Made of Plasticine

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"There's no sense of weight to any of the gore. When a body gets mangled or hacked apart there's no sense of effort or that the flesh is resisting, or even that it hurts much. The necromorphs seem to hack off your knees by brushing past you in a narrow corridor. And do you know how hard it would be to sever a leg by stamping on it? You'd need to wear an ice skate! And even then the bone's gonna take a few whacks!"

The human body is a pretty tough little piece of biological machinery. It's made of complex organs, protected and supported by a strong skeletal structure, boasts tendons and muscles capable of exerting dynamic strength upon the objects it interacts with, and has the ability to heal and regenerate itself from damage over time. It can take a lot more punishment than most people think. While you shouldn't press your luck, it is a fact that human beings can walk away from catastrophic accidents and savage attacks with little sign of external damage and survive wounds that should have been fatal by conventional wisdom.

Writers of violent fiction sometimes forget this.

The polar opposite of Made of Iron, this trope manifests when the human body is represented as being much flimsier and more easily dismembered than it really is, or when its internal structures are depicted as a mass of bloody, spongy goo, with no sign of supporting bones or recognizable organs.

In Real Life, it requires considerable skill and force to, for example, cleanly sever a human limb with a bladed weapon. But in fiction, Heads and limbs may be instantly, cleanly severed on contact with anything resembling a bladed weapon or sharp-edged object. A bleeding wound will create a spray of so much High-Pressure Blood the victim ends up Overdrawn At the Blood Bank. Accidental contact with a pointed object leads to out-the-other-side impalement. Bones snap like twigs, flesh rips apart like wet paper, contact with fire burns a body to a charred skeleton within moments and at worst, the entire body is simply splattered by whatever force hits it like an overripe tomato.

The implied force just does not gel with the visible effect.

Vampires and zombies in any media are great examples of this. Zombies at least have the excuse of being, well, rotten, but the ease with which vampires can be staked through the heart and pristinely decapitated makes one wonder if they even have bones.

On the other hand, sometimes the physical forces at work are just too much for the human body to endure, making this one, when handled correctly, a particularly gruesome Truth in Television.

Oddly enough, this always seems to be played deadly straight with Mecha-Mooks who, if anything, should avert this trope even further. It is however, almost always averted with their bigger, deadlier counterparts Mechanical Monsters

Compare Bloodier and Gorier, which almost always involves this. Not to be confused with Claymation, a form of Stop Motion animation that commonly uses Plasticine models over a wire skeleton. Contrast Made of Iron.

Examples of Made of Plasticine include:


Anime and Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • Any adult-oriented, violent anime. Especially any anime involving Samurai, Eldritch Abominations, or The Legions of Hell. In fact, the physiology of anime humans sometimes seems to revel in adding Made of Plasticine flesh to its already gratuitous High-Pressure Blood.
    • A good example is Gantz, in which several of the gory deaths, even of main characters, involve slopping entrails that look like overly moist hamburger. In one scene, an alien kicks a character's head off without breaking the skin of his neck, instead stretching it to a good three feet longer than it should be. This ends in a grotesque boneless-giraffe effect that largely defies the laws of physics, not to mention anatomy. Maybe this trope should be titled 'Made of Rubber'.
      • Gantz winds up playing this scene repeatedly, set to Benny Hill music in The Abridged Series.
      • It's telling that one of the very first scenes of gore in that series follows this trope. Two characters are cleanly decapitated by the impact from a subway train. There isn't anything that could reasonably have caused this, they just get smacked and their heads fly off.
    • Berserk: Every single soldier in this world wears plate armor in a feeble attempt to protect themselves. It's just too bad their Armor Is Useless against a big guy with an even bigger sword, as well as the horrible demonic creatures that he regularly fights.
    • Any mook in Fist of the North Star is Made of Plasticine, and usually destined to be ripped apart by Kenshiro or one of the other Made of Iron Badasses of the series.
  • While it may feel like this trope is merrily used and abused in Gunnm/Battle Angel Alita, especially the early Scrapyard volumes, it is probably not too unrealistic a depiction of normal human physiology vs crazy enhanced cyborgs. Also justified in that the organic element most frequently targeted in cyborg combat is the remaining human brain... which is very much squishy. Especially when hitting a Motorball track at high velocity and sans the usual skull encasing Nature intended...
  • Played with in Hellsing, where military-grade firepower and superhuman vampires tear people to beautifully stylized shreds.
    • in hellsing ultimate Integra Hellsing manages to deeply stab herself in the finger with a BUTTER KNIFE! it was so deep that she was to feed Seras Victoria with all the blood that came from the wound.
  • School Days. Though it's slightly averted where Makoto's has to be stabbed over and over again in order to die, other times it shows a ridiculous 20-foot-high fountain of blood (specifically Sekai's anime death scene and the one from the game where her neck is sliced).
  • Elfen Lied fits this trope to a tee. Through the series you can see countless people being mangled, torn apart, dismembered and ripped by the Diclonius with little effort -- Justified Trope by their massively powerful psychic skills.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan employs this trope in spades.[context?]
  • When Simon defeats Lordgenome in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, he blows a round hole through his chest. There's no blood or guts or anything... just a cylindrical void where his guts should be. Which doesn't stop Lordgenome from making a long winded Final Speech without his lungs.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure you'd be hard-pressed to find a fight that doesn't involve someone getting torn apart or splattered. Even the protagonists quite frequently take beyond lethal amounts of damage (but they seem to be fine a few panels later)
  • MD Geist Throughout both movies in the series people pop like balloons if either Geist or the Death Force so much as look at them the wrong way.
  • Parodied in Ranma ½. Ryouga learns the Bakusai Tenketsu (Exploding-Point Hole, or "Breaking Point" in the localization) which he and Ranma believe can make an opponent's body burst into Ludicrous Gibs with the mere touch of a finger. After all, it does make giant, multi-ton boulders explode violently. In the end, though, Cologne reveals it's only ever used as for demolition and construction, and it doesn't work on living things.
    • It's not used directly, but it's still useful for Ryouga since the process of learning it builds your resilience to stupendous levels.
      • It's also a decent stand-in for a frag grenade, and increases Ryouga's tactical value. Pity the story doesn't allow for squad tactics more often.
  • The Tales of the Abyss anime is extremely guilty of this. Men, animals and just about anything biological burst open and fall apart like blood-filled water balloons the moment they're struck... Well, except for the main characters.
  • Subverted in one instance in Bleach, when the Big Bad slices Ichigo in half. However, Aizen was unable to cut through his spine with the blow, which is the only thing keeping Ichigo together at that point (well, that and Heroic Resolve).
  • All forms of Buu in Dragonball Z. Notable in that everyone else is pretty much Made of Iron, but even normal handgun rounds can punch holes in him. Of course, he makes up for this with ridiculous regeneration powers. This gave the animators a good chance to go wild with the kind of injuries Buu would suffer, ranging from being blasted to bits to get his head smushed into his neck, and so on.
    • Buu tends to be as durable as he wants to be, which makes sense considering that he can turn from steam to goo to solid at will. In one scene he can let bullets pass through him like he's water, and in others he can tank hits from Super Saiyajin level characters without budging a hair.
    • Don't forget that scene in Dragon Ball where Goku launches himself with a Kamehameha Wave and punches straight through King Piccolo, who then proceeds to spit an egg out of his now nonexistent stomach, make a short Final Speech without his lungs, and then explodes for no apparent reason. Goku's punch not only came within a hair of tearing King Piccolo in half, it also apparently cauterized the wound so that Goku could be clearly seen through the (blood-and-gore-less) hole.
    • As well as Vegeta in the Namek saga. Krillin blew a hole right through Vegeta to give a power boost strong enough to beat Frieza who was tearing into Piccolo at the moment. You can see through the hole and view behind Vegeta and clearly see his spine is nowhere there yet he manages to walk over to Dende for healing.
      • Then again, Vegeta and Piccolo are aliens, and for all we know, they could have a wildly different biology than what we believe they have. Namekians are plants, so they can sustain quite a bit of structural damage and easily regenerate, while Saiyans might have redundant nervous systems for all we know.
  • The titular Gundam Victory from Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. Compared to its Super Robot predecessors and even the Elite Mook variant we had from the 8thMobileSuitTeam, this series of Gundams gets more damaged and totaled in any series. A running joke seems to be 'How long will Uso go after combining to just toss a busted leg segment into the enemy?'
    • Of course, this was in part because the Victory's entire gimmick was being three-piece modular. In order to show it off, the people who made the Gundam made tons of spare parts, allowing Usso (and other pilots) to use them as giant missiles.
  • At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist Greed was reabsorbed into Father in an attempt to give him more power. However, Greed retained control of his ability to manipulate the carbon in his body and used it against Father. Ordinarily he would turn his skin into diamond, but instead he started turning Father's body into graphite which crumbled quickly.
  • In One Piece, Queen Otohime was known for having a weaker body than normal people, where a simple slap caused her hand to fracture. Despite this, she still clung to her convictions, and when she gets shot, the wound is portrayed somewhat realistically.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • Three Hundred uses this to such a degree it becomes comical. Heads fly off and bodies burst into showers of blood from the slightest contact with a spear or sword. The Persian soldiers are essentially high pressure balloons of blood.
  • In Necronomicon Henry punches straight through the chest of a Mi-Go doppelganger of Dr. Armitage, which proceeds to disintegrate 'like hummus'.
  • Y the Last Man tends to be pretty bad with this... unless you've been with the main cast for the past three issues. In which case you're Made of Iron.
  • Preacher: Even simple acts result in horrific blood loss and tiny spurts of blood. Jesse Custer produces a spurt of blood by breaking a man's finger, eyes will pop out from a kick to the chin, and bodies will explode with the slightest hit from a bullet. Oddly enough, the major characters gain many debilitating injuries over the course of the series (mainly Herr Starr) from similar activities, but don't die instantly.
  • Pretty much anyone The Authority gets their hands on. To list just a few examples, Jack Hawksmoor punches a guy's head off, Midnighter has decapitated people with his Simple Staff and ripped heads and spines out with his bare hands (Mortal Kombat style), while Swift once exploded a guy by flying through him.
  • Most of Bullseye's targets. I don't care how accurately it's thrown, a tooth wouldn't punch cleanly through a human skull and kill them instantly unless it were fired from a gun (and even then, it would probably shatter). Erasers, Popsicle sticks, his own feces! Bullseye has managed to kill people with all of these objects. Except, of course, for Daredevil, who can take a bullet to the shoulder and three shurikens lodged in his chest and shrug it off like it was nothing.
  • The absurdly gory David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust. Pretty much everyone is a blood bag in this one!
  • Garth Ennis's The Boys: The Female and the Frenchman seem very adept at punching people faces right off skulls when let loose. They are V'd up but mostly they are fighting similar power level supes. When the Female gets into a ruck with normal villains it's.....worse.
  • Sin City goes back and forth, depending on the mood of Frank Miller. Marv has splattered a man's head against a wall and Hartigan mauled the Yellow Bastard with his bare hands. Despite this, it's not uncommon for people to suffer massive injuries and continue to fight, treating it as Only a Flesh Wound.
  • DC Comics villain/anti-hero Deathstroke has a lot of this in his Flashpoint mini and post-Flashpoint ongoing title. He's particularly fond of severing the head at, or in a couple memorable cases, just above the mouth. Not only does Slade effortlessly cut through the bones, tendons, muscles, etc, in heads, necks, and abdomens as he converts his victims into collections of parts, they're rarely in evidence when you see the cut edges, and only in a handful of cases are now loose organs showed spilling out.
  • Happens a lot in Image Comics Invincible, though the beating is usually being handed out by the either the superstrong title character, or a fellow Viltrumite. Even puny looking (but still incredibly strong) Omni-Kid has punched his fist through another person's skull.

