Hawke: Do I ever?
The taking of property from a grave, tomb, or the person of an actual corpse itself. While objectively practical, this is generally frowned on because 1) it's unsanitary, and 2) it's considered extremely disrespectful in most cultures. And it's an easy way to set off an Indian Burial Ground.
Most often the theft happens because the property in question has great value, or the thief has great need of it, despite cultural requirements to inter it with the body. (When the property is considered legitimately removed, see Personal Effects Reveal). As such, the act occurs most under dramatic circumstances, making it a premium storytelling device.
People in an emergency situation, especially an apocalypse scenario, will procure what they need to survive wherever they can, and while the issue of morality may arise, it typically loses to pragmatism. Similarly, it's very common for soldiers to take equipment, both from the enemy dead and their own. This is typically accepted, as they need the equipment, most of their allies' gear is technically considered the property of their military organization, and they are not inclined to care about the dignity of the enemy. In a war setting, this is usually at least implied to be The Scrounger's primary source of supplies.
In fact, this trope perhaps crops up most frequently in video games and tabletop games, where it is a reliable way to reload on ammunition and acquire new weapons (wherever they aren't using Unusable Enemy Equipment, that is). Other games simplify the issue by having enemies spontaneously produce useful items upon death.
However, specifically killing someone in order to take their property is a very different kettle of fish, falling rather under the more mundane heading of aggravated robbery.
This form of grave robbery is also in the purview of an Adventure Archaeologist, who will justify his deeds with the claim that It Belongs in a Museum (This position is undergoing increasing scrutiny at present, with many cultures decrying what they see as both the desecration of their ancestors and the theft of their history).
Do not confuse with Grave Robbing, which is the theft of the actual corpse, or a part of such.
Can easily overlap with Battle Trophy or Creepy Souvenir. If the item is bequeathed by the deceased, see Take Up My Sword or I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin, or more generally, Will and Inheritance Tropes. May be presaged by the thief with the comment, 'If You Die, I Call Your Stuff'.
- Attack on Titan has a few examples that stand out.
- In an anime-only sequence, Jean's equipment jams in the middle of battle and leaves him stranded on the ground. He ends up having to steal the equipment from a classmate's mangled body and initially hesitates before accepting he's got no other choice.
- Though the exact circumstances remain a mystery, Annie Leonhart presents the equipment of a deceased comrade in order to cover up a crime. Whether said comrade was dead before or after the equipment was stolen is still unknown. It's later revealed to have been Marco's, and that it was taken from him by Reiner, Bertolt, and Annie after he heard them talking about their plans, not realizing a Titan was coming up behind them...
- Bertolt Hoover steals the equipment off a corpse after eating the unfortunate soldier in Titan form.
- Defied in Berserk: Guts has just killed a bunch of thieves just paid off by Griffith (so they can't bear witness) and is about to take back the gold when Griffith stops him.
- Revy engages in this during the Nazi arc from Black Lagoon, which Rock takes exception to, leading to Revy's laying down of her nihilistic outlook to him (and her Ax-Crazy rampage later aboard their ship).
- Used as a plot point in Eikou no Napoleon-Eroica, as doing it to the enemy was included in the pillaging that Napoleon usually forbade. There was just one exception: at the Battle of the Pyramids, Napoleon, seeing his army was tired after Crossing the Desert and faced by the bulk of the Mamluk forces, motivated his soldiers by telling them that, just that once, they would be allowed to pillage and that the Mamluks went at war with all their gold. A very one-sided battle later, Napoleon's soldiers struck rich.
- In what is perhaps the event that started everything in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, Dario Brando, father of series Big Bad Dio Brando, tries to rob George Joestar's body after his carriage is in an accident. Dario thinks George is dead but discovers in the process of looting the body he and his infant son, Jonathan, are still alive and that George has mistaken Dario for a bystander trying to help. Because of this, after Dario's death, George takes in Dio and the events of the series begin.
- Judge Dredd:
- After the end of Necropolis, two grave robbers prowl the mass graves outside the city to loot the corpses of the slain. They inadvertently wake Judge Death from his slumber, who immediately kills them.
- Following the Day of Chaos, the managers of the new mass graves in the Cursed Earth collude with local criminals to mine the graves and loot the victims' corpses of any valuables. In the process, one enslaved laborer finds a highly technologically advanced wristband device which belonged to a dead time traveler from the future that he uses to escape.
- Simon Says: Nazi Hunter: Simon accuses a Nazi of this when he sees he has a lighter that looks exactly like the one that belonged to a dead friend of Simon's named Luca. He even notes the quote from Genesis engraved on the lighter's side.
- In the Sin City story "The Big Fat Kill," Dwight sifts through Jackie Boy's wallet after the latter and his buddies are killed by Miho and the girls of Old Town. He finds a wad of cash (which he puts in his own pocket)...and Jack's police badge, which sets off an unholy shitstorm that makes up the rest of the story.
- The Phantom had an entire secret society devoted to this, called "The Vultures". They originally formed as a group of scavenging thieves who roamed battlefields and looted the bodies of fallen knights and grew into an underground criminal organization. They're recognizable by their bald heads (even female members) and large V tattoos on their scalp.
- Shows up in the Italian remake of Battle Fantasia Project, with some Magical Girls doing it. In particular, Star Reverie has to do it to eat, while veteran magical girls Sailor Venus and Mami Tomoe bluntly tell their friends they'll do it with them and expect them to do the same if they fall in battle (Homura agrees).
- In Celebrity Deathmatch Fic, Final Stand of Death, Debbie finds a mixtape that belong to Melanie of Liverpool. Nick pretty much stole it from her, likely after Manson has done his deed at "Deathbowl 98".
- The humour of Go Though His Pockets and Look For Loose Change is based on Naruto Uzumaki having this mentality (like most people from a ninja clan, especially the elders) and having to deal with Sakura, who doesn't (like civilians and ninja from a civilian family).
- Well. It's robbing the almost dead in this case, but in the Five Nights at Freddy's fanfic, Something Always Remains, the Smiling Man pushes Freddy Wickes into the hole dug for the building's foundation. He grabs Freddy's hand in a pretend ploy to help him up, breaks his finger while he steals his wedding ring, then fills the hole with cement.
