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Talking to the Dead

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"Hey John
I could use your advice
Put my troubled mind at ease
But your dust don't speak
To me anymore."
Starflyer 59, "Majic"

The mundane equivalent to Dead Person Conversation, a Sub-Trope of Surrogate Soliloquy. A character addresses a dead person, not expecting a response, not getting one — at least, not an unequivocal one. Can be spoken to the corpse, the coffin, the grave — or to thin air. (If the body is present, often Peaceful in Death is in play.)

Ubiquitous in Japanese media; it is believed in Japan that unless the living keep the memories of their near and dear ones alive by talking to them, their spirits will disappear into oblivion. Thus a manga or anime character chatting about everyday things with a picture of their dead parents or sibling is not a sign of losing it.

It is also the basis for the "communion of saints" — that's what it's called in the Catholic Creed, but many religions include the idea that the living are forever linked to friends and relatives in the hereafter through God's fellowship of love, and personal experiences of communication are part of that.

Libation for the Dead may involve this. For some reason, I Gave My Word is actually particularly binding in this situation (generally for Best Served Cold).

Does not, of course, preclude the dead person's not actually being dead but does require that the character believe the person to be dead. (Please Wake Up does not fall under this.)

Symbolic or ambiguous apparent messages from the dead start to edge this into Dead Person Conversation.

Compare Converse with the Unconscious. Motives may be similar.

A Grief Song is often a musical version of this.


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  • A famous tear-jerking anti-drug PSA shows a father telling his son that he'd tell him the dangers of drugs when he was old enough, before lamenting "I never thought I'd be telling that to a 13-year-old", and the camera zooms out to reveal he's in a cemetery.
    Announcer: If you don't teach your kids to say no to drugs, it's as good as saying "Yes".

    Anime & Manga 
  • Tsume to Toboe's body in Wolf's Rain.
  • Tohru of Fruits Basket tends to address her deceased mother Kyoko in her inner monologues, and will sometimes talk to photos of Kyoko as though they really are her. However, as the manga goes on it becomes clear that it's rather unhealthy for her to do this, with scenes like Hiro taking her wallet with her mother's photo inside (with Tohru reacting as though her mother had actually gotten kidnapped) showing she still hasn't moved on from Kyoko's death.
  • Code Geass: C.C. talked to Marianne, who was alive (in a sense).
  • Being the Necromantic that she is, Precia naturally does this with Alicia's floating corpse in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha. "We won't be separated this time..."
  • Takamichi of Negima! Magister Negi Magi during his date with Asuna: "Master... even though I can't tell her everything, I would at least like to tell Asuna-kun about you..."
  • Light from Death Note does this to L, in the deleted anime scenes of his funeral, complete with loads of Trash Talk and Evil Gloating. Note that, in this case at least, it is most definitely a sign of Sanity Slippage, accompanied by creepy bright red lighting and something that looks suspiciously like Light humping the grave. Eugh. The Antagonist in Mourning is not a pretty sight.
  • In the final episode of Baccano!, a character asks his long-dead brother, in the "thin air" variety, whether it's alright that the executives of the Martillo crime family are now immortal.
  • Ranma ½: Ranma Saotome has one of these moments with Akane Tendō, when he thinks she has died. However, after his declaration of love, it turns out she was only severely stunned, and able to hear everything even if she couldn't move.
  • In the original Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Ryou Bakura is shown writing a letter to his sister Amane. Word of God says she died in a car crash beforehand, showing that her death either had a rather traumatizing effect or very little effect on his actions. And in a series full of significant siblingrelationships and characters motivated by protecting/rescuing/avenging their loved ones, it's a little jarring.
  • In Cowboy Bebop, Spike is ambushed in a convenience store shortly after its owner bleeds to death. Before the action starts, he says to the dead owner, "Sorry, gonna make a bit of a scene."
  • Kyo Kara Maoh!: After Wolfram dies, Yuuri has a conversation with his preserved body, promising to save him. The imaginary ghost of the deceased does most of the talking. It's more halfway between this and Converse with the Unconscious. While Wolfram is technically dead, the preservative apparatus and Yuuri's determination that Wolfram will get better make it feel more like Wolfram's comatose or unconscious.
  • Naruto:
    • After discovering and accepting the truth of his father's Heroic Sacrifice and defiance of his indelible curse, Neji smiles at the sky, having put his rage at same indelible curse behind him:
      Neji: Father... There are so many birds in the sky today... Flying free.
    • Sasuke also starts talking to Itachi after he killed him. It's just another reminder of his Sanity Slippage.