Film[edit | hide]

  • This one is extremely prevalent in the horror genre, hence the term Splatter film. See the Final Destination series for good examples of the 'accidental' variety.
    • Day of the Dead. Remember poor Captain Rhodes, for instance? And it's not like that's the only zombie film in which that kind of thing happens, either.
    • Dawn of the Dead has several scenes, particularly during the early scenes in the apartment building, where zombies bite off chunks of flesh that come off as easy as if they were made of silly putty.
    • In Return Of The Living Dead the zombies bite through skulls like the skin of an apple.
  • War films aiming to up the ante on Saving Private Ryan, which mostly did a very good job of accurately depicting the horrific effects of modern weaponry on the poor sods at its receiving end.
    • Nevertheless, Saving Private Ryan itself did have at least two occasions of soldiers disintegrating, either from an explosive or heavy machine gun fire. May be an example of Reality Is Unrealistic, however.
      • The 'heavy machine gun' was a crew served 20mm anti aircraft gun.
        • To put it into context; the US 30cal is a heavy machine gun. The 50cal (12.7mm calibre) is regarded as being borderline artillery and will shoot through walls several miles away. The 20mm Flak 38 and variants is not, tactically speaking, even close to a HMG. It was used against *light armour*. It can fire explosive tipped rounds.. There are many accounts of it being used against infantry, and hardened soldiers were shocked by what it did to those unlucky enough to get hit by it. It's alleged that 20mm crewmen were amongst those that didn't get their surrender honoured...
        • A .50 cal is not "borderline artillery." It's powerful, yes, but it's maximum effective range is still only about 1.1 miles, let alone being able to go through walls "several miles away." Even the best snipers haven't made shots with it past 1.6 miles.
  • The Punisher: While the 2004 film was comparatively understated, the newer film, War Zone plays this very, very straight. Frank at one point even punches a man through the face! Seriously, the violence plays out like a live-action version of Happy Tree Friends.
  • A mook is killed by the hero in Assault on Precinct 13 when he's bench pressed up into a hanging icicle, which impales his skull.
  • Laughably gratuitous Platoon B-ripoff, Deadly Prey has Badass Mike Danton, at one point, kill an enemy Mooks by stabbing him through the heart with a twig.
    • In fact, B-through-Z-grade movies in the action and horror genres seem to be in love with this trope.
  • Kung Pow Enter the Fist does a Lampshade Hanging on this concept. Near the beginning, the hero punches a foot-wide hole through a man—and the Narrator is so stunned that he can't talk about anything else:

Narrator: I mean, CRAP MAN. Look at that! That's, like, his stomach-plug, on the ground back there, you don't see that every day!... Tha- that doesn't really seem possible when you think about it. I mean with body organs and cartilage and stuff. I mean I'm no doctor, but that was like one clean chunk!

