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WikEd fancyquotes.pngQuotesBug-silk.pngHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extension.gifPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifier.pngAnalysisPhoto link.pngImage LinksHaiku-wide-icon.pngHaikuLaconic
Death creates a prejudice in favor of the deceased ... I should like to find someone who knew Elizabeth Barnard and who does not know that she is dead! Then, perhaps, I should hear what is useful to me — the truth.

Regardless of how disliked or embarrassing a person was in life, no matter how odd they were considered, or what crimes they had committed, the moment they leave this mortal coil, a Nostalgia Filter falls into place causing the deceased to be remembered as being better than they were, for the most part. For some people, the reasoning is that the dead person isn't here to defend themselves anymore, or at the very least cannot continue to do the unpleasant things they were reviled for anymore.

An Asshole Victim can be "spared" this provided they were enough of an asshole. Alternatively, can be a justification for Alas, Poor Scrappy.

Definitely Truth in Television.

See also Treachery Cover-Up and Unacceptable Targets. If people choose to lie to preserve the departed's reputation, they're using The Power of Legacy.

Contrast with Speak Ill of the Dead for the serious version and The Fun in Funeral for less serious ones.

No real life examples, please; just because they were disrespectful doesn't mean we need to be.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Examples of Never Speak Ill of the Dead include:

Anime and Manga

  • Very averted in Rave Master. When Reina dies, Joker politely suggests this to Lucia. He responds by smacking her down and telling her he doesn't really care about the feelings of dead people. Of course, Lucia is a jerk.
  • In Seto no Hanayome, everyone believes Mikawa to have a deadly disease, so they promptly all start talking about how awesome he is, even having a "Mikawa Appreciation Party". Mikawa, of course, is oblivious to that fact, and thinks he's just that awesome.
  • Parodied in an early episode of Tenchi Universe, when Tenchi thinks Ryoko has been killed (she's actually not even injured) and says "She was such a good person. Well, not really, but..."


  • George Carlin referred to this phenomenon in a routine on his album On the Road:

Hey, when you die, you get more popular than you've ever been in your whole life. You get more flowers when you die than you ever got at all. They all arrive at once, too late. And people say the nicest things about you! They'll make shit up if they have to! "Oh yeah, he was an asshole, but a well-meaning asshole." "Yeah, poor Bill is dead." "Yeah, poor Bill is dead." "Poor Tom is gone." "Yeah, poor Tom." "Poor John died." "Yeah, John." "What about Ed?" "Naw, Ed, that motherfucker, he's still alive, man! Get 'im outta here!"


Comic Books

  • Thunderbird in the X-Men. He died tragically in his second mission with the team, and it was pretty hard on them because they had never really suffered a loss before. For some reason it made them all forget how he badmouthed the rest of the team, was surly all the time, participated with an extreme form of Teeth-Clenched Teamwork, and probably would have ultimately been a negative influence on the group had he not died.
    • Wow, being that accomplished a Jerkass after just one mission? The guy had talent!
    • Not to mention that his death was a result of his own hot-headedness.
  • Batman: Stephanie Brown's father was a super villain who died on a mission with the Suicide Squad. Steph got kind of mad that her mom was willing to forgive him posthumously, despite being a total bastard in life.
    • Well, not a total Bastard (He had a few pet the dog moments). The reason he joined the Suicide Squad was try to make his daughter proud of him. He later turns up alive though, mourning the death of his daughter. Who also didn't really die.
  • Subverted in a tie-in for Marvel's Shadowland event. At Bullseye's funeral, there's a crowd of people and a Priest saying how Bullseye was ahero and saint. Though we quickly find out the priest is just being forced to say this by a biker gang(The only people who were genuinely in mourning).
  • Discussed in the Mad Magazine parody of the Lion King, in which after Simba tells everyone to not speak well of Scar, The Simpsons say that people spoke well of Richard Nixon after his death. When Michael Jackson's death was declared stupidest event of the year, the article criticized the media for canonizing him as a saint.
  • Averted in Jack Chick tracts, in which the Christians witnessing to people will frequently tell them that unsaved people who died recently are in hell (although they will often note that it's not because of anything they did, but because they didn't accept Christ).


