Death by Gluttony

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If I eat one more piece of pie, I'll die!
If I can't have one more piece of pie, I'll die!
So since it's all decided I must die,
I might as well have one more piece of pie.
Chomp - Gulp - 'Bye.

Shel SilversteinPie Problem

Big Eater may be a common trope in fiction, but in real life even this behavior is not without immediate risks. Eating too much in one sitting can cause one's stomach to rupture, which has very unpleasant consequences. In real life chances of survival are 50-50, but in a fictional work it's usually portrayed as being lethal.

Sometimes in fiction, the person's body bursts, spilling out their stomach contents and entrails. This grossly exaggerated variation is usually Played for Laughs and by extension not always lethal.

Sometimes involves a Wafer-Thin Mint. Compare Balloon Belly. May turn into a case of Death by Irony, particularly since the entire point of eating is to keep oneself alive.

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

Examples of Death by Gluttony include:

Anime and Manga

  • Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist almost dies when he eats Ed, Ling and Envy, and they get out. He gets better. Then he died at his brother's gluttonous urge.
  • Also Yakon from Dragonball Z dies when eating too much of Goku's Super Saiyan energy.

Comic Books

  • In a Dylan Dog story, he and other six people representing the Seven Sins are invited in a creepy mansion. The Gluttonous victim literally explode after eating a mint candy after a gigantic meal. Justified, as Dylan put a bomb in that candy.



  • Played with in The Zombie Survival Guide. Since zombies don't digest the flesh that they eat, it will eventually force itself out the other way or, usually, burst out of their stomach. Of course they're already dead, but still.
  • In the novel The Natural, Roy has an insatiable appetite that finally comes back to bite him; after devouring 6 cheeseburgers for a midnight snack, his stomach finally gives out (it's unclear what exactly happened, but it doesn't seem like it actually ruptured). He was rushed to the hospital and ended up surviving, but it severely hurt the team's chances of winning the final game.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday one of the scientists made "A model of a Human unsatisfied by gluttony", which eats whatever it can reach (including two TONS of fish) until literally exploding.

Live-Action TV

  • Happened to a man in CSI who had a medical condition that made him eternally hungry even with a full stomach and caused him to literally eat himself to death
  • 1000 Ways to Die has a bulimic model die this way in one episode.
    • Another episode had a imprisoned terrorist who starved himself so he would be thin enough to slip through the bars. He then pigged out at a celebratory feast and died of refeeding syndrome (see Real Life below).
  • Played for horror in season 5 of Supernatural. The Horseman Famine compels a town full of people to eat and drink themselves to death in truly horrific ways. A young couple eat each other to death while having sex. One man binges on Twinkies until he can’t swallow anymore, at which point he starts shoving them down his throat with a toilet brush. Another man wants fries so badly he shoves his hands and then his face into a fryer where the fries are still cooking. Even Castiel, an angel who doesn’t feel hunger, is compelled by Famine’s presence to devour raw meat off the floor.
    • Eventually Famine itself is defeated the same way: When he fails to tempt Sam with the blood of several demons, Famine eats the demons himself. Sam then exorcises the demons, ripping them right out of Famine's guts.


  • This is one of the many deaths suffered by Sambo in the schoolyard song "More Work for the Undertaker":

Sambo had an uncle, an uncle very rich
One day he said to Sambo "I'll give you two and six"
Sambo feeling thirsty, went in to a shop
Ten lemonades and ten ginger beers, and then he went off pop.



Video Games

  • Blood worms in World of Warcraft feed on blood until they explode, healing people nearby in what is undoubtedly the game's most Squicktastic healing mechanism.
  • In the Ghostbusters game the first ghost you fight committed suicide this way.
  • In Nethack, eating anything when satiated carries the risk of choking to death over your food. Choking on a fortune cookie makes a particularly humiliating YASD. Just for Pun, polymorphing into a metallivorous creature and gorging on too much gold makes the cause of death "eating too rich a meal."
  • Mr. Luggs from Luigi's Mansion, he ate himself to death and continues to eat more even as a ghost.
  • Melvin Underbelly from Overlord. Not so much at first, but in the expansion, you find in trapped in an Ironic Hell where he's given food until he explodes and can't control himself to stop, only to be revived over and over again. Using Melvin as a walking time bomb is crucial to the puzzles in said abyss.
  • In the Atari 2600 game Mangia, one way to lose the game is to eat so much your stomach explodes. This is quite easy to do, what with your mother relentlessly serving more food to you.