    • Kakashi often stands at the memorial stone and talks to his old friend Obito about everything in his life. Which is how Obito, who is still secretly alive, finds out about Naruto's secret birthplace. He then goes and sets off the events of the night when the Nine Tails attacked Konoha. All because he overheard Kakashi confiding vital information to his gravestone.
  • Bright talks to a photo of Amuro in Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. Judging by what happens at the end of episode 5, it looks like Amuro was listening.
  • At the beginning of the first episode of Ouran High School Host Club, Haruhi addresses her dead mother, inquiring, "How are things in heaven, Mom? I can't believe it's been ten years."
  • Near the very end of Fullmetal Alchemist (and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood), Hoenheim makes his way back to Resembool and visits the grave of his late wife Trisha, Ed and Al's mother, to tell her all about the boys' recent adventures. He dies there. The manga includes an extra series of panels showing the parents reuniting in the afterlife.
    • Much earlier in the story, following Hughes's funeral, Mustang stands at the grave and talks to him until Hawkeye joins him.
  • Legend of the Galactic Heroes:
    • Reinhard von Lohengramm does this constantly when facing a moral quandary. And he's not the only one.
    • Later on, Julian Mintz views the act of collecting and editing Yang Wen-li's old papers as an extension of the conversations they used to have while the latter still lived.
  • And Yet the Town Moves: Seaside Maid Cafe owner Uki talks to her dead husband as though he was there... He's listening, though.
  • Kanamemo: Kana converses with her dead grandmother at the start and end of every episode in the anime.
  • Ron Kamonohashi: Deranged Detective: The eponymous character would "talk" to every murder victim he comes across in order to find out about how they died and who killed them.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Bruce Wayne frequently visits the dual grave of his parents, usually to tell them about his feelings, doubts, and resolve regarding his mission. At the end of "I am Bane," it seems like he finally closes the door on the habit.
    • The Joker does this in The Killing Joke, when "purchasing" the amusement park. He kills the man he bought the place from, and keeps talking to him afterwards.
    • Robin III, Tim Drake, stands at his parents' graves and talks to them shortly after his father's death. Bruce finds him there and asks his own parents to keep an eye on the Drakes before leading Tim home.
    • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, after Joker breaks his own neck, the corpse is set on fire, and the corpse appears to be smiling, and Batman "hears" him still laughing. Batman simply tells him to shut up.
  • Daredevil: Daredevil: Yellow's whole story is framed as a series of letters written by Daredevil himself to his recently-killed girlfriend Karen Page.
  • Identity Crisis: Ralph Dibny does this at the end of the series. While getting ready for bed, he talks to his deceased wife Sue on the suggestion of Green Arrow, who had told him earlier, "She can hear you." (And Green Arrow would know...)
  • Lands of Arran: In Orcs & Gobelins, the Orc necromancer Nerrom can speak to the dead and uses his power to interrogate Nelyr the mage, allowing Lanawyn to learn that Ulronn the Black Elf is responsible for a massacre Lanawyn has been investigating.
  • Spider-Man: Spider-Man: Blue's framing device, Spider-Man's recording tapes for Gwen Stacy, serving for a whole series flashback.
  • Superman:
    • The Death of Superman: After Superman's death, Lex Luthor asks for a moment alone with the corpse, and proceeds to gloat over how he is now free. The novelization takes an opposite approach, as he's with the corpse of Doomsday, and smashes a chair over its head while shouting "Miserable, stinking..." It's not that he's sorry Superman is dead, it's that he wanted to kill Superman himself.
    • The Supergirl from Krypton (2004): After returning to Themyscira Kara visits Harbinger's grave and talks to her departed friend.
    • Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl: After her confrontation with Lex Luthor, Supergirl spends a while kneeling in front of her cousin's grave, crying and telling him she hopes that he'll like his resting place.
    • One flashback scene in Action Comics #500 has Clark Kent visiting his recently-departed parents' graves. After lamenting his incapability to save his ill parents, he promises to Jonathan and Martha he will not allow the pain to overwhelm him or stop him from doing what is right.
    • Who is Superwoman? opens up with one scene where Kara's conversing with her dearly missed father.
    • "Guilding Day" is framed as one letter written by Kara to her recently-murdered father Zor-El where she tells him how (very badly) her mother is dealing with his loss, and explains why she's choosing the Science Guild instead of following his footsteps and choosing the Arts Guild as she had always intended.
  • Wonder Girl: Cassie visits Conner's grave and speaks to his headstone. Herc has the temerity to interrupt her there glamoured to look like Conner and pretend to speak for him, with rightly infuriates her.

