To the Pain

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"'To the pain' means that the first thing you lose will be your feet below the ankles. Then your hands at the wrists, next your nose... The next thing you lose will be your left eye, followed by your right... Your ears you keep, and I'll tell you why: so that every shriek of every child at seeing your hideousness will be yours to cherish; every babe that weeps at your approach; every woman who cries out, 'Dear God! What is that thing?' will echo in your perfect ears. That is what 'to the pain' means; it means I leave you in anguish, wallowing in freakish misery, forever."

Westley, The Princess Bride

Torture. It can be slow, it can be quick, but it is always painful. Worse than the pain of a stubbed toe ("And I only cried for 20 minutes"), torture is an excruciating agony, much like that of how sex would feel to a Yugopotamian. This torture of which we speak is also much more painful than the fact that the past two references were based on Nickelodeon shows and, like all dastardly plans, goes so much better with a little gloating.

Don't just cut the victim, tell them about it, describe every last detail to make them squirm. You can describe things that you couldn't show on TV and any villain who would do this you know is either irredeemably evil, totally insane, or both.

Alternately, the Evil Overlord can describe to the hero just what his Death Trap does: "Every time you drop a bead of sweat on the plate below you, you will be lowered an inch towards the pit. Inside the pit is a ravenous pack of razor-toothed flying lemurs with lasers on their heads who have been trained to kill anyone with your particular blood type. You stand no chance of surviving this grisly fate, as I have just turned up the thermostat."

Much like Unspoken Plan Guarantee, though, the hero almost always escapes the described fate.

When, however, he doesn't, count on Scars Are Forever.

A third variation is to have the clever assassin who has poisoned her mark describe in every small detail exactly how the poison works, while she sits calmly in her chair watching the victim squirm. This is occasionally subverted when the assassin has not, in fact, poisoned the victim at all, but the description is so vivid that the victim either passes out or dies of fright. Fortunately for the victim, the assassin is often Carrying the Antidote.

The fourth and final variation is common in kung fu stories. Hitting someone in a specific way in a specific pressure point on his body can have any number of effects on his body, ranging from beneficial to outright fatal (though the latter is usually reserved for villains or particularly vengeful martial artists). Once the martial artist performs the technique, he will then explain, in exacting detail, what the technique does to the character in question before leaving the character to his fate. Particularly common among Old Masters.

See Also Calling Your Attacks, Just Between You and Me, Too Kinky to Torture, Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon. Very popular among characters who practice Revenge by Proxy, especially those who find Forced to Watch a bit too impractical to pull off.

Examples of To the Pain include:

Torture Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Kenshiro in Fist of the North Star tends to describe the painful fates that await his opponents after hitting a fatal pressure point somewhere. He doesn't tend to drag it out too much, though. There was one infamous reversal where his opponent performed Kenshiro's signature move on Kenshiro himself, only to fall victim to it exactly ten seconds after he finished describing it—effectively inadvertently performing this trope on himself.
  • In Mahou Sensei Negima, Haruna eventually finds out about magic during the school fighting tournament. Not only this, she finds out that her friends in the Library Research Club, Yue, Nodoka and Konoka, have known all along and never told her (due to her incredible rumor-spreading abilities). Haruna decides to explain exactly how she thinks they should be tortured for not telling her, not just by telling them what she'll do, but by sketching said torture into manga. No, really. Judging by that that image, they should be tied upside-down and whipped on the vagina. Still, knowing Haruna, she's probably posted Doujinshi of that online already. There's certainly a market for it.
  • Tsukihime loves this, as the quote wiki shows. Arc directs the quote at Shiki, after he rejects her and slices her almost to death. Again. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • In Black Lagoon, a neo-Nazi general tries to do this to Revy, but while all of this is going on, she just nonchalantly reloads her gun and shoots him point-blank and mid-sentence.

Revy: Now it's my turn to talk. Here's some advice: if you can hit your target, pretty much any gun will do the trick. Now that's one to grow on. Say hi to the Fuehrer for me. [BLAM!]

  • Fullmetal Alchemist (Brotherhood and manga only): Mustang vs. Envy. Mustang starts by incinerating Envy's tongue, and then his eyes.

Mustang: Stand up, monster! Go on and regenerate yourself! You'll suffer a thousand deaths before I'm done!


  • In The Invisibles, Lord Miles reads to a captured King Mob from Physical Interrogation Techniques by Richard Krousher—a genuine Real Life book—which recommends all kinds of horrible things.
  • Chuck Dixon (who also wrote the Punisher example below) had a scene in Black Terror from Eclipse Comics. The Black Terror injects an underling with Novocaine and tells him that this will dull the chainsaw torture. In fact, the Black Terror just rubs an electric toothbrush on his back while turning on a chainsaw.
  • The Crime Doctor loved doing this in the original Villains United miniseries.

Crime Doctor: Sometimes the victim screams so much the corners of her mouth tear open. It makes a little popping noise.

