Tourist studies scholars have sought to differentiate tours of the picturesque, the romantic, and the sublime from those of the disgusting, the abject, and the macabre. The assumption is that tourist destinations for relaxation and play involve a notably different clientele, tour operator, and set of ethical questions than those destinations where death and tragedy once occurred. An increasingly popular framework to approach this research is ‘dark tourism’. Despite the emerging discourses questioning it, none have interrogated the trope of ‘dark’ itself. This essay identifies and interrogates the scholarly and political assumptions behind labeling tourist destinations at sites of death as ‘dark’. Then, drawing on performance theory and the authors’ own fieldwork, the essay recovers a range of ways that the performance studies turn in tourist studies can be a productive approach to studying the intersections of death and tourism, including questions of ritual, play, identity, everyday life, and embodiment.