    Comic Strips 
  • Played for bleak laughs in Candorville. Lemont's lawyer spends several strips shackled to a wall next to a skeleton, which turns out to be one of his process servers who'd gone missing. He blames himself for the process server's death, and asks him "Can you forgive me? Then, since he's a lawyer, he takes the skeleton's silence to mean "yes."

    Fan Works 
  • Evangelion 303: In chapter 13 Asuka was talking to the grave of Jessika for hours to get her hurt off her chest, explaining everything what had happened after her death and why she was running away.
  • Near the end of the Animorphs fanfic Ghost in the Shell, Tom visits Rachel's grave and talks about how he's grateful to be alive.
  • In Reignfall, May Marigold has been assumed dead for seven years when her old best friend Winter Schnee catches a glimpse of and desperately follows her, only to find an empty courtyard. Partially to vent feelings that she has kept bottled up since May's "death", and partially in the vain hope that May really is there and hidden from sight, Winter sits down and talks about it. How much she misses May, how she has tried but can't move on from her, how much she regrets all the things she could have done different, and how much it hurts to keep May's gender secret while listening to others misgender her. She ends it by begging May to give even the slightest hint that she's alive, though she's met with nothing but silence.
  • In chapter 4 of Once More with Feeling, Shinji visits his mother's grave and talks to her for a long while, saying that he's scared because he doesn't think he's strong enough to go through everything a second time.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Illogical features Kirk after Spock's death, sitting in the Vulcan's cabin and talking to his friend in an effort to find closure.
    Kirk: I couldn’t talk about this. Not even to Bones. The only person I want to talk to about your death is you. How illogical is that?
  • The Second Try: In the After the End chapters Shinji and Asuka -and later their daughter Aki- go every so often to the Dead Red Sea -formed by the liquefied bodies of all humans- to talk to them, announce something or get things off their chests.
  • In Left, Frodo tells Sam that he is "so sorry" after he kills him in a fit of Ring-jealousy. Luckily, it's All Just a Dream.
  • Tangled Up In Blues: Throughout the two final chapters, the protagonist/narrator is addressing his dead mentor directly to tell him about how life is going and how thankful he is for everything the mentor's done for him.
  • XCOM: Second Contact: Shepard and Jenny.
  • Mass Effect: Human Revolution: Hein and Shepard at the end of chapter 28.
  • Under the Northern Lights: The does of Hrimfaxi's temple are able to do this, as long as they have part of the deceased; fortunately, reindeer leave their antlers with them before death. They try this on a figure from ancient deer lore, Wiglek the Wicked. It fails. Wiglek isn't dead...
  • In the Marvel Cinematic Universe fanfic I'm still alive, Jen regularly talks to Howard about anything and everything. She does the same (though much less often) to Peggy at least until she turns out to be very much alive and the Jarvis couple. Hell, she even talks to Dum Dum Dugan's grave at one point.
  • Severa visits her father's grave in Chapter 10 of Secret Dreamer, to wish him a happy birthday and tell him what has happened since the last time she stopped by.
  • Yiereth in The Form of Survival begs her late Master for advice when she realizes she effectively became the new Master of the Order (or what's left of it), despite never making it past the rank of a Knight, and it's implied that she makes a habit of it. She says some tearful sentences to her sister as well when faced with her surviving padawan.
  • In Shadow and Rose, which retells Dragon Age: Origins in the form of Alistair's diary, there are a few lines in which Alistair 'speaks' to the late King Cailan, his half-brother, wondering about his motives for a particular decision.
  • In Life is a Roller Coaster, this is seen briefly at the teachers' 1930s party, when the Hawke sisters mention a particular antic of their late brother Carver. Bethany glances at the ceiling and remarks, "Cheeky, brother. Very cheeky."
  • A Prize for Three Empires: After absorbing Carol Danvers' memories, Rogue visited Carol's brother's grave and wept.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf novel, Empath talks to his mother at her grave site while he was with Smurfette on a date.
  • Part of the second chapter of All the World's a Stage has Roger Rabbit doing this at Eddie Valiant's grave. (The fic was written shortly after Bob Hoskins death.)
  • At the end of Zero Context: Taking Out the Trash, the story's protagonist visits the grave of the escaped convict who tried to rape her and talks to it after coming to grips with recent events. She knew full well that she was never going to get a response but does it anyway, viewing it as a form of catharsis.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide: As Misato is about to betray NERV to protect Shinji and Asuka, she plays a visit to Kaji's melon patch, and talks to her dead lover about the choices she is about to make.
  • Somos Familia: Facundo's reaction to finding his daughter (who's seen as an Old Maid In-Universe) having sex with a friend of Mateo (and how the kids who respond to his scream mistake it for a wrestling match) goes from angry, to happy, to speaking to his long dead wife.
    Rosita: Papá, stop! He loves me and I love him. He asked me to marry him and I said yes.
    Facundo: -beautiful, thoughtful blessing in disguise. Come here, mi hijo. Ay, you beautiful, beautiful man. Thank you for making my deams come true! Did you hear that Vicky? Our Rosita is to be wed. You can now rest in peace.
  • Little By Little: The second half of the fic consists of Jett going to Springfield's cemetery to visit Frank's grave and talk to him.