  • Secret Six villains in general have a tendency to do this. Such as Junior's infamous hammock. Would probably be Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon if not for the fact that she tears someone's head off and puts it back on upside down while saying it. (Hey, she was interrupting Junior's phone call.)
  • In the 2011's Journey Into Mystery Thor comic, Loki tells a scout from the Serpent that the scout should give Loki and Tyr the information they need, becuase then they'll kill him quickly instead of torturing him. Loki goes into a few vague details mostly involving how "evil and cruel" his pre-reincantion-as-a-child self was known to be, and the scout caves, gives them the info, and Tyr kills him. Tyr then angrily informs Loki that he would never have torutred the scot, since he "has no love of torture" leading to this little gem of subversion:

Loki: And I have no knowledge of it! If he had called my bluff, I would have just hoped he was ticklish!

  • In Concrete: Killer Smile, our hero's assistant and friend is kidnapped and held at gunpoint by a spree killer. In the final showdown in a junkyard, Concrete reveals himself and lets the jerk know what he's up against:

Concrete: Now listen to me carefully. This is an important moment in your life. I'm not a cop. I don't care about rules. Larry there is my best friend in the world. If you harm him, what I do to you will be far worse than dying. First I will twist off your lower legs. Just like you'd twist off a turkey drumstick. Then I'll apply tourniquets so you won't die. Then I'll remove your forearms. Two more tourniquets. Then I will scoop out your eyes with a finger. Then your tongue, and your teeth. They'll have to feed you like a baby. They'll wipe your other end if they notice your diaper is full, or you'll just sit in it. YOU WON'T EVEN BE ABLE TO KILL YOURSELF. ...I'd be out in a few years. YOU,'ll be a blind, fat doormat for another forty, fifty. Be smart. Put it down.

Fan Works

  • Ponies Make War: It's a subtle example, but Discord's threat to Titan during their confrontation qualifies:

"I'm going to make you feel, old friend. I'm going to make you feel everything."


  • For the Trope Namer, see The Princess Bride in Literature below.
  • Subverted in 2004's The Punisher movie. Frank Castle interrogates low-level mob gofer Mickey Duka by making a show of turning on an oxy-acetylene torch and going behind the mook to burn his back, explaining to him that "You won't feel the pain at first, you'll just feel... Cold." He pretends to start burning off his skin as he asks questions, all the while he's just pointing the torch at a raw steak and touching his victim's skin with a popsicle to simulate being burned. Mickey talks. This scene was taken verbatim from the Punisher Warzone comic storyline where Castle infiltrates the Carbone crime family. Using this Mind Screw is described in the SM-How-to book "Screw the Roses, Send me the Thorns" as a safe way to simulate a branding scene.
  • Captain Vidal's speech from Pan's Labyrinth oddly combines this trope with Take Our Word for It, as he only shows the torture implements, and gives us almost no clue what he's going to do with them. In accordance with the Unspoken Plan Guarantee, the victim does not escape. At least, the first victim doesn't.
  • In Scorpio, Cross (played by Burt Lancaster) catches an assassin sent to kill him, and informs him that he's giving him the "Forget the mortgage pill" and several other euphemisms for a cyanide capsule, ending with "kiss your life goodbye, you've got 30 seconds to live" before forcing it down the guy's throat, and he leaves the man, terrified, on the floor of a bus station mens' room. Later we find out it was actually a cold pill, but the man had been driven insane from the terror.
  • In an odd reversal, Commando has Arnold Schwarzenegger's action hero character tell the sadistic Big Bad just how much slower and more satisfying it would be if the Big Bad didn't shoot Arnold where he stood and they settled matters with a knife fight instead....
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Khan traps our heroes in a space station cave inside a dead asteroid and disables their ability to beam out. He then gloats about how he's done far worse than kill him. "I've hurt you, and I intend to go on hurting you." It culminates in infamy.
  • Troy. Achilles interrupts Hector's attempt to make an honorable pact and assure that the loser of their duel will have their body treated respectfully and all the funeral rituals performed with this:

Achilles: You won't have eyes tonight. You won't have ears or a tongue. You will wander the underworld blind, deaf and dumb, and all the dead will know; this is Hector. The fool who thought he killed Achilles.

Jabba: In its belly you will find a new definition of pain and suffering as you are slowly digested over a thousand years.

Mr. Blonde: It's amusing to me, to torture a cop.

  • In Taken, Liam Neeson's character stabs a baddie in the legs with a pair of metal needles and hooks him up to the frayed wires of a light switch. He then explains how in other countries, this method he's about to employ isn't always successful because of the lack of reliable current, but here that's not a problem and he could theoretically leave it on until the electricity is cut by the power station by lack of payment. Should have given the daughter back...
  • The Shawshank Redemption has a very interesting variation of this trope.

Warden Norton: .. Or am I being obtuse?

