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Wax Museum Morgue

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"Not even my skills in the plastic arts could create such perfect human figures! You'll be wax figures with real souls! Die in the name of art!"
Mr. 3, One Piece

The Wax Museum Morgue is a staple setting of the pulp horror movie. Often these things are run by fanatical sculptors who lost their skills at one point (either through disease or by accident) and had to turn to mad science as a way of regaining their ability to express themselves artistically. Never mind the fact that someone has to die for every eerily lifelike statue they produce. Oh no. They're not ones to let little things like morality and ethics stand in the way of their genius. Besides, these people aren't just being given death, they're being granted immortality as well, being forever preserved at the moment in life when they were at their most perfect, their most beautiful. Surely there could be nothing evil or insane about that...

Methods of preserving a human corpse in a Wax Museum Morgue may vary, but the most classic method is to simply coat a still-living body with a thin layer of wax... never mind that this would probably result in severe scalding of the victim, and that the gases released by decomposition would quickly render a person preserved in this way unsuitable for looking at unless they were part of a horror exhibition. Some more thoughtful madmen may pre-kill their victims and embalm them before dipping them in wax. Or sometimes, the madman will use just plain old taxidermy to stuff his victims, but any human preserved this way will usually wind up looking a lot rougher (having leathery skin, huge stitches, etc.,) than if they had been preserved by any other method.

Sometimes a Wax Museum Morgue may appear in a fantasy/sci-fi setting, in which case the fanatical "artist" will probably use some sort of magic petrification spell or Applied Phlebotinum to preserve their victims. If they happen to have art itself as a superpower, then their targets are pretty much screwed.

If the method of preservation involves a large laboratory filled with open vats of wax or chemicals, you can expect the villainous madman or his henchmen to wind up falling or tossing themselves into one of the vats at the end of the story. (They rarely get made into statues, though. Probably because the last and only people to possess the skill — or the desire — to do such a thing are now dead.)

Subtrope of Body in a Breadbox and Dead Guy on Display. Often incorporates Taken for Granite and/or the Uncanny Valley. Compare Taxidermy Is Creepy and Taxidermy Terror.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Cutey Honey: The New Cutey Honey OVAs had our heroine face the Jewel Princess, a Psycho Lesbian who turned the young women who caught her fancy into crystal statues to decorate her lair.
    Jewel Princess: I will give you the gift of eternal beauty.
  • Used in the Knight Hunters CD Drama "Tearless Dolls", in which one of many Mad Artists employs the replacing-the-blood-with-glycerine method to living victims. What makes it even creepier is that one of the girls used in the experiment is Omi's cousin and ex-girlfriend Ouka Sakaki, who was shot to death some time ago, and her grief-stricken and maddened father (and Omi's uncle) Reiji Takatori asked the artist to pretty much make her corpse into a human mannequin, apparently as a way to cope with the loss of the only of his children that he gave a damn for.
  • In The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, one job has the group travel to China to investigate a company that produces artistic mannequin displays made from human remains. They end up learning that the company is being run by the descendants of those working in Unit 731 and that the process to make the art displays involves kidnapping unsuspecting tourists out of dressing rooms, draining their blood, and flushing out their intestines — while the person is still awake.
  • Lupin III: Part II:
    • "Madame Prefers Them Hand-Dipped" revolves around the mysterious Madame X, who wishes to capture the Lupin gang, turn them into wax figures, and add them to her collection of encased celebrity corpses.
    • "The Bride Came D.O.A." has William Huffner, who has already killed and preserved ninety-nine wives before he plans on doing the same to Fujiko.
  • Mr. 3 of One Piece is a Mad Artist whose Devil fruit ability is to generate nigh-infinite amounts of liquid wax from his hands that hardens very quickly and becomes harder than steel when it does so. Besides making weapons from it in combat, in his free time, he entraps victims in wax "in the name of art" and ostensibly keeps them for display purposes. He even has his partner, Miss Golden Week, paint them pretty colors. Of note, he has nearly done so to Nami, Vivi, and Zoro at the same time.
  • A nonlethal variant occurs in Phantom Thief Jeanne. Chiaki's father, under a demon's influence, abducts several women, drugs them into a state of suspended animation, and poses them identically to the models in a real wax museum one floor above them. He intends to "complete" his collection with Chiaki and Jeanne, but the ensuing battle triggeres a shock wave big enough to jolt the victims back to consciousness.
  • A non-villainous example in the Emerald arc of Pokémon Adventures. After the five Dex Holders from the FireRed/LeafGreen arc are Taken for Granite, their petrified bodies are taken by allies to the museum-ish area of the Battle Tower, put on display to ensure they will be in place to be unpetrified by Jirachi's wishes.
  • Kise Eiji from Psyren uses his powers to create statues by merging people with cement or similar. From the looks on their faces, it was extremely painful.

