Cruel and Unusual Death

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If he were a cut above the rest, he'd have picked rock.
"The Council had decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded throughout the city."
The High Prophet of Truth, Halo 2

Death sucks. That's why most people are afraid of it. Some people die of old age, or gradually succumb to one of a number of illnesses. When death comes, the lucky among us will go out peacefully with dignity. Some of us might go out fighting the good fight, saving the lives of some unfortunate person whom our consciences cannot ignore and force us to help. They'll all die "good deaths" (and in some cases, heroic deaths).

This trope is not about those people.

Some deaths not only suck, they suck beyond the telling of it. The extremely painful, particularly gruesome, morbidly embarrassing deaths that leave the deceased absolutely no chance to retain any sort of dignity, forever. Deaths that transcend from being merely "bad" into the realm of being "ugly."

This trope isn't about just any unpleasant death. Sure, it's really bad to get shot; it hurts, you bleed all over yourself, and you may void your bladder or your bowels. But compared to... oh, being eaten alive from the inside out, getting shot is a walk in the park. It is worth noting that for the most part, creators reserve these events for use as villainous karmic deaths (where the level of horror involved with the death is often part of the karmic punishment) and to get rid of unpleasant people who are Hoist By Their Own Petards... especially the embarrassing type. If this is done to a sympathetic character, on the other hand, it is usually the point where the killer crosses the Moral Event Horizon, if he or she is not on the other side of it already.

There isn't necessarily a correlation between the visible gruesomeness of the death and the actual nature of the character's death..., some deaths that fall under this trope happen offscreen, and it's the very idea of it that makes it horrific. Deaths with a high horrible factor with less visible content can just as easily fall into scary, though.

Somewhat of a Subjective Trope in that, throughout history, one can find people who were martyred in ways designed to strip them and their cause of any dignity, and it backfired dramatically. Can be part of a Heroic Sacrifice, but generally creators don't like to abuse their heroes like this.

Sometimes overlaps with Undignified Death when the death is not just horrific, it's also embarassing. An essential part of Gorn. See also Death by Sex, Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, Human Pincushion, Impromptu Tracheotomy, Half the Man He Used To Be, Off with His Head, Beat Still My Heart, Kill It with Fire, Eaten Alive, Rasputinian Death, There Is No Kill Like Overkill, The Can Kicked Him, and Murderous Thighs, all of which are subtropes of this. The threat of this is To the Pain when played seriously, and Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon when Played for Laughs. When this trope occurs during what's supposed to be all-ages fare, it's a Family-Unfriendly Death. Overlaps with Cold-Blooded Torture, as the most cruel and unusual deaths will inflict enduring pain and suffering on the victim first. Contrast Fate Worse Than Death, where the poor soul can only wish for death, as any death would be kinder than what they're going through.

Before adding an example, remember that these deaths are the truly awful ones. A death that is merely bloody, or merely painful, don't really qualify as Cruel and Unusual.

Warning. Some of these things really are Nightmare Fuel and Nausea Fuel. Read at your own risk.

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

Examples of Cruel and Unusual Death include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Illuso being liquefied by Purple Haze's extremely fast-acting virus in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
  • An anime/manga franchise well known for some gruesome ways to go is Fist of the North Star. The main character's mastery of pressure points due to being trained in the horrifying kung fu form known as Hokuto Shinken means a punch in the right place can make your blood pool in disfiguring ways, causing you to scream in agony before Your Head Asplode. Other schools of martial arts in the series can be gruesome in other ways: such as being able to freely push your fingers through people (which was how Kenshiro got the Seven Scars), or using them like Razor Floss.
  • Szayel Apporo Grantz accidentally consumes a performance enhancing drug during a fight. The drug increases mental processes so far that a second is like century. Kurotsuchi spends a few minutes explaining this and slowly impales Grantz. Grantz is standing there the entire time, unable to do anything but fervently wish for death to come faster. When he finally does die in his mind, he is a shriveled old man driven mad by the pain.
    • Grimmjow impales Luppy and blows his torso off, and later blasts half of Menoly's body off. He barely stops from inflicting something similar to Loly... but not before using his bare hands to rip one of her legs off her.
    • Barraggan has his body decayed from the inside out.
    • Much earlier than the Arrancar, the Hollow Numb Chandelier offered Orihime two options on how it would make her kill herself: Suicide by hanging after being raped by mind-controlled school boys or suicide by cutting the rope after hanging herself naked.
  • Naruto has several cases of nasty death, including being ground to a paste by Gaara's sand and being trapped inside the puppet that suddenly gets turned into an iron maiden.
    • Being blown to pieces and having your still-living head buried also counts.
        • Not really—according to the official guides, burying the guy's head (so that he couldn't keep killing) finally killed him.
          • Just ended his ability to reset his immortality. He'll die eventually, but not quickly. Apparently, he'll start rotting before he finally dies.
    • And we have his partner who had every cell of his body destroyed.
      • Kakuzu also causes deaths like this when he rips people's hearts out.
    • The Nuibari and Shibuki which the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Hidden Mist use. The first is basically a giant needle which can pierce three people at once and then sew them together. And the second basically blasts a point-blank explosion right into the victim's faces.
    • Deidara's C4 will blow every cell in your body to dust.
    • His first partner Sasori; one cut and it will causes you to writhe in a painful paralysis for THREE DAYS before killing you.
    • Edo Tensei, judging by Fuu's screams in pleasant for the sacrifice.
  • This trope is the entire basis and foundation of Violence Jack, both anime and manga.
  • In End of Evangelion, Asuka and her EVA die messily at the hands of the Mass-Production EVA. At 300% synchronisation with her EVA (100% the level control and feedback one has with one's own body) she is impaled through the eye. Still alive, she reaches out to attack them with her good hand, glaring them down with her uninjured eye. Then an MP EVA throws its spear and splits Unit 02's arm... and Asuka's... and then the others throw throw their spears into Unit 02... and then swoop down on it, tearing its armour off and tearing at its flesh with their hands and teeth, basically eating it (and her) alive. Shinji gets a good look at the corpse when he emerges from Nerv HQ in EVA-01. There's not much left... of Unit 02, Asuka, or Shinji's sanity by that point.
    • At least she made it out of Instrumentality at the end...
    • Oh, and did we mention Shinji's horrible, insane scream as he sees it? Spike Spencer's scream is bad enough, but it's worse with the Japanese dub—Shinji's seiyuu broke her voice doing it, I'm sure of it.
    • Evangelion Unit 03 is in each continuity beaten down and ripped apart by the Dummy Plug System controlling Unit 01 whilst Shinji begs his father to stop it. In the manga, the synched-in pilot gets it too—that would be Touji.
  • In Hellsing, Rip Van Winkle is impaled through the chest with a fairly large-caliber smoothbore musket by Alucard and then eaten alive (Not to mention the rather brutal rape implications). Turbalcain Alhambra gets a broken knee, one arm ripped in half and finally is eaten alive and burned to ashes. Luke Valentine is eaten alive and turned into a bloody smear by Alucard's Eldritch Abomination form after his legs are blown off. Zorin Blitz, an illusionist from the Quirky Miniboss Squad, has her head grated against a wall by a vamped-out and supremely pissed off Seras until only an ear remains. Incognito gets the full Vlad the Impaler treatment from Alucard, getting impaled on a pole in vicious fashion just like the real Vlad did to his victims. Let's just say the series in general loves this trope.
  • Digimon Adventure has War Greymon and Metal Garurumon defeat Myotismon a second but not final time by tearing up the the crotch, kicking the Fuji tower into it, and finally simultaneously freezing and burning up the torn area
    • The first Dark Master, Metal Seadramon, gets drilled through nostril-down by War Greymon.
  • Gantz has Nishi's first death. Coupled with a touch of Eye Scream and a lot of Tear Jerker.
  • Macross Plus: Movie Edition has Guld's Heroic Sacrifice. His organs are very graphically crushed by insane G-forces, and then his eyes pop out and he presumably just gives up and dies.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. There was a video that pretty much summed it up. And some of those are the more pleasant deaths.
    • Its sequel, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, is even more sadistic. Both series actually cross into fearsome territory, so much so that they each have their own sections.
      • Four words: Happy Halloween for Maria. If you for some reason want a more detailed explanation: The first twilight of the second arc resulted in six people (Maria's uncles and aunts: Krauss, Natsuhi, Eva, Hideyoshi, Kyrie and Rudolf) locked in the chapel, arranged around a table elaborately spread with a Halloween feast. Their stomachs were ripped open and stuffed full of delicious candy, and the aforementioned note to the resident Creepy Child was scrawled on the door in blood. It was so gory the Japanese TV networks had to censor it.
      • The very premise is that Beatrice plans to keep killing the same people over and over in new and interesting ways until she can make Battler surrender, but in the third round the new Beatrice gets impatient and starts reviving people as soon as she's killed them just so she can find another few dozen ways to do it again.
    • Let's not forget the time when another witch, Eva-Beatrice, decided to join the "let's kill people gruesomely over and over" game. Her victims? Maria and her mother Rosa. It was in such a bad taste that Beatrice was all "What the...?".
  • What Hansel and Gretel did to Makhalov, some poor bastard from Hotel Moscow. Then they decided to turn him into a pin-cushion. This act is so vile that even members of the local Mafia didn't like it.
    • Actually they started hammering nails into poor Makhalov's head when he was still alive, and just didn't stop when he died from it because his body still responded to it due to spinal reflex, which the Creepy Twins found quite amusing.
    • And Balalaika, said poor bastard's leader (to whom he kept calling out in his last moments), went Mama Bear on the twins and dealt one of these to Hansel... by having his arm and leg blown off by one of her snipers as punishment, then having him bleed to death as she gave him a brutal Hannibal Lecture. Gretel's own death (merely being shot in the head when she thought she had pulled a Karma Houdini) was fast and painless in comparison.
    • Later on, in the Japan arc, Chaka meets a horrible fate, with his hands cut off by Ginji's shirasaya blade, he's shoved into a pool and held under to drown. Mind you, he did have it coming...
  • In Elfen Lied Lucy/Nyu/Kaede uses her powers too much, with the predicted results of her body cells starting to disintegrate. Though the effect becomes apparent when one of her hands falls off, she decides to rather go down in a final battle than to live with the consequences of all her horrible deeds. When she finally gave up, what remained of her was only held in the air by her telekinetic powers with most of her body already liquified or fallen off. During her dying speech she's covered by a jacket, as her face had started melting some time ago.
    • But seriously, which death sequence isn't cruel and unusual in Elfen Lied? Kisaragi-san (the poor clumsy secretary who's Too Dumb to Live) thinks she's going to die honorably when Lucy has her hostage... before Lucy pulls off her head and uses her as a Human Shield.
  • The worst deaths in Berserk are typically reserved for those sacrificed to the Godhand. And many Apostles go on to do ugly things to people. The few human villains in this saga, such as Mozgus, are not much better.
  • Sieg Hart from Rave Master who slowly starves to death and could have avoided the situation by opting out of helping the male and female lead. He's the only character who appears in more than just flashbacks to die in any way other than instantly, and the only former villain to die who doesn't really count as Redemption Equals Death victim, since he redeems himself 19 volumes before he bites it.
  • In Dragonball Z, when Frieza murders Krillin he captures him inside a beam and controls his movements with his fingers, ending in him causing Krillin's body to inflate then explode into tiny pieces. He then threatens to do the same to Gohan, crossing the line that sends Papa Wolf Goku into Super Saiyan.
    • His own death is by no means pretty, for he was sliced in half lengthwise, sliced into itty bitty pieces and then blasted into oblivion. Justified though but sheesh.
    • Cell's death basically consists of blowing apart every cell in his body vaporized, again justified but still.
    • The assidtant of the guy who shot Bee. His death is by far one of the the worst deaths in the show's history. Buu turns himself into ooze and forces himself down the man's throat and expands inside him till he explodes.
    • Or the poor bastard who gets sucked dry by Cell.
      • Make that all the people sucked dry by Cell. Or in 17's case, swallowed whole.
    • Spopovitch's death was especially gruesome. After Babidi no longer had any use for him he cast a spell on Spopovitch that caused his body to graphically swell up until he splattered apart. His distorted screams and gurgles of agony only made it worse.
  • As Kemonozume can attest, turning into an Eldritch Abomination then getting eaten alive (on-screen) by the nice young woman you had helped out is not the nicest way to go.
  • Narutaru has a fair few of these. Let's put it this way: getting impaled through the chest with a broken plane strut is one of the nicer ways to die in this series.
    • Norio. Dear god, Norio...
  • Baccano!. Claire Stanfield, angry and in need of information. Smug Snake Mook. Railroad tracks. Yuck.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, the first Greed dies in a vat of molten metal. Laughing hysterically.
    • Scar's trademark Face Palm of Doom.
    • Lust and Envy getting roasted by Mustang. Though the latter was stopped for being killed finally.
      • Envy's treatment is far worse. While Lust is merely hit with walls of flames until she dies, Envy has a rightfully pissed Mustang specifically target different parts of his body with pinpointed explosions, and even has the fluid in his eyes boiled before he commits suicide.
  • Saint Seiya has more than one example of this trope. Auriga Capella's death is one of these... His Weapon of Choice is a pair of shields attatched to his armor, which can be also thrown as projectiles and always come back to him - so far so good, huh? Well, Phoenix Ikki uses his Mind Rape powers to trick the guy into cutting off his own hands with said disks/shields (on screen, no Gory Discretion Shot here... which considering this is a TV series of The Eighties... hardcore for the day), and goes further when Capella ends up even more Hoist by His Own Petard by having said shields fatally injure him in the chest and stomach before he falls off the cliff him and Ikki fighting in. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! URGH.
  • The Legend of the Legendary Heroes is full of these, enough to make some viewers wonder if anyone dies normally in this series.
  • Mami Tomoe is eaten alive by a monstered-out Witch in the third episode of Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It's a moment that's equal parts Cruel and Unusual Death, fearsome and Tear Jerker. And the manga version isn't much better.
    • The Oriko Magica manga deals several of these, like Yuma's abusive parents being melted alive by a witch, sweet Kazuko-sensei being chomped on by another witch's familiars in front of her students until only a bone remains of her, or Madoka being impaled in the chest with a HUGE shard of said another witch's body.
  • In Gankutsuou, corrupt banker Dangler is left adrift in space on an empty ship he can't steer to starve to death surrounded by his precious gold. Hanging Judge Villefort is poisoned by the illegitimate son he tried to kill at birth, and left for his mind to slowly rot away in an asylum.
  • In One Piece Admiral Akainu decides to punish a deserter by melting him alive with Magma. He also drives a magma-punch through Ace, burning his innards.
  • Several deaths in Detective Conan are seriously unpleasant. I.e., there's the Rich Bitch who was gagged and taped up inside a very deep bath tub... and left there covered with a wooden cover... as it very, VERY slowly got filled with water... therefore dying in an improvised Drowning Pit in the span of hours.
    • There was one victim who was stabbed twice in the lungs and left to die. Just an FYI: it takes several minutes to die of asphyxiation, and he was still conscious from the attack.
  • Blood C: Chances are if your name isn't Saya or Fumito this is your fate Elder Bairn or not.
  • There are quite a few in Kara no Kyoukai, but the worst has got to be Cornelius Alba, who is eaten alive by one of Touko's creations.He deserved it, though.
  • Deadman Wonderland: In the first few pages alone HOLY SHIT!!!
  • In Gamaran Muraku Matsumoto use his flail to whip the eyes out of some Mooks. There's also Saizo the Ninja who paralyse and tortures to death some goons offscreen. Among various things, he turned their eyes into a pincushion.
  • Chances are if you fight Accelarator and your name is not Touma expect this trope.
  • Karasu from Yu Yu Hakusho inflicts one of these on another competitor in the Dark Tournament, causing localized explosions to remove his opponent's arms in an excruciatingly painful manner, before blowing his head off.


