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Famous Funeral Directors from Pop Culture


Nate Fisher. Harry Sultanfuss. Bill Jankowski. How many famous fictional morticians can you recognize from television and movies?

March 11 is National Funeral Director and Mortician Recognition Day, when we recognize the compassion and dedication of funeral professionals. And because morticians are such an integral part of the life cycle, there are countless movies, TV series, and documentaries about them. 

Take note – you can find nearly all of these shows or films on streaming services for free or through a paid subscription.

Six Feet Under (2001-2005)

Six Feet Under follows the journey of Nate Fisher, who reluctantly joins the family funeral business after his father’s death. The show’s ironic, touching, and darkly humorous take on death won large audiences and several awards. The title refers to burying caskets six feet below the ground or under.

Stars: Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Lauren Ambrose

My Girl (1991)

Set in 1972, My Girl depicts life above a funeral parlor for Harry Sultenfuss, a widowed mortician, and his bright 11-year-old daughter, Vada. Vada is obsessed with death, but the focal point of the movie is her coming-of-age with an unlikely set of friends and mentors. My Girl 2, a sequel, was made in 1994.

Stars: Dan Aykroyd, Anna Chulmsky, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Macaulay Culkin

Bernie (2011)

In a small Texas town, an affable mortician befriends a wealthy but eccentric widow. When she wants to become more than friends, he goes to great lengths to separate himself from her control.

Stars: Jack Black, Shirley MacLaine, and Matthew McConaughey

Undertaking Betty (2002)

A shy undertaker named Boris Plots decides to help a politician’s wife, with whom he has had a secret crush since childhood, fake her death to escape an abusive husband. 

Stars: Brenda Blethyn, Alfred Molina, Naomi Watts, and Christopher Walken

Get Low (2009)

In 1930s Tennessee, a hermit with a shady past wants to throw a funeral – his own, before he dies. A local funeral director agrees to help, and the two men become friends along the way.

Stars: Bill Murray, Robert Duvall, and Sissy Spacek

A Summer Tale (2000)

Two children move in with a lonely undertaker, a quiet man secretly in love with the town's school teacher. Its original Swedish title is Den bästa sommaren, which means "The Best Summer." Original Swedish language.

Stars: Kjell Bergqvist, Anastasios Soulis, and Rebecca Scheja

Getting Grace (2017)

Grace is a spirited teenager with incurable cancer who decides to make her own funeral arrangements. When she meets Bill, an awkward funeral director, her quest to learn about life after death brings new awareness to Bill. 

Stars: Daniel Roebuck, Madelyn Dundon, and Marsha Dietlein

Departures (2008)

This Japanese film follows an unemployed cellist who becomes a mortician out of financial necessity. After initial reluctance, he realizes that helping families deal with death is actually his life’s calling. In Japan, the movie is called Okuribito, which means "one who sends off") Subtitled.

Stars: Masahiro Motoki, Ryōko Hirosue, and Tsutomu Yamazaki.

Don’t Drop the Coffin (2003)

This British reality TV show gives viewers an inside glimpse into a UK funeral home. Every day is different for an undertaker and staff in this six-part series. 

The Undertaking (2007)

The Undertaking is a PBS Frontline documentary with an unflinching depiction of daily life in a funeral home. The series underscores funeral directors' care and compassion for the families they serve. 

The Funeral Director (2019)

What do funeral directors face every day? This documentary gives an insider’s view into a surprisingly life-affirming profession. 

The Passing On (2021)

Not to be confused with a documentary entitled “Passing On,” this independent film follows embalmer James Bryant who hopes to mentor a new generation of Black funeral professionals.

The Casketeers (2018 - Present)

Now in its fifth season, this New Zealand reality series profiles two Maori funeral directors in their family funeral home. For foreign audiences, The Casketeers offers a warm and respectful insight into Polynesian perspectives on death and funeral rites.