    • The movie itself subverts this at the end: there's a confirmed fake trailer for a sequel, which features the man who had his stomach punched out spinning the stomach plug around on a chain.
  • The martial arts movie Riki-Oh (also called The Story of Ricky) is infamous for indulging in this. Aside from a famous clip of a man smashing another man's head between his palms (used on The Daily Show during the Kilborn years), one scene shows a disemboweled man trying to strangle the hero with his intestines.
    • The original manga went even further with this, including such gruesome spots as the titular character uppercutting a man, causing his fist to go up through the bottom of his opponent's jaw, through his mouth, or another time when he cut open an absurdly large opponent's stomach with a slash of his hand. And those are only the tamer examples. There's a reason that each issue is called "Violence #" instead of Chapter #...
      • Hell, that first scene described was actually in the movie.
      • The man faces more obese bastards than Kenshiro can shake his fist at (one even helps him after displaying some sense). In fact he does something kind of similar to another of these dudes, but instead of treating his arm like a needle of sorts, he horizontally chops him in two starting with the stomach... Yeesh. On the other hand, the two OVA episodes are generally seen as less violent (the first episode merely has the first guy punched in one of the pectorals).
  • It's somewhat alarming how easily Arthur hacks apart the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. But then again, "It's Excalibur... Sort of. Well, it would have been if we had the budget."
    • Monty Python uses this trope a lot, including Mr. Creosote[2] in The Meaning of Life, the Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days sketch, and more than one instance in Flying Circus where people explode for no reason. Case in point:

Mother: Oh, she was my best friend!
Minister for Overseas Development: Mother, don't be so sentimental. Things explode every day.
Mother: Yes, I suppose so.

  • Uma Thurman certainly played out her share of this in Kill Bill. Refer to her semi-satirical "your limbs belong to me" speech after completely tearing apart the Crazy 88. In addition, Yakuza boss O-Ren Ishii calmly cuts a fellow boss's head off in one stroke for insulting her Chinese-American/Japanese heritage.
    • Though most of the main characters are supposed to have the considerable strength, skill, and damn good weapon required for bladed dismemberment.
    • That wouldn't explain the cleanness of that bare-handed eye-snatching move, though. Somebody apparently thinks that the optic nerve and six extrinsic eye muscles are made out of Kleenex.
      • They might as well be made out of tissue when you compare them to EVERY MUSCLE IN YOUR ARM.
    • This aplies to the human hearts who can be destroyed by a point-pressure technique.
  • In Shoot Em Up, the main character kills a mook with a carrot. In one of the first scenes, he puts a carrot in a bad guy's mouth and punches it through the back of his head. Extra plasticity.
  • Averted in Thirty Days of Night, where multiple messy chops are needed to sever heads.
  • Highlander may have a viable explanation. They've been training and fighting to be able to do just that for hundreds of years, and often have very exceptional weapons that they've collected or been given.
    • Even then, though, they're shown doing the decapitation with a minimum of effort on occasion, like one time when Duncan takes an Immortal's head with a rapier, and the cut couldn't have moved the blade more than six inches.
      • The movie is much better than the show at justifying this. You can clearly see Connor cut a head off and embed the sword a few inches into concrete. In the movie they are super strong owing to the fact that they've been alive for centuries training.
      • It's also implied that each quickening makes an immortal stronger.
  • In Cloverfield a woman appears to bloat up like a balloon and then explode due to some form of toxic, poisonous, or infectious bite.
    • it is implied that there was a chest burster thing growing in her chest. Hence the gunshots after the explosion.
      • Apparently the things were basically parasites that fed on the blood of the Cloverfield monster. They released a chemical that stopped clotting, but had rather.....unpleasant effects on things that were smaller than their traditional host.
      • Which would make those gunshots a Mercy Kill, possibly subverting this trope because she was still alive after rupturing, not instantly converted to Ludicrous Gibs.
  • Parodied in Top Secret, a guard falls off a building, lands on the ground on his back, and shatters like a clay statue.
  • Any Sonny Chiba grindhouse film made in the United States. One notable example: The Bodyguard, in which Chiba's character grabs a man's hand as it busts through a door, and cleanly breaks it off in two fluid snapping motions.
  • Played straight and parodied in Shaun of the Dead. Broken records can easily penetrate zombies' faces, and pool cues are viable, reusable bludgeoning weapons. However, after the zombies spend most of the film being highly ineffectual, they completely tear apart a person with their bare hands and consume him entirely, minus a severed head that gets passed into the crowd and a leg that his friend was clinging. (She proceeds to brandish the leg as a bludgeoning weapon and charges into the horde. And, according to the DVD special features, survives by climbing up a tree and munching on the leg for sustenance.
  • Played with, subverted, and lampshaded in Hot Fuzz: No one who saw it will ever forget Tim Messenger's sendoff, although from the weight and height of the murder device, the result is not too unrealistic. More often, strangely, the film tends to play this the other way- one might expect an old woman, having received a flying kick to the head, to suffer worse than a broken nose. And of course, lampshaded repeatedly (along with numerous other action film tropes) through the character of Danny: "Is it true there is a place in a man's head that if you shoot it, it will blow up?"
  • In The Happening, a man's arms are torn off by lions as if they were attached to his body by velcro. He doesn't even get pulled off his feet.
  • Famously, in the Wes Craven film Deadly Friend, one character has her head completely destroyed by a thrown basketball. No, seriously!
  • One memorable scene from The Machine Girl involves a man exploding after being hit with a shuriken barrage. One can only wonder what his blood pressure must have been like.
  • Final Destination 2, where a falling pane of glass completely liquefies one of the characters.
    • A subversion later on, where a woman is decapitated in an elevator...but it is far from a clean cut.
    • And don't forget the guy in the fourth film who gets strained through a metal grid fence, with one chunk falling out to show that he was apparently boneless (since it's a plug of solid flesh where his rib cage should have been.)
    • Or the flying tyre which causes one of our heroes head to disintegrate into Red Mist. Because apparently a broken neck and/or skull fracture aren't visceral enough for the Grim Reaper.
  • In the first Underworld movie, during the climax, Selene slices clean through Viktor's skull and brain with a sword. Viktor apparently doesn't even feel or notice it to the point that he thinks she missed. Until the top of his head slides off.
  • In Deadman, Cole Wilson smashes a fresh corpse's head into a pancake merely by stepping on it.
  • In Hancock Ray Embry has little trouble cleanly slicing off a man's hand using a fireman's axe. Not that the moment isn't played for laughs.
  • In the awful movie Pterodactyl, one of the characters is snapped up by the titular reptile in a fell swoop, leaving behind his strangely-detachable legs.
    • Pterodactyl loves this trope. Later on, a teenage girl is snatched by the shoulders...and tears in half at the waist. Apparently, the human body is simply too fragile to handle its own weight.
    • Also in Pterodactyl one of the flying reptiles decapitates a man with ITS WING. Apparently, not only are Pteranodons made of iron, they are razor sharp as well.
  • Diary of the Dead is full of this trope, having people casually impaling people several times in a row with a blunt IV stand. Also the vertical slice though a skull with seemingly no effort on character doing it. Not forgetting the elderly man that managed to shove a scythe through both his own head and that of a zombie with minimum effort.
