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Zipping Up the Bodybag

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Rhino: You put a lotta our buddies in the slammer, Bat-fink! Only way you're gettin' outta here is in a black plastic bag with a zipper up the front.
Cat Burglar: A body bag!
Rhino: He knows what it is!

How do you show for certain that a character has been Killed Off for Real and hasn't just been wounded or crawled away to take cover until the end of the fight? Show a close-up shot of the police zipping him up in a bodybag. Pulling a blanket over their heads serves a similar purpose. Dies Wide Open will also often be invoked. Just the sound of the zipper on the bodybag can have the same sort of finality as a nail being put into a coffin. That character is dead. Deceased. No more. He is an ex-parrot.

Unless, of course, it's just a setup for a Bodybag Trick or Waking Up at the Morgue, both of which this trope is obviously related to. Can easily be used as a Meaningful Background Event. See also Identifying the Body. Happens about Once an Episode on any given Police Procedural or Forensic Drama.


Sub-Trope of He's Dead, Jim….

Needless to say, this is a Death Trope, so spoilers ahead!


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    Comic Books 
  • When Sam dies before being recruited into the Death Vigil, the thing that most got to him was the noise of his body bag being zipped up.
  • A very common way of introducing The Joker's victims from the 1980's on (starting, probably, from The Dark Knight Returns). The victims are almost always Red Shirt civilians, but the trademark grin lets you know good and clear who's on the scene.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • NCIS: Ends up happening to Mike Franks. Showing him die was bad enough.
  • One of the Horatio Hornblower TV films featured a scene similar to the Master and Commander example above (produced several years earlier), with a character snarking about another sailor taking such care that you'd think he was sending a gift home to his wife. The character doing the careful stitching insisted that he just wanted to make sure it was done right.
  • The Wire, we see Omar's body bag being zipped up in the morgue at the end of an episode. Furthermore, in this scene, it's shown that there was a mistake with the ID tags, which the ME has to correct, which further emphasize the point: he's no longer a character, just a statistic.
  • This is seen a lot in Oz, especially during season four.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy's mother is zipped up in this way, eyes still wide open. So is Ted after Buffy accidentally kills him, but in that case he's Not Quite Dead.
    • Oz is shot with a Tranquilizer Dart by the Initiative and shoved in a bodybag so he can be smuggled out of the college. As emotions are high among the Initiative commandos because one of their own has been killed by a similar creature, this has nasty implications; Oz barely avoids being terminated by Riley Finn.
  • In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Secret Santa," this kind of shot is used when Det. Terry Chasen's body is being wheeled out after he drinks a bottle of port that has been poisoned with strychnine.
  • In the Friends episode "The One After the Superbowl, Part 2", Joey becomes an extra on a stretcher in Outbreak 2: The Virus Takes Manhattan. His Bad "Bad Acting" keeps ruining Jean-Claude Van Damme's line "Can't you see what's going on here? This man is dying!", until the line is changed to "Can't you see what's going on here? This man is dead!" and zipping Joey up.
  • Dawson's Creek, in the episode The Perfect Wedding; this serves mostly as a discretion shot so we know Abby didn't survive her fall off the pier without them actually having to show her drowning.
  • Westworld: Dr Ford is introduced talking with one of his earlier model androids. He tells the android to shut itself down, so it lies on a shelf and zips up its own bodybag.
  • In the Midnight Caller episode "The Language Barrier," a Chinese man is killed in a hate crime. A cop pulls a sheet over his head before his body is carried away.
  • Done in many Miami Vice episodes.
  • In the Decoy episode "Fiesta at Midnight," a woman is shot in a hold-up and later dies in the hopsital. A doctor pulls a blanket over her head.
  • Played for Laughs in the Broad City episode "2016," where someone drops dead while waiting in line at the DMV.
  • Seen plenty of times on Law & Order: Criminal Intent. One particularly poignant moment from "Frame" has Goren learning of the body of a junkie who had fallen out of a window. To his horror and heartbreak, he discovers that it's his older brother. He is then being seen zipped up in bodybag as Goren is interviewed by police.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Maximum Homerdrive", after Red Barclay dies from beef poisoning during a steak eating contest with Homer, the coroners zip up the body bag on Red. For extra Black Comedy points the bag even has printed on it: "I died at the Slaughterhouse!" (the name of the restaurant) They also give an extra one to Marge just in case, because Homer doesn't look so good either.
    • In the "Treehouse of Horror XI" story "G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad", Homer dies from eating a piece of broccoli, with Dr. Hibbert and medical attendants arriving at the Simpson home.
    Medical Attendant: Sure is easy when they're stiff like this... [sees Bart and Lisa are upset] and very sad.


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