- At the beginning of Disney's A Christmas Carol (2009), Scrooge takes the coins right off the eyes of Marley's corpse, muttering, "Tuppence is tuppence", establishing his character as a miser and his lack of respect for the dead in general and his old partner in particular.
- In Coco, the protagonist, Miguel, swipes Ernesto de la Cruz's guitar from his tomb while searching for a guitar he could use to perform in the talent show. This causes Miguel to be cursed, sucking him into the Land of the Dead and thus into the meat of the story. He does apologize for it though, as he only did so out of desperation once he ran out of options. Ernesto de la Cruz himself is far worse, murdering Hector, his best friend, to take his guitar and music, becoming spectacularly wealthy and famous throughout Mexico off Hector's work and destroying Hector's reputation with his family.
- Near the beginning of WALLE, the eponymous robot notices that his treads are wearing out and casually jacks some new ones off of a non-functioning WALLE unit. It's implied he'd been doing this for hundreds of years because he was the only WALLE that started.
- Bones (2001): When the main characters find Jimmy's body in the basement of the new nightclub, Maurice takes his diamond ring after the others leave, breaking off one of his skeletal fingers in the process.
- The Boondock Saints: The Brothers McManus are forced to kill a pair of Russian mobsters in self-defense. Immediately after, Murphy loots their bodies, taking their guns and money, before taking Connor to a hospital. They fence the stolen guns and use the proceeds to purchase their Chekhov's Armory.
- Cradle of Fear: Not content with killing the old man and stealing his cash, Sophie also steals some of his clothing to replace her over blood-splattered clothes so she can walk home without attracting attention.
- The wagon driver who transports Lieutenant Dunbar to Fort Sedgewick in Dances with Wolves. After he's killed by a Sioux war party, one of the party is seen eating Timmons' beloved pickled eggs.
- Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man starts with two vagrants venturing into the graveyard holding the corpse of Lawrence Talbot, the eponymous Wolf Man, to rob him from his valuables. Once they open his casket and remove the wolfbane from it, moonlight shines on Talbot, bringing him back to life by transforming him into a werewolf. One robber flees for his life, and other has his throat bit open.
- In the opening scene of The French Connection, the hitman Nicoli kills a Marseille detective in an alley, then takes a piece of the baguette loaf the detective had been carrying.
- In The Ghoul, a professor who believes in Egyptian mythology has himself buried with a sacred jewel which he believes will grant him a path to the afterlife. After the jewel is stolen from his tomb, he returns back to life to seek vengeance.
- In Left for Dead, Goldie extracts the gold teeth from the dead bounty hunter. She later tries to do the same thing with the supposed corpse of Big Bad Mobius Lockhart. Too bad he's Not Quite Dead yet...
- Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior has Max casually picking through his dead enemies' clothes for anything of value while also gathering any extra gasoline he can get from their crashed vehicles. When one of the people from the fortress around a fuel refinery turns up alive in one of these wrecks, however, he does carry the survivor back to the fortress in hopes of gaining entry and making a deal with them for more gasoline.
- In the beginning of the kung-fu comedy, Millionaires' Express, the protagonist attempts to steal from the corpses of several supposedly dead Russian soldiers, only for a trumpet blare to reveal the "dead" Russians to be alive and in the middle of a military drill. Cue Oh, Crap! from the protagonist.
- The title character of Mr. Sardonicus gained his trademark Frozen Face when he dug up his father's grave for the Lottery Ticket that was left in his pocket, and the sight of the smiling corpse frightened him to no end.
- In Pan's Labyrinth, the Captain takes killed hares or rabbits after killing an innocent hunter and his son.
- The main characters in Plunkett & Macleane meet when James MacLeane attempts to take a ruby from a buried thief in the cemetery. However, Will Plunkett was already waiting and takes it for himself at gunpoint.
- Mentioned in The Princess Bride:
Miracle Max: It just so happens that your friend here is Only Mostly Dead. There's a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive. With all dead, well, with all dead there's usually only one thing you can do.
Inigo Montoya: What's that?
Miracle Max: Go through his clothes and look for loose change.
- Quantum of Solace: Bond swipes the late Mathis' wallet and money and leaves him in a dumpster. To be fair, Bond is on the run—he might need the money later, and doesn't have time to provide a proper burial.
- The Quick and the Dead. Anyone who dies in the Quick Draw contest is immediately robbed of his belongings by bystanders. When the Lady is shot, the doctor is distraught and refuses to let anyone touch her. This is to hide the fact that she's faking her death.
- In the movie Repo! The Genetic Opera, this is Graverobber's stock in trade. His reason for robbing graves is to extract Zydrate (a highly addictive painkiller manufactured by GeneCo that is normally quite expensive) from the bodies of the dead for sale on the black market.
- Revenge of the Virgins: After Horton is killed by the Indians, Potter goes through his pockets and takes back the money he had paid him.
- Hoop from The Revengers. After every gunfight, he is shown searching the bodies for anything of value. He even goes to search his leader Benedict's body when Benedict is shot and Left for Dead. As he does so, Job jabs a rifle in his back and advises him not to.
- The Seventh Seal: Raval is a seminary student turned criminal who now robs victims of The Black Death, to say nothing of what he does to the living. By the end of the film, he's caught the plague himself and died alone.
Raval: I steal from the dead. It's quite a rewarding domain these days.
- The first segment of Trilogy of Terror II features a cemetery caretaker who makes some money in the side by digging up corpses and stripping them from their valuables. He is killed by the main characters who arrive on the scene to do the same.
- Vault of Horror: In "Midnight Mess", Harold pays the private investigator he hired to locate his sister, then after he gets the information, he murders the investigator and takes the money back.