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In Uncanny X-Men, Magneto once executed the entire crew of a submarine by sinking it. Drowning is a horrible way to die in and of itself. Combine it with being crushed by tons and tons of water...
    • Magneto again. He held Zaladane in the air, surrounded by flying bits of junk from her ruined laboratory. Then he closed his fist...
    • Magneto seems to do these to people a lot. In Ultimate X-Men, a lackey failed Magneto. He was unlucky to have an implanted pacemaker.
    • And yet again Magneto: In the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, he catches a group of thugs who have just murdered two mutant children. He tells one of the thugs that there is enough iron in an average human being's blood to make a small nail... and then he shows them.
      • A feat "repeated" by Magneto in the second X-Men movie with the death of prison guard Mitchell Laurio. Magneto arranged for Mystique to load Laurio's body with extra iron so he'd have enough to escape with.
  • Ch'p, a Green Lantern who looked like a humanoid squirrel, died when he stepped onto a road and was hit by a truck. Just think about that for a second and you'll realize why it qualifies for this trope.
  • In the Elf Quest: Shards storyline Two-Edge builds a particularly nasty execution device for the human tyrant Grohmul Djun. It consists of two large urns in the shape of birds with upraised beaks, between which the prisoner is strapped. The urns are slowly filled with water, the weight causing them to tip outward, putting greater and greater force on the prisoner's limbs until he is eventually torn in two.
  • At the beginning of the Dark Age of Comics, Moral Guardians made the mistake of forbidding the Spectre, DC's Spirit of Vengeance, from killing anyone, but failed to define "killing". Cue Body Horror, And I Must Scream, Taken for Granite, and the like, as the Spectre began inflicting "nonlethal" transformations on his prey—though any normal person would consider the results either death, or in some cases A Fate Worse Than Death.
    • To punish Doctor Light, the Spectre transformed him into a candle, with his head as the wick and his body made of wax. The results were obvious after a while. At other times, he transformed a criminal into wood, and chucked him into a grinder. A paedophile was rent apart by his collection of dolls. He once judged an entire country guilty (it had a long history of blood feuds and ethnic cleansings). His answer? Burn it to the ground, men, women and children included, and leave the two top politicians alive, damning them to rule over the devastated land. He even threatened to do the same to the whole of the state of New York (a convicted criminal, who turned out to be innocent, was slated to be executed; this would mean the people of the State of New York would be guilty of homicide by the Spectre's book). In the most recent Batman cartoon, he takes minor criminal Professor Achilles Milo, releases the group of rats he had mind-controlled, and turned him into cheese. Do the math.
    • Note that this was always the Spectre's specialty; some classic stories feature, in no particular order: being turned to glass and shattered, being turned into a mannequin and burned alive, melting as if made of wax, drowning in the clutches of a giant octopus; being cut in half by a giant pair of scissors, being beheaded by a falling decorative sword, being sliced and diced by a spectral meat cleaver, aging to a pile of dust and simply being reduced to a skeleton in the blink of an eye while being center of attention on a crowded airplane.
  • Lots and lots of EC Comics stories, often as Karmic Death for good measure.
  • Don't forget Griffin. Dad gone it, Griffin...
  • The Punisher has his share of brutal kills, but the one that takes the cake is his own death in "The List", he continues trying to stab Daken after - in less than a half hour - having being shot, hit with grenades, punched around, cut across the chest by Daken, broke a leg, getting his throat slashed, lost (and I do mean LOST) an arm and about 3 gallons of blood.
  • Black Adam pulls off a few of these during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and later during World War Three. These include:
    • Tearing a character's face off with one hand (complete with pun about trying to save face).
    • Grabbing Young Frankenstein's arms and tearing them both off simultaneously (which also qualifies as Narm for some).
    • Punching a hole in Terra ala Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
    • Tearing Terraman in half at the pelvis.
    • And flicking the president of Bialya under the chin hard enough to send him flying into the ceiling with enough force to liquefy his head.
    • Don't forget Psycho-Pirate's fate in Infinite Crisis. "No more silly faces."
  • The Joker's had his fair share of dealing these types of deaths like... well, like playing cards. This may be because he has two main beliefs: 1. Do anything for the funny. 2. There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
    • There were two rather cruel murders he committed in the Graphic Novel Joker. The first involved skinning a man alive because he got on the Joker's bad side by insulting his club, eying his girl, and then insulting the Clown Prince himself. The second? He shoots a man in the head, while said man is sitting on the toilet. It might not be the most cruel death, but it's certainly embarrassing. Stay classy, Mr. J.
      • His Joker Venom could qualify for this trope, too, considering what it does. First you just start laughing, and you can't stop no matter how hard you try. Then all the muscles in your body begin to sieze up, especially in your face, causing you to grin. Then you start to take on the Joker's appearance, white skin, green hair and all. Then the muscle paralysis causes you to stop breathing. THEN you die. Oh, and if you're really 'lucky', he might merely dose you with the non-lethal version, which can cause not only insanity but puts you into a coma...
  • Marvel Zombies pretty much runs on this trope.