    Comic Books 
  • In All-Star Comics #38, an insane wax museum guard who had earlier incapacitated the Justice Society captures them and tries to turn them into wax figures. However, the Black Canary impersonates Lucrezia Borgia, so the guard gets them out. He then falls into his own wax vat.
  • EC Comics:
    • The story "Terror Ride!" (Tales from the Crypt #21) had a haunted boat ride at an Amusement Park of Doom where the gruesome displays of "wax figures" were, of course, made with real people.
    • A Vault of Horror story, "Silver Threads Among the Mold!", goes with electroplating (probably inspired by the Dorothy Sayers story below).
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In "The Ikons of Ikammanen" (#1-2), Indy discovers that the eponymous Ikons are not gold statues as he thought, but people who have been dipped in molten gold. Then the natives who maintain the temple attempt to do it to him and his companion Edith.
  • In Grimm Fairy Tales Photoshoot Special 2016, Robyn Hood fights a villainess called Madame Medusa, who uses a gorgon's eye to petrify actresses and models and turn them into exhibits for her private gallery. She tries to do this to Robyn.
  • An odd case of this occurs with The Mighty Thor foe the Grey Gargoyle. Turned to a substance resembling stone, victims would usually return to normal after a certain amount of time. However, he discovered a way to arrest the process. He then established an identity for himself as a sculptor and began selling his victims as statues.
  • The Next Issue Project story on Captain Kidd, Adventurer is a Whole-Plot Reference to The Most Dangerous Game with an even more macabre twist. Ace Pilot Kidd responds to a Distress Call on a mysterious uncharted island to discover that it's the lair of a Col. Killbuck, who has been luring adventurers to his island for years, killing them in rigged duels, and stuffing their bodies to display in his private museum . Kidd is impressed at the likeness of what he assumes are wax replicas before Killbuck explains, and Kidd grimly realizes why he hasn't heard from these guys in a while.

    Comic Strips 
  • In one Knights of the Dinner Table story, the Untouchable Trio (Plus One) find themselves in an underground maze full of remarkably lifelike "statues" of various monsters. They eventually discover a medusa and realize that all of the statues are actually real monsters that have been petrified. After killing the medusa, they realize that they are now in the middle of a maze, surrounded by a menagerie of revived monsters...