- At the end of Vegas Vacation, Clark Griswold has lost a significant amount of money gambling. In a last-ditch effort to recoup his losses, he buys a Keno ticket. As he waits for the results, he befriends a lonely old man who's spent the last few years trying to win at Keno. When the numbers are announced, the old man turns out to be the winner... but then he suffers a heart attack. The old man tells him to take the money with his last breath. Clark hesitates, but eventually moves the fallen ticket out of the way of a vacuum cleaner and picks it up
- The Wild Bunch opens with a shootout that leaves a lot of bandits, law enforcement, and civilians dead. After the dust settles, surviving bandits and bounty hunters emerge out of hiding and take anything valuable that the corpses may have had on them, including gold teeth. This is the first indication that this Western is Darker and Edgier.
- Wolves: Early on, Cayden returns to human to find he's killed two bikers. Ever practical, he helps himself to a leather jacket, a motorbike and the contents of their wallets.
- Young Frankenstein begins with the old Baron von Frankenstein's coffin being opened and a ledger containing his will taken from the skeleton, which resists momentarily.
- In Ape and Essence by Aldous Huxley, by the time after World War III when the radioactivity in the Los Angeles Basin has dwindled to safe levels, the After the End civilization is busy mining clothes and other things from people's graves.
- In The Art of War, Sun Tzu advocates stealing from the dead bodies of enemy soldiers, as this would allow an army to not need to carry as much in weaponry and food.
- Assignment Gestapo by Sven Hassel. A soldier on a hospital train steals a pair of custom leather boots from a patient who has died and is told to put his own pair on the corpse or be strung up by the military police. Shortly after the corpse is unrecognisable, as his clothes and equipment have been replaced by all kinds of unfamiliar things.
- Referenced explicitly in Mary-Grant Bruce's "Jim And Wally" (one in her series of Billabong Books) set during WW1 when Walter (Wally) Meadows is warned off this practice, somewhat ironically for practical rather than ethical reasons:
"What's this game of yours I hear about? - crawling 'round on No-Man's Land at night, and collecting little souvenirs? The souvenir you'll certainly collect will come from a machine-gun."
- Scrooge is shown this in the Bad Future of A Christmas Carol, with several people including his chambermaid taking the effects from his still-cooling body and pawning them off. This serves as another sign of his being unloved and driving him toward reform.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus" a thief among thieves is trying for the great treasure.
Many a thief sought to gain the treasure which fables said lay heaped about the moldering bones inside the dome. And many a thief died at the door of the tomb, and many another was harried by monstrous dreams to die at last with the froth of madness on his lips.
- On the Discworld
- Nobby Nobbs was discharged from Ankh-Morpork's army because he spent all his time scrounging the dead of either side, mostly for boots. He learned the 'trade' from his own (supposed) father who once stayed sober long enough to make him some toy soldiers with little boots to steal.
- One of the explorers listed in The Discworld Mapp was a member of the Royal Sto Plains Riflers, famed for their bravery in battle - entirely with a view to ensuring there were plenty of boots and gold teeth to collect afterward. Some of them entered battle armed with nothing except shoehorns and pliers.
- Since personal firearms are unknown on the Disc after the Gonne was destroyed in Men at Arms, we can assume that the "Sto Plains Riflers" were named for how they would rifle through the possessions of the dead.
- Happened once in The Truth, providing the vital clue to the plot they've stumbled on.
Sacharissa: William, do you realize you are robbing a corpse?
William: (absently) Good. Best time.
- In Monstrous Regiment, Sergeant Jackrum has a similarly pragmatic approach. Bury a fallen enemy and say what prayers you can, but check his boots first. "No soldier will let grub or good boots go to waste."
- Averted with the Silver Horde. Yes, they're all Nominal Hero barbarians, but they do not truck with graverobbing. As The Last Hero puts it, "They had a word for people who stole from the dead. That word was 'Die!'." Classic "kill them and take their stuff" hero behavior is still on the table, though.
- Doctor Who Expanded Universe: In the book Harvest of Time, the Master hypnotizes a man to commit suicide, then takes his shortbread, dunks it in his tea, and eats it before leaving him to it.
- In the Gotrek & Felix novel Shamanslayer, the duo and their company hire the services of an old man, who wants the beastmen out of the area where he goes periodically to rob the dead. After the beastmen are defeated, the old man reveals himself not to be a simple thief, but a powerful necromancer.
- Harry Potter:
- Voldemort steals the Elder Wand from Dumbledore's tomb in the last book of the series. This backfires epically.
- And Bill Weasley works as a curse-breaker for Gringott's tomb raiding expeditions in Egypt.
- The Heroes mentions a number of times that "pickers" often make their fortunes by looting battlefields after the fighting is over. Several characters, in the end, show up wearing the equipment of other characters who have died.
- In Honour Bound by Gerald Seymour, an American mercenary fighting with the Mujahideen has to find a Soviet corpse with the same foot size every few months, as his boots keep getting worn down trapping over the mountains of Afghanistan.
- The topic of The Hound by H. P. Lovecraft: two self-described ghouls remove an amulet from an infamous grave. The amulet's owner is less than happy about this.
- Some opportunists in the first Left Behind book have been doing this to the graves of those who have been resurrected in the Rapture.
- During Joshua's journey in The Long Earth, he encounters the ruins of a long-dead race. The only artifact he's able to find and retrieve (without going near the giant radioactive pile that is the main structure) is a sapphire ring on a corpse. Said ring turns out to be a vital key in the sequel.
- In Les Misérables (book and musical), this is what Thenardier's participation amounted to in The Napoleonic Wars, and he resumes this occupation during the day-long July Revolution.
- Moon Crash Series: In The Dead and The Gone, Alex supports his family by stealing valuables off corpses and trading them to Harvey for food.
- The Radix: Downplayed. One of the asylum's guards is eating a cake he bought for two bucks since someone ordered it but never picked it up. On the cake's frosting, there are words: "Happy Ninety-first Birthday Uncle Fred". Guard's only comment is "His loss is my gain". Which makes said guard's decapitation by Borgias a pathetic kind of Karmic Death.
