Created By: zarpaulus on October 11, 2013 Last Edited By: zarpaulus on October 21, 2013
Troped

Amputation Stops Spread

Cutting off a limb to stop something from spreading further into the body

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Sometimes when sucking out the poison isn't enough, someone simply cuts off the limb in question, above the problem. Naturally, this is not recommended in real life as blood flows faster than an arm or leg can be cut off, and amputation is dangerous enough as is. Though amputations to prevent infections are an old medical practice.

Subtrope of Life-or-Limb Decision.

Examples

Anime and Manga
  • Bleach anime episode #275. Barragan uses his Respira attack against Captain Soifon, causing her arm to disintegrate starting at the fingertips. She orders her lieutenant Omaeda to cut off her arm before the decay reaches her body, and he does so.
  • In Naruto, Sasuke envelops himself in a wall of inextinguishable Amaterasu flames, but the Fourth Raikage attacks right through it with his left arm. To stop the fire from spreading through the rest of his body, he cuts it with his right arm.

Comic Book
  • The Thing From Another World: Climate of Fear, a sequel series to The Thing (1982), Agapito cuts off his arm with a machete to keep himself from being infected.

Film
  • In Evolution, Dr Block finds himself host to an alien fly that is burrowing into his leg. He refuses to let doctors cut off the leg in question until he learns that it's headed for his testicles. Ultimately, they pull it out of his rectum instead.
  • Averted in Creepshow, when Jordy opts not to go for medical help because he's afraid the doctor will amputate his "meteor shit"-infected fingers without anesthetic.
  • In Norwegian zombie movie Dead Snow, one of the characters lops his own arm off after being bitten by a zombie on said arm.
  • When Segen gets infected during the Jerusalem sequence in World War Z, Gerry cuts off the infected limb and applies first aid as quickly as he can.
  • Subverted in the 1988 remake of The Blob. The homeless man suddenly shows up wielding an axe, but it turns out that he's trying to hack his lower arm off because the micro-blob that fell from space has started consuming it. Before he can finish, the blob clutches to the limb's remainder to continue eating him.

Literature
  • In The Clone, when a guy accidentally touches the eponymous creature (which immediately starts converting his still-living flesh into its own flesh), the protagonists try to stop it by applying iodine (which the Clone is repulsed by) to his arm. What they don't realize is that the Clone then works its way around iodine on the surface, to eat its way through the inside of the arm. When they discover that, they have no choice but to amputate the whole arm before it reaches the torso.
  • In Remnants two of the characters have to have appendages amputated to remove worms that are slowly eating them. One of them is a redshirt, who bleeds out after his leg is removed. The other is a main character, who only loses a finger.
  • Discussed in Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold. The royse Bergon was wounded in the thigh by a leopard's claws, and the wound turned septic when he left it untreated, before it was discovered.
    "His [Bergon's] rising hysteria [about the amputation] was only calmed when a second physician opined that the infection was not gangrene after all—Cazaril's nose agreed—but rather, blood poisoning, and that amputation would do more harm than good now."
  • The Guns of Navarone. One of Major Franklin's legs is broken during the climb up the cliffs and gangrene later sets in. The team leaves him with the Germans and the leg is amputated to prevent the gangrene from spreading to the rest of his body and killing him.
  • Tamora Pierce's Wolf-Speaker has the mage Gissa, who cuts her own hand off after it gets hit by a drop of the Bloodrain poison potion she was stirring. If she had left it long enough for it to reach her bloodstream it would have rotted her from the inside out; once it reached full strength they were planning on pouring it into the river, killing every living thing within ten miles.