    Films — Animation 
  • Carl in the movie Up does this occasionally. He talks to his house but means his wife, Ellie. Russell thinks his house is named Ellie. Part of Carl’s journey to heal from his grief is when Russell begins speaking to the house, pretending to have a conversation with "Ellie" and that she agrees to let him get his way on something Carl told him "no" about; when Carl snaps at "Ellie" that he told Russell no, he stumbles as he realizes just how silly he sounds speaking to their house.
  • Compare with Monster House, which is kind of the opposite. Nebbecracker's wife already had formed some sort of spiritual attachment to the house, her soul being bonded to it somehow. When she died, she lived on literally as the house, meaning Nebbecracker is literally speaking to her and not her grave.
  • Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Bruce meets Andrea Beaumont when he visits his parents' graves and overhears her casually talking to her dead mother. This prompts him to do the same thing — including in costume years later, which is how she figures out who he is.
    Andrea: So, tell me — with all that money and power, how come you always look like you want to jump off a cliff?
    Bruce: Why should you care?
    Andrea: I don't. Mother was asking.
  • In the Director's Cut of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Mr. J kills one of his henchmen (Bonk), then demands the others re-pledge their loyalty:
    Joker: Boys?
    Chucko & Ghoul: We're with you!
    Joker: Dee Dee?
    Dee Dee: We're with you!
    Joker: Bonk?
    (cut to Bonk's grinning, twitching corpse)
    Joker: (smiles at screen) Oh, right. Dead.
  • In The Lion King (1994), both the movie and the musical have Simba talking to Mufasa, though sometimes crossed with Rage Against the Heavens. And trust us, he knows.
    "You said you'd always be there for me! But you're not. And it's because of me. It's my's my fault..."
  • In Kubo and the Two Strings, Kubo tries to talk to his dead father at his grave but gets no answer, for obvious reasons.
  • Seen briefly in Quest for Camelot, when Lady Juliana is exasperated with her daughter Kayley's professed desire to be a knight. They quarrel a bit and Kayley runs out of the room. Juliana sighs then glances at a tapestry depicting the two of them with her late husband, Sir Lionel. "What would you do?" she asks him.
  • A Year and Change: Owen spends most of the movie writing journal entries to a Jen, who was his twin sister that died shortly after childbirth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • It is implied that Shilo Wallace in Repo! The Genetic Opera does this.
  • When Tuco catches up with Blondie in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, he finds Blondie running the same bounty racket with another bandit. Blondie is forced to watch his new partner die, to which he mutters, "Sorry, Shorty."
  • In Enter the Dragon, Lee visits the graves of his mother and sister, preemptively asking forgiveness for what he's about to do to avenge the latter's death.
  • The main character of Balls of Fury (largely a parody of the aforementioned Enter the Dragon) went to talk to his dead father — and got splashed by the water ride that the cemetery sold the airspace to.
  • The final scene of the Korean war drama, Taegukgi, has Jin-seok discovering that his older brother, Jin-tae, had actually died in battle fifty years ago in a Hold the Line moment fending off the North Korean army. Suffering a Heroic RRoD, the elderly Jin-seok then collapses beside his brother's skeleton and pleads for Jin-tae to speak to him. Bring tissues, you will need them.
  • Maverick in Top Gun says "Talk to me, Goose" (referencing his deceased former backseater) during the final air battle
  • The Leopard Man: Consuela visits her father's grave on her birthday. While it's partially an excuse to meet her boyfriend Raoul, she also talks to her father's headstone about how she feels guilty for lying to her mother about Raoul and hopes that they will be able to get along soon.
  • Implied in the first Leave It to Beaver Made-for-TV Movie, when Barbara Billingsly is seen in front of a gravestone uttering her famous line, "Ward, I'm worried about the Beaver." Hugh Beaumont, who played Ward, passed away before the movie was made, and The Character Died with Him.
  • In Batman (1989), the Joker has a conversation with a mob boss named Antoine Rotelli, whom he just killed with an Electric Joybuzzer. It is during this conversation that the Joker decides to kill the whole lot of the mob summit immediately, allegedly under Rotelli's "suggestion".
    Joker: You are a vicious bastard, Rotelli. I'm glad you're dead.
  • In a particularly heartwrenching version, the movie Grace Is Gone features John Cusack repeatedly calling his (dead) wife's answering machine to ask her advice on how to relate to their two daughters.
  • Mikey in The Goonies has a heart-to-ribcage chat with the skeletal remains of One-Eyed Willie.
  • Lampooned in the disaster movie parody The Big Bus with so many people talking in the graveyard the protagonist has to shout in order to be heard above the din.
  • Johnny in Red Roses And Petrol has an emotional goodbye by speaking to his dead father's video diary.
  • Dolly Levi, as played both by Shirley Booth in The Matchmaker and Barbra Streisand in Hello, Dolly!!, sometimes talks to her dead husband Ephraim Levi.
  • In The Sixth Sense, Anna talks to Malcolm, not knowing he can hear her.
    • Additionally, Cole's mother occasionally visits and speaks to the grave of her own mother. She finally realizes that her son is telling the truth about seeing dead people when he tells her the answer to the question she had asked her mother, which he would have no way of knowing. She asked her mother, "Do I make you proud?" and the answer was "Every day."
  • John Preston (Christian Bale) tearfully apologises to Sean Bean's corpse in Equilibrium. Preston was the one who executed him for feeling emotions, a crime punishable by death. Preston was now committing that same crime.
  • In Nell, the title character talks to (and plays with) the memory of her dead sister. It's a lot less creepy than it sounds.
  • In Sleepless in Seattle, Sam (Tom Hanks) talks to his wife about stuff that is happening in his life.
  • In the closing scene of Tommy Boy the titular character has a heart to heart with his dearly departed dad, whilst stuck on a lake in a sailboat.
  • In Shenandoah, Charlie Anderson talks to the grave of his late wife Martha.
  • In Hot Fuzz, Nicholas Angel has a few words at a grave that appears to belong to his partner, Danny Butterman, after the latter took a blunderbuss shot to save his life. It ends up being a Subverted Trope, as the grave actually belongs to Danny's mother, and the words are actually directed at the very much alive Danny.
  • In Cas and Dylan, Dylan roots through Cas's cell phone and finds a frequently-dialed entry for "Denise." Thinking it's a friend, she calls the number repeatedly, but the calls go straight to voice mail. Eventually, Cas reveals that "Denise" is his long-dead wife, and he has kept her account active all these years just so he can occasionally hear her voice.
  • Some live-action versions of A Christmas Carol use this trope in the Bad Future scene of Tiny Tim's death. The 1970 and 2004 musicals show Bob talking to Tim's grave as if Tim were still alive, while in the 1999 version he talks to Tim's corpse at his bedside.
  • The Rock opens with Hummel visiting his wife's grave, and explaining what he is about to do. It ends with him asking for forgiveness, and hoping that, whatever happens, she won't think less of him.
  • Played for Laughs at the beginning of Thor: Ragnarok, which begins with Thor apparently addressing the audience about his latest whereabouts, only to reveal that he is actually talking to a skeleton chained next to him.
  • In A Score to Settle, Frankie visits his wife Lorraine's grave after he gets out of prison to apolgise for the mess he made of their lives and their son Joey's.
  • Cruella: Estella often sits by the Regency Park fountain to tell her mother what’s going on in her life.