  • Some have hung a lampshade on this, most notably in From Dusk till Dawn when Tom Savini's character talks about vampire bodies being "pushier and mooshier" than humans, despite their superior strength.
  • Total Recall.
  • Sci-Fi channel direct-to-video feature Dead Men Walking. Zombie outbreak in prison. If zombies grab you, one of two things will happen. Your limbs will be pulled off like taffy or your chest will be torn open in the same exact way as the fifty victims before you. If your death is meant to be slow, big marshmallow chunks will be taken out of your neck.
  • The Hitcher remake. It's a fair bet that if you chained someone to two different trucks, then set off in two different directions, something bad would happen. It would not, however, look like that. Averted in the original, as we simply don't see the gruesome results.
  • In Cabin Fever, a young woman is completely torn apart by an average sized Alsatian; this happens off screen and a few seconds after the attack, when the hero reaches the scene, the largest visible intact part of the girl is her bitten off foot still in it's sandal. Granted, the flesh-eating-virus premise almost Justifies this trope, but not to that extreme.
  • The Alien series. Obviously people's ribcages are pre-hinged for handy chest burster antics. Wouldn't eating through the diaphragm be easier? And how do the hosts stay alive with an almost grown chest burster inside them, anyway?
    • Briefly.
  • RoboCop. Among other things, Emil drives into a toxic waste vat, which dissolves the guy so badly that when he climbs out and is struck by a car, he falls apart into a splatter of goo like a blister pricked by a hot needle. (Fridge Logic: how was he still standing?)
  • The obscure 1981 Hong Kong cult classic Day of the Tiger and its 1989 sequel are literately made of this trope. The movie opens with a white-suited waiter exploding from being shot, once, in the chest. Over the course of the first movie, a man is thrown through another man, people are killed by fingers, decapitated by kicks to the head, a ninja explodes from being punched in the back, the protagonist bites off somebody's leg, a man is pulled through a fist sized hole in a concrete wall and a man's chest muscles are ripped completely off, as a tiny sample. And this is the first movie; the sequel had three times the budget and featured a very obese man being sliced in half and releasing several hundred pounds of guts onto the ground.
  • Turkish Star Wars takes this trope to the extreme. The protagonist doesn't have any problem karate-chopping limbs off enemies and sometimes even karate-chopping them in half. Both horizontally and vertically.
  • In the opening scene of UHF, someone pulls a gun on Weird Al Yankovic, who turns around and uses a whip to knock the man's arm off.
    • The WRONG arm, if you look closely. Al is also completely flattened by a boulder later on (obviously, it doesn't work that way) and anyone shot with a regular bullet in his Rambo dream blows to chunks.
      • Justified Trope, of course, in that these are daydream sequences (and movie parodies).
    • And in the Conan the Librarian segment, a man is sliced in half lengthwise.
  • In Feast, a baby monster no bigger than a spaniel runs past a woman, striking her on the leg in passing, and its claws shear through her shin so cleanly that neither she nor the amputated limb fall over. Moments later, it peels the skin from a man's face in a single swipe, like pulling off a band-aid.
  • Strangely enough it's Uwe Boll who takes this to its logical conclusion in Blood Rayne - any battle scene without a main character is of mooks swinging at red sponges in clothing with plastic swords.
  • The newest Rambo movie (Rambo IV) loves this. Rambo's machine gun shreds bodies to pieces and makes them explode into geysers of blood if there's a head shot. Kinda justified though, since he's using an M2 Browning, which has been used to take down snipers by chopping down the trees they're hiding in (albeit when chained with three others). Rambo ripping the throat out of a rapist with his bare hands, however, firmly qualifies.
    • The mercenary Schoolboy is another justified example, as his Barrett M82 (which also fires a .50 cal round, similar to the M2), is often employed as a anti-vehicle weapon, and probably could take out two soldiers in one shot.
  • Ninja Assassin. Sweet Jesus, Ninja Assassin
  • Undead is a comedy in the mold of Dead Alive. Best scene is when a zombie girl punches an old lady in the face, and its fist goes clear through her head! The fist emerges through the back of the old bag's skull, holding a big chunk of brain to boot.
  • Subverted in My Blue Heaven; Steve Martin's character tells the court about a Real Life mob execution procedure, where they shoot you in that opening in your skull right behind your ear with a low-caliber gun, and the bullet bounces around inside your head, "eating up your brain like Pac-Man", with no cleanup.
  • Played straight and then lampshaded in Peter Jackson's no-budget indy gorefest Bad Taste. Two characters, when trying to silence a struggling enemy, not only rip off his head but also extract his entire spine. A member of the group notes, "Gee, they come to bits easy!"
  • Dead Snow: Very present in this Norwegian zombie film.
    • At one point a zombie plunges its fingers into a man's eye sockets and pulls outward, which results in the man's head splitting in half vertically. Apparently human skulls come apart like clam shells.
    • The protagonist who apparently brushed against a broken branch—with enough force to tear through his jacket, shirt, and torso, and then sufficiently anchor in his intestines and drag about fifteen feet of it out when he kept running.
  • The Saw series—at least after the first two films. The human body is apparently nothing but flesh-colored play-dough filled with blood-bags and a skeleton of Styrofoam.
  • Predators - A predator defeats a man, who then lies face-down on the ground. The predator reaches into the guy's back, grabs his spine, and pulls, managing to rip the whole spine out, with the skull attached to the spine, as if pulling a spoon from dishwater.
    • A similar thing happens in Species, attributed to Sil's monstrous strength.
  • Hellraiser - The human body is often presented this way, especially the skin, which is treated like a garment, especially in part 3, where Pinhead plants a hook in a girl's forehead and pulls on said hook, which yanks the girl's entire skin from her body like a sheet from a mattress.
    • Pinhead's pins. In Hellraiser II, these are shown to be fairly long nails that are driven into the skull. In real life, they are, basically, half-nails glued to Doug Bradley's face, and therefore move around a lot more than nails actually would if they were sticking into the bone, creating the sensation that Pinhead's head is just a big water balloon, an elastic casing filled with goo.
  • Heartbreakingly averted in King of the Ants, in which a character is hired for an assassination, despite having no business even attempting such a thing. His heart really isn't in the task, and to make it worse, his target does not die easily.
  • Practically every victim in the Halloween series is this.
    • With particular mention to the victims who are decapitated in one clean cut, and Nora from Resurrection who loses so much blood after being stabbed, multiple characters slip on it towards the end of the film.
      • Averted in the first. It completely lacks blood and gore.
  • In The Thing, we see the team doctor trying to resurrect an unconscious team member via defibrillation. As he attempts to strike the patient's chest with the defibrillator, the patient's stomach opens up and grabs hold of the doctor's arms with a massive set of teeth, tearing his arms off. Now sure, this would probably be legitimate, alien strength and all...if the arms hadn't torn off a few inches above the teeth grip.
  • Suicide Club does this with the opening scene, but when you're running over 54 girls with a train in a low-budget movie, you can't afford to have them turn into anything but a bloody paste.
  • Played straight and averted in the Fright Night (2011 film) remake, as Evil Ed's arm gets cut off by Peter Vincent's panic room door, but Charley's axe-swing fails to decapitate him.

