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A specific and relatively common variant of How We Got Here. Often related to Posthumous Character. The first thing we see is the protagonist's funeral (or possibly their death), and we will hear people talking about the kind of life they lived. They were famous! They were glorious! They came from such a different, humble beginning! Was he really like they say he was? How will anyone ever get on without them? And then we cut to the protagonist before they became famous, and the story begins. The ending, of course, will bring us back to the funeral where we started.

Because this would normally be a spoiler, this may be reserved for stories where the viewer/reader should already know this part of the story - biopics, historical pieces, and the like. Alternatively (or additionally), this may be a situation where the reason for the death is unimportant to the story but the death gives a narrator a reason to look into the protagonist's (inevitably interesting) life. And, of course, there still is the possibility for a Twist Ending where they Never Found the Body.

A subtrope of Foregone Conclusion. Compare Starts with a Suicide.

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

Examples of Starts with Their Funeral include:

Anime & Manga

  • Grave of the Fireflies doesn't start with a funeral. Rather, it starts with the main character dying of starvation in a WWII Japanese train station. His and his sister's ghosts then board a train and flash back to their home village being bombed. The movie returns to the train after the sister dies.


Film

  • Evita, and the stage musical from which it was adapted.
  • Lawrence of Arabia
  • Citizen Kane
  • Kind of played with in The Big Chill, where Alex's funeral preparations start the movie. The story is somewhat about who he was, but more about what he and his friends became. Would have played it straight had the scenes with Alex not been cut out.
  • Remember the Titans starts with Gerry's funeral. Spoilered because we don't find out whose funeral it is until the end.
  • Sunset Boulevard starts with a corpse floating in a swimming pool, then flashes back - turns out it's the narrator.
  • The Dick Van Dyke movie The Comic begins with his funeral (he narrates), where Mickey Rooney's character honors his last wish by hitting the preacher in the face with a pie! The film is a flashback over the titular comic's career.
  • Blitz
  • State of Siege may or may not have exactly started with this, but it shows the burial of Yves Montand's character well before it shows what led to it.
  • Les Choristes begins not with the main character's funeral, but with another character getting the news of his death. It then flashes back forty years or so to show how they all knew each other (he taught them to sing).
  • Awake: The film opens with Dr. Harper lamenting the fact that while he has lost patients before, Clayton is the only friend he's ever lost on the surgical table. He then ponders whether Clayton was thinking of "her" that day, before the scene switches to Clayton and his fiance Sam together in his apartment several days before the surgery.
  • Chariots of Fire
  • Big Money Hustlas begins with the film's protagonist, Sugar Bear, attending the funeral of Officer Harry Cox.


Literature

  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel So Vile a Sin starts with the death of companion Roz. It wasn't planned to but when the almost-completed draft was lost in a computer crash it had to be rewritten from scratch so not only was the secret out, but it had a schedule slip too. Since books that took place chronologically after her death were being published before the one it actually occurred in, it made no dramatic sense to keep her death as a shocking climax.
  • The prologue of Bluestar's Prophecy by Erin Hunter is Bluestar's death.
  • Nonfiction example: The prologue of Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street is a retold account of Jim Henson's memorial service.


Live Action TV

  • A Columbo episode started with the funeral of Mrs. Columbo.
  • The first episode of Emmerdale (then Emmerdale Farm) in 1972 revolved around the funeral of Jacob Sugden, the owner of the farm then at the centre of the programme. The episode featuring the funeral of Jacob's son, Jack, in 2009 was played out mirroring this.


Theater

  • Wicked begins with everyone celebrating Elphaba's death. She didn't get a funeral. It's also a weird example in that she's not really dead.


Video Games

  • Tomb Raider Chronicles uses Lara Croft's funeral as a framing device, with each playable segment being a story told by one of the guests about her past exploits. Since her (apparent) death occurred at the end of the previous game, the flashbacks don't actually catch up to the 'present', however.
  • Adam Cadre's Photopia does this. We don't see Alley's funeral, but the game opens with her death, and then the rest of the story leads up to it in a roundabout way. It's played with, though, because none of the events are in order, and you don't figure out what most of them mean until you finish the game.
  • She is not exactly dead, but Zoe is first seen in Dreamfall lying in coma she cannot awaken from, with her grieving father at her side. The rest of the story is Zoe recounting who left her in that condition.


Western Animation

  • The episode "The Late Mr. Kent" of Superman: The Animated Series starts with (guess who?) Clark Kent's funeral, with Superman watching from afar.
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