  • Played for laughs in Monty Python and the Holy Grail , with the minstrels describing all the things that Sir Robin does not fear.
    • Later in the film it's given a hilarious inversion when Sir Galahad is told that a sister at a local abby has wronged him. In order to make her pay, he must spank her. Then spank her sister. Then spank every nun in the entire abby. Then the oral sex....
    • This is too perillous!
  • Law Abiding Citizen: The death of Darby, as Clyde has built himself a complete Torture Technician setup. Perfectly true to the script, he indeed starts with the right ankle.
  • extending a hardware store razor knife* "This is for your penis. But we'll get to that later. The scalpel. For your eyelids, if you insist on fucking shutting them...OH! And I made this specially for you... *lowers a mirrored ceiling*


  • In The Princess Bride, Count Rugen doesn't merely stop at explaining the workings of his agonizing torture device to the hero, but tries to draw out some scholarly conversation about its effects. "Remember, this is for posterity, so... be honest." The hero seems to pick this up, for in the "To the Pain" monologue near the end of the movie that gives the trope its name, he describes in excruciating detail how he is going to dismember the villain and make him suffer if he doesn't surrender. Although providing the Trope name, this is more of a subversion -- the Hero was clearly bluffing the villain with this speech, as he was in no condition to actually beat the villain.
  • In The Witches by Roald Dahl, there is a scene where one character describes kicking another, "til his own mother doesn't recognise him."
  • In the original Sahara novel by Clive Cussler, Al Giordino pulls this on the villain's main henchman, after which the henchman is describing as looking "on the verge of a nervous breakdown." We don't get to read the actual exchange though, only the "mention" afterward. Regrettably cut out of the movie.

Al Giordino: I spent the time describing in vivid detail how I was going to dismember him millimetre by millimetre.
Dirk Pitt: That's all?
Al Giordino: He has a great imagination.

  • And in the Corum novels, by the same author, Glanydeth-A-Krae describes how he's going to systematically lop off all of Corum's extremities. He does managed to get a hand and an eye before he's stopped.
  • In 1984, the villain describes to Winston in excruciating detail what the rats will do to his face. This one is noteworthy since the whole point is to completely break the victim by exposing them to their worst fear, rather than actually harming them. The threat is made credible by the plenty of Cold-Blooded Torture inflicted on Winston earlier, and because Winston is absolutely terrified of rats.
  • In Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold, Baron Ryoval goes into rapturous detail about how he intends to destroy Mark Vorkosigan through torture. ("I'd intended to have you starved. But I believe I'll have you force-fed instead.") Things don't turn out quite as he intended. This happens to Mark's mother, too, in an earlier book; in an interesting variant, what scares her the most, and what gets described the most, is not what will be done to her, but what will be done to Mark's father through her.
  • In Dan Abnett's Xenos, Eisenhorn is captured and tortured by a Chaos cult. They demonstrate the techniques with their threats, including the promise he will never smile again—and the damage to his nerves is too extensive, he never will.
  • At the end of Shogun: Toranaga buries Ishido up to his neck and invites passersby to saw away at his neck with a bamboo saw. He lasts three days, and dies "very old."
  • "You barbarians! I'll sue the council for every penny it's got! I'll have you hung, drawn, and quartered! And whipped! And boiled...until...until...until you've had enough. And then I will do it again! And when I've finished I will take all the little bits, and I will JUMP on them! And I will carry on jumping on them until I get blisters, or I can think of anything even more unpleasant to do..."

-Arthur Philip Dent, after his house is demolished.

  • Very Bad Deaths, By Spider Robinson, has some horrific deaths described in this manner. This is a case of the book being 'exactly what it says on the tin'. This is compounded by the rather nice first half of the story.
  • Either played straight or subverted in the fifth book of the Wheel of Time: While interrogating some prisoners, the thief-catcher Juilin tells his companions to bring him some rope, gags, cooking oil, and salt and never says what he's going to do with the oil or the salt. He couldn't, because he didn't know; he was counting on the imaginations of his prisoners to fill in the gruesome details.
  • In the "Arrows" trilogy (the first Heralds of Valdemar books by publication order) Herald Talia is tortured by someone who loves doing this. Fortunately a kind of Narrative Profanity Filter is employed, so we don't really hear it or see what happens—nor see what kind of shape Talia is in afterward.
  • In Deliver Us from Evil (the name being a reference to Psalm 23 and not this trope), Wicked Cultured Faux Affably Evil Big Bad Evan Waller, a.k.a. ex-KGB Ukrainian expatriate Fedir Kuchin, is very fond of telling people the details of the many ways he has of torturing his opponents or even his own subordinates, should he find they were attempting to betray or even skim him out of his profits.
  • Arkadeil from The Acts of Caine does this to teach apprentices while demonstrating exactly what he's saying. in His matter-of-fact, scholarly manner arguably makes him far creepier than many who take sadistic joy in it.