"Bone is a motherfucker, eh, Charley?"

  • The "Play-Doh effect" of early zombie films is probably the earliest modern example of the trope. Thanks to technological restraints, bodily dismemberment often looked fairly unrealistic, with the zombies tearing through completely healthy human bodies with ease.
  • At the beginning of Orson Welles' classic Touch of Evil, the murder whose investigation forms the basis for the plot is committed with a bomb. Afterwards, one character remarks of the victim, whose remains aren't shown, as he looks down into the camera: "Once he ran this town. Now you could strain him through a sieve."


Literature[edit | hide]

  • In The Fifth Elephant by Terry Pratchett, Vimes' internal monologue mentions that while he had seen a move used by Inigo Skimmer - a chopping motion with the edge of the hand to the base of the neck - annoy or stun men, the idea that it could remove the head was very much a new one to him. It's revealed shortly afterward that Inigo has a palm dagger, although it is very sharp.
    • Of course, it would be sharp - Mr Skimmer is an assassin.
    • Sergeant Detritus's sidearm of choice, the Piecemaker, is noted to have this sort of effect on the target. Originally it fired a single huge arrow, which was not sharp - being designed for smashing down doors, rather than doing surgery. It was modified to fire about a hundred arrows and it's useful for defusing mob situations simply by announcing that Detritus is on his way. The only safe place to be when it is loaded is directly behind Detritus.
    • Played with in Unseen Academicals, when Mr. Nutt (practically the embodiment of Awesomeness By Analysis) pauses in his tussle with a vicious football hooligan, to discuss the precise mechanical forces and tissue-resistance involved if he were to invoke Made of Plasticine and pull off the ruffian's head.
  • Averted in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. In spite of having a katana, Hiro notes that you can't just chop right through people with a single swing, like in the movies or in the virtual world of the Metaverse. He doesn't always use the proper form, but manages to survive anyway.
    • Sure you can - assuming a blade designed for heavy cutting (like the stereotypical Japanese sword) and a competent swordsman, it's largely a matter of maintaining proper edge alignment all the way through the blow. This is harder than it sounds, though, especially in a combat situation as opposed to test cutting, and takes a lot of hands-on-training to get right.
    • He also does exactly that (decapitate someone with a single swing) by accident when he actually fights in the real world for the first time. It's more of a "shouldn't" than "can't", since you don't want to risk the blade getting stuck in the middle of a fight.
  • Averted in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, where skill or an Absurdly Sharp Blade is required to decapitate a man with one swing during an execution. The royal executioner Ilyn Payne is known for doing his job well, but Robb Stark bungles his first execution and has to take several swings.
  • Pretty much anything that isn't a human falls into this in the Damned series. Humans have, compared to everything else supernatural resilience, strength, bone density, etc. Massood don't trail quite as far behind as everybody else, and a Molitar can actually come near a human in one on one combat, although seeing as they are about five hundred pounds on average that's still plasticine, just lots of it.
    • The Wais in particular fall to this. Not only would they break a bone tripping, they throw up if they see a violent movie, except for a few.
  • In American Gods Laura kills Mister World by pushing a spear through her own stomach and into his while he's standing behind her. OK, she has detachment and determination brought on by being undead, but wouldn't that be rather tricky to pull off?
    • Well, it was only a stick until it hit stomach, then the rest of the spear showed up.
      • Also, that stick was sharp enough to disembowel Shadow from ten feet away without touching him. All is plasticine in the face of divine symbols.
  • Normal humans seem oddly squishy in the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Even considering all the Ascendants, god-chosen mortals, super-strong non-human races, and mages running around. Superhuman or not, decapitating somebody with a Whip Sword just shouldn't work.
  • CS Lewis's novel about the afterlife, The Great Divorce, shows that our world is like a shadow cast by a higher reality—in other words, by Heaven—and that unprepared souls escaping from Hell find Heaven a hostile environment, because they are so insubstantial and unreal by comparison. Walking on grass, for example, feels like walking on a bed of nails, and attempting to walk against the wind is about as effective as pushing against a reinforced concrete wall.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian did this all the time.

The fighting-madness of his race was upon him, and with a red mist of unreasoning fury wavering before his blazing eyes, he cleft skulls, smashed breasts, severed limbs, ripped out entrails, and littered the deck like a shambles with a ghastly harvest of brains and blood. ("Queen of the Black Coast")

  • Subverted in The Dresden Files. When "making like Buffy the Vampire Slayer" against a group of Black Court Vampires (basically living corpses), Harry and Inari both try to stake a Black Court Vampire. They hit the ribcage and nothing happens. It takes a frozen turkey falling from the sky and some good old faith-based magic to defeat the Black Court Mooks.
  • In the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures novel The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, the mysterious Sabbath cuts one of the Doctor's hearts out. As the Doctor has a spare, he is able to survive this impromptu surgery.
  • Averted for vampires in Robin McKinley's Sunshine; going under the breastbone to reach the heart with a stake is specifically mentioned.
  • Lampshaded with Smash's bloodless dismemberment of opponents in the hypnogourd in the Xanth novel Ogre, Ogre.
  • Terry Goodkind's epic Sword of Truth series has a doozy, when the hero, Richard, pulls Drefan's spine out through the man's stomach, and then tears the spinal column into little bitty pieces. Crosses bizarrely with Made of Iron, since Drefan carries on fighting, at least for a while.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer justifies this by saying that wood pierces the flesh of a vampire like a hot knife through butter, although it never explains why. And also never explains how a plastic stake goes in just as easily.
    • There's also a tendency for any piece of wood that enters the chest of a non-Big Bad vampire to unerringly find the heart. Possibly part of the transformation to undead killing machine is that your heart grows three sizes that night.
      • This seems to be more due to fighting experience. Dawn, Willow, and even Buffy (albeit right after becoming the Slayer) have all been shown staking vampires but missing the heart.
    • Vampires explode into dust after being poked in the chest with a wooden stake (unless they're a main character), even if said stake was not hammered in but wielded single handedly by a normal person without super strength.
      • One of the best is in the episode where Willow, who at the time is barely capable of moving a pencil via telekinesis kills a vampire by flying said pencil into his back. The pencil wasn't moving with enough force to penetrate the vampire's leather jacket, let alone his flesh.
        • Willow's progression with levitation followed a progression, from being barely able to do it, through driving a pencil into a tree when she became upset during one of her practice sessions, to finally being able to drive a pencil into a vampire's heart.
          • Yeah and from there to floating Giles on the ceiling.
      • Another instance comes at the end of "Doppelgangland" when Vamp Willow crumbles to dust after being pushed into, not a stake, but the jagged edge of what looks like a broken 1-by-4 -- something that would have to be propelled with awesome force to do anything more than give the average human a nasty scrape.
    • It's pretty clear that this is related to having a name. In one scene a random vampire is killed when a small tree branch pierces is stomach (note: not near the heart) but Spike and Angel have both survived thanks to a stake or arrow missing by centimeters.
      • The worst instance however, occurs with a character who does have a name. Dawn is lying on the ground, holding a crossbow bolt pointing up while her vampire boyfriend slowly, and deliberately leans in towards her, and apparently, slowly pushing the bolt into his own chest until it pierces his heart.
        • It's not quite that egregious- we do see Dawn making an upward thrust with her arms once he's close enough, but that still doesn't account for the strength and aim necessary...
    • In one episode of Angel, he's being held in place from behind by another vampire and there's a human present who might want to kill both of them, or might just want to kill the other vampire. She stabs Angel through the chest at such an angle that she hits the other vampire's heart, but not his. She only found out about the existence of vampires the day before, so it's not like her vast Slayer experience was helping her there.
      • I was watching the whole of season 3 today, and came to the conclusion that it's not the heart that needs to be pierced, just the core, i.e., the torso. Either being an important good guy gives you a certain resistance to this, or there's some kind of need for intent.
        • Or else it's just Bellisario's Maxim. It's a story, there's some artistic license involved. If we can suspend disbelief enough to watch a show about a high school vampire slayer, then staking details shouldn't be the catching point at which said suspension is broken.
  • Unsurprisingly exhibited by Claire in Heroes—her ability to regenerate is quite handy considering her uncanny ability to die at a moment's notice. Being knocked down causes her to break her neck where a normal person would just hit their head, a normally quite safe garbage disposal tears her hands to shreds and even stray branches pose a mortal threat. Sheer masochism is the only explanation for the number of times she intentionally hurts herself, or doesn't ever seem to bother trying not to get hurt [3] but it doesn't change the fact that you can't cut a toe off with scissors, that getting bumped into tends not to result in broken necks, and if you're pushed against a metal rod, you bruise; it doesn't go through you with less resistance than a toothpick through a meatball.
    • Forget "break her neck" - her head is knocked around 180°.
    • In fact, Insinkerator filed a lawsuit against the producers of Heroes after the pilot aired, because their trademark was clearly visible in the scene where Claire mangles her hand, and they considered the ease of her self-mutilation to be defamatory.
    • The fact that her immune system suffers complete failure when her powers are gone seems to imply she really is made of plasticine.
    • Not to mention that Sylar manages to accidentally impale his mother with scissors a little too easily.
    • That glass shard seemed to slide through Peter's skull like butter, though Sylar was accelerating the shards with telekinesis. Given that Sylar can focus his telekinesis into an invisible scalpel-like force on its own, he has at least an excuse.
      • Unfortunately said excuse does not apply to Claire--a 5'1 teenager--fatally puncturing Sylar's skull by stabbing him with a shard of glass she was holding in her hand.
  • Smallville characters are curiously susceptible to impalement: getting knocked into - or sometimes, accidentally stepping into - any object that's longer than it is wide will result in said object being pierced straight through the body, resulting in death within seconds (just long enough for you to look down at the object and think Oh Crap.)
  • Played straight in Greys Anatomy of all places. There is an episode that features a home grown 'explosive expert' who ends up with an RPG stuck in his lung. When it finally detonates at the end of the episode, 3 people are instantly turned into pink mist.
    • Not too unrealistic. Try Googling Pink Mist.
  • Used to great comic effect by Monty Python's Flying Circus.
  • Presented almost literally in the Torchwood: Miracle Day episode "Rendition" when Rex Matheson snaps the neck of an enemy agent, and she is later seen (still alive due to the plotline of the story) walking with her head spun 180 degrees on her body.
  • Rome, especially in the arena. Ever seen a man decapitated with a shield?
  • It seems most people in The Vampire Diaries are this because it doesn't take a lot of force to rip someone's heart out of their chest.
  • Dead Like Me features a lot of death via accident that falls under the Made Of Plasticine category. For instance, a man who was killed by a high heel shoe impaling him through the forehead.
  • The walkers in The Walking Dead are all made of a putty-like compound that enables people to batter them to pieces and stab through their skulls with awkward thrusts.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand has this in spades. In fact, the only ones who don't seem to be made of plasticine are the gladiators themselves.
    • Brutally averted twice:
      • Season 1 had the death of Theokles, who's neck was so thick, it took Spartacus four swings to fully decapitate him.
      • The most recent season saw the decapitation of Ashur by Naevia after three hard swings. Granted, the females are not as strong as the gladiators, and Crixus offers to teach her how to "remove a man's head in one swing".


