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Cremation Urns in Pop Culture

Cremation in Hollywood

Cremation is increasingly chosen by families as the optimal method for final disposition. This trend is recognized by cremation and cremation urns appearing in films, television shows, comic strips, and more, often to humorous effect. Here are a few references to cremation urns in pop culture.

1. Folgers Coffee Can Urn in The Big Lebowski

Famous scene from the Coen brothers’ oddball cult classic comedy The Big Lebowski.  Walter scatters Donny’s ashes from a Folgers coffee can after refusing to pay for a cremation urn at the funeral home.

2. Modern Family Funeral Scene

An elegant grecian-style urn is in the foregrount at the funeral of Phil’s mother in Modern Family season 4, episode 24 entitled “Goonight Gracie.” During the ceremony, Alex gives a eulogy and lights fireworks in her grandmother’s honor. Fireworks have a special meaning for her grandmother and Frank, as we find out.

3. Cool Whip Containers from Pickles Comic Strip

The cantankerous couple from the popular comic strip Pickles by Brian Crane, on why Opal has been saving hundreds of empty Cool Whip containers in the cupboard. Side note: you’d only need about 14 8-ounce Cool Whip containers to hold the remains of an average adult.

4. Boo-Urns from The Simpsons

Cremation Urns in Pop Culture

A minor but memorable scene from the classic adult cartoon The Simpsons depicts Mr. Burns in a movie theater being booed. He asks his assistant if the crowd is booing him, and his assistant tells him that they are saying “boo-urns”, not “boo, Burns!”. Watch the clip here.

5. Cremation and Scattering in Elizabethtown

In Elizabethtown, Orlando Bloom stars as Drew Baylor, who returns to his estranged family after the death of his father, to carry out his wishes by scattering his ashes in various locations. Along the way he meets and falls in love with Claire (Kirsten Dunst). Watch the trailer for the film here.

6. Scattering Ashes from The Bridges of Madison County

The plot for both the book and film of The Bridges of Madison County begins with siblings reacting to their mother’s request to be cremated and scattered from a nearby covered bridge. The story proceeds to explain hitherto unkown elements of their mother’s life as well as the significance, to the mother, of the bridges of Madison County.

7. Mr. Monk and the Genius

In this stellar episode of Monk, the famous agoraphobic detective receives a visit from the wife of a famous chess master, who claims that she is going to be murdered by her husband and requests that Monk take her case posthumously. After her subsequent mysterious death, Monk’s only possible lead is to analyze forensic evidence. Unfortunately, all the evidence has been destroyed and is now in a bronze cremation urn. Has Mr. Monk met his match?

8. Urn Tipping in Meet the Parents

Another famous urn scene, played for humor. While Ben Stiller’s character is over for dinner in order to “Meet the Parents,” his first impression on his fiance’s parents goes poorly, culminating in a wayward champange cork tipping over the urn with grandma’s ashes inside, which spills everywhere. In real life, however, most urns hold the ashes inside of a plastic bag which prevents these sort of mishaps.

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