Live Action TV

  • In The Mighty Boosh, a psycho in prison does this to Howard: "I'm gonna cut you up. I'm gonna slice you to shreds... I'm gonna slice your nose off, and throw it at a vicar..." In a possible subversion, Howard teaches him to talk about nice things (e.g. flying a kite on a sunny day), and this terrifies the psycho's next victim even more.
  • In Babylon 5, Londo visits his old enemy after he is captured on Centari Prime. He tells G'kar the details of his coming torture-execution, basically vivisection for the entertainment of an audience. When G'kar basicly accuses him of gloating, Londo admits, reluctantly at first, that even at their worse hatred, he would not have wished this on G'kar. Londo is rather fond of this one. See the "Poison" section below.
    • This isn't the first time G'kar has faced something like that. In the first season an old enemy of his arranged for G'kar to be assassinated upon his death. The instructions were that G'kar would "know pain and know fear and, at the appointed hour, would die." Fortunately, G'kar, with the help of his aide, was able to turn the tables in his favor.
  • The over-the-top torture machine devised by the Hawk in the final episode of The Blackadder is explained in great detail. ("And then these feathers will tickle you under what's left of your arms, which is the amusing part.") Notable because Edmund isn't rescued until after it's activated (off-screen, obviously).
  • In Prison Break, when Alex Mahone finally get's his revenge on Wyatt for killing his son, he describes pretty clearly just what will happen to him. Starting with a needle pierced through his finger causing unimaginable pain to the defibrillator that will give him a wake-up call when his body begins to shut down due to the pain.
  • From Lost, in "Whatever The Case May", four episodes after Jack and Sayid have actually tortured Sawyer, Jack uses To the Pain to get Sawyer to give him the briefcase of guns:

Jack: That's the antibiotic I've been giving you for the knife wound in your arm. You're right in the middle of the treatment cycle now, if I keep giving you the pills you're going to be right as rain. But I'm going to stop giving you the pills. And for two days you're going to think you're all good, then it's going to start to itch. The day after that the fever's going to come and you're going to start seeing red lines running up and down your arm. A day or two after that you'll beg me to take the case, just to cut off your arm.

  • A Master Swordsman in Get Smart tells Max exactly how he is going to cut him up, ending with "I will cut the shirt from your back... and the trousers from your skinny little legs." Unfortunately for the bad guy, Max is so offended by the insult to his legs that he kills him instantly.
  • This is the primary tactic used for interrogation scenes in Burn Notice. Michael explains that actual pain leads the subject to try and give them anything (often false information) just to get them to stop. Mind Screw-type interrogation has a higher chance of getting accurate information because the subject is so flustered they can't think up plausible fake-information. One time Mama Westen got a guy to talk by just acting like herself and offering him his "last cigarette" because of what Sam and Fiona supposedly had in store for him.
  • In the pilot for Firefly, Jayne Cobb was preparing to torture Dobson for information, telling him "I'm just gonna cut on ya, till ya tell me what they [the Alliance] know." Dobson told him they knew everything, way too quickly; Jayne determined they didn't know a damn thing, and was visibly disappointed at not needing to actually torture him.

Jayne: I was gonna get me an ear, too.

    • In "Objects in Space", Kaylee is terrified into submission by the bounty hunter Jubal Early. He simply asks her if she's ever been raped before.
  • Faith torturing Wesley on Angel.

Faith: "We've only done one of the five basic torture groups. We've done blunt, but that still leaves sharp, hot, cold, and loud."

  • Sue Sylvester to Scheuster on Glee.

Sue: "Schuester! I'll need to see that set list for Sectionals after all. I want it on my desk warm from the laminator at 5:00 P.M., and if it is one minute late, I will go to the animal shelter and get you a kitty cat. I will let you fall in love with that kitty cat. And then, on some dark, cold night I will steal away into your home and punch you in the face."

  • The Doctor is generally a wonderful friend and brilliant scientist. When he confronts an enemy, he tends to give them a chance to surrender peacefully. When forced into conflict, he will usually find a brilliant way to end the threat in one swift action. But sometimes...

Those words. "Run away." I want you to be famous for those exact words. I want people to call you Colonel Run-Away. I want children laughing outside your door 'cos they've found the house of Colonel Run-Away. And when people come to you and ask you if trying to get to me through the people I love is in any way a good idea... I want you to tell them your name.


  • In Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny, an old man threatens the eponymous duo for the... eponymous pick. "I will cut out your eyes, and I will cut out your balls, and I will put your eyes in your ball sack, and I will put your balls in your eye holes!!" Too bad he can hardly move; when JB and KG realize that they could out-run him, they easily escape.

Tabletop Games

  • In Warhammer 40,000, the second stage of a standard Inquisitorial interrogation consists simply of explaining the protocol for the next seven stages. This breaks most prisoners. If, indeed, the first hasn't already. First-stage interrogation consists simply of being asked the question by the Inquisitor personally, rather than through an agent. Their (well-earned) reputation precedes them enough to break many subjects right there.
  • In Mage: The Ascension, members of the The Syndicate call this "turkey basting." Since the people using it are mages (whether they know it or not), it actually has the effect of causing unspeakable pain to the interrogation suspect simply via power of suggestion.