  • Batman (1989). Inverted by the Joker after he kills Antoine Rotelli, a mob boss.

Joker: You are a vicious bastard, Rotelli. I'm glad you're dead.

  • Hot Shots! Part Deux. Inverted when Ramada's husband falls to his death while doing something really stupid.

Topper Harley: He really was a wiener.
Ramada: Don't get me started.

  • In The Green Mile, after consummate Jerkass Percy taunts the corpse of a recently-executed prisoner, he is angrily rebuked by a fellow guard, who says that execution for his crimes makes him "square with the house now".
  • Shockingly averted with Tony Stark of The Avengers, who is meant to be a protagonist. Everyone, even Thor, who barely knew Agent Coulson, was showing basic grief and respect for his Heroic Sacrifice against Loki. Not cynical old Stark, oh no. He was coldly mocking Coulson as "an idiot" for not waiting for backup with the same flat contempt that one would use to describe a dog that was ran over by a car.
  • Heathers takes this Up to Eleven. All of the Mean Girls (or Guys) who are killed find themselves ennobled in death, which drives J. D. to his Final Solution.
  • Subverted in Die Hard With a Vengeance, as Simon agrees with McClane that Hans was an asshole. But "there is a difference between not liking one's brother and not caring when some dumb Irish flatfoot drops him out of a window."
  • World's Greatest Dad has a Jerkass horrendously perverted son who accidentally dies while masturbating. His father covers this up as a suicide. By the end of the movie, the school library is renamed in his honor.
  • Subverted slightly in Extract when the main character's annoying neighbor dies of a heart attack. Him and his wife are somehow saddened but not broken up since he was a massive pest and start making jokes about him and the mourners, oddly coming off more as their own way of mourning since the wife blames herself for what happened since she chewed him out right when he had his heart attack.


  • Being a Speaker for the Dead is all about averting it. Orson Scott Card was irritated at the prevalent use of this trope in Real Life funerals and wanted someone to tell the truth about a dead person for once: that the deceased had bad moments as well as good ones. However, it's played more-or-less straight when Ender (in the titular role) finally tells the full truth about a Love Martyr who became a bitter, angry man over the lie he had to live.
    • Specifically, he can't have children. Which makes life with his wife and 5 kids less than stellar.
      • Maybe for the moment, but Novinha is definitely relieved to have this off her shoulders. Besides, Ender ends up marrying her, so the children get a new father. This time, one who understands and cares for them.
      • Unfortunately for Miro and Ouanda, Ender also reveals that they do, in fact, have the same father. It's not entirely clear if they would have made it work, despite the taboos, but Miro's partial paralysis makes the point moot.
      • Ender doesn't hide the fact that Marcos is a wife-beater and a drunk. Card points out that the reason he hated this trope is because people, essentially, reinvent the deceased, which is partly a revenge move to erase who they really were. He specifically mentions a Portuguese woman at a funeral he attended wailing (as per custom) over her terrible (and cheating) husband's body, claiming he was a good husband. Essentially, she was punishing him by erasing him. Ender doesn't say that Marcos was a good man. He points out that he did have admirable qualities, even if they were overshadowed by being a complete asshole to everyone around him.
  • Used by Mark Twain in Tom Sawyer. When he's believed dead, the adults switch from considering him the devil incarnate to considering him Too Good for This Sinful Earth.
  • Miss Cornelia notices this in Anne's House of Dreams:

"Have you ever noticed what heaps of good people die, Anne, dearie? It's kind of pitiful. Here's ten obituaries, and every one of them saints and models, even the men. Here's old Peter Stimson, who has 'left a large circle of friends to mourn his untimely loss.' Lord, Anne, dearie, that man was eighty, and everybody who knew him had been wishing him dead these thirty years."