    Fan Works 
  • Pony POV Series: As a young Concept, Cadence comes across a gallery full of stone statues of ponies she helped to stop fighting and be friends again, only to find out that they are those ponies, turned into lifeless statues by a Mad Artist unicorn who sells them for profit. This is one of many incidents that convinces her that magic is inherently evil and destructive and needs to be eliminated from the universe.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Anatomy has a very disturbing version of this. Ever seen the "Bodies" exhibition? Now imagine it with 1: the skins on, and the persons recognizable. 2: They were your friends. 3: They were still damn alive when the preparation process started. 4: you're next.
  • Bloodlust features a villain who liked to hunt humans as prey and who had his crack staff of henchmen preserve the bodies for display in an underground gallery. One of the hunter's henchmen winds up falling into a vat of chemicals and dying, but the hunter himself avoids that fate — he gets to be impaled, Christlike, in one of his gallery display niches.
  • Several film versions of the Bluebeard legend show the room in which the preserved bodies of the titular character's wives are kept. For instance, in Bluebeard (1972), the unfortunate beauties are stashed in a large walk-in freezer in a modern twist.
  • A Bucket of Blood is about a down-on-his-luck artist who accidentally kills a cat, then preserves it and displays it as an original sculpture. Fame, fortune, and depravity soon follow.
  • Carry On Screaming!, a horror-comedy, had this as the central plot, with a scientist entitled Dr. Watt having young women turned to mannequins. As he's lowering one into the vat that will bring about the transformation, this exchange occurs between his sister Vampyra and him:
    Vampyra: Now, please... don't say that thing you always say at this juncture. It's in very bad taste.
    Dr. Watt: What thing? What are you— [laughs] —oh, you mean "frying tonight"!
Later on, when he's pulled into the vat, he goes down with those very words.
  • The temple where the snake-headed, snake-bodied Medusa lives in Clash of the Titans (1981) contains the statues of unfortunate heroes who were petrified by her glance. (This kind of petrification is not reversible.)
  • Cowards Bend the Knee: It's revealed that the exhibit of wax dummies of Winnipeg Maroons hockey players actually features living hockey players, who appear to have been put in some sort of suspended animation.
  • The 1965 Italian movie The Embalmer (Il mostro di Venezia) features a villain who drowns attractive women in the canals of Venice, embalms/taxidermies the bodies and places them on display in his own creepy gallery.
  • In Hercules Unchained, the titular character finds himself under the spell of the Evil Queen Omphale, who keeps a staff of Egyptian priests on hand to preserve the bodies of her killed and discarded lovers. True to form, the evil Queen commits suicide at the end by tossing herself into the priests' vat of preserving chemicals.
  • House of Wax (2005) bears little resemblance to the 1953 film. Instead, it's a partial remake of a relatively obscure Chuck Connors horror called Tourist Trap (1978), even duplicating that film's main plot twist.
  • The House That Dripped Blood: In "Waxworks", the proprietor of the museum created his figure of Salome by embalming his executed wife in wax. He later uses the decapitated heads of Rogers and Philip as heads of John the Baptist in the display.
  • Similar to the Narnia example, Freya from The Huntsman: Winter's War traps her enemies in ice and has their frozen bodies posed in the royal gallery. Luckily it's only a case of Harmless Freezing, so they revive after her defeat.
  • The creature from Jeepers Creepers decorates its lair with the preserved bodies of its victims, attached to the ceiling no less.
  • KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park features a version of this plot with mind-controlled teens disguised as animatronic robots.
  • Box's gallery in Logan's Run is a variant of this, with ice replacing wax.
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate involves some sort of evil god named Manos who wants lots of beautiful women put into comas and draped around his altar. Close enough.
  • Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), House of Wax (1953, starring Vincent Price), and Terror in the Wax Museum (1973) are probably the definitive movie examples of this trope, the latter two being remakes of the first. In all, the villain is incapable of reconstructing his previous body of work, and has corpses delivered to him to be waxed.
  • Star Wars: Han Solo gets frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back, and put on display in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi. This is a downplayed example since Han is the only "exhibit", and Jabba doesn't try to pass his exhibit off as anything other than a petrified human. It's not so much a depraved art exhibit as it is a display of victory and power, akin to the White Witch's courtyard full of petrified enemies in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
  • In Waxwork, a wax museum in a small town is supposedly opening soon and invites some teens to a private showing, seeing numerous displays about various historical figures such as Dracula, The Phantom of the Opera, a werewolf and the Marquis de Sade. It turns out the owner is a practitioner of the dark arts and each display is actually a pocket dimension with actual artifacts from the actual historical monsters. Whenever someone steps into the display, they are pulled into the world of the monster and killed. When all the displays have a sacrifice in them, the monsters will come back to life and go back out into the world.
  • In Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, the Tulpani dip some of the trespassers into their realm in molten gold, turning them into gold statues. They then use these statues as decoys to confuse and disconcert other invaders.

