It's traditional throughout most of the world to mark a grave whenever possible: with a simple cross or other marker, with a stone bearing a name and other details, or sometimes with a weapon. But sometimes such an artificial marker is not needed. Some beings make a profound change in the ground itself when they die, so that that spot can be distinguished forevermore, and all who pass see that one with great power perished here.
The very good may have a mound suffused with flowers, the evil a blackened husk of charred earth or a smoldering pit, for the same reason they would have, in life, had Fertile Feet or been a Walking Wasteland. Other effects may occur, especially giving a hint as to the nature of the power of the one buried.
In a variation, the change can be made by a survivor, as a way of memorialising the fallen.
This is a Death Trope, so unmarked spoilers will follow.
- The Doctor Who episode "The Name of the Doctor" reveals that the Doctor's own eventual grave on the planet Trenzalore is (will be?) one of these: marked with the near-dead TARDIS, grown to the size of a mountain, with the Doctor's "corpse" at its heart - actually a temporal rift leading to every point in history the Doctor has ever influenced.
- In the Supernatural episode "Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things" (S02, Ep04), Dean notices a grave surrounded by dead grass which is the first clue that the college student who was supposed to be buried there has become a murdering zombie.
- Another episode had Sam noticing an outgrowth of a unique plant, which was never mentioned before or again, that only sprouts that way around the graves of active ghosts.
- C.B. Colby's Strangely Enough!, story "No Grass on the Grave". A man named John Newton was sentenced to death by hanging. He maintained that he was not guilty of the crime he was accused of and that as proof, no grass would grow on his grave for a generation. Despite the best efforts of the townsfolk, not only would grass not grow on his grave but the grassless area was in the shape of a coffin. More than sixty years later grass finally grew on the grave...in the shape of a cross.
- Happens many, many times in the legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien. Some specifics:
- The Dead Marshes are a former battlefield, the site of the last great battle of the alliance of Elves and Men against Sauron. The land has never recovered, and puddles contain corpses of soldiers from either side in a perpetual state of semi-decomposition, their spirits seeking to lure the living to join them. Similar wastelands mark other major battles which took place during The Silmarillion.
- The flower Simbelmynë grows in Rohan, almost exclusively on the grave mounds of the kings, and most profusely for the most famous king, Helm Hammerhand.
- In The Two Towers, a band of orcs is destroyed by Rohirrim and their bodies made into a pyre. The narration states that the ground never returns to health.
- In The Return of the King, the grass on Snowmane's grave grows long and green (presumably because he was from a line of Cool Horses), even though he inadvertently caused his master's death. By contrast, the place where the Nazgûl's Giant Flyer perishes is barren.
- In The Wheel of Time:
- In the prologue, Lews Therin Telamon is so overcome with despair upon the realisation that he has been driven mad and slain everyone he loved, that he kills himself with a beam of energy that pierces the earth and raises a colossal volcano on an otherwise featureless plain. It comes to be called Dragonmount and is the site of his reincarnation's birth.
- Someshta, the Green Man, dies while using his Green Thumb powers to take out one of the forsaken, and a large tree grows where he dies. The next morning, it has a growth of flowers at its base, and Loial uses his own abilities to make sure the tree will not be claimed by the Blight.
- In the last book, Egwene discovers the antithesis to Balefire, and channels so much of it in a Beam-O-War that she obliterates herself, transforming the surroundings and all of her opponents into indestructible crystal.
- There's a myth that when the original Band of the Red Hand, the Praetorian Guard of the king of Manetheren, perished, a spring arose to commemorate them, but the person relating this myth supposes that the spring was probably already there.
- Invoked in one of the Tiffany Aching Discworld books. After an old woman was accused of witchcraft, evicted from her house with her cat, and shunned until she starved or froze to death, Tiffany makes a point of planting flowers and catnip on the woman's grave to make people think this has happened.
- In the Arcia Chronicles, when the Elven lord Asten is killed, nothing special happens to his body or the place the murder took place. However, that doesn't sit well with Gerika, so she causes the earth to magically envelop it, then transmutes the earth into a giant amethyst.
- In Harry Potter, when Dumbledore dies, he is entombed in a magically-created sarcophagus of solid white marble.
- In the Alcatraz Series, the grave of Alcatraz Smedry's ancestor Allekatrase the First exists in a state of perfect stasis, owing to Allekatrase using his Breaking Talent on time itself there.
- In Eragon, when Brom is buried, Saphira uses dragon magic to transmute his tomb into diamond.
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Thalia's tree, and more importantly, the barrier that keeps out the various monsters, fits the bill.
- Discussed at the end of Where the Red Fern Grows: Billy's dogs' grave is marked by a large red fern, which legend says only angels can plant.
- Possibly similar to the John Newton example above, there is an allegedly true story that an apple farmer killed a tramp and buries him on the orchard and from then on those apples had a reddish tinge inside.
- According to Japanese Mythology, Cherry Blossoms get their pink color from having a body buried underneath one.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, when a dragon dies the elemental magic that powers its Breath Weapon can diffuse into the environment around its body - one of the many dangers in Dragon Graveyards are spontaneous storms of fire, lightning, etc., or hordes of elementals spawned by all the residual magic. The Draconomicon sourcebook adds that a dying wyrm can consume its Dragon Hoard and merge with the natural world, forming a dragon-shaped landform like a hill or lake that offers supernatural protection to any dragon eggs laid there.
- Call of Cthulhu supplement Fragments of Fear, adventure "The Underground Menace". If the Investigators manage to kill the Dark Young of Shub-Niggurath it melts, leaving a loathsomely-damp spot on the earth in which all the plants have been killed. No new plants will grow there for decades to come.
- Magic: The Gathering has Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
"Yawgmoth's corpse is a wound in the universe. His foul blood seeps out, infecting the land with his final curse."—Lord Windgrace
- In the Shadowrun universe, when the great dragon Dunkelzahn is assassinated right after winning the presidency of the United Canadian and American States, an "astral rift" forms at the place of his death which remains, killing all mages who dare to investigate the hitherto unknown phenomena.
- In Guild Wars: Factions, Shiro Tagachi caused this on a massive scale, unleashing the "Jade Wind" with his last breath which transformed everything for miles into stone or jade.
- In Grim Fandango, dead souls infected with "sproutella" are transformed into flowers, rendering them Deader Than Dead and leaving a patch reminiscent of a grave. This is kind of an inversion, since here the creation of the grave is itself the cause of death.
- In Quest for Glory IV, Piotyr the Paladin's grave (which doubles as the faerie wizard Erana's grave-in-absence) is a mound in the town square of Mordavia. Naturally, the mound has sprouted many colorful flowers.
- The Touhou game Perfect Cherry Blossom plays upon the above example from Japanese mythology. Yuyuko Saigyouji, the ghostly princess of the Netherworld, is trying to revive the girl buried beneath the Saigyou Ayakashi, a Youkai cherry tree that lured victims to a fatal slumber beneath its branches until it was put into magical dormancy. Unfortunately, she forgot that it's her body buried there - a thousand years ago Yuyuko killed herself in dismay over her power to invoke death in others, and her friend used her body to complete the seal on the tree.
- Enemies in Ōkami turn into flowers when they are killed.
- In A Candle Cove Anecdote, a leafless tree grows where the narrator buried his Horrible Horace doll. Every summer, it attracts a disturbing amount of flies.