  • The page quote above is from The ABC Murders. This is almost immediately subverted by the deceased's sister's next line: "Betty was an unmitigated little ass!"
  • In Dracula, during one of Mina's entries, she recorded a long rant by an old man concerning the practice of this. Remarking the grave (which the girls are close to, having to decide to picnic in the church yard) belong to a sorry sourpuss and wasn't even missed by his "hellcat of a mother."
  • Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows subverts this trope with Albus Dumbledore, who was the previous book's Anyone Can Die victim. After his death, Rita Skeeter jumps on the chance to write about the revelations surrounding the deceased's past, such as his Dead Little Sister and his romantic fling with Gellert Grindelwald, and the deceased's involvement in the creation of Grindelwald's Nazi ideals.. Amazingly, Voldemort uses both angles to his advantage; one to discredit Dumbledore, the other to officially label Harry a possible suspect for the deceased's murder, turning most of the wizarding world against Harry once again and forcing him to go on the run.
    • Harry had to go on the run more because the ministry had been overrun by Death Eaters who were out to kill him than for anything else.
  • Occasionally invoked in jokes for the humor value. One in particular: the nasty brother of a local bully offers to pay the pastor handsomely for this kind of eulogy, with the key words being 'call him a saint'. At the funeral, the pastor blithely inverts this trope, calling to mind every bit of villainy the deceased has committed, then finishes by looking straight at the living brother and declaring "But compared to his brother, he was a saint!"
  • In Percy Jackson and The Olympians, if a half-blood works for the Titans, they're the enemy. If they die, they were either a misguided hero, a victim, or both.
  • In the Star Trek Deep Space Nine Relaunch, a character informs Nog and Sam Bowers that she mourns for a cadre of Jem'Hadar, or at least most of them: "I miss First, I miss Second, I miss Fourth...I do not miss Third". Upon this last comment, Nog mutters "yeah, good riddance". Bowers elbows him, even though the Founder evidently won't mind, given that she's just stated she didn't like the Third.
  • Averted in The Color Purple, when Mr's sisters are talking to Celie and start criticising Mr's old wife - she was apparently terrible at housework and by the end of her life was having an affair (which was understandable, and also her cause of death). They lampshade it by saying "It's not good to speak ill of the dead, but the truth can never be ill."
  • In Invisible Man, the protagonist, trying to find out what happened to Tod Clifton after he vanished from the Brotherhood, discovers him peddling little paper Sambo dolls on the streets. He witnesses Clifton being caught and shot to death by the police. Deciding that his fallen friend deserves to be remembered in more than a police report, he mobilize Harlem to give Clifton a public funeral. The Brotherhood, however, is incensed that "a traitorous merchant of vile instruments of anti-Negro, anti-minority racist bigotry has received the funeral of a hero."
  • Pinocchio himself invoked this trope when he was forced to fill in for a gardener's deceased guard dog for trying to stealing a few grapes. While on duty, Pinocchio learns that the dog had been accepting bribes from the other animals, letting them steal from the garden and pretending to see nothing. When they offer the same to Pinocchio, he instead alerts the gardener. When the gardener comments about how loyal his dog was, but never seemed to be able to catch them, Pinocchio decides not to tell him the truth about the dog since he's no longer alive to defend himself.
  • In Michael Flynn's The January Dancer, when the Fudir tells Hugh that the assasin had killed Sweeney, Hugh assumes that Sweeney had blocked his way, not pointed out Hugh to him. The Fudir agrees it was so.
  • In the Dune novel, after Paul kills Jamis in a duel, the Fremen refuse to speak ill of Jamis, even though he had a history of violence and unethical behavior (i.e., killing Harah's husband so that he could marry her). Harah's nonchalant reaction to his death, as well as her sons' jubilant response to having Paul as their new father, suggests that they did NOT like Jamis, however.
  • An anecdote about Mark Twain says that upon being asked to eulogize a rival, he responded with several flattering lines... and the caveat, "provided he really is dead, of course."

Live Action TV

  • On Monk, when Monk goes missing an is presumed dead, the Captain Stottlmyer tearfully says good things about Monk. When Monk turns up alive he however shows his annoyances at Monk's eccentricities.
  • "De mortuis nil nisi bunkum", Harold Laski. There's a sketch on Not The Nine O'Clock News in which two politicians spit bile at each other so fiercely one collapses, and the other immediately switches monologue to 'he was a dear friend...'

"THIS IS PRECISELY THE KIND OF POLITICIAN... *dies* ...who will be greatly missed."