- In Reamde, a Cambridge professor of Medieval literature is hired to create the backstory of an MMO video game. Not a gamer, he's shocked to learn that looting corpses is a major game mechanic.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe explains that surviving Alderaanians often ask for a Burial in Space among the shards of their destroyed homeworld, while others make pilgrimages to the site to leave behind tokens for the dead. As such, there are enough looters who trawl the asteroids for things to steal that Tycho Celchu considers destroying the offering he makes during his Return.
- In Remnants, some characters feel a bit off about robbing the bodies of Mother's artificial constructs, despite the fact that they need the supplies and the "victims" were pretty much mindless automatons only meant to imitate real people.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire soldiers and even common folk are routinely looted for supplies. Most notably The Second Sons, a mercenary army, has at least two wagons full of weapons and armor scavenged from battlefield corpses. The Viking expys of the Iron Islands also a phrase, "paying the iron price", which refers to taking something from an enemy they killed - therefore, they paid for it with the iron of a sword, as opposed to "paying the gold price", which is paying with coins (which they deride). While they're on the run in the Riverlands, Sandor Clegane shows Arya Stark where to look to find hidden money after first showing her how to Mercy Kill the man.
- In The Stormlight Archive, gathering equipment and money from their own dead is one of the duties of the Bridgmen, and considered the most unpleasant, both because it's disgusting and because the area where the bodies wash up is very dangerous. Later, Kaladin has the idea of taking the armor from the enemy soldiers, which seems to be an actual part of their body, not for protection but because the desecration pisses them off, allowing the armored person to act as a decoy.
- Tales from Jabba's Palace mentions that the Jawas who found the crashed freighter with the rancor in its cargo hold that they sold to Jabba were not looking for any survivors. It also goes on to mention that if they did find anyone still alive in the crashed vessels they were looting, these victims "rarely survived Jawa first aid."
- These Broken Stars:
- Early on in their trek, Tarver finds five bodies in a failed escape pod. While burying them, he takes boots for Lilac from one of the bodies. She baulks, but he assures her that if the people could speak, they'd tell them to take what they can use.
- Lilac herself is forced to do this when she and Tarver reach the Icarus. Tarver cuts his hand, the cut gets infected and she's forced to go back into the ship full of decomposing bodies, again and again, over three days as she looks for medical supplies.
- They Hosed Them Out by John Bede Cusack. An airman discovers a parcel for him became mislaid after he was wrongly posted as Killed In Action, and his efforts to track it down result in denials that the parcel ever existed. Turns out that some people in the military post office are stealing the packages of recently deceased airmen and selling the contents on the black market. He tries to report this, but his superiors refuse to investigate the matter.
- In Andre Norton's Witchworld, taking a weapon from a tomb was considered acceptable in some cultures. One just had to ask the dead corpse for it. No corpse has so far risen to smite those who did it.
- Boardwalk Empire: Al Capone eats an apple from Sixtus D'Alessio's grocery bag after killing him.
- Breaking Bad: After killing a Los Pollos Hermanos truck driver, Gaff and his crew of cartel buttonmen casually eat the driver's lunch while waiting for the remaining guards to suffocate on the carbon monoxide fumes they are pumping into the trailer. Punctuated with a very dark Pet the Dog moment where Gaff gives an associate the driver's sandwich from the lunchbox, settling for a simple apple for himself.
- On Copper, the police officers routinely loot the dead bodies they are sent to investigate. The main characters limit themselves to taking the possessions of criminals they kill in the line of duty. Sgt. Byrnes, on the other hand, prefers to personally 'investigate' the death of any person without living relatives and steal anything valuable he finds in their homes. This finally catches up to him when he eats the cake belonging to a dead dentist and fails to realize that the cake was laced with arsenic.
- In Dead Like Me, the reapers often filch things from the souls they reap, since they're a) not paid, and b) in a position to ask the dead what they wouldn't mind having taken. One woman even coaches Mason through forging her signature on a check so that her ungrateful children don't get any money.
- Dead Man's Gun: "Buryin' Sam" centres on a pair of unscrupulous Undertakers who steal anything of value on their clients before burying them.
- Dexter: Dexter kills a pedophile who was stalking his girlfriend's daughter in his home. While he was dragging his corpse out, he remembers a phone call from his girlfriend who asked him to pick up some milk for the kids. So he steals a carton of milk from his victim's fridge.
- In the Farscape episode "Taking the Stone", Rygel steals a particularly large stash of goods found in a tomb on an ancient royal burial planet—and soon regrets it. There's also a Running Gag of his trying to rob Crichton every time he thinks he's dead (which is often).
- Game of Thrones
- The Hound is quite pragmatic about death and is seen several times taking food from people he has killed or who happen to be dead. For example, after Arya and the Hound slaughter some Frey bannerman seated around a campfire, the Hound sits down and eats their food afterward. Most often it's food, or once he took boots from a guy he executed by hanging.
- In "Eastwatch", Tyrion sees Dothraki grab and loot the corpses of weapons and other items.
- In the second season of Hex, the ghostly Thelma discovers that she isn't trapped eternally in the dress that she wore when she was murdered, but can change clothes if she steals them from dead bodies.
- Horatio Hornblower, "The Frogs and the Lobsters": French Republican soldiers are seen taking things from the slaughtered French Royalists after their mission near Muzillac fails. One of the Republican soldiers pays for it with his life, because Mr. Bowles (a petty officer in British Royal Navy) just pretends he's dead and kills him because he needs his uniform to disguise himself.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: The episode "Mean" features three mean girls killing a member of their Girl Posse. The Beta Bitches claim to be Guilt Ridden Accomplices and that they only went along with the murder because they were under the control of the Alpha Bitch (and had no free willnote ) This might have been able to work...until Casey proved (with the one of the girls on the stand no less) that they all looted they body afterwords. The jury convicts them in 15 minutes.
"If you felt so bad about what happened then why are you wearing a dead girl's ring?"
- On Pushing Daisies:
- Dwight Dixon robs Chuck's father's grave in order to get his gold pocket watch.
- In the first season episodes "Pie-lette" and "The Fun in Funeral" has the Schatz brothers, who own a funeral home, and regularly steal valuables from corpses.