Video Games

  • Strangely enough, the player party gets to engage in this in Black Sigil: Blade of the Exiled in an optional sidequest. After Gavin set off to find Firebeard's tomb after Ravin gathered the map pieces, the party happens upon the Sea Tails' hideout. Kairu asks one of the stragglers for information; naturally, he is refused, so the other group members decide to explain their experience (or lack thereof) in interrogation. I'll cover the methods in order below, but the mere talk of what could have been done is what broke him.
    • Rogurd is a known adventurer, and has dealt with ruffians of the Sea Tails; he chooses to leave the methods in question to the poor pirate's imagination.
    • Aurora goes flat-out and states her intentions to (literally) grill him.
    • Isa explains her training in Genufan interrogation techniques.
    • Nephi brings up his history of torture as the King of the Dragons.
    • Think death will keep your intel safe? Nym (an Ashen Eye) begs to differ.
  • Final Fantasy VII featured this during a not-so-subtle threat against a pervert trying to have sex with them. The team promises something like "I'll cut 'em off" "I'll break 'em off" "I'll smash them". He ends up giving them the information they want.
  • LeChuck in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge provided a particularly grisly example shortly after explaining the intricate mechanics of a device designed to lower Guybrush and Wally into a pit of acid: "Do you know what happens next? I will then take your bones, still alive and in great pain, and make them into a chair. I will call it my "Screaming Chair". Every morning I will sit in it and listen to you scream."
  • Jager Tharn in Arena, when he contacts you telepathically shortly after you receive the first piece of the Staff of Chaos. "Give it to them, and I will make your death painless, and quick. Resist, and I will see you in such suffering that you will grovel for the sweet release of death!
  • Alexander in Amnesia the Dark Descent uses this to prolong his victim's fear. He even sets up a system of pipes to funnel one victim's screams into the cell of another.
    • He also uses the terratio verborum technique mentioned in the Real Life folder, by showing the tortured the implements he would be using, and describing precisely how it would work prior to doing so.

Web Comics

Boss: Goodbye Steve. And do scream loudly. I want them to hear it in Hell.

Magus: Because you can't hurt me, I never sleep or run out of breath, and I have nothing better to do than follow you around and incessantly babble about anything and everything.

Web Original

  • This chronicle on the Eve online website is as graphical as text can be (Not for the faint of heart!), explaining what every tool does, everything he's going to use... then he does. The Amarr Minmatar and Caldari articles are also quite good. Showing how different varieties of torture can be.

Western Animation

  • Darkwing Duck: Negaduck describes doing this to Darkwing's allies, and it all starts as soon as he throws... The Switch!
  • Shows up in Transformers Animated when Ratchet is ripping the grapplers stolen from Optimus Prime on Lockdown, and reminds him that he can't dull the pain since Lockdown also stole his EMP generator.
  • In the final episode of Justice League Unlimited, Darkseid, after trapping Superman in his Agony Matrix, explains the effects to him (while Superman is convulsing in pain)...

Darkseid: It's called the Agony Matrix -- direct neural stimulation of pain receptors. All of them. Imagine the worst pain you've ever felt in your life, times a thousand. Now imagine that pain continuing forever. Oh, that's right... you don't have to imagine.

  • One episode of Ren and Stimpy saw Ren's cousin coming to visit, and he ends up be exactly like Stimpy. Unable to deal with the antics of both, Ren snaps, and with barely restrained fury, gleefully describes what he's going to do to them.

Ren: Yooooooou! Both of yoooooou! Oh, what I'm gonna do to you... I'm so angry! First, I'm gonna tear your lips out. Yeah... that's what I'm gonna do. And then... I'm gonna... GOUGE your eyes out. Yeah... that's what I'm gonna do... Yeah, you scared, huh? Next... I'm gonna... tear your arms out of the socket. And you wanna know what else? I'm gonna hitcha... and you're gonna faaaaallll... and I'm gonna look down and I'm gonna laugh... But first... FIRST!!!... I gotta take a whiz! Don't you go anywhere.

Real Life

  • Historically this has some basis in fact. The terratio verborum (Verbal Torture) consists of describing in great detail the use of each torture implement, and might well be the entirety of the first session. The idea was that the anticipation alone could often force a confession.
    • This is the origin of the expression "Third Degree." The Inquisition's playbook said that first, the suspect would be shown the instruments of torture. If this didn't bring a confession, they would be told in detail how the instruments would be used. Only if this "Second Degree" didn't work would things move to the "Third Degree" of actually doing it.
  • In Elizabethan England, people scheduled to be tortured first got a guided tour of the torture room. For many people, this was all it took.
  • The Dr. Nefarious example in modern philosophy, in regard to the mind/body theory.
    • You are being held as a prisoner of the evil Dr. Nefarious. He comes to you and tells you that at 1:30, he will take you into his chamber and use his new torture device on you. He then goes on to tell you that at 1:26 he will take his memory machine and erase the memory of the conversation you just had with him; at 1:27 he will erase all of your memories; at 1:28 he will replace your memories with those of Ronald Regan. (The argument does not state whether or not Dr. Nefarious will restore your memory after that.) You will still be going to the torture chamber at 1:30, of course.
      • According to this troper's Philosophy notes, this is a refutation of Micheals' theory that 'X is Y if and only if X and Y share a body.'