  • Subverted in Animorphs - Jake visits Rachel's grave often, but Marco doesn't think that he talks to her. Marco wishes that he would, though, as talking to a dead person is better than not talking at all.
  • Warhammer 40,000 Expanded Universe:
  • In the sci-fi story Enemy Mine, humans and aliens are at war. After becoming stranded, the human William Davidge becomes friends with the alien Jeriba Shigan. After Jeriba dies while giving birth, Davidge talks to Jeriba's memory about his concerns. At one point he does bluntly say, "You can't answer, Drac, you're dead," quoting the Drac's holy book (which he learned to read), then goes back to talking to Jeriba's memory.
  • Brian Jacques's Redwall:
    • Matthias addresses a tapestry showing Martin the Warrior about his weakness.
    • Heck, just about every Redwall book has one of the characters talking to the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. Given that many of them actually receive a response of some sort (especially if they're the main character of the book), this usually falls within the realm of Dead Person Conversation, but not always.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan has a tendency to talk to dead people during crises of motivation, most particularly his grandfather and a baby girl named Raina who was killed for having a birth defect. In Memory, he tells his driver that he wants to go talk to the latter of these two, causing the driver to doubt his sanity.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", Valerius tells Krallides's head that his death was not in vain — now Valerius knows that the true queen is alive and a prisoner.
  • In Scaramouche, Andre-Louis Moreau prays to the spirit of his dead friend, Phillipe, before going to a duel.
  • In Poul Anderson's "The Sharing of Flesh", Evalyth talks to both Donli and their yet-to-be-born baby, bewildering herself.
  • The Royal Diaries book Sondok is framed as Sondok's offerings to her ancestors. In the beginning she asks her grandmother's permission to include her own personal thoughts, and she goes on to write very conversationally to her grandmother. (That is, until she bargains with heaven to spare a loved one's life and vows to offer only prayers instead of "selfish ramblings", and her writing becomes strikingly impersonal, obedient, and prayerful).
  • In Wolf Hall and its sequel, Thomas Cromwell frequently addresses his late master Cardinal Wolsey in his thoughts, asking Wolsey what he'd do in a given situation or wondering what he'd think of the events going on now and how Cromwell is handling them.
  • Chapter 21.2 of Worm has Taylor, the protagonist, visit her mother's grave to talk to her about what she's done in costume as Skitter.
  • Rev. Henry Scott Holland, writing in 1909, encourages us to talk to our loved ones as if they were still right here... because they are.
  • At the end of A Farewell to Arms after Catherine dies in childbirth Frederic tries this but, "It was like saying goodbye to a statue."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ducky does this all the time on NCIS to the corpse he is autopsying. He also claims that the dead speak to him (metaphorically, of course). When we see him doing the autopsy on Caitlin Todd, we see him imagine her talking back. His assistant, Jimmy Palmer, also does this on occasion.
    • One episode is framed by Ellie Bishop typing a letter to President Woodrow Wilson.
    • Another one is Timothy McGee reading a letter to his recently-deceased father.
  • Alexx on CSI: Miami not only talks to corpses but also calls them "baby".
  • CSI: NY: At the end of "Redemptio," after he finds out who had killed his estranged sister, Maya, years earlier, Sheldon visits her grave and catches her up on all that's been going on in his life since they'd last spoken.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: Used when Future Janeway had a talk with Dead Chakotay about her plans to illegally time travel to save him and Voyager.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • Sisko talks to Jadzia's coffin at the end of Season 6.
    • O'Brien talks to deceased Mauve Shirt Muniz at the end of "The Ship", telling him how the mission ended successfully and how he would have loved to see the elegance of their solution to unburying the titular enemy craft.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" features a "Talking to the Assimilated" variant, with newly-promoted Captain Riker looking at the ready-room chair of the assimilated Picard and asking "What would you do?"
  • Providence: The main character talks to her dead mother at least Once an Episode.
  • Smallville: In early episodes, Lana would go to the cemetery to talk with her dead parents.
  • Supernatural:
    • Dean does this twice: over his father's grave in What Is And What Should Never Be and over Sam's corpse in All Hell Breaks Loose II.
    • The entirety of Castiel's monologue on his park bench in "The Man Who Would Be King" could be taken like this, though he's attempting to talk to God, who isn't exactly dead. No-one knows this, however.
    • Crowley has a one-sided conversation with a dead Dean in the 9th season finale, "Do You Believe in Miracles".
  • Monk also frequently visits his late wife's grave, often to ponder whether or not she would approve of his actions (usually, such actions involve giving up something of hers in order to help someone else, or anything he thinks might cause him to drift away from her memory).
  • In Heroes Ted Sprague visits his wife's grave before he goes to Nuke Mr. Muggles. And the rest of the Bennetts.
  • Several instances on Lost, the most tearjerking of which may have been Hurley talking to Libby's grave. (This was before the dead people started answering him.)
  • Booth encourages Bones to talk to her mother's grave, though Bones is skeptical of its value.
  • A character on Jericho (2006) does this to his dead, deaf sister. Interestingly, he signs the conversation over her body instead of speaking out loud to her, even after she is dead because that was the way he communicated with her his entire life.
  • This scene from Guiding Light.
  • Damon of The Vampire Diaries sadly talks to Alaric's grave marker in a somewhat non-supernatural example. Sure, the ghost of Alaric is there listening, but Damon doesn't actually know that, so it fits the trope.
  • Xena of Xena: Warrior Princess does this at her brother's grave in the pilot episode.
  • Scrubs:
    • One episode has Carla (uncomfortably) speaking to her mother's grave while she and Turk were having marital problems.
    • Turk also has to ask Carla's dead mother for forgiveness: "I asked her if she was still mad at me and the sprinklers came on."
  • Jack frequently talks to his dead wife, Mary, in New Tricks.
  • Battlestar Galactica (2003): Adama does this to Laura Roslin at the end of the finale.
  • This happens a fair bit in The Tudors. Charles Brandon talking to his dead wife in the first season is a notable example.
  • In the episode of Misfits, when Nathan finds Ruth dead, he tearfully apologizes for the way he treated her. And calls her a "tart".