- Tales from the Crypt: In "Fitting Punishment", undertaker Ezra Thornberry is shown pulling a gold tooth out of a dead woman's mouth before he closes the coffin.
- The Twilight Zone TOS episode "Dead Man's Shoes". A derelict steals a pair of shoes from a corpse. The shoes give him the personality of the dead man while he's wearing them.
- Several heroes of the Norse sagas do this to obtain a sword. Quite often the corpse will get up and try to get their swords back.
- The Jade Regent RPG Actual Play podcasts from RPGMP3 feature a weapon called Oathtaker. During their travels, the adventurers stumbled across this magical tetsubo (a huge Oriental bludgeoning weapon). Apart from its obvious uses, it can also force people under a Blood Geas. It's currently wielded by Harold Shinken, who discovered that the Viking women of the Linnorm Kingdoms were very impressed by the weapon's... craftsmanship.
- In 2nd Samuel from The Bible, David meets an Amalekite who brings with him the personal effects of King Saul after he has fallen in battle with the Philistines. At the end of 1st Samuel, King Saul is so badly wounded that he calls his shield bearer to slay him, but since the shield bearer refused, Saul fell upon his own sword and died, and so also did his shield bearer. The Amalekite, however, tells the story differently, saying that he met King Saul while he was still alive but wounded from battle, and was personally asked by the king to kill him, so he did and took his personal effects, hoping that he would get something from the loot he had taken. The Amalekite does get rewarded, though — with getting killed by David for testifying by his own mouth that he had killed "the Lord's anointed".
- Games that center around the Dungeon Crawl tend to involve breaking into tombs, desecrating graves, killing things, and taking their stuff. This can create a subconscious mindset that persists when the group leaves the dungeon, which can cause trouble when the adventuring team or players are put in a setting in which robbing corpses is taboo or illegal.
- Call of Cthulhu. In several adventures, ghouls are noted as stealing grave jewelry and other valuables buried with the dead.
- In Exalted, the returning Solar Exalted can usually only acquire Orichalcum artifacts (the kind designed for Solars) by taking them from the tombs of the ancient Solars. Whether this is theft depends on whether you consider the new Solars to be the reincarnations or heirs of the ancient Solars whose exaltations they carry, or if the fact that their other two souls are separate makes them different people. Considering that accurate knowledge of Celestial Exaltation has been suppressed for over a millennium, Second Age Solars are likely to take their past life memories at face value.
- As one example of ''Pokéthulhu's Black Comedy, minor character Norville "Shaggai" Rogers is mentioned to have been introduced stealing Mons from the "recently deceased".
- Warhammer 40,000: Every Ork engages in this, though they're more interested in teef and weapons than gold (which isn't to say they won't take shiny things). Lootas are Orks who specialize in, well, looting, and have some of the biggest guns around. Chaos forces are more interested in desecrating the dead and Tyranids in eating them.
- Mrs. Lovett's possession of the late Pirelli's purse (which she took from the body) convinces Toby that the title character of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is a murderer, although he doesn't quite make the final connection that Mrs. Lovett is in on it (he believes that Todd gave her the purse and lied to her about where it came from).
- Assassin's Creed games from II onwards allow you to rob any guards you kill of money, knives, crossbow bolts, medicine, and other items that one would need. However, the crowd will voice their displeasure and guards will attack if they catch you in the act.
- The Dead Mines: The player character recognizes a dead miner named Stephan, and takes his wrench to seal the mine's gas valves.
- You need to dig up several graves in King's Quest IV, although you return the items to ghosts to which they belong so it's not exactly stealing.
- Averted in Legend of the Crystal Skull, in which the clues Nancy collects and the eponymous crystal skull are adjacent to various tombs and crypts, but never actually inside the coffins themselves. The one clue she has to dig for isn't in a grave, although it does lie within the cemetery grounds.
- The cleaning lady is killed at the beginning of Lights, Camera, Action! and the main character decides to swipe her watch, justifying it as a small return on the thirty-two years she spent doing hardly any cleaning.
- In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, Guybrush must dig up the Weenie Hut owner to get the key to his shack. However, he does get the corpse's permission first...
- Used quite often in The Walking Dead as it is necessary for survival in the Zombie Apocalypse. Two particular stand-out instances are when you have to exhume a dog's grave to get its key-collar, and when you have to loot a survivor that you just killed while his daughter watches and she even calls you out for doing so.
- Items in the Dark Souls series will more often than not be found on corpses scattered around the lands. In fact, the guy who gives a key to escape the asylum in the first game has to drop a corpse with it. And then there's the Ceaseless Discharge, a towering creature who will ignore you until you collect the items from the grave it is guarding.
- Tingle too has to steal from the dead in Freshly-Picked Tingle's Rosy Rupeeland.
- Quite a few Zelda games have Link go into tombs or graves to find items. One of the better known times is in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, when he goes into the former keeper of the Graveyard's tomb and races the ghost to get the hookshot (on the other hand, the ghost willingly hands it over, so does that count?) A more obvious example in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask would be on the Third Day, when the keeper of that graveyard breaks into the Royal Family tomb and not only openly admits to Link that he is looking for treasure hidden there, he asks Link to help him.
- Breath of the Wild adopts a more traditional form of videogame murder-robbery: one of the main ways to get new weapons is to take them off of freshly-killed enemies, and since in this game all weapons break, players will be resorting to it on a regular basis. This goes double for arrows, which can no longer be found in grass and under rocks; treasure chests containing arrows are somewhat rare, and shopkeepers sell out quickly and take a long time to restock, but most enemies carrying bows drop arrows when killed.
- Tomb Raider. That's kind of how the game got its name.
Construction and Management
- Minecraft lets you rob treasure from pyramids in the desert. Each pyramid can contain things like gold, iron, diamonds, bones, and rotten flesh, but they're also guarded by TNT traps that trigger if you step on the pressure plate. Doing so will destroy all the treasure and kill you.
- Pharaoh's expansion adds Tomb Robbers, thieves that'll head for a monument (instead of the palace or tax office) to help themselves to the stored funeral goods inside. While this usually isn't much of a loss, your kingdom rating takes a hit.