    • Not The Nine O'Clock News did it again, with Oswald Mosley's death. The papers were so nice about the fascist that they devoted a musical number to Mosley, dressed up as punks, where they actually read out genuine paragraphs from the newspapers' obituaries of him. They all said that he was a charismatic man, a gifted speaker, a philanthropist, et cetera.
  • The Chasers War On Everything challenged this trope head-on in the form of "The Eulogy Song", citing numerous deceased celebrities as examples of this trope widely in action (although singer Andrew Hansen introduced the song with how his (completely fictitious) asshole of a grandfather was spoken well of at his funeral).

"But all that was forgotten once he took his final breath... yes, even *HONK* turn into top blokes after death."

    • The best part was watching people who completely missed the satire and blasted the Chaser team for mocking the dead celebrities, especially those who called them cowards because "they wouldn't have said those things had they been alive."
  • Played with a little bit in Torchwood, after Owen dies and then is reanimated.

Jack: What is with you, Ianto? Ever since Owen died all you've done is agree with him!
Ianto: My mother taught me never to speak ill of the dead, even if they do most of the talking for themselves.


Dennis: We're all sick of hearing about your drunken, slutty, stupid friend Binnie.
Nina: My friend Binnie is dead.
Dennis: Heaven just got another angel.

  • Abby on Dawsons Creek. While alive, she was a Libby-esque bad girl who proved to be a bad influence on a lonely Jen. Then she died, and all of Capeside tried to make her seem like she was really a good person. Jen actually discusses this trope during Abby's memorial at school, when she loudly calls out the student body and teachers for their hypocrisy.
  • Happened in an episode of Titus where his abusive Ex died.
  • Played straight in an episode of Reba. Reba and Brock arrive at an old bar expecting to meet their old friend, Terry, with whom there was some bad blood at their last meeting. There his brother informs them that Terry had died. Knowing their old friend's love of pulling pranks, Reba and Brock think it's a joke and yell for Terry to come out.

Brock: Only the good die young and he wasn't good! So where is he?
Terry's brother: He's dead.
Reba: We're so sorry for you loss.
Brock: He was a good man.