  • An evil master vampire in Bloodsucking Fiends is electroplated into a copper statue. He survives and eventually gets out.
  • The Bone Chillers series began with a book that featured a variant of this trope. In Beware the Shopping Mall, Robin Fagin discovers a mannequin in a swimwear store's front display that looks disturbingly like one of her friends. Then she sees what looks like a mannequin with a living head inside a dressing room before a sales clerk closes the door. Robin learns all the kids who're in the mall are having their life force sucked out of them and are being turned into mannequins by three ghosts. The ghosts died in the swamp the mall was built over, and when the mall's construction disturbed their graves, they decided to come back to life by draining the lives from young people.
  • The Camp Half-Blood Series:
  • The Chronicles of Narnia:
  • In Coraline, the retired actresses who live downstairs have their dogs preserved after they die, dressing their remains in angel costumes and displaying them in the parlor. At one point, we see one of the ladies sewing the costume for a dog that is still alive, but has become old and sickly. Unusually for this trope, though, they're harmless, nice people, who just have an odd way of grieving.
  • The short story "Evening Primrose" by John Collier explains that the Dark Men's victims are surgically altered into department store mannequins. This is implied to be the narrator's fate.
  • In Excession, the Culture has many members who place themselves in storage using long-term suspended animation suits which are very thin and transparent. The long-term storage ship Sleeper Service uses the bodies to create dioramas of various famous wars and other events. Subverted in that the suspendees are volunteers, alive, and routinely returned to their lives upon completion of their requested term of suspension.
  • The Fear Street Sagas novel Faces of Terror is a supernatural variation — the villain of the book uses his sculpting skills and black magic to create perfect wax replicas of people, and once the waxwork is finished, the "model" dies. If the waxwork is unfinished, the "model" ages a bit — and he's tormenting a woman who rejected him by making one unfinished figure after another...
  • The premise behind the Goosebumps short stories "How I Won My Bat" and "Broken Dolls."
  • The Horror in the Museum by H. P. Lovecraft features an unusual example, as it supposedly contains preserved bodies of inhuman monsters and eldritch abominations.
  • Humility Garden, a novel by Felicity Savage, has a magical version of this as the title character's job. Especially beautiful people are killed in a way that leaves a psychic imprint of them as a statue. This is a highly respected art form and carries political power.
  • Roald Dahl's short story "The Landlady" (from Tales of the Unexpected) in which a businessman arrives at a creepy hotel.
  • The King in Yellow: In "The Mask", an artist creates a liquid that turns anything stuck into it into stone. He kills a lot of flowers and bugs. Then his wife falls in. This petrification is also reversible, but by the time anyone finds out, the artist has shot himself.
  • The Lord Peter Wimsey story "The Abominable History of the Man with the Copper Fingers" has Lord Peter uncovering the truth about a jealous sculptor's surprisingly lifelike statue of his mistress (hint: electroplating is involved).
  • In the short story "The Mask of Medusa" by Nelson Bond, a killer takes refuge in a dilapidated wax museum, where he befriends the proprietor in hopes of being able to use him to escape the police. He comments on how lifelike the statues of the murderers are, although he is puzzled as to why none of them are in typical poses; instead just standing with a terrified look on their face. Too late he discovers that the proprietor is a fanatic who believes it is his divine duty to remove murderers from the earth, which he does by exposing them to the stare of the eponymous artifact.
  • One of the New Series Adventures novels, The Stone Rose, features this. Okay, Rose is turned into stone, but the principle's the same with the freaky sculptor.
  • Book 34 of the Shivers (M. D. Spenser) series by M.D. Spenser, Weirdo Waldo's Wax Museum, features this trope played straight. However, beyond the stereotypical wax displays usually used, the museum in question has multiple displays that demonstrate the history of man's cruelty, including racial and religious persecution, wars, slavery, genocides, and the Holocaust. The families invited to the museum each represent a different stereotype: rich, poor, jock, nerd, religious, and redneck. Their host has done this to demonstrate their unwillingness to cooperate and constant bickering and judgement of one another.
  • In Christopher Rice's novel Snow Garden, one of the characters is statue'd to death. The killer simply made a statue around him to kill him...