- Looting corpses for money, food or ADAM is practically a necessity in the BioShock franchise. They even formalized the process in the first two games with the Little Sisters, who harvest ADAM from dead bodies and then process it using implanted sea slugs in their stomachs.
- In BioShock Infinite, Booker may encounter a pair of Vox Populi thugs pulling gold teeth from an exhumed corpse.
- Borderlands: Enemies tend to drop guns, shields, cash, and grenade/class mods, all of which you can help yourself to; enemies of Badass rank sometimes drop green or better guns (much to the player's frustration, if they had just bought a slightly inferior gun from Marcus). It's actually a necessity in some quests: your introduction to E-Tech in Borderlands 2, for example, requires you to take a low-quality E-Tech assault rifle from the corpse of Dr. Mercy.
- Castle Wolfenstein. You can take various items from the bodies of guards you've killed. Which items are available depends on the game.
- Original: keys.
- Beyond Castle Wolfenstein: marks (money), passes.
- Dying Light plays with how common this trope is unconsciously used by players. In one side mission, protagonist Kyle Crane meets Erol Asani, a crooked politician who wants to escape the quarantine. Asani offers Crane a seat on the helicopter and a third of his $25 million stash in exchange for his help, to which Crane asks exactly who the money belonged to. Asani casually responds that the original owners are all zombies now, and counters by asking if Crane hasn't helped himself to a biter's wallet from time to time. Welp.
- In Dishonored, you have the ability to loot money, grenades, crossbow bolts, and bullets off any corpse or unconscious body you come across.
- Can be done in Kingpin: Life of Crime, and is good for "earning" cash... Just take it from your dead foes!
- Left 4 Dead has dead bodies strewn everywhere. Sometimes they have weapons or other helpful items that you can take for yourself. If a fellow player has died, you can loot the fresh corpse of their gear and it's usually encouraged since a full geared survivor has a better chance of surviving than one that is just scraping by.
- Metro 2033 allows you to pull the unspent ammo, medkits, gas-masks, and filters off of dead bodies, even crossbow arrows and throwing knives you killed the person with. In Moscow Above, looting the bodies of fallen scavengers will keep you alive.
- One early quest in Kingdom of Loathing requires you to rob the grave of a deceased legendary wizard so you can get the key to his tower. Humorously, before you can rob his grave, you have to win a grave robbing shovel from another enemy in the area called a grave rober (yes, it's supposed to be spelled like that, the area in question is the Misspelled Cemetary).
- Empire Earth II: One Egyptian mission takes place during a famine, so the people are breaking into pyramids to drag out the mummified corpses and eat them (and those desiccated cadavers somehow have as much nutritional value as a patch of wild vegetables). There's also a more standard kind of robbing going on where your enemies steal four artifacts and hide them in their own temples.
- Basingstoke: You can search dead bodies for random items and money.
- Diablo and sequels, which allow you to loot crypts, coffins, urns, graves, piles of bones, and corpses both fresh and old.
- NetHack allows you to rob graves. This has a chance of allowing you to obtain gold and items. This being NetHack, you're just as likely to find an irate mummy or zombie. Grave robbing also has the potential to carry an alignment penalty.
- In Baten Kaitos, after the first Boss Battle/tutorial, Kalas rummages through the belongings of the Mysterious Waif's friends (who had just been slain by the boss). She takes it as well as you'd expect. It's there to establish his status as an Anti-Hero (he claims to only have rescued her because he wanted to sell the beast's horns).
- Betrayal at Krondor:
- You can loot corpses of enemies you've killed, and there's narration and dialog between the characters about their feelings about taking items from the dead.
- The party can also dig up graves; occasionally they have useful items buried with them.
- Lampshaded the first time it's done in the sequel, Betrayal in Antara:
Aren: I don't know, William. I never thought I'd be stealing from a dead man. That's no better than what a common cutthroat would do.
William: We're just being practical, Aren. Look at it this way: Nothing he's carrying can help him anymore, but it might be able to help us.
- Dragon Age has a few examples.
- Apart from generally looting the bodies of enemies in Dragon Age: Origins, there are some elven tombs encountered during the "Nature of the Beast" quest which can be entered via an ancient ritual, and plundered of their contents.
- The same is true of the Avvar crypt beneath Vigil's Keep in the Awakening expansion.
- In one mission in Dragon Age II, you track down a dwarven merchant and kill the mercenaries he hired. If you decide to spare him, the guy decides to start his new life away from Kirkwall by looting his now-dead mercenaries' corpses. His comments are comedy gold. The frequency of this trope in role-playing games is also lampshaded repeatedly throughout the game.
- Invoked by Zevran, should Hawke perform the Act 3 quest to track him down; after you kill the people who are after him, he advises you to loot the bodies before talking to him.
- From the Mark of the Assassin DLC:
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition, a Dalish clan on the Exalted Plains can direct the Inquisitor to the nearby ancient burial ground of their people, which is being plagued by demons. The Inquisitor can go there and deal with the demons, and can optionally destroy several graves to take their treasures. If this is done before reporting back to the clan that the demons are destroyed, it costs some approval with them. However, if the Inquisitor goes back after reporting to the clan and plunders the graves then, there are no repercussions, and this is actually necessary to assemble a key which allows the Inquisitor to enter the nearby mausoleum (which contains some unique treasures as well as a couple opportunities for XP grinding).
- Apart from generally looting the bodies of enemies in Dragon Age: Origins, there are some elven tombs encountered during the "Nature of the Beast" quest which can be entered via an ancient ritual, and plundered of their contents.
- The Elder Scrolls:
- Very common throughout the series, whether it's looting the corpses of recently slain enemies or robbing tombs/coffins/urns and the like. There are at least a couple of cases where you're called out on it.
- In Morrowind, an early Thieves' Guild quest for Sugar-Lips Habasi has you breaking into the house of a recently murdered Dunmer noble to steal his rare vintage brandy.
- Oblivion: One quest involves tracking a new shopkeeper's suspiciously low-priced merchandise back to its source, a pair of ruffians who steal the goods from graves. Serious Business, since they fight to the death rather than let you turn them in, and the shopkeeper is horrified when he learns the truth.