Live Action TV
  • In an episode of Red Dwarf where Lister is infected with a sentient virus they try to isolate it in one arm and cut that arm off. Lister spends the next episode trying to cope with one arm, and when that fails get a new one.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Seeds of Doom", after Winlett is infected by the Kyrnoid, the team plans to amputate his arm to stop the infection. However, the Kyrnoid takes him over and he escapes before they can do so.
  • In The Walking Dead episode "Seed", they attempt this with Hershel after he is bitten. It works.
  • The X-Files: Amputation is used as a preventative in a small Russian town near an industrial complex where the Purity (aka Black Oil) alien virus is being experimented with. They only want to use completely healthy individuals so if the locals cut off an arm it won't attach to them. They almost cut off Mulder's arm before he escapes, but Krycek isn't so lucky.
  • In the series finale of Copper, which features Morehouse, Corcoran and Freeman out in the Southern wilderness hunting John Wilkes Boothe, Morehouse's prosthetic leg begins to chafe on his stump, and it eventually becomes infected. For a while, Morehouse attempts to simply ignore it, but after a while the pain from the infection is so great he can barely walk, remarking that his leg "hurts worse than the day [he] lost it." Freeman, a doctor, eventually has to remove the lower part of his stump to stop the gangrene from spreading.

Video Games
  • In The Walking Dead, after Lee is bitten he can try this to stop the infection. It doesn't work; even if you cut his arm off Lee will still die at the end of Episode 5.

Web Comics
  • In Girl Genius Dimo gets stung on the arm by some glowing blob thing and Oggie rips the arm off. The non-Jaegers in the group think he's overreacting, until the severed limb melts.
  • "Biscuit" in Goblins gets infected with a flesh-rotting curse after standing on a severed finger ripped off the body of an Eldritch Abomination. He opts to cut the infected leg off with an axe.

Western Animation
  • In Ugly Americans a batboy gets loose in Mark's counseling group and bites Mark and the Two-Headed Worm Guy. After killing it Grimes draws a machete and slices off Worm Guy's bitten hand (which regenerates). Mark (who got bitten on the crotch) pretends that it didn't get him and slowly transforms over the rest of the episode, until it turns out that Doug the Koala Man's saliva acts as an antidote.

Real Life
  • This used to be the only method of stopping gangrene from spreading. Nowadays, the rotting area can often be saved, but amputation is still sometimes required.
  • The Manhattan Project had a policy to cover contamination with plutonium. Anyone who had plutonium enter their body through a cut or a scratch on a limb would be subjected to immediate high amputation to keep it from entering the rest of their body. Robert A. Heinlein mentioned this policy in his short story "The Long Watch".
Community Feedback Replies: 46
  • October 11, 2013
    Antigone3
    Not poison, but a couple of the Dragonriders of Pern novels refer to amputating an arm or leg that's been hit by Thread to keep the Thread from eating the whole person.
  • October 11, 2013
    DracMonster
    Maybe "spread" rather than poison, this is often used for supernatural corruption (IE an Evil Hand.)

    In Real Life, this used to be the only method of stopping gangrene from spreading. Nowadays, the rotting area can often be saved, but amputation is still sometimes required.
  • October 11, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Fixed a Red Link.
  • October 11, 2013
    KantonKage
    This is a subtrope of Life Or Limb Decision
  • October 11, 2013
    Astaroth
    Is this already covered by Life Or Limb Decision? (if not its definitely a subtrope) (edit: ninja'd)

    2nd edit: a few examples from Life Or Limb Decision that might fit this trope better (there are probably more):
    • Biscuit in Goblins gets infected with a flesh-rotting curse after standing on a severed finger ripped off the body of an Eldritch Abomination. He opts to cut the infected leg off with an axe.
    • In Evolution, Dr Block finds himself host to an alien fly that is burrowing into his leg. He refuses to let doctors cut off the leg in question until he learns that it's headed for his testicles. Ultimately, they pull it out of his rectum instead.

  • October 11, 2013
    zarpaulus
    @Drac Monster: I'd considered that but I wasn't sure if it was clear enough.
  • October 11, 2013
    Koveras
    • In The Clone, when a guy accidentally touches the eponymous creature (which immediately starts converting his still-living flesh into its own flesh), the protagonists try to stop it by applying iodine (which the Clone is repulsed by) to his arm. What they don't realize is that the Clone then works its way around iodine on the surface, to eat its way through the inside of the arm. When they discover that, they have no choice but to amputate the whole arm before it reaches the torso.
  • October 11, 2013
    KTera
    • In The Walking Dead, after Lee is bitten he can try this to stop the infection. It doesn't work; even if you cut his arm off Lee will still die at the end of Episode 5.
  • October 11, 2013
    StarSword
    Seems like a sister trope to Life Or Limb Decision, actually. That trope just talks about getting your limb trapped and cutting it off to escape.