  • In The Tripods, the narrator Will is taken by his alien master to a museum that displays outstanding specimens of humanity. There he is sickened to see the corpse of his friend Eloise, preserved in a glass case. When Will last saw her, Eloise had been voted queen of the tournament and thus won the right to serve the Tripods. She went happily.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: In "Broken Dolls", serial killer The Dollmaker appropriately has this as his MO, killing women with the delicate complexion he prefers by pouring a polymer down their throats with a tube so they drown. He abducts Quentin Lance (the cop trying to catch him) and his daughter Laurel, intending to subject her to the process in front of her father, but Oliver saves her with a well-placed arrow.
  • One CSI episode has a killer stuffing the head of a woman and hanging it on the wall. He thought she was an alien space lizard disguised as a human, though.
  • CSI: Vegas: In "The Painted Man", the CSIs investigate a popular haunted house when a mannequin prop turns out to be a real dead body covered in a thick layer of plastic.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Likely a homage to this trope occurs in "Spearhead from Space" when government officials who've been replaced by Auton replicants are "stored" under hypnosis at Madame Tussauds.
    • In "The Five Doctors", any Time Lord who claims Rassilon's prize of true immortality is turned into a still aware but immobile decoration on Rassilon's tomb.
    • In "The Crimson Horror", a model town is filled with preserved bodies, kept in stasis for what the Big Bad of the Week believes is the coming apocalypse. The Doctor must rescue his companion Clara, who has been subjected to the process but thankfully gets better.
    • In "Dark Water", the Doctor and Clara visit a mausoleum in which skeletons that are actually Missy's Cybermen sit displayed in tanks of clear fluid.
  • Friday the 13th: The Series:
    • One episode had Micki and Johnny falling victim to a hillbilly family who preserved corpses by stuffing them. (They obviously hadn't had a lot of practice doing this, judging by the condition of their victims.)
    • Another episode (appropriately titled Wax Magic) had a variant: a wax modeller killed the woman he was obsessed with and uses a cursed object (a handkerchief belonging to the original Madame Tussaud) to gradually bring a wax model of the woman to life, with the original's personality included.
  • Get Smart:
    • One episode has KAOS agents concealing the bodies of people they kill by coating them in wax and leaving them to suffocate while everyone who sees the bodies think that they're just dummies modeling the clothing sold at the fashion show they're using as a cover.
    • The Waxman is a KAOS agent who operates from a House of Horrors exhibit in an amusement park. When a couple of minions stuff up and bring Max and 99 down on them, they end up as wax exhibits.
  • Rizzoli & Isles find a body inside a statue that is accidentally broken. The killer had posed it to mimic an existing work of art and coated it with plaster.
  • In "The Power Artists", an episode of The Saint, Simon Templar has to hide a corpse in plain sight by covering it in plaster of Paris and leaving it on display in a studio. Inevitably, the sculpture gets knocked over.
  • The short-lived Something is Out There had a woman finding her own brother's head as an exhibit in a wax museum.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): The episode "Elegy" involves three astronauts landing on an asteroid where the inhabitants appear to be frozen in scenes of idyllic 1950s life. Of course, the immortal robotic caretaker informs them that the asteroid is really an exclusive cemetery where the rich can eternally partake in their favourite activity after death. And by the way, what would they most like to be doing right now?
  • Wonder Woman (1975): The episode "The Fine Art of Crime" has a curious variation on the theme. Wonder Woman discovers that mannequins in a waxwork show are actually humans frozen in suspended animation. But rather than victims they are the villains' henchmen whom he is using to infiltrate and rob museums. Wonder Woman herself joins their number as a living statue, accepting she has been outsmarted and surrendering into becoming the bad guys' prize exhibit put on display to an appreciative public. The character of Henry Roberts is the progenitor of the Dollmaker character in the DC universe.
  • Yeralash, of all series, has a Played for Laughs and (hopefully) non-lethal example in in the episode centered around the game of "freeze", in which everyone who hears that word has to stay still. One boy exploits it to cause trouble for fun. Meanwhile, a girl from the same school is told to find a bugler statue to display in the hall, but then realizes that a combination of the troublemaking boy, a bugle, the word "freeze" and a whole lot of white paint is quicker and cheaper...

