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.
Needless to say, this is a Death Trope, so spoilers ahead!
- 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.
- All That Jazz ends with the main character being zipped up.
- Inverted in The Batman (2022). Selina Kyle spends half the movie looking for her missing friend Annika. While Robbing the Mob Bank she unzips a large bag stashed in the trunk of a mobster's car and finds a pile of money. She unzips a second bag...and finds the corpse of her friend.
- Cosmic Sin (2021). Commander Bleck sees a fellow soldier about to be zipped up and stops it. He removes a crucifix from around the dead man's neck and says a prayer for him, before leaving him to be zipped up.
- Fighting Mad (1976): After Jeff Hunter is killed by an explosion, Tom pulls a burlap bag over his face.
- Godzilla (2014): The last time that we see Joe Brodu alive, he's heavily injured and going into atrial fibrillation as medical staff try to treat him. The next and last time that we see him, it's as his body is being zipped up in a body-bag as a bereaved Ford looks on, confirming Joe's death.
- The Hunt for Red October: Early in the film, we see Political Officer Putin being zipped up as Captain Ramius expresses his regret over the unfortunate death from slipping on some spilled tea.
- Subverted in Leviathan (1989). After two people are apparently killed by the turn-you-into-a-horrible-monster serum, Doc and Beck put the corpses into bodybags to hide this from the crew and order them thrown out the airlock, telling everyone else that they died of infection. So when the bodybags start twitching, the crew naturally want to open them thinking someone is still alive...
- Loaded Weapon 1. Played with, since the guy isn't even dead yet.
- The Movie of Master and Commander uses this trope in the old fashioned way, stitching up the dead bodies up in their hammocks before dropping them over the side.
- In Mr. Ricco, paramedics pull a blanket over Katherine's face after she is shot.
- In Moving Violation, a deputy pulls a sheet over Warren's face after he's gunned down.
- In The Odd Way Home, Maya throws a sheet over Duncan's grandma as she sits on the couch, where she died while watching TV.
- Smile (2022): One of the promotional posters shows the deceased's disturbing smile peeking out through the bag's open zipper.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: Midshipman Peter Preston
- The Terminator: Kyle Reese, watched by a distraught Sarah Connor as she's carted off on an ambulance stretcher.
- Terror at Black Falls: After Johnny kills Quito, Juan lays his body on the bar and pulls a blanket over it.
- In The Boy from Aleppo Who Painted the War, Adam and Yasmine go to the hospital to visit Isa, who has been shot. Not long after they arrive, a nurse pulls a white cloth over him. Adam, not realizing he's dead and thinking he must be uncomfortable with his face covered, tries to pull the cloth away, but Yasmine yells at him not to touch the body.
- In The Moon and the Sun, Yves captures two sea folk, one alive and one dead, and dissects the dead one. After Marie-Josèphe convinces him that the sea folk are not dumb beasts but intelligent beings with souls, Yves, full of remorse, drapes a cloth over the dissected sea man's face and wraps him in a shroud.
- Siren: After Colin drowns in Dark Water, Vanessa drapes her jacket over his eyes.
- Played for Laughs in the Broad City episode "2016," where someone drops dead while waiting in line at the DMV.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Shown in the Animated Credits Opening of Harrow, in which the title character is a forensic pathologist.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- This is seen a lot in Oz, especially during season four.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 that Bart and Lisa are upset] and very sad.