  • The Doctor Who series finale "The Big Bang" has Rory doing this to Amy, whom he just killed.
    Rory: So the Universe ended. You missed that. In 102 AD. Suppose this means you and I never get born at all. Twice, in my case. You would've laughed at that. (pause) Please laugh.
  • David from Six Feet Under does this a lot as a way of resolving his real-world frustrations, particularly in the first series. Most notably, he argues with his dead father, a dead gang member teaches him to act tough and resolves a good portion of his Gayngst due to his discussions with a young man who was beaten to death for his homosexuality.
  • In the "The Reichenbach Fall" episode of Sherlock, John does this over Sherlock's grave. Of course, Sherlock isn't really dead.
  • In Code Lyoko: Evolution, Aelita gets into the habit of talking to her father, Franz Hopper, while on Lyoko, usually by addressing the Lyoko Core, since Lyoko is Franz Hopper's greatest creation.
  • In Deadwood, Calamity Jane has talked to the grave of Wild Bill Hickok a few times, mostly to apologize for being away while he was killed and vent her frustration with herself and everything else.
  • The Mentalist:
    • Generally averted, as Patrick Jane (a former phony psychic) insists repeatedly that it's pointless because the dead are just gone. He's only visited his dead wife and daughter's graves once and refused to try speaking when he did ("They aren't here").
    • That said, he once consoled a young boy whose mother had died by telling him he could still talk to her when he missed her (and that he did the same thing with his dead wife, though we never see it onscreen).
    • Toyed with and overlapping with Dead Person Conversation, in a tear-jerker episode where Jane accidentally takes a powerful hallucinogen and spends most of the episode conversing with a vision of his dead-daughter-as-he-imagines-she'd-be-as-a-teenager. He knows she's not a real ghost, just a figment of his subconscious, but he still talks to her like she's really there, beams with pride at the young lady she's become, and begs her not leave as the drugs wear off.
  • Family Matters: In "I Should Have Done Something," Carl is depressed because it's the one-year anniversary of a hostage situation to which he responded, which unfortunately ended with the hostage getting shot and killed. The next morning, Carl goes to the victim's grave and gives a tear-jerking monologue expressing the guilt he feels for not doing something at the scene that might have made things go differently.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "Hear the Angels Sing", Jean sits at the grave of her late husband Christopher and talks to him about her plans to marry Lucien, essentially asking his permission.
  • When Roseanne's father dies, she has a private conversation with him in the funeral home before the burial, essentially reading a letter she wrote to him in which she finally lets go of her lingering anger over her abusive childhood. She concludes by saying, "I love you. Goodbye," then puts the folded letter into the coffin with him before leaving the room.
  • In Game of Thrones, Ramsay, of all people, talks to Myranda's corpse after she's found dead.
  • On 8 Simple Rules, in the first episode in which the characters (and cast) have to deal with the death of John Ritter's character Paul, his wife and children find what has become his final newspaper column and read it together. He observes that parents can hear the love of their children hidden in anything they say, even if they claim to hate the parents. Elder daughter Bridget, who has been despairing over the fact that the last thing she said to her father was an irritated "I hate you," swallows her tears and says, "Wow... thanks, Dad!" It's a tear-jerking cap to an altogether gut-wrenching episode.
  • On The Jeffersons, Florence is rocked when the new preacher of her church steals the money meant for a big trip. She's at the church, considering losing her faith when the kindly Reverend Taylor comes up and gives her a pep talk. Florence returns home to tell the Jeffersons about how great it was to hear from Taylor. As she walks off, George and Louise exchange baffled looks.
    George: How could Florence have just talked to Reverend Taylor when his sister said he died in his sleep four hours ago?
  • Arrow
    • In the second episode, Thea Queen tells Oliver how she would visit the gravestone put up after Oliver and their father were Lost at Sea to pour out her troubles, and laments how she felt closer to him then than to the emotionally-distant brother who returned to her. At the end of the episode Oliver does the same with his father's headstone, before ordering the workmen to remove his own.
    • Emiko Queen is shown to talk to her father's headstone despite her hatred of him for refusing to acknowledge her.
  • The Barrier: The epilogue is framed as Emilia talking to her husband Ramón, who now has a proper grave, after being taken away by the army on the Day of the Jackboot twenty-five years earlier.
  • Death in Paradise: In "A Murder in Portrait", Jack holds a conversation with a photo of his dead wife as he debates with himself whether he should allow himself to go on his first date since she died.
  • Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: This trope is the topic for the pilot episode, in which the duo dismiss the likes of John Edwards and James Van Praagh as "performance artists". In the cold open, Penn is shown talking to a (prop) gravestone of his idol Harry Houdini.
    Penn: Harry, can you believe it? The same bullshit you so thoroughly debunked almost a century ago is continuing, and even enjoying a resurgence! (to the audience) See? Anyone can talk to the dead! Getting an answer, that's the hard part.
  • In Season 3 of Shtisel, as he's falling in love with Racheli, Akiva goes to his wife Libbi's grave and asks her to let him move on and stop appearing to him.
  • In the finale of Mimpi Metropolitan, a flashback set not long before Bambang goes to Jakarta shows him and his father visiting his late mother's grave and tell her about Bambang's graduation from high school and his plan to study in Jakarta.
  • The Walking Dead:
    • Michonne reveals to Rick that she understands his lingering hallucinations of dead wife Lori, since she still speaks to her long-dead boyfriend to cope with her grief. Several seasons and years later, Michonne now speaks to Rick, who had become her husband and who she believes is dead.
    • Negan has formed a strong attachment to the baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire that he forged on the night he learned his wife Lucille had died, and thus often speaks to the bat as if it’s his wife still being with him, sometimes praying to her for strength. In the Season 10 finale, Negan finally comes to terms with the loss of Lucille over a decade earlier and speaks to her one last time before burning the damaged remains of the bat.
  • In Cobra Kai, Daniel will occasionally visit Mr. Miyagi's grave to unload his troubles. Subverted in "The Rise": after he's said his piece the camera pans over to Chozen, revealing that Daniel's comments were at least partly directed at him.