- In one quest, you're helping an NPC take down a Necromancer up to no good in his family's tomb. If you indulge in your kleptomania he'll protest, before deciding that you can keep what you take as payment for helping with the necromancer.
- When you enter Solitude for the first time, you see a man being executed. If you loot his corpse, all he has is an amulet of Talos. There is an unmarked quest from his sister asking you to retrieve the amulet from his body since she can't bring herself to do it. If you happen to already have the amulet when talking to her, she decides she doesn't want to know why.
- In another mission in the Dawnguard expansion, you're accompanied by the ghost of an adventurer who died while exploring a cave complex. When you find her body she suggests that you search her corpse for her journal, but if you strip her armor as well, she'll complain that you could've at least left her with her dignity.
- This trope is prevalent in all games of the Fallout series, since they take place in a post-WW3 American wasteland. Scavenging for resources is a major part of game-play, and taking the possessions of those killed both during and after the war is seen as simple pragmatism. Still, salvaging houses where the skeletons of the former residents can still be seen might cause the player to have second thoughts, particularly when you find families and loved ones who died in each other's arms.
- Fallout 2 also has grave-robbing, for which you can earn a rather morally dubious "achievement" to go with your other perks and traits.
- Fallout Tactics has the drill sergeant in the tutorial encouraging this. He points out that this not a dishonorable act and many things the dead are carrying might be of use to you.
- In Fallout 3, you can retrieve the keys of dead merchants and loot their shop inventories. Notably the brahmin caravans, who are easily curbstomped by high-level monsters while traveling the wastes, and Panada from the Point Lookout DLC, whose shop is out in the open and vulnerable to attack by tribals or smugglers.
- Continued in Fallout 4, where the Sole Survivor gains their Pip-Boy from the wrist of a Skeleton before leaving Vault 111.
- Final Fantasy VI sends you into Daryl's Tomb to recover her airship.
- Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance justifies Unusable Enemy Equipment during one scene where Token Evil Teammate Shinon starts looting some dead soldiers, but Ike stops him.
- In the first game of the Hero of the Kingdom series, the hero can optionally desecrate a few graves to acquire treasure, at the cost of a few "fame" points with the locals.
- A game mechanic in both Knights of the Old Republic games, where instead of getting a list of loot, you have to manually search the remains of the person, droid, or creature you just killed. It's lampshaded by Kreia in the second when the first conversation with the Jedi Exile starts in a morgue, where the Exile is searching the corpses for clues and/or useful items.
- Mass Effect: you spend a lot of time pilfering tech upgrades, credits, medigel, heat sinks and the like from either safes, computers, medical supply points and datapads left behind by the dead, or from the dead themselves. Becomes hilarious when you stumble on some looters in Mass Effect 2 during a plague that doesn't affect humans, and can say, with a completely straight face and no hint of irony, that you disapprove of what they're doing.
Shepard: Stealing from the dead? That's pretty low.
- Neverwinter Nights requires you to go grave-robbing in parts of the Original Campaign, and many community-made modules feature similar themes.
- Planescape: Torment has an entire guild of people known as the Collectors whose job is to find dead bodies and turn them in to the Dustmen, a local sect that uses the corpses as zombie laborers. Of course, the Collectors almost always strip the bodies of everything valuable first.
- In Suikoden III, you can find random items on corpses. Oddly enough, these replenish from chapter to chapter. However, two of the protagonists, Chris and Thomas, refuse to loot the bodies, reacting with disgust or horror.
- Early in Tales of Phantasia, it's possible to loot some treasure from mausoleum coffins, but not without a fight with undead first.
- Garret in Thief usually robs the living, but he's not above scouring crypts and graves if it's necessary. In Thief grave robbing can be extremely dangerous, thanks to the undead that tend to inhabit them.
- Zig-zagged in Hitman series: as a core gameplay mechanic, the player needs to take away the clothes from a person he pacified or killed. However, if the downed NPC is a female or a civilian, he's unallowed to do so.
- Egyptian Burial Tombs in Civilization V increase the amount of money plundered if the city is captured, presumably because of grave robbing.
- The Heroes of Might and Magic series regularly features map objects, usually Warrior's Tombs, Crypts and Shipwrecks. The Tombs give a free random artifact, Crypts and Shipwrecks are respectively guarded by a bunch of undead and water elementals but yield resources should the guardians be successfully cleared. Attempting to visit an already raided location imposes a dramatic penalty to that Hero's morale. Weirdly this is never the case when looting a Corpse, which has only a 20% chance of a free artifact.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Any dead body in Red Dead Redemption can be searched for supplies, usually ammunition, money, or alcohol. Depending on John's Karma Meter, he may jokingly pay his respects, or insult the person he killed.
- Saints Row 2:
- In a mission against the Ronin that takes place in a Japanese restaurant, the Boss pauses to take a sushi roll off a plate after killing all the Ronin present.
- After killing the General at the end of the Sons of Samedi arc, the Boss takes one of his cigars and smokes it.
- Team Fortress 2:
- The Sandvich. Specifically, if a Heavy is carrying his Sandvich when he dies, he will drop it, and anyone who runs it over, even enemies, receives 50% of their total health back. The Scout has a voice response for this that alludes to the (in)famous milkshake analogy from There Will Be Blood:
"I! Eat! Your! Sandwiches! I eat 'em up!"
- He does the same thing in Meet the Scout when he interrupts a Heavy eating a Sandvich, kills him, and steals it. The Heavy gets vengeance in "Meet the Sandvich".
- Incidentally, the Heavy has an achievement relating to this occurrence, called "Don't Touch Sandvich" which involves killing a number of scouts with a specific weapon. The scout, on the other hand, gets an achievement for taking the Heavy's sandvich ("Dodgers 1, Giants 0").