  • Subverted on Chicago Hope: when one of the doctor's father dies, the doctor makes a point of assuring all of the mourners at his funeral that he thought his father was an asshole, refusing to sugarcoat his life just to make them or himself feel better. When he's alone with a friend at his father's graveside, however, he does admit that his father wasn't all bad.
  • Also subverted in the NCIS episode "Driven": when the death of a Navy lieutenant is believed to be a suicide, one of the men investigating insults her for her perceived cowardice.
  • Parodied in Yes, Prime Minister; Prime Minister Hacker's predecessor in that office is writing his memoirs, which will be very embarrassing for Hacker, when he suddenly drops dead from a heart attack. When Hacker learns the news, and just before he remembers that he's supposed to act with dignified shock and grief, for a moment he has the biggest, happiest grin we've ever seen on his face. He manages to wipe it off sufficiently to deliver a suitably grave 'initial reaction', but later cheerfully comments that most of the dignitaries who will show up to his state funeral are only going to show up to make sure he's dead.
  • The death of Judge Carl Robertson in Fresh Prince of Bel Air subverted this. Despite humiliating Phil in an election, he agrees to do his eulogy. Phil and Will tries to do this trope, but just about everyone at his funeral has bones to pick with him and all express how they're glad he's dead. Will eventually chastises everyone for speaking ill of the dead. One of them asks who he is and Will responds that he's the one who killed him (Robertson died from a heart attack immediately after Will told him to "drop dead"). Everybody claps. Will eventually gives up, saying "tough crowd".
  • Subverted, though not too cruelly, in Misfits. After Nathan has just died for the first time (and the group do believe him to be permanently dead), Simon raises a toast "to Nathan" during the wake. Curtis simply raises his glass and says: "prick." No one objects. While they are all saddened by Nathan's seeming death, they clearly aren't about to forget what an almighty Jerkass he could be.
  • Frasier and Niles' mother Hester is often remembered in the best possible light by them (and Martin) as a compassionate, considerate, cultured and down to earth woman. There is the occasional hint that this view is not entirely accurate; she had a brief affair, it is sometimes implied that her method of raising the boys was ultimately damaging to them, and (if her appearance on Cheers is anything to go by) she could be outright hostile to Frasier's love interests. However, it's also made clear that, regardless of her faults, she was a loving mother and wife to her family, which explains why they choose to remember her fondly.
    • Martin would even work to preserve this trope even to his own detriment. In regards to the afore-mentioned affair, at first he allowed Frasier and Niles to think it was he who cheated so as not to besmirch his dead wife's image.
  • When Mystery Science Theater 3000 spoofed Overdrawn at the Memory Bank (a terrible made-for-public-television movie), made no jokes at the expense of star Raul Julia, who died three years before (though they did pun off of his name and reference his body of work. Mad Scientist Pearl even calls him a "very fine actor".
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Schizoid Man", a scientist named Ira Graves dies. During his funeral, Data (of all people) starts eulogizing him with such grand statements such as "those who knew him loved him". Not only is it weird that Data is being emotional, but also because the man was only, possibly, loved by one person and behaved like an asshole to everyone else. Since Data is an emotionless android, it's unnatural for him to lie so openly. Of course, it turns out it was really Graves himself, who has managed to upload his consciousness into Data's positronic brain.
  • Spoofed in an Imagine Spot in a Scrubs episode. JD imagines his own wake, during which Cox finally says he loved him. At which point, JD jumps up and declares he was faking his death just to hear this.
  • Boyd Crowder in Justified adheres to this. Despite Bo Crowder's countless evil actions in life (including killing Boyd's followers and ordering Johnny to brutally beat Boyd), Boyd speaks of his late father respectfully. Boyd also speaks of the late Devil as a friend, even though he was forced to kill Devil in self-defense.
  • Played hilariously straight in The Bob Newhart Show, when a hated member of Dr. Hartley's group session dies suddenly, and the rest of the group(who were voting to have him kicked out of the group) were suddenly in mourning for him.
  • Subverted in an episode of Mash, involving Hawkeye investigating how a dead soldier managed to have a large wad of money on him. When Hawkeye informed the other soldiers in his squad of his death, one asked, "Which side got him, theirs or ours?" Turned out the deceased had conned and hustled most of his fellow soldiers to the point where he was openly despised, even after his death.
  • Despite the fact that they ended up an Omnicidal Maniac race, the Doctor almost never speaks ill of the Time Lords.


  • Styrofoam Plates by Death Cab for Cutie is about the life of a boy raised by a poor single mother, left by her father. Towards the end we get the lines "I won't join the procession that's speaking their peace/Using five dollar words/Whilst praising his integrity/Just 'cause he's gone doesn't change the fact he was/A bastard in life thus a bastard in death."
  • Jon Lajoie's song Michael Jackson is Dead subverts this trope. Jon complains about how the media treated the man like a legend after he died, but were calling him a sick "white Skeletor robot" when he was alive. For this reason, Jon refuses to pretend he cares that Jackson died, instead opting to be consistent.

Michael Jackson is dead,
Don't pretend you give a shit
You motherfucking hypocrites
Remember what you said he did?


It's fun to eulogize
The people you despise
As long as you don't let 'em in your school.

  • "Reconciliation," the setting of a Walt Whitman poem in Dona Nobis Pacem by Ralph Vaughan Williams, describes a man attending his enemy's funeral, calling him a man divine as himself, and even kissing the corpse.


  • Anna Russell, describing the plot of Richard Wagner's Götterdämmerung: "When Brünnhilde finds out about this, of course, naturally, she's frightfully annoyed, and she plots with Hagen to kill Siegfried. And Hagen kills him. Of course, as soon as he's dead, she's sorry — I know you men are going to say, 'That's so like a woman!'"
  • Parodied in the musical Oklahoma! with the song "Pore Judd is Daid", in which Curly paints a glowing picture of how popular Judd would be if only he would hang himself.
  • In William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, Marc Antony pretends to invert this, as per his agreement with the assassins not to cast blame upon them:

Antony: I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar....

