I'm thinking of an occupation for my protagonist but being a body snatcher is from the past. No more body snatchers caught up digging graves and selling corpses to scientists, right?

  • 3
    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a question about history, not writing.
    – user16226
    Jun 3, 2017 at 10:34
  • Hi! Welcome to Writers.SE! I'm afraid research questions are off-topic here; see this meta discussion. Sorry we can't help with this particular one; it sounds neat!
    – Standback
    Jun 3, 2017 at 21:45
  • nope, an occupation for my protagonist. Jun 4, 2017 at 11:26
  • There have been relatively recent cases of organs being taken from bodies without permission of the relatives. Not exactly body-snatching, but might be close enough to be equivalent. telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/1999617/…
    – GordonM
    Jun 6, 2017 at 9:20

4 Answers 4


Wrong. There is a market for body parts and tissue for transplantation. Biomedical Tissue Services is one of the best known cases.

Biomedical Tissue Services (BTS) was a Fort Lee, New Jersey, human tissue recovery firm that was shut down by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)1 on October 8, 2005,[2] after its president, Dr. Michael Mastromarino, and two other employees were convicted of illegally harvesting human bones, organs, tissue and other cadaver parts from individuals awaiting cremation


In the UK body-snatching was the primary source of bodies to medical schools (this was made unprofitable as an occupation with the Anatomy Act, which made it legal for the bodies of criminals, the unclaimed poor, etc. to be donated to said schools). As Spagirl said, there is a market for body parts that could be taken from fresh cadavers (the person doing the 'harvesting' would have to be in a position that gives them access to recently enough deceased people that any tissue gathered would still be usable in transplants and such). Depending on the time and place, body-snatching could make sense as an occupation (in the UK in the 17-1800s it was partly the result of religious restrictions on science). Do some research in that field, perhaps, since certain places with similar restrictions could be good settings for your story. Also keep in mind the way bodies are buried which might hinder any body-snatching from cemeteries in the current world (cement vaults could be problematic- see also mort-safes, the 18-19th century anti-body-snatching device). And lastly, consider who your protagonist would be body-snatching for, since that could also contribute to how viable this occupation would be.


I don't know genre. I hate fantasy. New stories are refreshed when you apply old, tired themes to the developing world.

Your character is not a body snatcher. He makes a few extra bucks by stealing and selling medical waste from the West wing of El Segundo hospital. He believes he's providing evidence for Ambulance Chasers which would otherwise be destroyed in a 'cover up' of hospital negligence.

When the FBI kick in his door he learns the 'West wing' is the maternity wing. All of his payments can be traced back to Planned Parenthood . . . Oh, wait - he is a body snatcher.


A body snatcher sounds like an interesting character.

What would be your protagonist's goal in this story?
What would motivate your protagonist to pursue the goal?
What would be the consequences or stakes if the goal is not achieved?
Who or what forces would oppose this goal on every front?
What would the opposition lose if the protagonist achieved their goal?

Answer these and you may have a good plot in development.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.