Films[edit | hide]

  • Pan's Labyrinth has someone getting shot after having his face broken when it was stomped in by a wine bottle. Then we have Captain Vidal dying from a bullet launched right under his right eye for five freaking seconds!
  • Gee, dying by being electrocuted next to a generator set off by a taser is really regular and usual. Poor Max Shreck who really got one of these in Batman Returns.
  • In Dagon we have lots of these from people skinned alive to make ceremonial masks to hara-kiri with a pocket knife.
  • In Under Siege, Casey Ryback kills the baddie by pushing his eyes into their sockets, stabbing through the top of his head, and ramming the still-living body into a computer screen, to die of electrocution.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Davy Jones kills Mercer by ramming his facial tentacles down Mercer's throat. And nose. And eye sockets. And ears. And then ripping the bastard's head apart from the inside out.
  • Almost all the deaths from the Saw franchise are karmic and horrible.
  • The Scream franchise has some. Casey and Steve are completely hollowed out, Tatum's head is crushed between the garage door and the wall, Stu's is smashed and electrocuted by a television, Officer Andrews gets his head impaled with a long metal pole, Olivia is savaged and gutted, and Perkins is stabbed right through the forehead.
  • In RoboCop, criminal Emil Antonowski gets doused with toxic waste so caustic that it melts him into a semi-human shambling blob with bits of organ and bone showing. And then he gets hit by a car...
  • The Movie version of Silent Hill has Anna skinned alive and Christabella given what can only be described as a barbed-wire enema. Christabella is then ripped in half head-to-toe whilst Demon!Alessa dances in the ensuing shower of blood. Then there's poor Cybil getting roasted alive, which the movie showed in almost gleeful detail.
    • I was always fond of the guy who got cocooned in barbed wire and then liquefied by it myself. See it at about 2:10 in this video.
  • In Goldfinger, Jill Masterson is murdered by being covered in gold-colored paint.
  • A security guard in Mimic has his face boiled off by some sort of acidic spray from the Judas breed.
  • In the movie What a Way to Go, five different men (played by Dean Martin, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, and Gene Kelley) each suffer this type of death after becoming romantically entangled with the same young woman (who ends up insane after being horribly widowed five times in quick succession).
  • In The Mummy Trilogy:
    • As part of his punishment for murdering Pharaoh Seti I, Imhotep is buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarab beetles.
    • Toward the end of The Mummy, Beni Gabor, a Dirty Coward who had spent the entire movie betraying just about everyone, faces a slow death by dehydration and starvation after being trapped in Hamunaptra's treasure chamber. That's bad enough, especially given that the single torch he has is going out. Cue those self-same flesh-eating scarab beetles...
      • If the beetles come at the start of the ordeal, then they're the best thing that happened to him since being trapped, as they'll spare him the dehydration and starvation.
    • Some hired locals were sprayed with acid when they pry open a pass in the tomb and trigger a booby trap.
    • The fat guy apparently gets eaten from inside by the scarabs.
    • The old Medjai gets torn apart by a brainwashed crowd.
    • Everybody unlucky enough to be in the vicinity of the chest (that held the Book of the Dead) when it is opened - they get their flesh sucked away by Imhotep.
    • Some of Imhotep's mooks get drown in tar.
    • The priests who helped Imhotep in the prologue are mummified alive.
  • The main character's sister in Mirrors died by having her jaws ripped open by the mirror demon-this results in a double dose of gore as we see both her reflection breaking its own jaws and the real person seemingly having her mouth torn in half by invisible hands.
  • Easily 85% of the Necro Non Sequiturs in the Final Destination movies seems to be less about Death saying, "You're going to die," and more about Death saying, "You are completely boned and I'm going to play with you a bit before you go splat."
    • The tanning bed deaths. Just... No. And let's not forget the guy who had HIS ORGANS SUCKED OUT HIS ASS.
      • What is worse is that the guy's death was apparently based on something that ACTUALLY HAPPENED. And the poor little girl lived for months in agony before dying.
  • Indiana Jones likes this a lot. "Oh, I'm sorry, we're fresh out of getting shot, all we have left is getting your face melted off, getting eaten by crocodiles, aging rapidly into dust, and getting your eyes and brains burned out due to absorbing a ton of knowledge. Take your pick!"
  • In Beerfest, Landfill One drowns in a gigantic vat of beer.
    • For him, though, this might well have been how he always wanted to go out.
  • The most horrific death from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is that of Mrs. Lovett, who Sweeney throws into her own oven to be burned alive after learning that she had lied to him about his wife, whom it turned out had been the Beggar Woman that Sweeney had killed just before taking final revenge upon Judge Turpin.
  • Total Recall features a couple of these: Traitorous mutant cab-driver Benny gets impaled by a power drill; Richter, The Dragon of the film, gets his arms torn off by a descending elevator car, ensuring that he'll bleed to death, slowly; and Evil Overlord Vilos Cohagen gets tossed out onto the surface of Mars without a pressure suit. The results are... creatively gruesome.
    • Surely Richter would only bleed to death if the long fall didn't do it first?
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, the elimination of Judge Doom in a vat of dip is horrible to witness, even though it's an appropriate Karmic Death. What makes it worse are the screams...
    • While it doesn't end up killing him, being crushed from the feet up by a slow moving steamroller is a pretty horrible way to die as well.
  • In Conan the Barbarian, Thorgrimm, one of Thulsa Doom's two Dragons, is impaled through the chest by a spike about the size of your average birch tree in a nasty trap set up by Conan.
  • In Cube, Alderson (who serves no real purpose in the film other than serving as a Decoy Protagonist, enters a red-lit room from an adjacent one. When he takes a few steps, a loud sound is heard, and for a while, he just stands erect and in place. He then collapses into a loose pile of bloody chunks that fall to the floor. It is only then the audience sees a razor-wire trellis silently folding up and realise how he has been killed.
    • In the film version of Resident Evil this happens to a commando team in a laser-armed corridor.
    • The Cell also has a varient in the killer's mind-world where a horse is sliced into many sections- and is still alive.
    • Thirteen Ghosts (the newer version) has one where a man is sliced in half front-to-back by a glass partition springing up in the creepy house.
    • And then there's a variation of that, in Wishmaster, where a man becomes part of the door....
    • Come to think of it, all of the deaths in the Wishmaster films could fit into this trope.
  • During the course of titular character's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in The Abominable Dr. Phibes, Phibes kills one of his victims by crushing his skull to paste with a vice hidden in a paper-mache mask.
    • Phibes, its sequel Dr. Phibes Rises Again, and the very similar Theatre of Blood are alllll about this trope.
  • The dance scene at the opening of |Ghost Ship. That entire crowd all killed by one wire slicing through them all?! OUCH!!!
  • What happens to Captain Amazing in Mystery Men is nothing less than fearsome. It's even pointed out in the film that the weapon that kills him is fueled by Nightmare Fuel.
    • It was pretty unrealistic, but unexpected in a PG-13 rated movie.
  • The infamous wood-chipper murder in Fargo.
    • To be fair, it was an axe that did the job. Not that that was any better...
  • Nash's horrific death by being tied between a Mack truck and its trailer and then ripped in half by the completely psycho title character of The Hitcher.
  • Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Bumblebee grabs Ravage (a cyber-puma-ish-thing) by the tail - and then uses a motion akin to wringing out a washcloth to unceremoniously yank some kind of Transformer equivalent of a skeleton out.
  • The death of Bonnie and Clyde is a bit tame by modern standards, but for the time (1967), the sight of the cops pouring boxes of bullets into Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway... in slow-motion, no less... was considered horrifying and nightmare-inducing.
    • Truth in Television! They really did die that way. Legend says they were so full of holes that the undertaker couldn't preserve them properly because his chemicals just leaked out like a sieve.
  • The shower scene in Scarface, when they hack up Tony's friend Angel with a chainsaw... and they make Tony watch. Most of the "action" is off-screen, but the seeing the sprays of blood and watching Angel's face start shaking violently lets you know exactly what's going on.
  • Barry Convex in Videodrome.
  • Blade Runner: The Replicant shoving his thumbs into his creator's eyes and brain.
  • The Black Cat: Bela Lugosi flaying Boris Karloff bit by bit.
    • It's very discreet by modern standards (you only see their shadows), but at least one critic of the time (1934) was honestly repulsed.
  • Troll 2 for all its poor production values still manages a disturbing death scene when a young woman is forced(?) to drink a potion that turns her into vegetable goop from the inside out.
  • A simple Gunshot wound may not be a particularly cruel and unusual way to go...but in the case of Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs we may need to make an exception. He begs to be taken to the hospital only to be left on the cold floor for hours, slowly bleeding from a gunshot wound to the stomach.
    • It's made worse for him by Mr. White actually lampshading how painful it is, although that's also darkly funny.
  • Blade had its fair share; the aristocratic vampire when exposed to sunlight and ordinary vampires when injected with EDTA.
  • Cloverfield and the death of Marlena Diamond. After getting bitten by one of the sewer parasites, Marlena's condition slowly deteriorates until finally she's bleeding from the eyes and complaining that she "didn't feel so good". Her actual death occurs off screen and is only seen in silhouette so the exact details are left to the viewer's imagination, but anything that causes your abdomen to swell until it pops like a zit can't be a good thing.
  • In Smokin Aces, Jeeves Tremor (played by Kevin Durand) falls ass-first onto his own chainsaw.
  • In 2001 Maniacs, one of the main characters gets bent over a table and run through from ass to mouth with a giant skewer, while the rest of the townspeople look on approvingly. Lin Shaye's character, Granny Boone then licks the gore off the end of the skewer that's sticking out of his mouth.
  • The Green Mile: Eduard Delacroix's botched execution. See details under Literature below.
  • American History X: Curb-stomping scene. 'Nuff said.
  • Jet Li kills the Big Bad in Kiss of the Dragon by sticking a needle into a specific point in the back of his neck. Said needle is part of the Dangerous Forbidden Technique that gives the movie its name, which paralyzes him as Jet Li explains that once he takes out the needle, all the blood in the Big Bad's body will go directly to his head causing him to die of a painful aneurysm as blood leaks from every orifce in his head. Jet Li then proceeds to take the needle out...
    • What he does to the Big Bad in Cradle 2 the Grave shoves a mini-WMD down his throat then breaks the seal so the guy is vaporized from the inside out isn't very pleasant either.
  • James Bond villains sometimes get this.
    • Dr. No drowns in the cooling pool of his nuclear reactor.
    • In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, a mook falls into a large snowblower and gets cut to pieces by it ("He had lots of guts!").
    • In Diamonds Are Forever, a fake Blofeld drowns in a pool of superheated mud.
    • In Live and Let Die, Mr. Big explodes after swallowing a compressed air pellet.
    • In Licence to Kill, Dario tries to drop Bond into a massive rock crusher being used to pulverize cocaine: naturally, he ends up falling in himself, feet first, hanging on for a few moments before evaporating into a cloud of red. (Ignore the fact that what with all the powdered cocaine flying up into the air, everyone in the room should probably be dead of a cocaine overdose.)
      • Enemy Mine has a similar, PG-rated death, and The Final Destination replaces the rock crusher with a disintegrating escalator for an extremely not-PG-rated death.
      • Honorable mention goes to Milton Krest, who is framed by Bond as a traitor to his boss (Franz Sanchez). He gets thrown into a decompression chamber and experiences Your Head Asplode.
    • In GoldenEye, Xenia is pulled off by a helicopter shot down by Bond, and dies asphyxiated against a tree. Later, Janus falls dozens of metres down an antenna cradle... only to be, while already more dead than alive, crushed by it moments later.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, a mook falls into a newspaper press, and the main villain is skewered by a drill missile.
    • In Die Another Day, villain Gustav Graves is electrocuted before getting sucked by an airplane jet.
    • In Casino Royale, a bomber takes long to notice Bond attached his detonator to his belt... (worst part: Bond smiles after the guy blows up)
  • The common Western movie line is to always save the last bullet for yourself, because the "Injuns" supposedly had a number of unpleasant ways to kill you, like dragging you behind a horse until you died, or burying you up to your neck next to an ant hill, cutting your face and putting honey in the wound, and worse.
  • Frank Drebin of Police Squad dreams of dying this way.