Death Trap Examples


  • Pick a Bond villain, any Bond villain. ...Except, of course, for Le Chiffre in the 2006 version of Casino Royale, who subverts the trope by saying, "You know, I never understood all these elaborate tortures," before doing something very nasty to Bond with an old chair and a knotted rope (a carpet beater in the original book).
  • Austin Powers: Dr Evil liked describing his Death Traps to Austin.
  • The Saw films. Such a big point that the antagonist makes a puppet to do the talking, and puts a TV in the room with the trap. However, there is a reason for this; the villain wants the person to know what they did wrong to "warrant" getting in such a bad situation and how they can escape.


  • Edgar Allan Poe's The Pit and the Pendulum. A variant in that the torturer is not present. The narrator/victim figures out for himself (and describes to the reader) how the death trap works. An example of getting the victim to assist in his own torture.

Live Action TV

  • This was a staple of every incarnation of Batman

Video Games

  • Played for laughs in Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, where LeChuck devises a ridiculously elaborate Death Trap (whose only function is to lower the hero Guybrush into a pit of acid), and then describes it meticulously down to every detail. Then, he asks Guybrush if he has any questions in case he needs clarifications.

Western Animation

  • In The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, The Hooded Claw would always describe the over-the-top death trap to Penelope, if she was tied up and ready to be thrown into it, or to his sidekicks the Bully Brothers if it was an actual trap—trap that Penny was to fall into without knowing.
  • Naturally, the villains on Kim Possible often describe what the science-project-gone-horribly-wrong-of-the-week is intended to do, immediately before it does it to the wrong person. Or in the wrong way. Or in an escapable manner.
  • The Venture Brothers: The Monarch does this regularly. Especially when his death trap contains the DREADED CANDIRU!
  • "Snap! Boom! Twang! Thunk! SPLAT!"
  • In one Aladdin episode, Mozenrath explains a death trap to Aladdin and Jasmine before he leaves to destroy Agrabah. Of course, Aladdin had asked for the explanation by saying "How can you destroy us and Agrabah at the same time?"

Poison Examples

Anime & Manga

  • Bleach: Mayuri Kurotsuchi explains his super-serum quite clearly to Szayelaporro Granz. Unfortunately, the words are so streched out and distorted that he can't hear half the speech.

Comic Books

  • In Teen Titans, Cheshire is very proud of her homemade poisons, and will brag about the horrible effects they have on you.


  • In Kill Bill, Elle Driver sits calmly reading out the effects of the poison that she has just subjected Budd to via the deadly Black Mamba.

Elle: Now listen close, because this applies to you...

  • In the Disney film The Sword in the Stone, Merlin wins a wizard's duel by turning into a bacterium and inflicting a debilitating (but, since he's the good guy, not actually fatal) disease on his opponent, and his description of the disease's various colorful symptoms coincides with their appearance.
    • Not present in the book. There, Merlin turns himself into a whole bunch of deadly diseases, doesn't get to talk while doing it, and Madame Mim dies.
  • Not a villain, but in The Rock, Cage tells Connery exactly what the nerve toxin will do to both of them if they're exposed to it in its highly-concentrated liquid form. Connery, who happens to be holding the toxin in some strings of fragile-looking glass spheres, is suddenly a lot more careful with them.


  • Partially subverted in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: After Malicia "poisons" two rat catchers by switching their sugar for something else, Keith goes through the standard list of gruesome effects. After the rat catchers have run off for the "antidote", Malicia reveals that what they switched the sugar with was laxative and the antidote was more laxative. The effects Keith lists, however, are apparently what would have actually happened to them had they instead opted to swap the sugar with any of the innumerable poisons around the room.
  • Dune: Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen was reportedly fond of this.
  • In Unto the Breach, the captured Russian microbiologist invokes this trope when explaining why he was bracing for an impact and nervously checking his watch, when riding in a car with the victim of some impromptu biological warfare agents (including botulinus, from an infected can of food from earlier). Afterwards, to his rescuer:

Dr. Arenski: "Let me give you one piece of advice. Take it for what you will. Piss off terrorists, piss off mobsters, piss off your president if you wish. But never ever piss off a microbiologist."