  • The Shadow: Episode "Murders in Wax" puts a spin on this trope. It isn't a deranged sculptor passing off corpses as wax sculptures; it's a deranged murderer simply removing sculptures of people he has just killed, and putting the corpses in their place. (Naturally in this instance his corpses are quickly discovered.)

    Tabletop Games  
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • One adventure module (available on the Wizards site) has an encounter where a prison guard of Bedlam House has been reduced to near-death and partially baked into a gargoyle statue. A player with more Genre Savvy-ness than ranks in Spot will notice the "statue's" moving eyes, assume that it is an actual gargoyle, and swiftly kill an innocent.
    • A truly bizarre take on this is Mhasha Zakk the Dustman taxidermist mentioned Planescape Splat book In the Cage: A Guide to Sigil. While she acts like a sweet old woman and is clearly not a killer, she loves her work so much that she occasionally asks a customer for his or her corpse after his death. And she is deadly serious about it. What makes this especially creepy is the fact that at least three customers apparently accepted this offer — they are displayed in her shop.
    • Subverted in a Ravenloft adventure involving a creepy wax museum. The characters are at first lead to believe the proprietor may be murdering people. Turns out he's a wax golem replacing the people of the city with living wax duplicates, but he actually needs to keep the originals alive, and has to spend some time and effort keeping the catatonic victims from dying of thirst or hunger.
  • A high-tech variant in Warhammer 40,000:
    • Trazyn The Infinite's galleries of Solemnace are full re-enactments of various important events through the galaxy. Except the models in the re-enactments were real, living subjects, transformed forever into light hologram by Necron technology. At one point, an Inquisitor sent five regiments to raid the galleries, only to get a letter from Trazyn thanking her for such a marvelous 'gift'.
    • Another one where a Dark Eldar sculptor created amazingly lifelike statues out of crystal. In fact, his victims were turned into crystal.

    Video Games 
  • In Batman: Arkham City, the Penguin has this in his museum. He has a member of the League of Assassins, Mr. Freeze and Scarface on display, bodies of cops and members of Joker's and Two-Face's gangs, and exhibits ready for Bruce Wayne and Batman. Some of them, such as police fed to sharks and Harley's hyenas killed and stuffed, show how utterly sadistic he is.
  • BioShock:
    • Sander Cohen has filled his part of the city with plaster "sculptures" that bleed when you hit them. In one shop you walk past a series of them lining the entrance hall and, if you use the weapon upgrade station in the basement, they're not there anymore when you leave. Then you start to notice that other statues aren't fully stationary anymore either...
    • Also in Fort Frolic is Martin Finnegan, who has taken to posing victims before freezing them.
  • In Cursery: The Crooked Man and the Crooked Cat pouring acid on part of a copper statue outside the villain's house reveals a skeletal hand.
  • In Danse Macabre 6: Ominous Obsession Baron Mayer makes plaster statues out of ballerinas dressed and posed to imitate photos of his late sister Katharine.
  • Rugal Bernstein of The King of Fighters dipped his opponents in metal after beating them and kept them as statues.
  • In the second Laura Bow game, one of the victims is covered in plaster and disguised as a statue.
  • Master of Darkness: The second stage takes place in a wax museum filled with animated wax dolls. The Big Bad mentions wanting to kill the hero Dr. Social and make a wax statue of him to replace Jack the Ripper, who Social killed in the previous level.
  • In Mystery Trackers: The Void a gold statue turned out to be the gold-plated corpse of missing horror novelist Kevin Sting.
  • The Tale of Orpheo's Curse has a wax exhibit in Orpheo's theater. Your character realizes that they all look oddly like your friends.

