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Sheldon: What do you wanna be when you grow up, Dante?

Dante: I'm not sure. I like working with people... But I like being alone, too...

Sheldon: How about being a mortician--best of both worlds.

Dante: Heeeey... Not bad.

Be they morticians, pathologists, funeral house workers or gravediggers - people who deal with the dead have always been assumed to be interesting, because, well, they deal with the dead. That is why in fiction, it is popular to present workers in those professions as either outright creepy, or at least have a sense of humour which is very far off. They play around with the bodies of the deceased, joke while performing scientific dissections, or at least die first during a zombie attack.

If they accidentally encounter a living person instead of an expectedly dead one, it may be related to Waking Up At the Morgue or Buried Alive. Also see Black Comedy.

Examples of Creepy Mortician include:


Film Edit

  • Tony Todd's character in the first two Final Destination movies seemed to know a lot more about recent goings-on than he let on. Oh, and he also sounded like the Antichrist.
  • This character is a staple of bad movies, if the morticians of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are any indication.
    • The mortician from Agent for HARM, for example (played by Robert Donner, better known as Exidor from Mork and Mindy):

 Morgue Attendant: (grinning) Mr. Chance? Dr. Stefanik? May I present Mr. Henry Manson? (solemnly) I'll prepare the autopsy room.

Mike Nelson: My apologies for my odd performance.

    • There's also Smolken, the gravedigger in The Undead who'll sing death or plague-related songs on a dime.
  • Averted in Return of the Living Dead, in which Ernie the embalmer is portrayed as a regular guy, albeit a tad quick to pull a pistol if someone surprises him in his workshop. Which is justified even before the Zombie Apocalypse, as his mortuary is in a bad neighborhood.

Literature Edit

  • In Neil Gaiman's American Gods, Ibis and Jacquel's Funeral Parlor is run by two Egyptian gods, one of whom consumes a part of every organ of the deceased.

Live Action TV Edit

  • The CSI series and its spinoffs, as most criminal shows, features forensic pathologists as side characters. They're particularly fond of one liners whenever they find anything interesting about the person's corpse or death during the autopsy.
  • Murdoch Mysteries has a woman pathologist as one of the main characters - a lady capable of "quoting poetry while cutting a man's body open".
  • Six Feet Under, a series about a family-run funeral home, subverts this trope. The characters have their issues, but they always attempt to treat the deceased with respect and provide some consolation to the families.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker has morgue attendant Gordon "Gordy the Ghoul" Spangler, an exceedingly chipper fellow who runs a lottery at the morgue for crime reporters. Played by none other than Piglet!
  • Sam leaped into a mortician in an episode of Quantum Leap, who was already regarded as rather distasteful by the people in town, and then he started trying to solve the murder of his most recent corpse, asking questions and pawing through her things. Since he was the protagonist it didn't really play that way, but when a guy whose job involves his arms being elbow-deep in the recently deceased starts demanding answers to questions about your sex life...
  • NCIS gives us Dr Donald "Ducky" Mallard. His habits include going into unnecessary detail in describing what he is doing around the team, talking to those he is performing an autopsy on, and his criminal psychology degree means that he talks about the mess in a killer's mind with almost as much detail as he describes the mess in the body of their victims. Also, Gibbs will occasionally bring an uncooperative suspect down so Ducky can explain to them exactly what will happen to their bodies if they continue not to cooperate.

Radio Edit

  • The '40s and '50s radio (and later TV) sitcom The Life of Riley had a comedic version of this in Riley's pal Digby "Digger" O'Dell, "The Friendly Undertaker", who specialized in hilariously morbid puns referencing his line of work, such as his usual greeting ("Hello, Riley. You're looking very...natural today") and signoff ("Well, goodbye, Riley. I'd better be...shoveling off").

Theatre Edit

  • Hamlet fits into this trope with the gravedigger, digging a grave while joking about who is to be buried there.

Video Games Edit

  • The gravedigger in Quest for Glory IV is a creepy hunchback who is nonetheless friendly and helpful despite his...unusual sense of humor. His name is Igor, too.

Western Animation Edit

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