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • Does Imperial Guardsmen qualify?
  • Many house-rules attempts to add detailed critical hits and misses to pre-3E Dungeons and Dragons resulted in tables of injuries that made characters' bodies seem roughly as fragile as their character sheets.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Very common in video games, especially American games in the early 90s. (see Ludicrous Gibs)
    • The Mortal Kombat games are very fond of doing gruesome things to defeated fighters when it comes time to "FINISH HIM!"—ripping someone's head off and taking his spine with it, punching right into someone's chest and ripping out his heart, ripping someone's arms right out of their sockets, ripping someone in half, and even pulling someone's skeleton right out of his body! Some moves will cause as many as a half dozen ribcages to fly out of the victim. And that's not even going into the weird weapons and powers that many Mortal Kombat fighters employ.
    • The Doom series has this in spades -- toxic barrels, rockets, the BFG and even your fists (with the berserk pack) can splatter most enemies into a pile of giblets. CHUNKY!
    • Smash TV was even more ridiculous. Most of your weapons (e.g. the triple shot) would chunkify most of the Mooks. And at the same time, your hero is a super-wuss - just touching some of the enemies will chunkify him.
    • Duke Nukem 3D (and probably his other appearances). Out of nine guns, three of them actually leave a corpse behind; there's four explosives that will gib enemies, a shrink ray that lets you step on them, and after freezing someone with the freeze ray you have to kick or shoot them to make their entire body shatter (and if you don't do that fast enough they will come unfrozen still intact). Not to mention explosive level elements, and the fact that if someone gets crushed by a piston instead of a body they will leave a sticky, stretchy string of miscellaneous gore attached to it as it continues going up and down. To top it off, if you played on the hardest difficulty any enemy who did leave a corpse would respawn, so you were strongly encouraged to gib as many as possible.
    • Tenchu: Wrath of Heaven features the doctor character Tesshu. While other characters use bladed weapons for their stealth kills, Tesshu uses only his fists, so how is he going to kill someone quietly? Well, by either jamming both hands into their back, pushing his whole fist into the bottom of their spine, breaking both arms and then their neck while watching them stagger, or even the truly ridiculous plunging his hand into their chest and pulling out their heart, then squishing it. About the only thing he does that is even conceivable is jab a needle into their neck and hitting vital nerves.
      • Though, to be fair to Tesshu, when he's doing the "double arm-break and neck-snap" kill, he's clearly using leverage and pressure to achieve the breaks, like how you do it in real life. His being a doctor helps, too.
    • Unreal Tournament. Especially Unreal Tournament 2004 with the Ballistic Weapons mod, or Unreal Tournament III...the flak cannon and impact hammer in particular. Splorch.
      • Although, strangely enough, in 2004, the abdomen is completely indestructible. I assume this had something to do with engine limitations of the time, but it is quite hilarious to see the remains of a player blown to bits with a rocket launcher: an unharmed, fully armored crotch lying in a pile of bloodied gibs.
    • In Resident Evil 4, Los Ganados and other hosts of Las Plagas alternate between this and being Made of Iron. Sure, those first three shotgun blasts in the chest were just annoying, but that last fan-kick decapitated two of them at once!
      • How realistic the wounds are depends on the type of enemy. Most villagers have fairly realistic wounds except for a head shot, which invariably rips their entire head off. Chainsaw villagers can get up and keep going at you after three or four shotgun blasts in the head. Kicks do way more damage then they really should, and knife hits way less.
  • The so bad it's good Fist of the North Star NES game. All of it. In one punch enemies will pulse strangely and then explode into blue fragments that fly across the screen. Why blue? Nobody knows.
    • Debatable if this is an example. Making people explode with punches is explicitly Ken's power.
  • Applies in some Drakengard cutscenes. Also applies to any armor.
  • Lampshaded in Urban Chaos: Riot Response for PS2, Xbox, and PC. When you get a head shot on a gang member (which you will, as there is a bonus for doing so) the hapless target's head bursts like an overripe melon; other gang members in the area will proceed to yell out something along the lines of "HOLY SHIT, HE JUST BLEW THAT GUY'S HEAD OFF!"
  • The once-shareware fighting game Toribash makes dismemberment very easy. Incredibly, fighters can still exert control over their severed limbs.
    • This opens up endless possibilities for attacks, including tossing your own arm at the opponent, making it grab onto him and bash him repeatedly. Half the fun of the game is figuring out new ways to dismember the opponent (or even yourself, if you're that bored).
  • Oddly Subverted in Space Siege. A main character get pushed off a railing (Read thrown back by alien punch) lands on a transit car eight feet down then lands on the station another seven feet down. He's not dead by he is really bad shape. The alien dies a gruesome death from the player character's rage.
  • As the title implies, Splatterhouse. Check out the image on its page for a good example.
  • The squad level strategy game Jagged Alliance 2 for PC, features special death animation for certain forms of killing an opponent. Killing an enemy with certain ammo (for example assault rifle ammo like 7.62 or 5.56), by firing at an unprotected heads, will sometimes cause said one to explode. Also firing in rapid succession (burst) at an enemy's unprotected chest will sometimes cause the follow up bullets to burst through his/her chest with the person dramatically flying backwards. Also using explosives like certain grenades or bombs will blow the bodies up with only blood remaining. Heavy explosives can also reduce enemies to ash. This is all commented by the players characters as not very nice. Luckily the game has only pixel animation graphics.
  • I Wanna Be the Guy of course. The Kid explodes into Ludicrous Gibs when touched once by an enemy... or nearly anything else, for that matter.
  • In Fallout 3 it's possible to cause limbs and heads to come off in a shower of gore with any weapons, including your character's bare hands. Not to mention taking the "bloody mess" perk has a chance of causing anyone the player kills to explode into Ludicrous Gibs. The first 2 Fallout games have more reasonable subdued weapone effects, unless you're using a powerful weapon, in which case you can do things like cutting people cleanly in half with just a short burst from your chaingun. If you take the aforementioned "bloody mess" perk, you'll be able to vaporize half a person's body with a pistol.
  • The poor bastard in Dead Space is a prime example; so bad that it actually created a montage!
    • As noted by Yahtzee, Dead Space 2 also invokes this with the first death (NSFW); the player is give an up-close view of a man transforming into a necromorph, wherein appendages push out of his shoulders without difficulty, before most of his face easily crumbles away like pastry.
  • In Left 4 Dead, the players are assaulted by hordes of zombies, who have a tendency to gib rather spectacularly when hit at close range with, say, an auto fire shotgun.
    • The sequel takes this trope and turns it Up to Eleven, as can be seen here. Partially subverted in that the skeleton and most organs are clearly visible through the gore, which just adds to the effect.
  • In the short freeware side scroller Bert the Barbarian your enemies are quite literally made of plasticine, AND fall under this trope.
  • The arcade game Who Dunit stars Max, a character who is instantly skeletonized after being killed by anything, including dog bites, falling books, flying pimp hats, and even a beach ball.
  • MadWorld. Even if you don't use the default Chainsaw Good, you can still dismember your opponents with your bare hands. Like Mortal Kombat, you can rip out a man's beating heart, then crush it in your fist. Or hold him up against a moving train and watch his limbs fly off from the friction. Or hit the skulls off of zombies with a golf club...
  • In the Lego video games, death causes characters to fall to pieces, and Chewbacca rips arms out easily. Justified, obviously, in that they're made of plastic.
  • In Starcraft, most flesh & blood units practically explode on death, even if they were killed by toxic gas (i.e. Irradiate from a Science Vessel).
  • In Dead Rising freelance photojournalist Frank West can kill zombies in all sorts of hilarious dismembering ways, including with his bare hands. Heads can be kicked off, intestines ripped out, faces pulped, etc. If anything, the sequel ups the ante.
  • God of War tends to do this—at least in the cut scenes.
  • Team Fortress 2 was originally going to take this literally, with all of the mercenaries replaced by claymation models of themselves. It's slightly more realistic now, but still full of Ludicrous Gibs.
    • The Halloween 2011 update added a badge that, when worn, causes players to explode violently (with a flashy, loud explosion) when they die, regardless of the cause of death.
  • In Harvester, so much as getting hit on the head with a baseball bat will make a character's organs explode out of them.
  • Prototype. Your claws have no trouble shredding an armored soldier in one swipe, and your extend-o-tentacle can sweep round a big circle that instantly separates the upper and lower torsos of every enemy within a certain radius.
    • And then there's the muscle mass ability, which can dissolve regular mooks with a simple punch
      • And one of the muscle mass consume animations, in which Alex simply pulls someone in half, right down the middle.
    • Partly justified when Mercer uses an Absurdly Sharp Blade and enough strength to hurl a tank against a normal person. Less so when an ordinary assault rifle cuts someone in half, a grenade liquefies them, and being hit by a car leads to their organs spread across the hood and windshield...
  • In The Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall, Townie NPCs would explode in a shower of blood should you attack them. Even if it was only a measly punch.
  • Dragon Age Origins was pretty intense on the blood and guts, but Dragon Age II takes it to ridiculous levels; when you dismember somebody, they freaking explode into body parts and gallons of blood, even if it was only a hit by a small dagger.
  • Enemies in Baldurs Gate are blown to pieces if enough damage is done to them all at once. Since the damage can come from anything from swords to daggers to bows, this can make sense in some cases—such as when a high-powered magical attack causes this—and in some cases it's ridiculous—such as when a few arrows hit one creature at the same time and it explodes.
  • One thing that makes Happy Wheels so challenging (besides the chaotic levels) is the fact that the smallest wipeout from a bike, wheelchair, or Segway can cause your character to lose limbs, break their neck, or sometimes explode into a bloody mess of gibs.
  • Bryce, the protagonist of Never Dead is easily dismembered by any particularly strong hit. Good thing that he's an immortal who can pick himself up back together just by rolling over body parts or regrow them at will.
  • A lot of physics-based games have frail enemies so it wouldn't be overly difficult to crush the enemies and objects. Examples include Gish and Crush the Castle.
  • The Gears of War games have this with execution moves. While it's reasonable to have explosions or a heavy machinegun blow people apart, anyone is able to reduce an enemy's head to paste with a single stomp, even when they're wearing a helmet.
    • Unless the One Shot fires high-explosive shells, there's no reason why an oversized sniper rifle would instantly turn someone's entire upper body into a shower of red mist.


Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Penny Arcade. In one strip from 2003, Gabe, in a murderous rage, shoves a book in Tycho's mouth, then punches the book clean through his head, effectively decapitating him.
  • Sluggy Freelance uses this trope from time to time, most notably in the horror movie themed story arcs "KITTEN" and "KITTEN II," which can pretty much be summarized as "demonic kittens tear people apart like wet tissue paper." Such moments are usually marked by the idiosyncratic sound effect "Glitch!"
  • In The Adventures of Dr. McNinja clones made using the old process end up like. An early clone of Benjamin Franklin died by biting down too hard on a sandwich. Which severed his head at the jaw.
  • Eight Bit Theater generally averts this in favor of Made of Iron, but as the page quote indicates, sometimes the mooks play this straight.

Fighter: I tried to show the dragon my new trick, but he exploded.
Thief: Bodies explode every day, Fighter. That's just science fact.
Black Mage: Now run along and show your trick to the dozen dragons upstairs.

  • In the Christian Humber Reloaded webcomic, when Vash "use(s) the walls of the arena to his advantage" against his dog fighting ring opponent, which in the comic involves throwing the dog at the wall head first, the dog's head splatters into blood on impact. Most of the other fight scenes involve similar brutality.
  • "I HAVEN'T EVENTAKEN OUT MY SWORD YET!!"