    • However, before he's finished, he has the mob howling for the assassins' blood, without ever breaking the letter of the agreement.
  • Invoked in Stephen Sondheim's musical Assassins. During "The Ballad of Booth", the Balladeer implies that aside from believing it would bring the Civil War to an end, one of the reasons John Wilkes Booth killed Abraham Lincoln was because Booth's theater career was failing and he was getting desperate, and taunts him thus:

And Lincoln, who got mixed reviews,
Because of you, John, now gets only raves!


Video Games

  • There's a short period in Final Fantasy VIII where the party thinks Seifer is dead. Everyone says nice things about him, except Squall, who has a mild freak out triggered by the dissonance between the nearly-unanimous dislike the characters had for Seifer while he was alive and the nice things they say about him after his death.
  • In Persona 4 after the homeroom teacher dubbed "King Moron" by students is killed, two students mention they feel kinda bad. Yosuke claims the victim "was a Capital-A asshole" but that didn't justify the murder.
  • When Manfred von Karma speaks dismissively of Byrne Faraday mere minutes after the latter is found murdered in Ace Attorney Investigations, his partner Detective Badd seems very close to making sure von Karma shares the same fate. This is particularly significant because prosecutors are basically masters and gods to detectives and von Karma in particular could have had Badd fired if he felt like it.
    • In the third case of the first Ace Attorney game, Phoenix approaches Wendy Oldbag suggesting that Jack Hammer, whom she liked, drugged Will Powers and stole his costume. She flies into a rage at the idea of Phoenix speaking ill of the dead, but when Phoenix presents the relevant evidence, she calms down and tells the story behind Hammer's fall from stardom.
    • In Justice For All's second case, Dr. Grey wants Maya to channel the spirit of Mimi Miney, a nurse who once worked for him, so that she can take responsibility for a malpractice incident at his clinic in which 14 people died. He is shown as being completely selfish, especially when he complains about her dying before taking responsibility, but by all accounts, he seems to be correct despite being an unpleasant person.
    • In Investigations 2, Manosuke Naito constantly insults his dead coworker, Gai Tojiro, whom he killed out of jealousy. Most of the people present see this as his Moral Event Horizon crossing.
  • Occurs in Ratchet and Clank 3 when Ratchet is asked to deliver a farewell speech for Captain Qwaak, an ally he really didn't like, namely for trying to get Ratchet killed in his first two adventures, and struggles to find a good thing to say about him to comic effect and to the chagrin of the audience. However, Qwark actually faked his own death to avoid facing Dr. Nefarious.
  • In God Hand, two Mooks make wisecracks over their latest victim. Elvis reprimands them via a Megaton Punch. Keep in mind that this is a guy who is strongly implied to eat people.
  • Kratos in Tales of Symphonia gets very angry at Kvar for insulting Lloyd's dead mother, using the trope name verbatim to explain his irritation.
  • Valkyrie Profile: "They say one should not speak unkindly of the I say, 'Nice try!'"
  • Assassin's Creed 2: Ezio's uncle calls him on this as he's stabbing the corpse of one of his enemies in rage, insulting the now-dead man. After that, though, Ezio learns to be more prudent, and he comforts his targets after he assassinates them, always ending with a "requiescat in pace".
  • In Mafia: The City of Lost Heaven, our hero guns down a bunch of hoods that planned on raping his girlfriend in one level, then drops in on the funeral of one of them in the next, and calls the priest out on his sanitized epitaph.
  • Subverted in World of Warcraft when Sylvanas mocks a dead ally immediately after rescuing the player party from the same fate. She likewise mocks her own fallen champions for being killed by one of Arthas's lieutenants earlier in the instance.
    • In The Shattering Prelude to Cataclysm, this happens between Garrosh Hellscream and Baine Bloodhoof. The two constantly disagree while Cairne is alive, but after Garrosh kills Cairne in a duel to the death, partly the result of his weapon being poisoned, he laments not being able to defeat him fairly and remembers him as honorable. This exchange between Anduin and Varian averts it.