Live Action TV

  • Parodied in Blackadder The Third, in which The Scarlet Pimpernel describes the peculiar symptoms of the poison he's just taken, without noticing they're happening to him.
  • In season six of 24, Jack tells a man who is about to be injected with poison exactly what the agony will feel like, and how many doses it will take before his heart gives in. Also, that man was his brother.
  • Londo Mollari from Babylon 5 delivers one of these to Lord Refa after he has poisoned him. Notably, it's a two-component toxin, so Londo's speech is mainly used to coerce the victim into going along with his plan.
  • La Femme Nikita: Section One did this to just about everyone put in the White Room.

Pressure Point Examples

Anime and Manga

  • In just about every version of Fist of the North Star, after landing one of his deadly Hokuto Shinken attacks on an enemy, Kenshiro describes which pressure point he just hit, and what effect it will have on the enemy. He then ends the speech, famously, with his Catch Phrase, "Omae wa mou shindeiru." or in English, "You're already dead." A few seconds later, the victim typically explodes in spectacular fashion.
    • Which was then parodied in the 3D Movie Maker movie Enriched Enlightment.
  • Milo the Scorpio Saint on Saint Seiya was famous for using an increasingly painful attack that targeted various pressure points. After stricking the first few hits he'd start describing the various stages of agony, madness, and finally death that would fall on a victim should he hit the 15th Pressure Point. Subverted in that hitting a different set would cure a victim.


  • In Fantastic Four: The New Fantastic Four, the Wizard and his cronies manage to subdue the Invisible Woman and put her in a power-deactivating harness, then whoop up on Mister Fantastic, the Thing, the Human Torch, Storm, and the Black Panther when they come to the rescue... for a while, until Storm has the bright idea to find Sue and let her out. She promptly dispatches the crap out of those of his goons who are still standing, then get the Wizard with his back to the wall and make his skin and costume invisible enough to reveal his chest cavity. Using anatomical knowledge she later claims to have gotten from Gray's Anatomy, she points out a few of his critical arteries and has him describe the effects that would result from her blocking them with a forcefield, then talks him into believing she might actually do it... at which point he faints. (Immediate follow-up exchange: "You didn't!" "I didn't.")


  • Once again, Kill Bill: Bill explains the effects of the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique to Uma Thurman's character during a story about the legend of Pai Mei. Later on, Beatrix kills Bill with that exact same technique, taught to her offscreen by Pai Mei.
  • In Kiss of the Dragon, the title is completely unexplained until the end, where we find out it refers to a pressure point at the back of the neck which causes blood to collect in the victim's head until it leaks out of his nose, mouth, ears, and eyes. Liu Jian, Jet Li's character, with a serious look in his eyes and a touch of regret that it had to come to this, describes in exacting detail the villain's impending death after sticking a needle in there, mentioning that the technique in question is "very forbidden."
  • The Operative in Serenity did a minor variation, hitting a pressure point that only immobilized a victim... while he expounded at length on how he was going to give them an honorable death. When he goes to finish off the hero, he finds out the hard way that he happens to be immune to that attack due to an old war injury and was just playing along until he could get the drop on the villain.

Live Action TV

  • Xena from Xena: Warrior Princess often uses a paralyzing pressure point technique that cuts off the blood flow to the victim's brain. She would quickly explain to the victim that they only have 20 seconds to live and would have to agree to help her in order for her to heal them with yet another pressure point.
  • Neverwhere:
    • Mr. Vandemar gives an entire lecture (with comparative demonstrations) on why a swift kick to the temple is less painful than a carefully-placed nudge on a pressure point.
    • Also, Lord Rat-speaker says to Richard "I should slit you from gullet to gizzard and tell fortunes with your guts."

Mind Rape Examples

Anime and Manga

  • When Shaka the Virgo Saint from Saint Seiya uses the Rikudo Rinne, he explains to his victims what the Seven Pits of Hell are like as they fall to their perdition.
  • Naruto has perhaps the shortest version of this trope so far. It is provided by Itachi who simply explains to Kakashi the details of his Tsukuyomi technique, which traps Itachi and his opponent in an illusion world where Itachi controls time, space and matter, essentially making him god, followed by Itachi crucifying Kakashi end telling him that he, and his hundreds of clones, will stab Kakashi with their katanas for the following 72 hours.
    • It is made far worse in the anime adaption which greatly expands upon the torture scene and culminates with, after what seems like several hours of Cold-Blooded Torture, Itachi divulging to poor Kakashi that one second just had transpired (in the real world). That's the deadliest thing about the technique—being under it for a few seconds is days worth of torture, so it's hard for the mind to recover from it.
      • The usual Fanon math applied to the technique is 72 hours inside = 3 seconds outside, so in one real-life second someone experiences an entire day of torture.
      • And Itachi's never used the technique on anyone he actually wanted to die from it...