Frank Drebin: A parachute not opening... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine... having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go!

    • The first movie has two Rasputinian Deaths that count, a mind controlling doctor (swerves his car into a truck transporting gas, escapes the explosion with half his car only to roll into a truck carrying huge missiles, escapes that explosion as well, ending up on the last missile that rolls into a nearby fireworks factory...) and the main villain (plummets to his doom, then is run over by a steamroller and trampled by a marching band). Both Played for Laughs, of course.
  • There is one particularly nasty death in Ghost in the Machine which involves a middle-aged man microwaving some popcorn. The serial killer is somehow in the electrical circuit and starts a fire. When the man returns his face starts to literally bubble like the popcorn in the microwave. Then to make his death seem more pathetic he slips and hits his head on the kitchen bench. If you're after a night of good old fashioned Gorn, I would recommend this classic.
  • In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt condemns Luke and Han to be thrown into the mouth of the sarlacc, where they'd be slowly digested over a thousand years. You might comfort yourself with the fact that you'd die quickly, but that's not the case - the sarlacc's digestive system will keep you alive for all those years to attain maximum nutrition.
  • In Black Death, Knight Templar Ulric suffers a horrific fate, being torn limb-from-limb by horses.
  • In Men Behind the Sun, a nameless maruta is locked into an airtight chamber, and the air is pumped out. First his ears bleed...then his colon decides to make a break for freedom...
  • One unlucky enemy soldier in The Beast is forced to lie down in front of a tank, and is then slowly run over feet-first.
  • Robert getting hit with a cherry bomb in the face in Mystery Team.
  • Gladiator: Commodus has the protagonist's wife and little boy crucified after taking the imperial throne, though he's less successful in having Maximus himself executed. This is one of the many acts during the movie that mark Emperor Commodus as a Complete Monster.
  • The Hatchet films are filled with these. The more notable ones include:
    • Hatchet
      • Eric is cut-in-half at a 45-degree angle via the right shoulder.
      • Shannon gets her head ripped-in-half. It ends up resembling a Pez Dispenser.
      • Marcus has his arms ripped out of the sockets. He is then picked up by the ankles and has his head smashed on the side of a mausoleum which splatters his blood and brain on a nearby tombstone.
    • Hatchet 2
      • One character takes multiple blows to the face with the blunt end of a hatchet causing it to cave in. This takes almost a minute.
      • Another character gets their face shoved into a propeller. The only thing left of his face is an eye.
      • Bob is locked in the house by the traitorous Rev. Zombie and is torn apart off-screen...sort of. Viewers are shown the outside of the shack as blood paints the walls.
      • Rev. Zombie attempts to choke Victor. He appears to have the upper hand until Vic decides, "Screw this." and cuts Zombie in half via his stomach (his legs even fall like a tree). One strategically-placed foot and a few tugs on the spinal column allows Crawley to "skin" him. His torso is then tossed into some nearby bushes. Given Zombie's earlier actions he got his just desserts.
  • The sacrificial victim in the original film The Wicker Man, burned alive in the titular wicker figure. Ouch.
  • Mr. Nirdlinger's death by neck-breaking in Double Indemnity isn't shown on-screen, but the sounds are definitely nightmare and nausea-inducing.
  • The Halloween series is full of these, such as being impaled on a light fixture, shredded by a tractor harrow, and having one's head exploded by a fuse box.
  • A low-budget film called The Devil's Bedroom is a nasty story about two brothers. Norm covets brother Jim's oil-rich land. When Jim won't sell, Norm and his wife Della conspire to have Jim committed to an insane asylum, but he escapes. The accidental deaths of Norm and Della are blamed on Jim because Jim is a Loner and everybody knows that Loners Are Freaks. (Because Jim has always declared he will never marry, there's Mistaken for Gay in it, too). The townspeople come after Jim with Torches and Pitchforks and the whole gruesome spectacle ends with Jim being set on fire and burning to death. Every bit of it on camera.
  • Sick Nurses is rife with these, sometimes reaching Crosses the Line Twice and Refuge in Audacity status. Vengeful spirit Tawaan comes up with some spectacularly gruesome methods of murder:
    • Ae has her own handbag sewn onto her head and neck in such a way that, when fellow nurse Nook tries to help by undoing the stitches, it causes her head to fall off.
    • Orn has all of her limbs brutally removed with a surgical saw... while she's still alive. What makes it worse is that her twin sister, Am, is the one who has been supernaturally forced to do it, and Orn herself has been possessed into helping with the mutilation.
    • Then there's Jo, who suffers the most well-known death in the film (thanks in part to the trailer), played with an equal amount of horror and very, very Black Comedy. First, Tawaan compels her to violently force-feed herself a handful of razor blades, removing her lower jaw. Then her damaged tongue falls to the floor, which Jo's abused kitten proceeds to devour. To top it all off, Tawaan knocks over a jar containing a preserved foetus, which lodges itself in Jo's throat, cutting off her air supply.
  • The Final Destination series has virtually anything you can think of, from getting your intestines sucked out by a pool drain, to having an eye cut out by a LASIK machine, to incineration by tanning bed.
  • The murders comitted by John Doe in Se7en. He probably considered them to be Karmic Deaths.
  • In the film version of Doom Duke, one of the most likeable and sympathetic characters in the film, gets the most brutal and horrible death out of the entire cast. In the middle of a firefight, an Imp grabs his feet and pulls him through the metal grate he was unlucky enough to be standing on, shredding him.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street and its sequels revel in this, taking full advantage of its dream world killzone to make some of the most ludicrous and creative deaths in cinema history, and then upping the ante by having the victim's actual body reacting to the death in a (usually) more realistic manner. Some particularly fun examples include: arms getting torn off, replaced by beetle legs, then being trapped inside a roach hotel which is crushed by Freddy; having flesh torn out of your arms and legs and used as puppet strings, then being led up to a high point and dropped to your death; getting reduced to a comic book paper human by one slash, wherupon your ink drips out of you entirely and you are immediately slashed into a whirlwind of paper strips; having a hearing aid dig itself into your ear, and then amplify sounds to such a level that they cause head-exploding pain; and of course, being pulled into your bed and winding up reduced to more blood than the average body can hold, which is splattered all over the ceiling. Yow.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Cone, by H. G. Wells, a man gets deliberately roasted to death by being thrown onto the top of a blast furnace. Don't read it if you're the slightest bit squeamish. You're welcome.
  • In the original draft of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, Doctor Jimmy Cody is eaten alive by a horde of rats. The book's editor convinced King that it went too far, so he replaced it with a scene in which the doctor falls into a booby trap made of butcher knives that have been driven through a table. When the book was rereleased as a "10th Anniversary Edition", he (King) made sure the original scene was restored to the story.
      • The 2004 TV movie has him fall onto a running table saw. Tzzzzzing!
    • In IT, Patrick Hockstetter recieves what is quite possibly the most horrific death in the whole book. He is killed by the titular Big Bad, who has taken the form of what can only be described as giant, flying leeches who possess extremely large and extremely sharp proboscises, which proceed to completely swamp him and almost completely drain him of his blood. It's made even worse by the fact that one of them penetrates his eyelid and utterly destroys his eyeball, and another lands his his mouth and drains all the blood from his tongue. He eventually dies after fainting, being dragged away to Its lair, and then being devoured alive when he awakens.
      • Though considering it is established beforehand Hocksetter is a completely insane sociopath who murdered his baby brother, it's pretty karmic.
    • The botched execution of Eduard Delacroix from The Green Mile, which happened because Percy Wetmore, the guy who insisted upon being in charge of the execution and a sadistic asshole to the core, neglected to soak a sponge in brine that was supposed to be tucked inside the electrode cap to ensure a quick death in the electric chair because he wanted to get back at Del in the cruelest way possible for laughing at him in an earlier scene. When the switch is thrown, the result is a prolonged, agonizing and exceedingly horrific death involving Del being literally burned alive in the chair. The volume in which this execution takes place is called "The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix" with good reason. The movie even toned it down, removing, among other things, Del's eyes popping out of their sockets.
        • And that movie scene, despite all toning down, still manages to be one of the most brutal and agonizing scenes for any movie that was marketed (at least in Europe) for young teens. Yep, this actually shows how truly Cruel and Unusual Delacroix's death was.
      • This scene was actually based off of the very first execution by electric chair in America where the person burned alive due to a malfunction of the chair. Stephen King said once that he got the idea from that.
    • In Misery, Annie murders a cop by running over his head with a riding lawn mower.
  • In one of the Dune prequels, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has his etiquette teacher drowned in raw sewage. The man had been trying to teach the Baron how to behave in polite society.
  • American Gods: A minor goddess is chased down and runover by the Kid's limousine over and over until she's small and liquid enough to be washed away in the rain.
    • May be Laser-Guided Karma, as all of the gods who died in that book had killed someone earlier in the novel. Goddess kills human; Kid kills goddess, Loki kills Kid, Shadow's wife kills Loki, and then dies herself of the self-inflicted wound and loss of the talisman that had brought her back from death.
  • In Gary Jennings's historical epic Aztec, a man has the skin of a little girl placed on his vital areas and is left to let the skin dry and thus suffocate him.
  • In Eumenides in the Fourth-Floor Lavatory by Orson Scott Card, the Asshole Victim protagonist becomes forever plagued by monstrous, grotesquely-deformed infants whose sucker-like suction cup appendages rip off his skin when they make contact with it, as well as cause pus-filled sores to appear. And only HE can hear...and see...and experience these things, causing everyone else to believe him to be insane.
    • Card can be fond of this trope; it's probably best illustrated in his short story A Thousand Deaths in which a repressive government uses cloning and brain-taping technology to torture a dissident to death over and over and over again, in increasingly gruesome and detailed manners—and each time make his newly decanted self, fresh from the trauma of dying, clean up the bits of his body. Note that this story actually inverts the trope however, because the protagonist eventually gets used to dying horribly, so the torture no longer works.
  • Matthew Reilly seems to like these. We've got shredded to bits by a fragmentation grenade, eaten by killer whales, roasted alive when the sparks from some Mooks' guns ignite flammable gasses in the air, hung upside-down in a pool full of killer whales and eaten, poisoned by sea snake venom and getting lockjaw, freezing after getting soaked in liquid nitrogen, crushed in a depressurizing diving bell, stabbed in the back by your own squad mate, getting drilled through the head, and being mauled alive by mutant elephant seals. And that's just in his second book.
    • His first book contains being thrown through a book case then being ripped in half, getting mauled alive by wolf like aliens, burning to death, being electricuted, being telefraged and, being crushed under a descending elevator.
    • In Scarecrow, in addtion to the more mundane exploding planes and multiple bullet holes, there's being burned alive by a fighter jet's afterburner, multiple decapitations using various methods like guillotine and machetes, the burning oil trap, microwave beams causing a person to explode, being eaten by shark, and having a hole burned through the mouth.
  • Christina's death(from before the story started) from Haunted 1988. She set the house on fire, killing everybody who was trapped inside, accidentally got herself set on fire, she jumped into the pond to stop the flames and drowned.
  • The worms from David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr series eat their victims alive, and their mouths are built to inflict about as much pain as possible while they're doing it. But here's the bad part: the worms aren't the worst thing that can kill you in this story...
  • Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony features an execution machine that gets examined in such meticulous detail that what it actually does seems ten times as horrifying.
  • In one of the Miles Vorkosigan books, he is investigating the mysterious death of a soldier found stuffed in a drainage pipe. Turns out the soldier had been hiding contraband (homemade cupcakes) and went to save them when the rain started, got lost in the dark, panicked, and managed to wedge himself in the drain pipe so that he suffocated.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' Year of the Griffin, an assassin almost dies by drowning in orange juice.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey short story The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers, an artist murders his mistress because he suspects her of cheating. He kills her by electroplating her. The artist later falls into his own vat and is killed in a similar manner.
  • This trope is strong in A Very Offensive Weapon, a take-off of heroic fantasy by David Drake. The hired retainers are Genre Savvy and know there's no chance of surviving the heroic quest they're on. So they strive to die heroically, regaling each other with tales of legendary deaths.