Varian: She's going to destroy all that Magni tried to do! All that he... he died for!
Anduin: There's no spell, Father. Magni wanted to believe there was rather than the truth- that he drove Moira away because she wasn't a male heir.
Varian: You spit on the memory of an honorable man, Anduin.
Anduin: You can be an honorable man and still make mistakes.


Web Comics


"We're not making light of your feelings. I am sorry you lost your friend. Hell, I'll go so far as to say he shouldn't have died. But if they're idiots in life, with an idiotic demise, they should not be revered as anything else in death."


Mourner: He will be missed.
Butch: Oh, bullshit. He was an asshole and you're glad he's dead.

  • O-Chul in Order of the Stick names the trope when taking responsibility for the gate destroyed by Miko Miyazaki, as by that point it was pretty irrelevant who had done it or why. He needs to use some Exact Words to actually avoid this.

Hinjo: "I see. Then you were the one who made the decision to destroy the Gate rather than let it fall into Xykon's clutches."
O-Chul: "I did make that decision, and it was my blade that did the deed. (I shall say no more about it, lest I speak ill of the dead.)"


 DoytHaban: You're not eulogizing me when I die, even if it means I have to take you with me to make sure.


Western Animation

  • Animaniacs: Walter Wolf fakes his own death to invoke this trope as part of a revenge plot against Slappy Squirrel. She's not fooled, though, and turns his plan against him by going along with the gag.
  • Consciously averted in Beast Wars, where despite dying in a Heroic Sacrifice, Dinobot implores Optimus Primal to tell his story honestly, the bad along with the good.
    • Of course, he was quoting Shakespeare.
      • Actually, only the bit about the rest being silence was The Bard. The rest of the quote was all Dinobot.
        • Actually he's quoting Othello, who asks to be remembered as a war hero, and not just as a madman who murdered his wife because he (falsely) thought she was unfaithful.
    • Averted once before that, also by Dinobot, when Rattrap is presumed dead and everyone else is getting all sentimental about it. "I won't disgrace his memory with lies! He was a stinking, omnivorous pestilence...still, in some perverse way, I will miss him."
  • Played with on Justice League. After an Enemy Civil War, Luthor has Grodd trapped in an airlock:

Lex Luthor: Goodbye, Grodd. It could have gone the other way.
Grodd: It really could have, couldn't it?
Lex Luthor: No, but why speak ill of the dead? * opens the airlock*

  • On the rare occasions Elmer Fudd actually got to shoot Bugs Bunny (or just believed he had), he was instantly remorseful. The most notable instance is "What's Opera, Doc."
    • See also: Anyone else who's ever tried to kill Bugs Bunny, with the possible exception of Yosemite Sam.
  • In the first season finale of Daria the titular character is amazed at the change of heart that the rest of the cast had towards a particularly unpleasant minor celebrity, the Jerk Jock graduate Tommy, after his death. She says it's because his death reminded them of their own mortality.
  • In the series finale of Kim Possible, Drakken, who momentarily believes that Kim has been killed, inverts his usual Catch Phrase to declare, "Kim Possible, you really were all that."
  • One Pepper Ann episode had the main character wondering why nobody speaks ill of the dead after a rather nasty old woman in the neighborhood died (made funnier becuase they'd insult her and then Pepper would say the woman was dead and then they'd recall "how sweet" she was).
    • Pointed out explicitly where Pepper Ann's mother is seen calling her a poor, sweet old lady and Pepper Ann points out that in the previous, her mother had called her an awful person. The mother then invokes the trope by name.
    • Then Pepper Ann had a dream where she lied at the woman's funeral and called her "kind" and "gentle" and all of the things that people were saying after she was dead. The woman rose form the grave and berated her for it, leading to Pepper Ann taking a third option and finding the real positive aspects of the deceased woman to talk about.
  • One Hey Arnold! episode has everyone expressing grief after Dino Spumoni dies...except his former partner, who expresses that he's glad he's dead. Turned out Dino faked his death.
  • In the final Beavis and Butthead everybody believed that the titular duo were dead (they were not). Stuart and Mr. Van Driessen expressed grief but everybody else were either glad (to the point of having a party) or otherwise indifferent.
  • Chuckie losing his birth mother Melinda in Rugrats was the one thing that Angelica would never tease him over.