    Literature:
    • In Remnants two of the characters have to have appendages amputated to remove worms that are slowly eating them. One of them is a redshirt, who bleeds out after his leg is removed. The other is a main character, who only loses a finger.
  • October 11, 2013
    DAN004
    Does this count?
    • In Naruto, Sasuke envelops himself in a wall of inextinguishable Amaterasu flames, but the Fourth Raikage attacks right through it with his left arm. To stop the fire from spreading through the rest of his body, he cuts it with his right arm.
  • October 12, 2013
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Bleach anime episode #275. Barragan uses his Respira attack against Captain Soifon, causing her arm to disintegrate starting at the fingertips. She orders her lieutenant Omaeda to cut off her arm before the decay reaches her body, and he does so.
  • October 13, 2013
    Astaroth
    The character in the Goblins example should be Biscuit, not K'seliss.
  • October 13, 2013
    ryanasaurus0077
    When Segen gets infected during the Jerusalem sequence in World War Z, Gerry cuts off the infected limb and applies first aid as quickly as he can.
  • October 13, 2013
    gallium
    Film

    • In Norwegian zombie movie Dead Snow, one of the characters lops his own arm off after being bitten by a zombie on said arm.
  • October 13, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^^^ Forgotten that the cursed orc's name was "Biscuit", and that he even came close to that thing.
  • October 13, 2013
    DAN004
    Does my Naruto example count? @_@
  • October 13, 2013
    MonaNaito
    What about Amputation Stops Poison for a more concise title?
  • October 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Namespaced an example.
  • October 13, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Averted in Creepshow, when Jordy opts not to go for medical help because he's afraid the doctor will amputate his "meteor shit"-infected fingers without anesthetic.
  • October 13, 2013
    Alfonts
    Could I suggest a catchier title might be something like "Take the leg! Take the leg!" The example of Evolution made me think of it...
  • October 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Titles like that violate our No New Stock Phrases policy.
  • October 13, 2013
    arbiter099
    added another spoiler tag to the walking dead example
  • October 14, 2013
    Arivne
    Real Life
    • The Manhattan Project had a policy to cover contamination with plutonium. Anyone who had plutonium enter their body through a cut or a scratch on a limb would be subjected to immediate high amputation to keep it from entering the rest of their body. Robert A Heinlein mentioned this policy in his short story "The Long Watch".
  • October 14, 2013
    foxley
    Doctor Who: In "The Seeds of Doom", after Winlett is infected by the Kyrnoid, the team plans to amputate his arm to stop the infection. However, the Kyrnoid takes him over and he escapes before they can do so.
  • October 14, 2013
    gallium
    "Take the leg!" is not a stock phrase.
  • October 14, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ The policy also forbids titles that can be considered pieces of dialogue, since they can easily be misused as Stock Phrases.
  • October 15, 2013
    arbiter099
    Comic Book
    • The Thing From Another World: Climate of Fear, a sequel series to The Thing 1982, Agapito cuts off his arm with a machete to keep himself from being infected.

    Not sure if Evil Dead can count as an example since it's not clear if Ash's deadite hand would've tried to infect him (maybe it had to kill him first?) but how's
    " It got into my hand and it went bad, so I lopped it off at the wrist."
    Ash Williams, Opening Narration of Army Of Darkness, recapping Evil Dead 2

    for a pagequote?
  • October 15, 2013
    Morgenthaler
    • Subverted in the 1988 remake of The Blob. The homeless man suddenly shows up wielding an axe, but it turns out that he's trying to hack his lower arm off because the micro-blob that fell from space has started consuming it. Before he can finish, the blob clutches to the limb's remainder to continue eating him.
  • October 15, 2013
    BearyScary
  • October 15, 2013
    Skybunny
    ^ This occurs in Season 3, episode 1, 'Seed'.
  • October 15, 2013
    randomsurfer
    The X Files: Amputation is used as a preventative in a small Russian town near an industrial complex where the Purity (aka Black Oil) alien virus is being experimented with. They only want to use completely healthy individuals so if the locals cut off an arm it won't attach to them. They almost cut off Mulder's arm before he escapes, but Krycek isn't so lucky.
  • October 16, 2013
    kjnoren
    Not sure this is a subtrope of Life Or Limb Decision. The description there states it's only when you're trapped in some way, not when the limb is deeply damaged, gangrenous, or similar, and at its core it's about the character doing the decision themselves. Not that it's terribly clear.