  • In The Protomen's "Act II," Dr. Light talks to Emily after she's dead. In the last song, he talks to Joe this way, too.
  • The entirety of "Majic" by Starflyer 59 is addressed to Jason Martin's then-recently-deceased father.
  • "Lucy" by Skillet.
  • This is a recurring Trope in Country Music, to the point that a listener can see most attempts at such a Twist Ending coming well in advance. Prominent modern examples include LeAnn Rimes' "Probably Wouldn't Be This Way" and Miranda Lambert's "Over You" — both of which at least attempt to invoke a One-Woman Wail.
  • Daniel Amos's "Sleep, Silent Child", from Fearful Symmetry, which wishes a dead child a peaceful journey to the hereafter.
  • Paul McCartney's "Here Today", his tribute to John Lennon, is written as a conversation between Paul and the now-deceased John.
  • The second verse of Tim McGraw's "Grown Men Don't Cry" is about the narrator going to the grave of his father who was never around when he was growing up— but instead of talking to his father, he just talks to the wind.

  • Wolf 359 does this in the third-season finale "Bolero", with several characters, preparing for a memorial service, having imaginary conversations with their fallen crewmates after the original crew teams up with Captain Lovelace to seize the ship from Colonel Kepler and his crew, leading to the deaths of Lovelace, Hilbert, and Maxwell. Of note is Hera, the ship's AI, having one of these with Doctor Maxwell demanding an explanation for her betrayal of Hera, an explanation that Maxwell sadly lampshades is something Hera can never get now that Maxwell is dead.
  • In Wooden Overcoats, the Season Three finale deals with the first couple days after Georgie's beloved grandmother dies, and we're shown multiple flashbacks of their arrival in Piffling Vale, a few years before the series began. One of these flashbacks has Georgie arguing with her... before it suddenly segues back into the present day, and becomes her screaming at her grandmother's empty house, asking why she has to be gone and why she didn't ever tell her how much she meant to her. It's utterly heartbreaking.

    Professional Wrestling 

  • In Greater Tuna, several characters, including Aunt Pearl and Stanley Beaumiller, address the town's recently-deceased Hanging Judge, who was found dead of a stroke dressed in a bra and panties. Stanley complains to his corpse how hard it was to dress him in his wife's lingerie after killing him by injecting air into his veins.
  • In The Most Happy Fella, Tony turns his eyes to a certain part of the sky and talks (and sings) to his "Mamma up in Heaven."
  • In Oscar Wilde's play Salome (and its operatic adaptation by Richard Strauss), Salome talks erotically to the severed head of John the Baptist.
  • In The Rose Tattoo, Serafina delle Rose, at least according to her daughter, talks to her late husband's ashes as if he were still alive.
  • In Milk and Honey, the song "Hymn to Hymie" has Mrs. Weiss begging her late husband, seven years after his death, for permission to marry Sol Horowitz. She is delighted to have him finally grant her petition.
  • In Les Misérables, Marius's Heroic BSoD song Empty Chairs at Empty Tables ends with him begging his fellow (dead) revolutionaries for forgiveness that he survived and they didn't, especially because he doesn't even know if their deaths accomplished anything. Little does he know that, in most productions, their ghosts are standing just behind him and can hear him, but they don't seem to be able to interact with him, and just watch his pleas impassively/sympathetically.
  • In Leaving Iowa, Don holds several conversations with his father's urn as he drives in search of a suitable place to put the ashes.
  • In their joint Villain Song "Easy Street" in Annie, Miss Hannigan and her brother address their deceased mother. Apparently, they assume she's in hell.
    "Mother dear, oh, we know you're down there listening... how can we follow your sweet advice?"
  • In Disney's Aladdin the song "Proud of Your Boy" was written for Aladdin to sing to his living mother, but cut when it was decided to make him an orphan. The stage musical keeps him as an orphan but reinstates the song, reimagining it as this trope.