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • In one downright absurd scene in Survival of the Fittest, a fully grown man (wearing body armour, mark you) is cut in half at the waist (whilst standing) by an injured and likely exhausted teenager. One handler was heard to remark 'What was that guy using - a lightsaber?'
  • The Whateley Universe uses this whenever death is allowed, and occasionally with regenerators. The syndicate troops at halloween are, despite high tech armor and supposedly top-notch training and physical condition, torn apart even by the students without combat superpowers. The "Voodoo-Wolves" take this a step further; despite supposedly being some of the most dangerous creatures in existence, normal attacks frequently tear apart 3+ at a time, and one was beheaded by an open handed blow from someone equivalent to a highly trained baseline. Apparently the first thing that happens when a were turns evil is all their bones disappearing, followed by the skin and muscle being replaced by gelatin.
    • Though in the favor of the Voodoo-Wolves, the threat is mainly from infection and numbers. Also, even the weakest members of Whateley Academy tend to be dangerous to non-supers, and the soldiers were holding back originally. When Olympic level feats and BFG's are standard, it's not too surprising.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • In Metalocalypse, most people who cross paths with Dethklok get mangled in horrifyingly unlikely ways.
  • Eric the drone was killed off during The Movie of Kim Possible by a bite from a regular rodent, in his leg.
    • Eric the drone was literally a sack of goo. Considering all the things Rufus was able to chew through in regular instances, biting a hole through a synthodrone casing is nothing.
      • And given that Rufus is a Naked Mole Rat, who can easily chew through concrete and steel, it actually doesn't seem all that strange.
      • If he could be destroyed that easily, why did Drakken ever have him doing any physical activity if he could be killed by one cut?
  • The unfortunate inmates of Superjail are constantly being stomped, shredded, shattered and squished in almost every way imaginable - but hey, the second season will probably cover the rest. Once Per Episode, some plot-powered force causes a rampage of destruction that always results in a torrent of convict goo.
  • In Happy Tree Friends even the slightest injury will leave a character seriously wounded or dead. Some examples include when Cuddles hits a rock on his skateboard and lands on the stairs, splitting him into three pieces; when a pane of glass breaks over Cuddles' head he splits into five pieces like an orange; and when Shifty is dissected by Flippy with... a christmas tree cookie!
    • This is justified by the simple fact that the show wouldn't be funny without it.
  • South Park. Most injuries end up with exploding heads, with bits of person flying everywhere.
  • Robot Chicken. See South Park above. Also, the animation style makes blood look like thick slime, which makes it even worse.
  • If you're on the wrong side of Brock Samson when he's in a mood to kill people, you will be Made of Plasticine. Notably, he decapitated somebody with a dead shark's open mouth.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch, both figuratively and literally.
  • In Samurai Jack, even with robots, the mooks end up getting slashed open, smashed, and punched with ease, whereupon they explode. Even with seemingly mundane arrows or javelins.
  • The Mooks from Korgoth of Barbaria: one of them was skinned alive when Korgoth grabbed his ponytail and yanked on it.
  • While not the most realistic series, in The Simpsons a falling silver dollar gets lodged in Lenny's forehead and causes blood to spurt out.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • It is, in fact, possible to tear apart a human being like plasticine. Some ways human bodies can be gibbed include:
    • Explosive decompression. To actually make a person explode requires a far more rapid and extreme change of pressure than simple exposure to a vacuum and/or space, at least if the initial pressure is one atmosphere or less, and astronauts typically underpressurize their environment as low as 0.3 atmospheres to conserve oxygen and working mass. Situations that can cause explosive decompression are far more common in deep sea operations, where the atmosphere must be pressurized to counter the pressure of the surrounding water, as even the thickest steel plate has limits on how much water pressure it can resist without a balancing force from air pressure in the submersible. Humans can withstand an astonishingly high atmospheric pressure, upward of 30 atmospheres with the right mixture of gases, but only as long as they are gradually introduced to it, and removed from it even more slowly. A sudden pressure drop of more than an atmosphere can kill a healthy person with decompression sickness; a rapid drop from a significantly higher pressure can actually make a person acclimated to the higher pressure explode. One particularly tragic incident exposed four people to a pressure drop of eight atmospheres in less than a second, causing their bodies to literally explode with enough force to cause a body part to be found 10 meters (30 ft) directly above the chambers. The massive pressure drop also killed a fifth person outside the chamber and severely injured a sixth.
    • Motor vehicle accidents. It may be difficult to think of the family car or even humble scooter as being powerful enough to cause more damage than a fall down a flight of stairs, but a cursory examination of the physics involved paint a very different picture. A 150 pound scooter moving at over 20 mph has more than enough momentum to rend a person limb from limb, though due to a number of design features actually running over a person is very unlikely to cause such violence even in higher mass/velocity collisions unless the person is properly (or unluckily) positioned. It still does happen often enough for pictures of traffic fatalities to keep the internet Gorno sites in business.
    • Low-Order Explosives.These typically have to be detonated very close to a human body to actually tear it apart... as in "strapped to the skin, if not implanted internally." Merely exploding at a person's feet will seldom do more than send their dead but mostly intact body flying through the air.
    • High-Order Explosives. Unlike low order explosives, such as gun powder or fertilizer based explosives, a high order explosion will generate supersonic blast fronts upwards of four million pounds of overpressure a dozen or so feet away from the detonation. Not even accounting for secondary, tertiary, or quaternary blast injuries, standing next to a high-order detonation will cause what can only be described as homogenization.
    • Lotsa dakka. Caliber, mass, and velocity, beyond the amount needed to pierce the flesh, take a back seat to number of projectiles, due to heavier and higher velocity projectiles tending to over-penetrate and transfer less of their momentum to the target. Even low-penetration rounds have limits on the amount of force they can transfer before they simply start exiting the other side of the body. Multiple projectiles, either from a gun with a high rate of fire or from several projectiles in a single shot (buckshot, for example), are needed to not just kill but mutilate the average human body.
      • Note that substances "many times stronger than human flesh" are usually also many times more brittle when their stress tolerance is exceeded. An anti-tank round that could blow a tank to pieces with a single shot will often have disappointing results when fired at targets that aren't made of high carbon steel. Most commonly, the projectile simply tears straight through the target, causing a cloud of Pink Mist and a life-threatening (if not mortal) wound, but leaving the body mostly intact.
    • A heavy, sharp wedge of some kind, and the patience and practice to wield it appropriately. Higher weight reduces the need for sharpness, but the wielder needs to be able to apply at least 25,000 psi of pressure to cut through a human body, and exponentially more if the target is trying to lessen the force of the blow in any way, or not pressed against a hard surface. Much easier to arrange if the target is already incapacitated or dead, but nowhere near as cool.
      • Although this sounds like a great deal of pressure, it should be remembered that most reasonably sharp blades have a contact edge of significantly less than one square inch in area, thus multiplying the effective pressure caused by the mass of the blade and force of the swing, often by a factor of 1000 or more. Given a quality sword which is kept reasonably sharp, nearly anyone can sever a hand at the wrist, and a trained practitioner (or even just an enthusiastic hobbyist) can take off a head or an arm at the shoulder. This is why real swords, rather than stainless steel wallhangers, usually come with warnings!
      • Also, given the chaotic nature of any melee combat whose participants are trying to survive, either by escaping or by emerging victorious, it can be surprisingly common for an (un)lucky sword strike to cut someone apart. If a weak joint in a suit of armor is hit at the right angle, the mass of the armor inadvertently acts as a chopping block for the blade to cut against. Even without armor, any attempt to evade a sword swing can instead end up throwing part or all of one's body directly against the moving blade, with gory results. Nearly all intermediate and advanced sword fighting techniques center around tricking or forcing opponents to assist in their own demises in this fashion, though actually cleaving them apart is inefficient enough that, even factoring in the time savings of not having to pull the blade free, it's usually considered poor form.
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as brittle bone disease, can cause your bones to shatter at even the slightest impact.
  • When a skin abscess ruptures, it will look to bystanders like the individual was just lightly touched and then simply popped like the world's most disgusting water balloon. In areas with modern medical care, these types of wounds are more common to see on animals than humans. But when finally brought in for treatment, even a slight touch during the exam may cause the skin to slough off, releasing a tide of pus, blood, lymph, and sometimes even insect larvae. Usually it all cascades downward rather than exploding outward, but if its a particularly large abscess, the sheer volume may result in the medical practitioner and bystanders being splattered. Depending on the size, it may also leave a very large hole behind in the underlying flesh.
  • An aversion, demonstrating the toughness of the human skull: a 1970s broadcast of testimony from a mob trial described a man who ran away, despite having just been shot several times in the head from point-blank range.
  • Though still being worked on, the premise behind the Active Denial System uses microwaves to heat the first .03 inch of skin to cause a sensation of burning. Now anyone of you I'm sure has put an egg into a microwave. If they can amplify the power...? Do the math.
  • There are congential disorders that make the skin very rubbery and fragile. If you have something like this and osteogenesis imperfecta (see above), you will have the physical properties of many of the fictional examples above... assuming you survive puberty.

Notes

  1. That's, like, his stomach plug on the ground back there. You don't see that every day.
  2. who, in a partial exception, has visible ribs and other internal bits after he bursts
  3. That's not tongue-in-cheek. She does feel pain, and angsted about it when that changed because she 'no longer felt human.' Self-harm and masochism are nothing new to the real world. But if you have a Jack Harkness-class Healing Factor, it takes breaking the Chunky Salsa Rule for it to be any good, perhaps.