    Visual Novels 
  • Played with in The Great Ace Attorney. Madame Tusspells's wax museum is full of wax statues indistinguishable from real people, and the trope is discussed, but the statues themselves are very much not made from corpses. However, her likeness of "the Professor" was made from studying the dead body of Genshin Asogi, thought to be the real deal. This makes her a cog in the elaborate Government Conspiracy to cover up the real identity of the Professor.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Temple, the Big Bad of Season 15 does a variant of this to his victims, by locking their armor and leaving them to starve to death/die of dehydration.
  • Pencilmation: In "Statues Your Own Adventure", many people are turned to stone by Medusa. After Pencilmate offers to buy one of her "art pieces", she uses them for a museum exhibition, with Pencilmate being her latest addition.

  • Last Res0rt has Geisha, who wound up a contestant on the show for thirty-nine counts of murder. To be more precise, he's classed as an assassin-grade Gorgon and was caught with thirty-nine 'statues' of people he had kidnapped, tortured, and then murdered by turning them into stone. And those counts of murder only apply to the ones that could be people — the actual toll is likely far higher, considering that he only got caught because he stopped using 'untouchables'.

    Western Animation 
  • The Beatles visit a wax museum to see the wax statues of themselves (in the episode "Misery"). On the way, they come across a statue of Count Dracula, who suddenly comes to life. During the episode, John and Paul replace the wax statues of themselves at the Beatles exhibit with themselves as a young lady and an elderly lady happen by:
    Young lady: It's amazing, ain't it? You'd swear that Ringo and George were alive.
    Elderly lady: But whatever happened to Paul and John? They look like death warmed over.
    Young lady: Probably used a cheaper wax.
  • Baron Silas Greenback uses a remote ray to bring statues to life in the Danger Mouse episode "Statues."
  • The Loonatics Unleashed episode "The Hunter" features various famous Acmetropolis citizens becoming frozen statues for Otto's private gallery.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Doofenshmirtz's petrification ray misfired and hit a live T-rex that had wound up in a museum. Said T-rex was mistaken for a statue and probably stayed in the museum permanently.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): One episode has a collector and wax museum owner who's a mix of Mad Artist, Collector of the Strange, Stalker without a Crush, and Loony Fan (of the Turtles) capturing them and April. The Turtles are frozen still with a gas and put on display while the villain prepares to dip April in wax and intends to do the same to the heroes. Irma arrives just in time to unfreeze them and they save the day, battling an army of robots that the villain used as skeletons for his wax figures.