    Video Games 
  • Towards the end of Detroit: Become Human, Markus will visit his former owner Carl's grave (if he died in a previous scene) to mourn him and plead for advice on how to confront the impending android genocide.
  • Disco Elysium: The Detective, with a high enough Inland Empire stat, can carry out a metaphorical "conversation" with the Hanged Man while investigating his death. The Hanged Man even "responds", though it's explicitly the Detective's imagination filling in the blanks from a mixture of subconscious cues and the Detective's own eccentricities. Probably.
  • In Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade, after Leila is killed, Matthew occasionally talks to her. He even goes so far as to imagine that Leila told him to give up on trying to enact revenge on Jaffar, who was responsible, because he wasn't really in control of himself at the time, and Matthew obediently lets him go and backs down.
  • In Horizon Zero Dawn, the player can return to Rost's grave at any point in the game, and Aloy will update him on where she is in her quest. This is notably the only times in the game that Aloy removes her Focus voluntarily, since she doesn't want Sylens to spy on her visiting her father's grave.
  • Towards the end of Iji, when (barring an Easter Egg) Dan gets killed by Assassin Asha, Iji has a Heroic BSoD and continues to act like he's her Mission Control, even tucking him into bed so he can 'rest'.
  • LunarLux: The game starts with Bella talking to the memorial of fallen Lunex Warriors, which includes her mom.
  • At the beginning of Tales of Symphonia, Lloyd talks to Anna's grave at Dirk's house. He does it again at the end, asking her if it's OK that he let his dad go.
  • Played for Laughs in Sonic Colors, with Sonic's Badass Boast towards the giant boss robot he just destroyed. Tails even lampshades it.
  • Total War: Warhammer II has the trailer for its Vampire Coast DLC open up with Luthor Harkon casually telling his life story to a dead Empire soldier while he digs up Lustrian artifacts. Whether it's his immense ego or slippery grasp on reality driving the conversation is anyone's guess.
  • Triangle Strategy: At various points in the game, Sernoa visits the grave of his mother Lady Destra. Benedict also visits the grave regularly, and is responsible for leaving snowbell blossoms at the gravesite periodically. In the Freed Utility (Liberty) endgame, Serenoa and Frederica visit Symon's grave on the eve of a meeting with Aesfrost. They then hide nearby when Benedict unexpectedly arrives to tell the grave how much he regretted letting Symon and Regna use Serenoa's mother as a political pawn, and how he's planned to make up for it by turning Serenoa into a more powerful leader than either of them were.
  • In Undertale, both Flowey/Asriel and Sans do it at the True Pacifist and Genocide routes respectively.
    Asriel: I'm so alone, Chara...
    Sans: Papyrus, do you want anything?
  • In Persona 3, after Shinjiro's funeral, Akihiko comes to talk to him, before breaking down about how he's lost someone important to him again. Eventually, Akihiko picks himself up, forming a new resolve and causing his Persona Polydeuces to evolve into Caesar. In the Portable Updated Re-release, if the female protagonist maxed the Moon Arcana Social Link, Shinjiro survives, and the scene instead has Akihiko Converse with the Unconscious in Shinjiro's hospital room.

    Visual Novels 
  • During Hatoful Boyfriend's BBL route a badly shaken Sakuya asks his seemingly-dead brother "What should I do?"
  • Late in Melody, the title character visits her mother’s grave to tell her about the good things that have recently started happening in her life.


    Web Videos 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall: The Movie: While stranded on Europa, Linkara briefly talks with Allen's corpse, venting about his frustrations with his life, before finally admitting that he genuinely does enjoy talking about bad comics and realizing that's his ultimate purpose in life. Once he's finished, Allen comes back to life, having been restored by the healing effect of the Plot Hole.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman: The Animated Series: Mr. Freeze in the episode "Heart of Ice", talking to a snowglobe that represents his wife, Nora. He talks to her again at the end of the episode, begging for her forgiveness. It's heartwrenching. (Later episodes show that Nora is alive, but she's clearly meant to be dead in this one.)
    Mr. Freeze: This is how I'll always remember you: surrounded by winter, forever young, forever beautiful... Rest well, my love. The monster who took you from me will soon learn that revenge is a dish best served cold.
  • The Dragon Prince: Amaya takes some time to speak to a statue of her deceased older sister, lighting her a candle, kneeling and signing.
  • Static Shock: Virgil often went to talk to his mom during the first bit of the series.
  • Steven Universe: "Steven's Dream" has the official debut of Blue Diamond, who is seen at Pink Diamond's destroyed palanquin, crying as she talks to Pink. What she doesn't know is that Pink is, in a sense, standing close by, hearing every word.
  • The Venture Bros.: Subverted. Henchman 21 talks to the skull of Henchman 24 several times during the first half of Season 4, but we only hear him talk. It isn't until the mid-season finale that we learn 24 responds to him...

    Real Life 
  • Serial Killer Dennis Neilsen used to do this; in fact, it was his main motivation (well, that and sex). He didn't like being lonely, so he killed his boyfriends after sleeping with them so they wouldn't leave him.
  • Anytime somebody writes a letter to the dead and leaves it on the grave could be considered this. The practice goes all the way back to Ancient Egypt.
  • The ancestor shrines of Asian religions also fall into this.
  • Richard Nixon has been laughed at for talking to the picture of Lincoln in the White House, but it's reasonable to assume most presidents might seek insight this way. Like, "Vietnam's a mess. What would you do, Abe?"
  • Most people who have lost someone dear have probably done this at some point.
  • Modern psychiatry used to classify anyone who spoke about talking to their loved ones in the next life as Losing It in one way or another. In 2000, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders was revised to remind clinicians that "the duration and expression of 'normal' bereavement vary considerably among different cultural groups." Many cultures around the world consider it perfectly normal to be able not only to talk to dead friends and family but to hear from them and receive signs, guidance or advice.


Video Example(s):


Bruce talks to his parents

Bruce pleads to the graves of his deceased parents to let him give up on his crusade against crime so he can find happiness with Andrea.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / TalkingToTheDead

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