"Say, did you notice the way the Old Man threw his arms and legs wide as he fell forward? He was making sure that he'd be smashed absolutely flat. Now, that's craftsmanship if I ever saw it."

  • In Polystom, a servant convicted of murdering an aristocrat is executed using the "skin frame": after fattening him up to loosen the entire skin, the skin around his ankles is cut and pinned to the lower part of the frame and he must hold the upper part of the frame until his arms give way with fatigue.
  • In Death Masks, a novel in The Dresden Files series, Shiro is brutalized and tortured to the point that Harry Dresden almost doesn't recognize him anymore.
    • Gruesome deaths are pretty much par for the course in The Dresden Files, starting with the very first book, where Harry is called to the scene of a crime where the victims have had their hearts ripped out of their chests. Harry reacts, quite sensibly, by being violently sick.
    • It doesn't actually happen, but in the short story "Love Hurts", a Red Court vampire describes to Harry the death her Court has planned for him. It involves a cage lined with sharp objects, the bottom of which is a closed bowl to collect his waste, spears in a rack underneath so anyone who feels like it can prod him with them, and eventual disembowelment and flaying to be turned into a chair in the Red Temple.
  • In the first book of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence Sequence, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a mob leader tries to have Locke drowned in a barrel of horse urine.
    • There are many of these in the first book alone. For instance, Capa Barsavi knows that someone's killing the leaders of the gangs under his watch, and so keeps bringing the survivors of said gangs in for "questioning." When he's done with them, he either throws them to the sharks or lets his Torture Technician go to town. One such death involves taking a leather bag, filling it with broken glass, slipping it over the poor bastard's head, and kneading.
    • An even worse death is described in the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. An assassination attempt on crime boss Requin left Requin's lover, Selendri, horribly disfigured on her left side. When Requin caught the assassin, he dipped his left side in cement, let it harden, then left him like that, forcing water down his throat to keep him going as long as possible, while the trapped side rotted and became gangrenous...
  • Author Carl Hiaasen deals out several over-the-top deaths to his characters, particularly the villains. To name just two, in Strip Tease, the sleazy ex-husband of the main character falls into a drug-induced sleep in a vat of sugarcane—which is then fed through a processing plant. In Native Toungue, a hitman falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and simultaneously drowns and is humped to death by the undersexed Orca whale that lives in the tank.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Viserys Targaryen weds his sister to a Khal Drogo in the hopes of using Drogo's army to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Eventually he pisses Drogo off enough that Drogo crowns him. With molten gold.
    • In the "embarrassing" mode of things, we have Lord Tywin Lannister who is shot in the bowels, and ends his life with a stunning aversion of Nobody Poops.
    • Then we have the Bolton's preferred execution method (Flaying Alive), what the Mereenese Grand Masters did to the slave children (nailing them alive to posts with their entrails hanging out), what Dany did to said Grand Masters (the same), a bunch of dragonfire-related incidents (most notably Quentyn), Joffrey, the sacrifices presented to R'hllor...
    • And then there is the death of Gregor Clegane. He is wounded with a spear smeared with a poison that is specifically designed to kill someone slowly and painfully. The maesters try for days to save him. After they fail, Cersei suggest to just kill him, but Qyburn thinks it's worth to take a better look on the nature of the poison.
    • Possibly the worst deaths in the series (though admittedly there is a lot of competition) are the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark in the backstory, for both physical and psychological torture. Rickard was roasted alive while his son Brandon watched. Brandon had a noose around his neck and his sword was placed just out of reach, causing him to strangle himself while trying to save his father.
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, illustrates, in horrific detail, just how terrifying it would be to watch someone getting skinned alive.
  • Warrior Cats has Tigerstar, who gets ripped open, causing him to scream in fits of agony as he bleeds to death nine consecutive times. Other noteworthy deaths include being run over by a car, getting killed (and presumably eaten) by an Ax Crazy mountain lion, and being stabbed in the throat with a wooden spike and gushing blood everywhere. And this is a series marketed for children.
    • Plus there was the incident with one cat getting killed by dogs.
      • Ripped to shreds by dogs. SHREDS.
    • Don't forget Snowkit- a deaf kitten snatched out of the camp and eaten by a hawk.
    • Antpelt is beaten so badly in a training session in the Dark Forest (which he was visiting in a dream) that he died in real life.
  • At one point in the war story The Things They Carried, the protagonists pitch their tents in a field they later find out is fertilized with the excrement of the entire nearby town. When they're attacked in the middle of the night, the explosions stir up the ground, and a major character literally drowns in shit. Proving that life is shittier than fiction, the book's Based on a True Story, and the death was apparently a real incident (though this is definitely questionable).
  • The death of Annalina Aldurren in the final book of the Sword of Truth series is particularly cruel. The actual death is fairly quick (you don't live very long when someone blasts a foot-wide hole in your chest), but the killers then disintegrate her body, not just to cover their tracks, but explicitly stating that they're doing it so nobody will ever know what happened to her.
    • In the first book, we have the death of Demmin Nass, The Dragon, pedophile, child murderer, and all around bastard. After taunting Kahlan about how Richard was dead and he was going to let his men rape her to death while her friends are forced to watch, she goes into a Tranquil Fury Unstoppable Rage and confesses him, then chops off his testicles and feeds them to him before embedding an axe in his head.
    • And in the backstory, Zedd's wife's death qualifies. Not only is she beaten, raped, and left for dead by a squad of D'Haran soldiers, but she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal his wife...only to find doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing.
    • In Faith of the Fallen, Verna orders that the assassin who killed her husband Warran be tortured all night before being put to death in the morning. It should be noted that these are the Good Guys.
  • The short story Dark Red Mind has a scene where, after finding out that the Colonel was in on the villain's plan the whole time, the three lead superhumans kill him in a truly nightmarish way. The Colonel gets in his car, turns the key in the ignition, and looks into the rear-view mirror to find Justin and Bethany sitting in the backseat. Just before he can get out, Justin uses his telekinesis to forcibly buckle the Colonel's seatbelt as tight as he can, making sure he can't get out. But that's not enough. Bethany uses her phasing powers on his hands without even touching him, making sure he won't even have a physical chance to escape. Then, the third superhuman, Kaitlyn, with the ability to cut through things with her mind, slams her hands on the hood of the car. The Colonel begs for mercy, and Justin, with his only line in the story, simply replies, "Sorry, man. None left for you." Then Kaitlyn uses her power to cut through his neck as slowly as possible until she finally cuts all the way through.
  • Pick a tale by The Brothers Grimm: odds are good there'll be a gruesome death - you've got dancing to death in red-hot iron shoes, ripping yourself in twain pulling your foot out of the floor...and Herr Korbes had a pretty bad day.
  • Magic: The Gathering's tie-in novels feature a heavy dose of this. The Kamigawa trilogy was probably the high point: a minor god is devoured by disembodied mouths, a monk is drowned by a water mage while restrained, a telepath gets being frozen to death sent to her via telepathy, an immortal king is turned to stone and shattered, breaking his mind and his sight into thousands of tiny bits... Choryu, the water mage, suffers a fate almost beyond comprehension: he is bound with life-sustaining spells, burned beyond recognition, cursed a thousand different ways, has poison soaked into every inch of his flesh, and is slowly fed his own limbs. His actual death is a Mercy Kill, making this an inversion.
  • In the Domination series by S.M. Stirling the stock punishment for any dissent is to be staked. The victim slowly dies, but if they tire and relax they'll just fall onto the stake more. It takes some skill to make the stake just the right length so as not to kill the victim too soon.
  • In Without Remorse, John Clark tortures and kills a drug dealer by jamming him into a decompression chamber and giving him the bends.
    • And it goes on for an entire chapter. With all the detail and exhaustive research that Tom Clancy is famous for.
  • Richard Morgan's fantasy novel The Steel Remains has one society sentence various people to death by gradual, mechanically-assisted impalement. This happens to a childhood friend of the main character. Later, due to a journey through possible alternate worlds/lives, the central character himself lives through such an experience. The description is... memorable, and not in a good way.
  • Ghostgirl - She chokes on a friggin gummy bear while distracted by the guy she likes.
  • In his short story Patriotism, writer Yukio Mishima describes the act of seppuku in excruciating detail, to the point where this troper actually started to feel physically uncomfortable in the stomach region. (Also of interest is the fact that the now infamous author ended his own life via seppuku, after a failed coup d'état).
  • The Short Story Jericho has the titular hero exiled by his own people, captured by humans, beaten, whipped, and eventually castrated and skinned alive.
  • Failing to bind an Andat in The Long Price Quartet can have some pretty horrific consequences. For example, having your veins fill up with crushed glass. Or growing twisted mouths all over your body that vomit up you blood. Or slowly filling up with seaweed and black ice until your stomach ruptures.
  • In Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus!, which is based on the Columbine massacre, one character ends up being trapped under a table by a group of angry teens. The students jump up and down on the table, and Coupland has the narrator describing how as the students are jumping on the table, the gap between the table and the floor is getting smaller and smaller, until the table is practically touching the floor. OK, the person under the table was part of a group who had shot several students dead for no real reason, but it's still pretty nasty.
  • Too many to count in Gone (novel), but EZ being eaten alive by mutated worms certainly comes to mind. And anyone who Drake kills. And the kids eaten by coyotes during the Thanksgiving Battle. And the kids who get thrown through a wall by Caine. And Panda's suicide, particularly because of what happened afterwards.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the fourth book, where the two main problems in the FAYZ are a hacking cough that causes kids to choke up pieces of lung, and a cockroach-esque parasite that eats you alive before hatching from your body. Nausea Fuel indeed.
  • "The Cocoons" by Thomas Ligotti has psychiatric patients being eaten from the inside out by giant Lovecraftian arthropods after the "pills" they were given have hatched. While this never actually occurs "on-stage", the narrator watches some very educational home videos of his doctor's work...
  • In the Larry Niven short story "Wait It Out", the first astronaut to set foot on Pluto gets trapped there and commits suicide by leaving his spacecraft without his spacesuit. Freezing to death is a horrific way to go, but what makes this story qualify for this trope is the fact that the astronaut froze in such a way that, when he's in direct sunlight, his brain "turns back on", making him conscious of the fact that a) he's a Human Popcicle and b) he's likely to stay that way until the sun explodes.
    • Or until help arrives. Even while his mind is switched on, his time perception is altered, and he has blissful oblivion after sundown - so he hopes he can "Wait It Out", hence the title. Someone's sure to come back to Pluto someday, and who knows what Earth science may be able to accomplish by then?
  • In the David Eddings novel Regina's Song, Twinkie, the Seattle Slasher, killed her victims by stabbing them with a syringe of curare to paralyze them, and then slowly carved them to pieces with a linoleum knife. While singing. When she finally tracked down the man who killed her sister, she slices him with the knife about eighty times. The coroner wasn't sure of the exact count, as some of the cuts were very close together - especially around the groin. He was still alive when she cut his throat at the end.
  • In the book They Thirst The Renfield falls into a Snake Pit with rattlesnakes inside after the Intrepid Reporter fights him off. He soon realizes that being The Renfield doesn't save one from death by rattlesnake bite. He was evil, but the way his death is described is borderline Nightmare Fuel.
  • Tame compared to some of those listed here, but several characters in Darkness Visible are killed by mishaps with collapsing Reality Thresholds. The guy who gets his head cut off gets off lightly, compared to the one who gets cut in half. Even worse is the one who loses a couple of limbs and bleeds out under Lewis's hands whilst screaming in agony.
  • Patrick Bateman's victims in American Psycho definitely go through this trope, of course, at the end you're left wondering whether Patrick really did commit all those murders or if they were all in his head, but still...
  • In The Pale King, Chris Fogle's father gets his arm stuck in a closing subway door, and is dragged the length of the station and beyond. The authorities find pieces of him roughly 65 yards away from the platform, at which point the train was traveling over 50 miles an hour.
  • In The Hunger Games, many of the deaths in the arena are especially cruel. And some of the ones in Mockingjay are so gory that many can't imagine how the movie could be made without earning an R-rating.
  • The last chapter of Zola's Nana focuses on other characters as they visit the title character's deathbed. The cheerful prostitute, who single-handedly ruined the fortunes of some of the richest men in France through sheer profligacy, dies horribly disfigured by smallpox.
  • Given The Monk is a Gothic novel, they have to make it extreme, but it's a bad death even for a woman as heartless as the prioress. She gets ripped to shreds by an angry mob.
  • Grenouille, the protagonist in Perfume the Story of A Murderer, has murdered twenty-five beautiful virgins to create the most glorious, irresistible perfume in the world. For his crimes he is supposed to have his ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders shattered and then be hung up to die, but he escapes this fate: in the end, he pours the perfume over himself and is torn to pieces and devoured by an adoring mob. The author makes it clear just how hard it is to tear a living human being into pieces, too.
  • In The Quest for Blank Claveringi, a short story by Patricia Highsmith, the protagonist is stranded on an island populated by INTELLIGENT man-eating snails the size of buicks. Suffice it to say this does not end well.

