, assuming he survived the Suicide Mission, Thane does indeed die although not of natural causes. The letter is in fact delivered to Shepard's terminal shortly thereafter.
    • In the Normandy Crash Site DLC, Shepard can come across Navigator Pressley's journal. It has been badly damaged and most of the data is lost, but enough remains to see the transition from his xenophobic origins early in the first game to a statement in his final entry that he would trust any of his new alien crewmates with his life.
    • In Lair of the Shadow Broker, Shepard actually gets to do this for a character who is still alive, exploring Liara's apartment while trying to track her down and find out who tried to assassinate her. Amongst her belongings are a collection of Prothean artifacts and a painting of Ilos. After you defeat the Shadow Broker, it is possible to go through some of the information he had collected on various characters, including your entire party.
    • The Mass Effect 3 DLC Leviathan has Shepard and EDI going through the lab and apartment of a recently deceased scientist trying to reconstruct his investigation of the Reapers and the Leviathan of Dis.
    • At the end of the Citadel DLC, Shepard receives a message from one of Mordin's STG friends, who sends along a series of recordings and other files Mordin had compiled in case of his death.
  • In World of Warcraft, if you defeat the Lich King with Shadowmourne, you will gain access to a Sealed Chest, containing mementos related to some of the people who knew him. These include Jaina's locket, a sword he used to train with Muradin, and a badge that Uther gave him after he was inducted as a paladin; showing them to the respective people will result in them reminiscing about the person Arthas once was before giving players a rare item.
    • Earlier in Wrath of the Lich King, you kill a named mob as part of the quest; as a mage working for a dragon trying to destroy all mortal magic-workers, they are assumed to be the worst kind of traitor. Upon looting them, you discover a letter written to their family that explains they were being blackmailed and were secretly working against Malygos from within the organization.
    • Similarly, in Cataclysm, players who complete the quest to defeat Leyara will receive a locket from one of their allies that, when examined, reveals that Leyara was married to Fandral's son, and after losing him in the War of the Shifting Sands and her daughter to a Horde attack on Ashenvale, joined her father-in-law to get revenge on Malfurion, whom she blamed for the tragedy.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • In the mage tower, after being forced to kill a Templar and the Desire Demon controlling him with the illusion he had a family, there is a reference to his being censured for remarks in front of the recruits, which are implied to have been related to this desire for a family.
    • The Return To Ostagar DLC enables players to find Cailan's secret documents. According to them, he, on the advice of his uncle Eamon, was going to divorce Anora over her inability to have an heir, and marry the Empress of Orlais after Ostagar.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin has you fighting a pair of twin vampires, Stella and Loretta. Early in the game, you fight Stella alone, and when you defeat her, she drops a locket before making her escape. Inside the locket is a picture of the twins... with Wind, the ghost who's helping you. Talk to him with it in your possession and he confirms they're his daughters... as well as reveal that he's Eric Lecarde.
  • During the later stages of Road 96, Tyrak regime mouthpiece Sonya Sanchez talks about her family. Producing a photo revealing she's the sister of Stan and Mitch, a robbery duo who frequently cause trouble for the Player Character.
  • In The Walking Dead: Season One, Lee finds a photo of his family at the drugstore after his parents have died and had their bodies disposed and he finds his brother as a walker outside later on in the episode. After he rips off the part of the photo with him in it, he presumably keeps it around for the rest of the game. Clementine picked up the ripped off part of Lee, and keeps it until Season 2, Episode 1, when she loses it.


    Western Animation 
  • Subverted on King of the Hill. Cotton is seen looking at an old photo of a Japanese woman, and explains that it was from the wallet of a soldier he killed in World War II; he's always felt guilty about making her a widow and decides to go to Japan to track her down and apologize. However, it turns out that story is actually made up; in reality, the woman was a Japanese nurse with whom he fell in love, but he never had a chance to say goodbye. Upon tracking her down, he also finds out they had a son together.