- The Sandvich. Specifically, if a Heavy is carrying his Sandvich when he dies, he will drop it, and anyone who runs it over, even enemies, receives 50% of their total health back. The Scout has a voice response for this that alludes to the (in)famous milkshake analogy from There Will Be Blood:
- Girl Genius: Castle-prisoner Snapper makes the fatal mistake of trying to take Action Girl Sanaa Tryggvassen hostage...
"Requiescat in pace and all that rot. Dibs on his boots!"
- In The Order of the Stick, Haley loots Zz'dtri's corpse. Oddly enough, given the RPG-Mechanics Verse, this trope does not appear more often, though, given the amount of money Haley acquires in the dungeon crawl, she may have done it off-stage.
- Haley also objects to her Ax-Crazy rival, Crystal, being allowed in the Thieves' Guild, arguing that she's not really a "thief," she's an assassin who also robs her victims.
- Adventure Time:
Hey, that's perfect! And... sort of macabre... oh well.
- In "To Cut A Woman's Hair", Finn needs to find princess hair to save his best friend from an evil, balding witch. He winds up in a cemetery and finds a grave belonging to "Princess Beautiful," whom he digs up.
Finn: Jake! You looted?! That's bad, man! You're supposed to be Good Cop.
- In "Ghost Princess", Finn and Jake play "Good Cop, Bad Cop" and try to investigate Ghost Princess' cause of death. When they initially give up and leave the graveyard, Jake is seen holding stuff that he obviously dug up from the graves.
Jake: Oops. I didn't know it was wrong.
- In the Futurama episode "Luck Of The Fryrish", the cast goes to a graveyard intending to steal a seven-leaf clover back from Fry's long-dead brother, who stole his identity. Fry changes his mind when he finds out Phillip J. Fry is actually his nephew, named in Fry's honor to carry on his spirit. Though some are up for that other type of Grave Robbing...
Bender: There, now no one will be able to say I don't own John Larroquette's spine.
- In King of the Hill, Bobby asks Cotton why he's looking at an old photo of a Japanese woman. Cotton casually explains that he stole it from one of the "fitty men" he killed in World War II. He's lying; it's actually a nurse whom he fell in love with after the war.
- Rick and Morty once found a dead alien in the back of Jerry's car. Rick's reaction? "Dibs on his stuff!"
- An odd variation in The Simpsons. Lisa's discovered evidence that suggests that Jebediah Springfield, the founder of Springfield, was actually a pirate and the missing link was a silver tongue. When his grave was opened up, there was no tongue, humiliating Lisa. However, she confronted the curator of the museum dedicated to Jebediah, who confessed to stealing the tongue while everyone was distracted, not being able to deal with the fact that he had devoted his life to the legend of a fraud. While they initially intend to reveal the truth to the townspeople, Lisa decides against it at the last second, realizing that the legend means more to Springfield than the truth is worth and agrees to let Jebediah Springfield's real past be forgotten.
- On SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Krabs goes to the cemetery to dig up a grave to retrieve a valuable hat. The skeletons of the dead rise from the ground and fight him to get the hat back.
Krabs: Am I really going to defile a grave for money? Of course I am!
- Ancient Egyptian pharaohs were buried with huge wealth, in the belief that these things would go to the afterlife with them. The artifacts are now the main source of Egyptian archaeological information, but most of the tombs were robbed thousands of years ago, long before any archeologists got there. Even the famous Tutankhamun's tomb seems to have been burglarized and resealed, though for whatever reason the thieves didn't rob the inner chambers.
- Dentures used to be made using, among other things, the teeth of dead people. After the battle of Waterloo, so many teeth were harvested that for some time dentures were known as "Waterloo teeth".
- Ancient Greeks had no qualms about looting dead and this was considered a normal part of war; the Spartans had captured shields in the temple of Artemis in Sparta (see also Battle Trophy).
- Standard practice among armies at war: the dead, friendly or enemy, can't use whatever they have, but you could and supplies may be cut, so it's better to grab the fallen soldier's gun, food, and even clothes and not let it go to waste.
- Actually encouraged for some things, especially the white camouflage suits, at Stalingrad: the Red Army logistic situation, while being improved by American supplies, was still bad, and letting things be wasted was considered criminal. There are even reports of soldiers wearing the rare white suits getting mortally wounded and starting to undress before their own blood could ruin it (yeah, the supplying situation was really bad).
- In times of great penury such as the Russian retreat, soldiers didn't even wait for the dead to be really dead before doing the robbing; those who fell over from exhaustion were stripped as soon as they hit the ground.
- The American troops who were trapped in Bastogne had to do this as they were completely surrounded and cut off by the German Army. With no expectation of resupply and the threats of hypothermia and hostile fire weighing heavily on their morale, they had to scrounge up every bullet and piece of clothing from their own dead. Even they knew that this was heartless but necessary and went by a strict moral code not to take any personal effects as their own.
- It was so standard that only one set of medieval mass graves from a battle (at Visby) had the soldiers buried with their armor. The leading theory is that the armor was so outdated (some of it was centuries old) that stripping the corpses wasn't worth the invaders' time on a hot day.
- The Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold apparently stopped to take sips from students' drink cups left behind in panic in the cafeteria after the shooting started.
- On July 5th, 1978, Robert Alton Harris and his brother Daniel kidnapped two teenagers in San Diego. After Robert shot and killed both teens, they stole the victims' car. They then ate the victims' unfinished hamburgers before using the stolen car to rob a bank. A witness followed the brothers home and notified police, and they were arrested an hour after the robberyTrivia . Robert was executed in 1992 after being convicted of auto theft, kidnapping, murder, burglary and bank robbery, while Daniel was convicted for kidnapping and served six years in state prison, being released in 1983.
- Stephen Wayne Anderson (1953-2002) robbed and murdered Elizabeth Lyman, a retired piano teacher, in 1980. After killing her, he helped himself to a bowl of noodles and a glass of milk from her kitchen. Anderson even sat down to watch television while eating the noodles; this led to the police arresting him and he was executed in 2002 for his crimes.
- During the Holocaust, the Nazis helped themselves to all the personal possessions of the people they murdered. They also removed gold teeth from corpses, and cut the hair off of women before sending them to the gas chambers, so they could sell the hair to wigmakers.