Live-Action TV[edit | hide]

  • In the Vampire Diaries Anna gets tortured by a sonic ear-bleeder device, injected with poison, and is lying on the floor feebly begging for her life when she is staked and burned.
  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Villains", Willow, who has snapped out as a result of Tara being killed, deals with Warren Meers, the guy who killed her, by crucifying him, sewing his lips together, using magic to slowly force a bullet (one which Warren had himself used to shoot Buffy) into his chest, and finally ripping his skin off and burning him alive. The utter cruelty of it all would cement Willow's status as the season's new Big Bad.
    • In the Eighth Season comics, he got better. Well, less dead.
      • Until the spell collapsed and he literally fell apart. At least the incineration (revealed to be timely teleportation) didn't leave such a mess.
  • The Reavers of Firefly are known to rape people to death, eat their flesh and sew their skins to their clothing. And if their victims are very, very lucky, they'll do it in that order. Now, think about what this might mean for those who are less than lucky...
    • While not as bad as the Reavers above, there's also what the Hands of Blue did to the Feds who talked to the Tams in the episode "Ariel." Bleeding out through every orifice in your body is not a pleasant way to die.
  • Helen on Spooks was killed by first having her arm thrust into a deep fryer, after which her head was pushed into the hot grease. And then she was shot... an act which might qualify as a mercy killing. All of this happened on screen.
  • The Tudors, the producers seems to take pleasure in showing the all myriad ways that Renaissance England have for torturing and killing people.
  • Spike TV's 1000 Ways to Die is all about this trope. It doesn't shy away from including graphic images of being wrapped in freshly-killed animal skins and left to be pecked to death by vultures, to being asphyxiated by cocoa powder, to jumping from a cliff into a lake and hitting the water at an angle that causes water to rush into the rectum, rupturing the large intestine.
  • Farscape occasionally utilized its immense prosthetic budget to come up with graphic depictions of these. The one that comes most readily to mind was the rather horrible fate of a childhood friend of Aeryn's, who was going to shoot her while the ship around them was being destroyed...only for a nearby pipe to burst and sear the skin off her face, after which she shambled around for a few seconds before dying. Not for the squeamish.
  • Dead Like Me. The main character dies of being hit in the head with the toilet seat from a deorbiting space station... in the first episode.
  • Stargate SG-1. The Goa'uld Marduk was so evil that his own priests conspired to kill him... by sticking him in a Sarcophagus with a nasty creature with poisonous saliva and lots of little sharp teeth. Did we mention that the Sarcophagus is capable of resurrecting the recently dead and would do its best to keep Marduk alive for a very long time (as in, centuries)?
  • The majority of the deaths in Supernatural. One of the most noticeable early examples is in the episode Nightmare, where a man is decapitated by a window slamming shut.
    • A few other episodes with notably gross and unsettling deaths include "Malleus Maleficarum" (teeth fall out, chokes on blood), "Red Sky At Morning" (brutal bathtub drowning), "Bugs" (beetles burrow into brain), "The Magnificent Seven", and "Crossroad Blues," "Time Is On My Side," and "No Rest For The Wicked," all three for hellhounds ripping people apart, though "Time Is On My Side " also features a gross old man surgically removing the heart from his still-breathing victim. Classy. And then Season 5 happened, with two lovers literally eating each other to death in My Bloody Valentine.
  • Argentinian miniseries Epitafios is filled with these.
  • Happens to Captain Jack of Doctor Who and Torchwood a lot since Immortal Life Is Cheap. A few examples include being buried alive by his brother to suffocate and come back to life repeatedly for 2000 years, being blown up and very painfully regenerating from the few remaining bits, and being encased alive in concrete. Good Thing You Can Heal, indeed.
  • Early Star Trek: The Next Generation had phasers that could set people on fire, some indeterminate energy weapons that stripped away the skin and flesh before disintegrating the skeleton while the faces of those who were so killed stood frozen with horrified expressions, and a two-episode character's head exploding with a good deal of gore and an alien puppet thing where his chest internals ought to have been once his ribcage is opened up.
  • The first episode of Frasier has Roz tell the story of Lupe Velez, who wanted a lavish suicide and instead as she was trying to overdose she stumbled into the bathroom and goes head first into the toilet.


Music[edit | hide]

  • Death Metal is Flooded with this trope. Done by the most evil people on innocents.
  • The traditional Irish song "The Two Sisters" (covered by several musicians over the years, including Tom Waits, Clannad, and Bob Dylan) recounts the tale of a girl who is drowned by her own sister out of jealousy over a man both girls fancy. The song ends with a line that notes that the murderess is punished by being boiled in lead.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • GURPS: Ultratech has a weapon that releases nanites into your blood. After a few minutes your blood explodes.
  • A Blood Magic spell in a Rifts supplemental is called Carnivorous Blood. Your imagination can handle the rest...
  • Half the stuff that can kill you in Warhammer 40,000 counts as this. From flesh-eating worms to bio-acids that melt the skin off your bones, to razor-sharp shards of psychically charged material which will not only tear you to pieces but make you feel unimaginable pain, to guns that flay you apart molecule by molecule, or open a portal to what is essentially hell and suck you in.
    • Of special note is the Orks' Shokk Attack Gun, which teleports a tiny goblin though hell, driving it psychotically insane, and causing it to reappear inside you, at which point it rips you apart from within.
  • New World of Darkness has several extremely horrifying deaths for the very unfortunate humans that run foul of its supernatural denizens. Certain vampires can restrain a human while eating his flesh, then wear it as a cloak to protect from sunlight. Abyssal entities can do all sorts of unpleasant things to people. The grand prize, however, has to go to the Shartha, or the hosts, who can possess humans by getting into their bodies and slowly eating their hearts or brains.
  • Paranoia: Many traitors are simply lasered to death in the heat of battle, but the really unlucky ones get to serve Alpha Complex one last time by getting assigned to nuclear reactor shielding duty. No, they don't get to repair the shielding, they get to be the shielding.
  • Planescape. If the Lady is displeased with you and wants to publically voice said displeasure she lets her shadow fall over you. The victims die from having the skin and flesh flayed from their bones while still alive and capable of feeling every last moment of it, with the end result being little more than a ragged pile of leaky meat.