    I think this trope should cover cases of gangrene, poison, and possibly heavily damaged limbs.

    Literature:

    • Discussed in Curse of Chalion by Lois Mc Master Bujold. The royse Bergon was wounded in the thigh by a leopard's claws, and the wound turned septic when he left it untreated, before it was discovered.
      "His [Bergon's] rising hysteria [about the amputation] was only calmed when a second physician opined that the infection was not gangrene after all—Cazaril's nose agreed—but rather, blood poisoning, and that amputation would do more harm than good now."
  • October 16, 2013
    DAN004
    I'm thinking of an episode of House when the doctors did this. Forgot which one tho...
  • October 16, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ I recall an episode where House misdiagnosed a little girl with necrotizing fascitis and said they'd have to amputate her arm. Fortunately Chase stopped them when he realized House had screwed up.
  • October 17, 2013
    MonaNaito
    • In The Ruins, both of Matheas' legs are amputated in an effort to stop the spread of the killer vines. It's all for nothing, as shortly afterward everyone goes off to bicker about something unimportant. Matheas, left unguarded, is attacked and killed by more vines.

  • October 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Film
    • The Guns Of Navarone. One of Major Franklin's legs is broken during the climb up the cliffs and gangrene later sets in. The team leaves him with the Germans and the leg is amputated to prevent the gangrene from spreading to the rest of his body and killing him.
  • October 18, 2013
    kjnoren
    ^, ^^ Does the examples need all that spoiler text? I think most of it can be safely cut (both the spoiler tags and the text itself).
  • October 19, 2013
    oztrickster
    Do examples where amputation is considered count? In Fairy Tail, Erza tries to get someone to amputate her arm to stop the spread of a magical poison after being bitten by a snake but Gray prevents anyone trying to amputate her arm and she is later healed without losing her arm.
  • October 19, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ That's subverted

    Anyways does my Naruto example count? I'll repost it
    • In Naruto, Sasuke envelops himself in a wall of inextinguishable Amaterasu flames, but the Fourth Raikage attacks right through it with his left arm. To stop the fire from spreading through the rest of his body, he cuts it with his right arm.
  • October 19, 2013
    Bibliophile
    • Tamora Pierce's Wolf-Speaker has the mage Gissa, who cuts her own hand off after it gets hit by a drop of the Bloodrain poison potion she was stirring. If she had left it long enough for it to reach her bloodstream it would have rotted her from the inside out; once it reached full strength they were planning on pouring it into the river, killing every living thing within ten miles.
  • October 19, 2013
    somerandomdude
    In the series finale of Copper, which features Morehouse, Corcoran and Freeman out in the Southern wilderness hunting John Wilkes Boothe, Morehouse's prosthetic leg begins to chafe on his stump, and it eventually becomes infected. For a while, Morehouse attempts to simply ignore it, but after a while the pain from the infection is so great he can barely walk, remarking that his leg "hurts worse than the day [he] lost it." Freeman, a doctor, eventually has to remove the lower part of his stump to stop the gangrene from spreading.
  • October 20, 2013
    Nithael
    ^^^I think it counts. It's not a poison or an infection but it's the same principle.
  • October 20, 2013
    Skybunny
    This wants a quick proofread before publish, and I can see one or two tweaks I'd make.

    Sometimes when sucking out the poison isn't enough, someone simply cuts off the limb in question, above the problem.

    ...generalizing 'Is bitten' into whatever reason it needs to be cut off, etc.
  • October 21, 2013
    DAN004
    Launch?
  • October 21, 2013
    zarpaulus
    ^ First we need to decide whether it's a subtrope of Life Or Limb Decision
  • October 21, 2013
    DAN004
    It can be either a subtrope or a sister trope.
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