Live Action TV

Think about it. You think your hand hurts? Imagine what you'd feel with my fingers wiggling in your brain. (Tara looks very scared) It doesn't kill you. What it does ... is make you feel like you're in a noisy little dark room ... (Glory frowns and fidgets uncomfortably) naked and ashamed ... and there are things in the dark that need to hurt you because you're bad ... little pinching things that go in your ears ... (Tara begins to cry) and crawl on the inside of your skull. And you know ... that if the noise and the crawling would stop ... that you could remember how to get out. But you never, ever will.

Other Examples


  • The commercial for Mercenaries 2: World in Flames features a hilarious song that is essentially a musical To the Pain speech. A full version of the song, along with a making-of for the commercial, is featured on EA's YouTube page, here.



  • In Snatch, London Gangster Brick Top gives a detailed, step-by-step set of instructions for how to dispose of a body (it involves a pig farm) to a pair of Stupid Crooks who unwittingly robbed one of his businesses. One of them is clearly intimidated, the other is too stupid to be.
  • In Disney's adaptation of Sleeping Beauty, Maleficent has a beautiful example of this. Having captured Prince Phillip and revealed to him that the "peasant girl" he fell in love with is actually the princess he was already betrothed to marry, she explains to him her plan to lock him in her dungeon for a hundred years while the princess lies trapped in ageless, enchanted sleep, awaiting True Love's Kiss to awaken her. She mockingly describes how, after that time, he will be "free to go his way" - as a ghost, the animation heavily implies.


  • Jaime Lannister tries to convince an enemy lord to surrender without a fight by describing what will happen if that lord does carry on The Siege.

Jaime: You've seen our numbers, Edmure. You've seen the ladders, the towers, the trebuchets, the rams. If I give the command, my cousin will bridge your moat and break your gate. Hundreds will die, most of them your own. Your former bannermen will make up the first wave of attackers, so you'll start your day by killing the fathers and brothers of the men who died for you at the Twins. The second wave will be Freys, I have no lack of those. My westermen will follow when your archers are short of arrows and your knights so weary they can hardly lift their blades. When the castle falls, all those inside will be put to the sword. Your herds will be butchered, your godswood will be felled, your keeps and towers will burn. I'll pull the walls down, and divert the river over the ruins. By the time I'm done no man will ever know that a castle once stood here. Your wife may whelp before that. You'll want your child, I expect. I'll send him to you when he's born. With a trebuchet.

He then compounds it by having his camp musician play "The Rains of Castamere" to his intimidation victim -- a jaunty folk song about what his Complete Monster father did to one of his former bannermen who betrayed him. Let's not forget that (although Jaime doesn't know this) the musician he leaves behind to play "The Rains of Castamere" is the same guy who seduced the victim's first wife when the victim was too drunk to consummate the marriage on their wedding night. And made a song about it.::
  • In Golden Fool, Fitz is in a sword fight with Laudwine, a one-handed man (Fitz had chopped his hand off in a previous encounter). When Laudwine threatens to kill him slowly, Fitz responds by threatening to cut off his remaining hand and leave him alive. The idea horrifies him enough that his guard drops for a moment and he ends up dead.
  • In Going Postal Moist has a To the Pain internal monologue, where he reflects how he's not going to harm Reacher Gilt physically. "I'll kill you in our own special way, the way of the weasel, the cheat and the liar."

Live-Action TV

  • This seems to be the general idea of Gaki.
  • Luther. Annoyed over something Luther has done, manipulative sociopath Alice Morgan grabs his estranged wife Zoe as she's leaving her office and holds an icepick to her ear.

Alice: Don't-look-around. Your husband assaulted me. He touched me. Intimately. He made me do things. He hurt me because of you. And as he touched me he talked about you. He said you were dead. And you'd been very badly burned, your face was cut and your skin was gone. You'd been abducted off the street by a man. A very sick man. He kept you alive for days. He used knives. A blowtorch. He kept pieces of you for seven years. I'm worried...that someone might want to hurt you like that.


  • An army-sized variation shows up in Dawn of War: Dark Crusade. Governor-Militant Alexander's speech/boast when his stronghold is attacked outlines the myriad ways the Imperial Guard force is going to reduce its enemy to bite-size chunks. (In order mentioned: legions of infantry, tanks, artillery, and the Titan Cannon.)
  • One of the male mage character voice sets in Icewind Dale quotes this as one of his battle cries.

Web Comics

Tycho: Don't say another goddamn word. Up until now I've been polite. If you say anything else -- word one -- I will kill myself. And when my tainted spirit finds its destination, I will topple the master of that dark place. From my black throne, I will lash together a machine of bone and blood, and fueled by my hatred for you this fear engine will bore a hole between this world and that one. When it begins, you will hear the sound of children screaming -- as though from a great distance. A smoking orb of nothing will grow above your bed, and from it will emerge a thousand starving crows. As I slip through the widening maw in my new form, you will catch only a glimpse of my radiance before you are incinerated. Then, as tears of bubbling pitch stream down my face, my dark work will begin. I will open one of my six mouths, and I will sing the song that ends the earth.