Theatre[edit | hide]

  • Heracles' poisoned shirt from The Trachiniae seems to basically meld to him, eat away his skin, and just be very painful and terrifying in general. Instead of waiting for it to properly kill him he asks to be immolated asap.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Super Meat Boy has a vast variety of deaths, including buzz saws, floating teeth monsters, salt, saws, maggots, lasers, demonic floating teeth monsters that split, and saws. And yet, special mention should be made for Dr. Fetus' death. After coming out of his suit, he is curb stomped over and over by Bandage Girl until he is nothing but a puddle. Of course, he totally deserved it.
  • Walter Sullivan in Silent Hill 4 slits his own throat with a sharpened, prison-issue spoon.
    • Let's not forget the deaths of many of his victims, e.g. Jasper being burned alive, Richard being slowly electrocuted, Andrew being impaled and drowned.
    • Countless children in the Water Prison starved to death when the cell doors jammed shut.
  • Judge Holloway got a drill shoved through her jaw in Silent Hill Homecoming.
    • And Alex's father gets sliced in half down the middle by Pyramid Head.
  • Gremio from Suikoden I is slowly devoured by a flesh eating fungus. He can get better though.
  • Taro and Hanako's gruesome offscreen deaths in the worst ending of Disgaea 2 are so horrible, that they are compared to stuff out of Silent Hill.
  • Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain gives you several lovely options for inflicting deaths like these on your enemies (or even random villagers), with "suck the blood out of their wounds from 10 feet away" being the most mundane. Other highlights include instantly flaying their flesh from their bones, and crushing their bodies into the size of a marble.
    • Oh, lets not stop there! Soul Reaver 1 gave us the horror that was Melchiah's "Death by spinny blades of doom descend on you from the ceiling."
  • Pick a dead end in any Nasuverse Visual Novel. Almost any dead end will do. Some of them are so implausibly over-the-top that they cross the line into Narm territory... And it only gets better when the Tiger Dojo or Teach Me, Ciel-sensei segments come next.
    • Just from Fate/stay night.
      • Death from blood loss because your feet were pulverized when you used them to crush evil magic bugs.
      • Soul trapped in doll for eternity.
      • Dissolved by manifestation of all evils in this world.
      • Stomach punched out with Kung Fu.
      • Melted to death, despite already being fatally wounded by swords spontaneously stabbing out of your own body... due to falling from a third floor window.
      • Murder/suicide by best friend.
  • No More Heroes features - in cutscenes - disembowlment, vertical bisection, suicide by grenade-in-mouth, another vertical bisection followed by being blown up, an Eye Scream followed by another vertical bisection performed by a huge buzzsaw, being TRISECTED, and a fist shoved through somebody's sternum (but Travis survives that last one) along with the usual beheadings and impalement. There's also Cranberry Chocolate Sundae, a Limit Break based on the concept of killing as many Mooks this way as possible.
    • And the sequel has - decapitation, horizontal evisceration, head explosion, being chopped to pieces, arms being chopped off followed by decapitation, then having the still living head being sliced to bits, another decapitation with the same result, being stabbed through the head, the having the blade grind into the skull, machine gunned, disembowelment, suffocation, and finally being sliced in half from diving at Travis.
  • MadWorld, full stop.
    • And even then, some things were just too cruel for this game.
    • To go into detail, while you can inflict some very esoteric deaths on normal enemies (catapulting to the moon or hitting their head off with a golf club, for instance), here's how Jack takes care of the bosses.

Little Eddie: Savagely thrashed with his own Epic Flail, which is then used to completely crush his head.
Jude the Dude: Shot repeatedly until literally nothing of him was left.
Von Twirlenkiller: Punched to death with one of his own arms.
Rinrin: Eaten by a large animatronic statue.
Shogun: Impaled through the crotch by a spiked roof fixture.
Yokozuna: Used for fireworks.
The Shamans: Chained to Jack's bike and dragged along the ground.
Frank: Killed by his own hand cranked electric chair.
Elise: Spanked to death.
Kojack: Exploded by his own bike.
The Masters: One is impaled by Jack and forced to use his powers to toss the other around, then they're thrown together and kind of explode.
Martin: Also exploded.
The Black Baron: Used for Man Darts.

Sullivan: (Deploys skyhook) We're the good guys, Chuck. Not you.
Chuck: (Handcuffs Go Click)
Sullivan: (Oh Crap! I'm handcuffed to the damn building!)
Getaway Plane: (snags skyhook)
Sullivan: (Is torn in half.)
Player: CAN I GET A, HELL, YEAH!

    • Unfortunately, programming limitations mean all we see is a massive spray of blood and the jerk's legs handcuffed to the roof. Meh. Still awesome.
  • The fate of those taken by the Collectors in Mass Effect 2: being rendered down into goo by nanites while conscious and screaming and leaving bloody smears as you scrabble at the glass of your pod. Lovely.
  • God of War allows you to inflict this on the Greek Gods themselves.
  • Phantasmagoria is pretty much built on this trope. Carno's murder of his wives ranges from Narm (how can someone's head be twisted 360 degrees before the neck snaps?) to absolutely horrifying (ever wonder what death by force-feeding looks like?)
    • The sequel isn't much better. We've got a guy getting the shit beaten out of him, crucified with exacto knives, his mouth stabled shut, and finally being cut open with a box cutter, another guy getting his head beaten in with a sledgehammer, another character beaten stabbed, and electrified using her own blood, a woman literally getting melted down into a human pizza, and finally the main character's best friend is strangled with wires. (which is, oddly enough, the tamest death)
  • In one of Madou Souhei Kleinhasa's bad endings, Roze ends up literally being raped to death. Or So I Heard.
  • BloodRayne allows the player to do a variety of these frequently—Carnage kills begin with a chained harpoon catch and end in a fling into one or more impaling objects (or electrocution, fire, or industrial meatgrinders.) In one kick move, Rayne jumps onto an opponent's shoulders, catching the neck between her feet, then flips forward to stomp the head into the ground. But the most splatteriffic is when she lifts an enemy by one impaling blade, spins them in the air with a flick of the other then lets the edge of it hack off all limbs and head before throwing the pruned torso away.
  • Naughty Bear has this as part of the gameplay, being the Spiritual Successor to Manhunt. One example is slamming a teddy's face into a spinning turntable.
  • The old vector graphics game, Out of This World (aka Another World) , is practically made out of this trope. Not only does everything on the planet want to kill him, it wants to kill him in the most gruesome way possible. Roll the clip!
  • Fallout series, especially the first two games. The "Bloody Mess" trait makes pretty much every death cruel and unusual. Besides, there are the Lieutenant, the Master, Frank Horrigan and (sweet zombie Jesus!!!) the Overseer from the first game.
  • An early level in Rise of the Triad starts with a glass wall and a group of enemy soldiers in a wide hallway on the other side of it. The game kindly warns you of the danger of this hallway (posts lined with rapidly spinning blades, moving along interlaced tracks in the floor) by pureeing the hapless guards between the two converging rows of spinblades while you watch from your safe position on the other side of the (now-bloodied) window. See it here. Yes, that is a flying eyeball.
  • Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has Volecheck planning to execute two prisoners he captured by not just boiling them alive in extremely hot water, but makes it a public execution. Even some of the city folk actually look forward to this event. Luckily, your party manages to prevent this from happening.
  • Dead Space. The death scenes are certainly enough to qualify, in Dead Space 2 they just get worse. Poor Isaac...
  • In the worst ending of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, Adell kills and devours his siblings, aged 9 and 11.
  • In Syphon Filter, if you hold the taser on someone for too long, they burn to death, often screaming.
  • In Clock Tower 3, a 12 year old girl has her face smashed with a sledgehammer, a man and his old mother are pushed into a vat of acid and another man falls off a balcony where his head hits an ax and splits in half.
  • Let us count the ways the player characters in Heavy Rain can die shall we? Take a power drill up a very sensitive place, fall into a trash compacter while handcuffed to your own car, have half of your body run over by a crane, being stabbed in the crotch with a katana or getting hit on the head with a plasma TV or sledgehammer.
  • In Corpse Party, poor Mayu Suzumoto ends up being levitated by three malevolent ghost children, who then launch her into a wall at supersonic speed, leaving nothing more than a stain on the wall and a pile of meat and organs. Kensuke Kurosaki probably gets the second worst death. After surviving being stabbed and kicked into a hole downstairs, his "best friend" Yuuya Kizami finishes him off. We don't actually see him do it, but we see the results. It's not quite as bad as Mayu's, as we can still tell it's him, but it's still rather messy.
    • A lot of the Wrong Ends, while nowhere near as gruesome, still count. As does Seiko's death. And then there's what happened to the aforementioned ghost children, whose deaths (long before the events of the game) easily qualify as fearsome.
  • Inspector Cabanela can die this way in Ghost Trick if the player Ghost Swaps the bullet that was supposed to hit him with a nearby helmet mid-flight. The Pidgeon Man says it best: "That didn't go well."


Web Comics[edit | hide]

HRROORK

  • Goblins has quite a few of this. Examples (all contain spoilers) include this, this, and this.
  • Homestuck has had quite a few unpleasant deaths during Act 5 Act 2, but Neophyte Redglare's takes the cake. She either a.) didn't know about or b.) severely underestimated Mindfang's mind control abilities. As a result, Mindfang manipulates the angry mob at her trial into lynching Redglare and hanging her with one of her own nooses. Given that the story is written from Mindfang's point of view, it is highly unlikely Redglare survived the encounter.
  • Looking for Group's very own Heroic Sociopath, Richard, revels in this trope. This appears to be mainly due to the fact that Richard, being an ageless, undead warlock, as well as a sadist without equal, needed something to keep him going throught the centuries, but also due to his inability to distinguish "going too far", and "going much, MUCH further than merely 'too far'".

Guard: General! Our scouts have returned.
General: Report.
Guard: The invaders march upon the city faster than anticipated. On foot and wings. Word has also reached us of a disaster that has befallen Bertu. Every last citizen; slain. At times, in very peculiar and imaginative fashions.
Richard: You like my work?

  • In the world of Zombie Ranch, someone dying from the zombie bite itself is considered one of the worst, most painful ways to go, and a horrible act of cruelty to let occur. At least one outlaw gang is known to use this as a ritual punishment.
  • From The Order of the Stick, one word: Implosion. (Warning: spoilers!)
    • What Redcloak does to Tsukiko just a few strips later is even worse.
      • Xykon kills Dourkan in similiar way in Start of Darkness and considering how his body looked at the end of lethal series of Energy Drains makes you glad what Redcloak did happened mostly off-panel.
  • And Our Little Adventure also used an Implosion spell. Unlike OotS's version, OLA's Implosion crushes the unfortunate victim into a gruesome, bloody cube. What makes this worse is that Angelo immediately cast Soul Bind to trap Eva's soul into a jewel, never allowing her to get to the heaven she said she would go to.