Web Comics

  • Vexxarr personally discovered that silicon predators (who prey on absurdly invincible silicon crabs) have digestion system so aggressive that the best defense is to simply feed one a single scone - which makes them explode. Later he learned that the ancient enemy of his species Lattrox (who eagerly eat almost anything alive including each other - and even seemingly inedible hardware) can't resist the cake, despite such energetic food being lethal to them (though it takes one a lot of cake and many hours to die). They also try to eat a rock crab - which is more immediately lethal, seeing how they aren't nearly hard enough to prevent this prey from simply digging itself out.

Web Original

Western Animation

  • The Simpsons: This happens to Homer Simpson a few times during the Treehouse of Horror episodes.
    • One Treehouse of Horror episode has a pair of vampires suck on Homer's blood, but they suck up more than they can handle and die not just from having too much blood, but sucking up all the fat and bad cholesterol that Homer had.
    • Another one, however, has Homer in Hell, forced to eat all the donuts in the world as a sort of ironic punishment. Not only he eats them all, but he still wants more afterwards!
  • Futurama: This also happens to Bender in one of the Anthology of Interest episodes when Prof. Farnsworth makes him human, and one week later he finally eats himself to death.
  • A variation is also seen in one of the oldest Woody Woodpecker shorts, after he ingests a rather strong drink. Somehow it also propells him upwards like a rocket...
  • Implied in the 1951 Chuck Jones Looney Tunes Chow Hound: "THIS time, we didn't forget the gravy!"
  • Happens in one episode of Slimer And The Real Ghostbusters, when two talking animal dogs eat a bunch of Slimer's dehydrated food pills. It turned out they were very spicy and then ran to drink from a river, making them inflate very quickly until they exploded. Naturally, in the very next take, they were perfectly fine.
  • In an early Warner Bros. cartoon, a young pig explodes from voluntary overeating, but it's All Just a Dream. When he wakes up, he goes right back to massive eating.
  • On Animaniacs, Wakko still looks fine (if bulbous) after his 501st meatball, but The Grim Reaper stamps "Kaput" on his forehead and walks away with him.

Real Life

  • Real snakes have done it attempting to swallow large animals.
    • For example, the snake that swallowed an alligator and exploded (or got ripped apart from the inside out).
    • It's also possible for a snake to die by trying to eat itself. The snake will catch its tail in its mouth and not realize that that's its tail. Meaning they're literally Too Dumb to Live.
  • In Krakov, the old capital of Poland, there is a legend about a dragon who was killed that way - a cunning hero (there are several version of who it was) tricked the dragon into eating a sheep stuffed with sulfur and the heartburn caused the monster to drink from the river until it burst.
    • The Cracovian legend was presumably taken from the Biblical story of Bel and the Dragon, a part of the book of Daniel still in Catholic Bibles, though not in most Protestant ones.
    • Also the legend of Saint Margaret of Antioch has her being eaten by a dragon or a serpent, then bursting out alive from its stomach thanks to her prayers and her cross pendant.
  • Death by Gluttony is a leading cause of death in new goldfish that are lucky enough to get habitable tanks.
  • Swedish king Adolf Fredrick died of digestion problems after having consumed a huge meal, consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, topping it off with semlor (a Swedish pastry) for dessert.
  • Large dogs that scarf down huge meals, then roll over quickly during play, can cause their overloaded stomachs to twist too far, fatally obstructing blood flow to their digestive tracts.
  • Due to comparatively abundant, high calorie food that is cheap and readily available in most developed nations, health complications from gluttony is also comparatively common, but it's a slow death that saps lifespan by inches for the most part. Stomach bursting episodes happen but are thankfully rare.
  • During the Siege Of Leningrad in WWII, this was a real problem. Many undernourished people (especially children) died after being rescued, because they were allowed to eat too soon after evacuation; the technical term is "Refeeding Syndrome"
  • When concentration camps were liberated medically untrained GIs would give out rations to obviously starving prisoners only to find them dying. Medics found later that they had wolfed down to freely highly rich foods which their digestion was not ready for.