    Real Life 
  • Interestingly enough, there are real-life ways to embalm a body to give it a lifelike appearance. This usually involves replacing the blood of a cadaver with glycerine, thus preserving the cells and organs. There are no records of any madmen using this particular method to kill people and create statues of them, however.
    • The closest thing real-life may have to the "museum of real-life bodies as art" is the Body Worlds Travelling Exhibition, which features corpses who were preserved with a process called plastination, that he invented. The exhibition's developer and promoter, Gunther von Hagens, who likes to play up the sinisterness in his public image, — although he's never been accused of killing anybody — has been accused of using the bodies of prisoners, hospital patients, and others who could not have given him their consent to use their bodies in this way. (Certainly some of the children and fetuses featured in his exhibition could not have.) Reportedly, legal harassment over these and other issues was so great in von Hagens' native Germany that he vowed to take the exhibition out of the country permanently. At the time of this writing, it is now touring the United States and Canada.
    • The embalming of Eva Perón involved more than just draining the blood and replacing it with glycerine, though this was done (or, to be more exact, a mixture of alcohol, glycerine, and other preservative chemicals); the process, which took a year to complete, also involved replacing the corpse's water content with glycerin and ended up basically plasticizing Evita's body.
    • Vladimir Lenin was also embalmed for long-term preservation and display. In contrast to Eva Perón, though, the Soviet government had to develop new embalming techniques to preserve the corpse, and in contrast to Evita, who only required occasional examination and touching-up until her final burial decades later, Lenin's body has to be regularly maintained (including chemical baths) and monitored to ensure that it remains in viewable condition.
    • The so-called "Sleeping Beauty", Rosalia Lombardo, a little Italian girl who died of pneumonia in 1920 due to the Spanish Flu pandemic, was embalmed by the noted Italian mortician Alfredo Salafia with a chemical cocktail composed of a mixture of formalin (to kill decay-causing bacteria), salicylic acid (to kill fungi), alcohol (to dry the body tissues), glycerin (to balance the alcohol and preserve the body's tissues), and zinc salts (to keep the body rigid). Lombardo's body, still superbly preserved, can be viewed to this day at the Capuchin catacombs in Palermo, Sicily; her mummified corpse had to be moved to a hermetically sealed, Snow White-esque glass case filled with nitrogen gas when it became apparent that the corpse has shown signs of decomposition in the form of discoloured skin.
  • Meet Anatoly Moskvin.
  • Many animal lovers view trophy hunting as this trope applied to animals, which has given rise to the Taxidermy Is Creepy trope and influenced portrayals of the Egomaniac Hunter and Evil Poacher. The ethical controversy over trophy hunting was brought into the public eye after the shooting of a beloved lion in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park sparked a massive backlash. Numerous celebrities expressed their outrage and grief, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who tweeted about his opposition to trophy hunting and later blew up an ivory tusk in protest of the demand for animal parts.
  • Honoré Fragonard was a French artist, veterinarian, and anatomist who created some rather disturbing displays in the late 1700s.
  • In 1976, a film crew for The Six Million Dollar Man started rearranging the props in a Long Beach funhouse for a scene they were shooting. Turns out that what the funhouse's owner had believed to be a mannequin was actually a real cadaver: that of Elmer McCurdy, an Oklahoma outlaw shot in 1911. McCurdy's corpse had been embalmed and put on display in sideshows, haunted houses, and, yes, wax museums for decades, passing from one owner to the next. Its status as the genuine article was eventually forgotten, until its arm broke off in a crew member's hand.
  • A corpse left in anaerobic conditions, such as a sealed crypt or the bottom of a lake, will sometimes have its tissues transformed by Clostridia perfingens bacteria into a body-shaped mass of adipocere: a pale decompositional wax. It won't be pretty or resemble the original person very closely, but it's a case where Nature invokes this trope on its own.
  • Another natural example infamously occurred in Pompeii, where ash from the erupting volcano preserved the forms of over a thousand victims.
  • Supposedly, the famous urban legend of "La Pascualita" in Chihuahua (Mexico). It says that a seamstress whose daughter Pascualita died when she was about to get married got to have said daughter's lifeless body transformed into the main mannequin of her store. Here is a video. Even if it's not true, you have to admit that said mannequin looks DAMN human-like.
  • A fourteenth-century life-size Chinese statue of the meditating Buddha, now in a Dutch collection, was discovered to contain a human corpse. It is believed that the body was that of a monk who had performed the rare (and now extinct) Buddhist practice of self-mummification or sokushinbutsu, in which a person who believed that they had become as spiritually advanced as possible in their current life slowly starved themselves to death while impregnating themselves with germicidal chemicals by drinking poisonous tea, before finally immuring themselves. It's believed that the mummy was placed inside the statue after it became too unsightly for open display.