Web Original[edit | hide]


Western Animation[edit | hide]


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • The Other Wiki's List of unusual deaths. Warning: The level of horror is off the charts.
  • Manius Aquillius of Rome was killed by having molten gold poured down his throat. (Counts as a Karmic Death since the Romans had systematically destroyed and milked Pontus and the surrounding area in their pusuit of money.)
  • Some stories claim the Aztecs poured molten gold down Spanish throats after Montezuma was killed. Doesn't help that Cortez told the Aztecs they wanted the gold because they had a disease that only gold could cure.
  • The Roman emperor Valerian I was captured at the Battle of Edessa by the Persian King Shapur I. At first, Shapur merely used Valerian as a human footstool. However, when Shapur grew tired of this game, he had Valerian flayed alive, then stuffed his skin with dung and straw and had it put on display in one of the larger temples in his capital.
  • King Edward II of England was assassinated by way of first being crushed between two heavy mattresses and then having a red-hot branding iron shoved as far up the King's rectal passage as it could be pushed. The person who arranged this murder? Edward's wife, Isabella. It's generally seen as a particularly cruel Take That since Edward was notorious for his passion for a male courtier. The courtier in question, Hugh Despenser the Younger, was eventually drawn and quartered.
  • George, Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV of England, was drowned in a large barrel of malmsey (a sweet wine) in 1478.
  • Sir Arthur Aston, a supporter of King Charles I during the English Civil War, was captured by Oliver Cromwell and beaten to death with his own wooden leg.
  • Often used in games of "Would You Rather..." where you have to answer hypothetical questions such as "Would you rather be eaten by rats or drown in urine?" usually with a debate of the contrasting options and why one would be preferable to the other. The game doesn't exclusively use horrible ways to die but it's a common one, along with unappealing but non-deadly fates, disgusting things to eat/do and unattractive people to have sex with.
  • Famed astronomer Tycho Brahe supposedly died after becoming unable to urinate.
  • Vlad the Impaler caused a lot of these, as his name would indicate. His favorite punishment for any and all crimes in his kingdom was impalement. If done "correctly" it can take an impaled victim up to three days to die of a superinfection due to the stake tearing the intestinal wall and letting all the bacteria into the rest of the body. There's a reason he's considered the inspiration for Dracula.
    • And the method he used to impale people was pretty gruesome. He'd use a pole with a ball on one end and a spike on the other, and stick it through people's... well, let's just say it's pretty gross.
  • William Wallace. Hanged, let go before that could kill him, castrated, had his now missing bits shown to him, drawn and quartered, disemboweled, then finally beheaded and had his head stuck on a pike. This was considered a routine form of execution in medieval England.
  • Ancient Romans frowned on patricide. After a good scourging, they would tie the accused in a burlap sack with a dog, a rooster, a monkey and a snake, then throw the whole sack into a river.
  • Those Wacky Nazis, of course, killed millions in many cruel and unusual ways. In addition to the well-known Gas Chamber, their methods included using babies for target practice, electrocution baths, acid pits, surgery with no anesthesia, live cremation, and much more.
  • The Sicilian Bull.
  • Ancient Greece had three timelessly great dramatists, all of whom died in memorable ways. Euripides was torn to pieces by a pack of dogs; Sophocles choked on a grape, and Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise. (Specifically, by a tortoise that was dropped on his head by an eagle who, apparently, mistook his bald spot for a rock.)
  • This was pretty much the whole purpose of crucifixion. Not only did the Romans have to invent a whole new word to describe the pain of having nails driven through one's medial nerves ("excruciating" comes from ex crucia, literally, "out of the cross"), but the victims were put up on display for everyone naked while they suffocated to death, probably crying in agony and pleading for their lives. On top of everything else, the victims were viciously scourged with studded whips just beforehand. The Romans themselves considered crucifixion so terrible that it was illegal for citizens to be crucified.
  • In ancient China during dynastic times, one of the most cruel and unusual ways to die is "Death By a Thousand Cuts." There are variations, but one familiar example is the victim would be immobilized and the executioner would start cutting his skin off, bit by bit, making sure the victim is conscious and, more importantly, alive during this whole time (so no cheating by cutting the arteries and letting him bleed out. Skill is rewarded for keeping the victim alive as long as possible. The longest execution in this way on record was on an evil eunuch, while allegedly took 3 days and 3,357 cuts.
  • The Persians invented "scaphism" or "The Boats." Small cuts would be made over the victim's body. Then, the he would be fastened to two boats. Before they sent him off, they would feed him honey and milk, to cause diarrhea, and cover the victim in honey to attract insects. After this, they would push him out into the middle of a stagnant, insect-ridden lake. The victim would eventually end up lying in his own shit, covered in infected wounds, while insects bred in the shit and wounds. Starvation was considered a blessing in such a situation.
  • The Assyrians used them as a tool of war and diplomacy. The reliefs of the palace of Assurnasirpal II about the fate of rebels (decapitations, flaying, mutilations and all that kind of cute stuff) were probably made to scare enemy ambassadors.
  • The Vikings may have performed the "Blood Eagle" or "Butterfly Cut" - cracking the victim's ribs from the back and pulling out his lungs, and spreading them out like wings behind him. There is some question as to whether or not the procedure was ever actually performed, or is even possible.
  • When the Mongol leader Hulegu conquered Baghdad in the 14th century, he had the last of the Abassid Caliphs loaded into a sack and trampled to death with horses. The irony is that the Mongols would have actually considered this to be an extremely dignified death. Furthermore, it was immoral to spill the blood of a holy man. Unfortunately for the caliph, that taboo wasn't figurative.
  • There is a likely apocryphal tale of an assasin who attempted to kill a Dutch royal in the 1700s. He was stuffed into a barrel along with hundreds of rusty nails, then repeatedly rolled down the steepest hill to be found. Not a pleasant way to go.
  • Pierre Mulele. Mobuto (dictator of Zaire at the time) tricked him into returning to Zaire and had him tortured to death: his eyes gouged, genitals ripped off and his limbs cut off one at a time all while he was alive.
  • The Cheka in the early days of Soviet Russia:

Victims were reportedly skinned alive, scalped, "crowned" with barbed wire, impaled, crucified, hanged, stoned to death, tied to planks and pushed slowly into furnaces or tanks of boiling water, and rolled around naked in internally nail-studded barrels. Chekists reportedly poured water on naked prisoners in the winter-bound streets until they became living ice statues. Others reportedly beheaded their victims by twisting their necks until their heads could be torn off. The Chinese Cheka detachments stationed in Kiev reportedly would attach an iron tube to the torso of a bound victim and insert a rat into the other end which was then closed off with wire netting. The tube was then held over a flame until the rat began gnawing through the victim's guts in an effort to escape. Anton Denikin's investigation discovered corpses whose lungs, throats, and mouths had been packed with earth.

    • The Whites (not to mention other sides, like Anarchists or simply local bandits who proliferated in the lawless atmosphere of the times) were hardly better. The reports of both sides atrocities read like a record of some sort of a cruelty contest. Of course, one has to take into an account that both were heavily Unreliable Narrators with a lot of incentive to demonize the other side...
  • Elizabeth Bathory was punished for her crimes by being sealed in her room, with only a small window in the wall that used to be her doorway from which a guard would give her her meals. She actually lived like this for a few years before finally dying.
    • Cruel and unusual? Really?! Pretty mundane compared to some of the things she allegedly did to her victims: Cooking them alive, biting their throats out, locking them in spike-filled cages which were then swung about on pulley systems...To name a few of the TAME ones.
    • Because Elizabeth had many important relatives, her execution (which was originally suggested by King Matthias of Hungary) would generate too much negative effects amongst the nobility. So, she was, at first placed under house arrest. When the king finally visited her, and saw the extent of her evil, he had her sealed in that room for four years. As for living in a room for four years being mundane a demise compared to, say, being poked to death with red hot pokers... Well, think about it: imagine, having literally no human contact for four years, other than whomever it is who brings your food through a slot... No one to talk to, no one to compliment your wondrous beauty that cost you so many lives and so much of your own sanity to preserve... That is, no one to talk to other than the furniture or the piles of your own excrement.
  • Once King Olaf of Norway became a Christian in the late 10th Century, he was very enthusiastic about spreading the Gospel of the loving and merciful Prince of Peace:

One famed Viking lord, Raud, had an adder shoved down his throat when he refused to accept Christ; another, Eyvind Kinrifa, was tortured to death with a pan of glowing coals upon his belly."

  • Legend has it that when Caupolicán, toqui (war leader) of the Mapuche of southern Chile, was captured by the Spanish in 1558, he was executed by being forced to sit on a pointed stake, which his body weight caused to slowly skewer him. Given the sadistic methods of death common in Spain at the time, this seems quite plausible.
  • The Mongols are said to have forced an Arab prince, al-Kamil, to eat his own flesh, slice by slice, until death relieved him of the task. Saddam Hussein's regime is also said to have done this to a Kuwaiti woman during the Gulf War.
  • Chemical weapons such as blister agents are rather ineffective at killing yet have been used in WW 1 and the Iran-Iraq war. Mustard gas causes exposed skin to blister and peel off while inhaled gas does the same to your lungs. However despite the horrific injuries it often took victims days to die sometimes from drowning in bile gathering in their lungs.
  • Northern Australians like to come up with an incredibly creative range of methods of killing cane toads. Running them over in a car, cricket bats, golf clubs, broom handles with nails in them, air pumps, paracetamol, firecrackers, freezing, antiseptic spray, cans of deodorant with cigarette lighters, tubs of salt, gumboots, bricks, other toads... Considering how durable the things are and just how overpopulated the species is, they've certainly got plenty on which to practice.
  • Johnny Cash's brother apparently died several days after a particularly nasty industrial accident involving a table saw.
  • There was once a torture device known as a Judas Cradle, which comprised of a small pyramid on legs. Basically, you would be tied over it with your legs spread and lowered downward as the Cradle went... places.
  • Necklacing. Someone fills a rubber tire with a flammable liquid like petroleum, forces it around your chest and arms, then lights it on fire. It may take up to twenty minutes before the person dies. Popular in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s and in Haiti from 1986-1990, during the transition to democracy.
  • The Breaking wheel, variation of which have been used since ancient times. The victim was strapped to a wooden or metal wheel. Then the executioner broke their limbs with a large iron club until the death blow—a hard hit to the chest—was given. Most died before the death blow was given. If that wasn't bad enough, the victim was tortured beforehand or even tortured while on the wheel. Methods of torture included having your penis or nipples ripped off with a hot clamp. Variations of the breaking wheel include Saint Catherine's Wheel(being rolled over spikes), being tied to the rim and rolled down a hill or around the city square, and being roasted over a fire. Definitely unpleasant.
    • The Finnish version of this, called teilaus was to first break all the bones and then revolve the wheel around so that the broken bone heads would cause internal hemorrhage, the victim slowly bleeding to death. In today's colloquial Finnish, teilaus means a particularly nasty rejection, critique or review.
  • A person struck by a subway train, either from an accidental fall or more likely from a suicide attempt, not infrequently ends up dragged between the train and the station platform. When the train comes to a stop, the hapless victim's midsection is compressed almost flat, in most cases there being only about an inch of clearance between the train and the platform edge. Most or all of the internal organs are destroyed and all bones of the pelvis are smashed into dust. The spine is usually severed in multiple places, and quite often the victim's upper body and legs are facing in different directions. The worst part - the victim is alive and often lucid. The pressure between the train and the platform acts as a giant tourniquet, forcing blood into the upper body and keeping the victim's brain and heart functioning. The *really* worst part is that there is no hope whatsoever of survival. As soon as rescuers release the pressure, by using jacks or airbags to push the train away from the platform, the most of the victim's blood (and often the remains of his or her internal organs) will go gushing onto the tracks, with death following in seconds.
  • Spiders inflict this on their prey. Spiders don't just "suck the liquids out. They inject the prey with acid, which dissolves the bug's insides. They then suck out the resulting goop.
  • Lobsters get boiled alive...but this is a merciful death compared to how you broil lobsters; tie their claws down, slit them open with a knife and then put them into the oven while they're still alive.
  1. the festival of the warrior god Huitzilopochtli was the biggest example of this
  2. Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of fire
  3. Xipe Totec and Chicomecoatl, the god and goddess of corn
  4. Tezcatlipoca, the god of darkness, chaos, slaves, and rulership, among other things