I have seen this in movies and in TV. They are either already eating, un wrapping their lunch or offering food to the cop that wants info on the body. I would have though food within range of a dead body is a deadly mix.

I have seen this in "Night Stalker" and "Alien Nation", I'm sure you can name one too.

Why does this occur, I don't see the connection.

  • By the way, "I would have thought food within range of a dead body is a deadly mix" - Why should it, it's just a dead body, as long the corpse is not contaminated or days out of the fridge (in which case I wouldn't want to even stand next to it, let aside eating). You wouldn't shy away from eating in a slaughter house, would you? But I know what you mean.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 19, 2013 at 13:03
  • My uncles was a mortician, he ate his lunch in there EVERY DAY! Strange... I saw it too on autopsy (2008) however I wasn't sure if he wasn't nibbling on bits of the body they took away either case caused me nausea. It's so strange, I guess its to add that sort of sick sense of humour to an otherwise dark plot. Or maybe people do like I said my uncle did.
    – user5365
    Jul 8, 2013 at 15:28
  • Dead bodies aren't as unhygienic as you might think. Here's a Wikipedia article on the subject: Health risks from dead bodies Basically, unless the person was killed by a contagious and deadly disease, dead bodies pose no health risk. The article points out that "Microorganisms involved in the decay process (putrefaction) are not pathogenic."
    – Kyralessa
    Jul 9, 2013 at 8:00
  • Your answer provides good information, but it doesn't answer the original question: "Why do movie coroners eat while they do an autopsy?"
    – Evik James
    Jul 9, 2013 at 15:22
  • 2
    It happened in fiction so many times, that there is even an entry for that in tvtropes. tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AutopsySnackTime Jul 10, 2013 at 1:38

1 Answer 1


Most people (including you, and most of the cops visiting the coroner) wouldn't eat something while examining a dead body, be it for hygienic reasons or because they're disgusted of dead bodies. So first of all seeing him eat something while examining a corpse infuses some kind of awkward feeling, making the coroner stick out from us normal persons as kind of living in his own world of dead people. In contrast to you and me (and the cops) he is used to hanging around with dead bodies and finds them so normal to not shy away from eating in their presence, which in turn makes him look non-normal to the average audience and the cops.

What this in turn means for the characterization of the coroner and this situation probably depends on the overall tone of the movie or situation. This awkward or unique image of the coroner can be either somehow scary, or rather comedic, or just depicting him as belonging to a professional elite, being a pro at what he does and different from the average cop (a "squint", so to say).

  • It a film, we know the person isn't really dead, so to make the situation more comfortable doesn't make sense. I'm more freaked by them eating
    – user4371
    Mar 18, 2013 at 23:58
  • 1
    @Doogfar That's what I'm saying (read the answer carefully), I never said it makes the situation confortable, rather on the contrary. Seeing him eat let's you freak out, and that's exactly what it's supposed to do. You see him eat and think, "hey, what a strange guy is that, eating in front of a corpse like it's nothing special, he must be kind of crazy, or did he just get too used to his job?".
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 18, 2013 at 23:59
  • 1
    @Doogfar In the end from your question and comment it seems this can be answered by asking yourself "What do you feel when seeing this in a movie?" and more often then not that'll probably be what the writers wanted you to feel.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Mar 19, 2013 at 0:09
  • very good answer.
    – Dredd
    Mar 19, 2013 at 13:25

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