Mutilate The Body (was The Osiris Treatment)
Dismembering a corpse before disposing of it, often by dispersing the bits.
A subtrope of Desecrating the Dead, this comes into play when a corpse is deliberately dismembered post-mortem. The reason can vary; sometimes it's the only way to make sure the corpse stays dead, other times this is part of a judicial sentence, and a pragmatic killer may have noticed that it's easier to hide the body if it's in smaller chunks. Let's not forget those occasions when the person/people doing the dismembering are just that angry at the late whomever. May not work if the deceased was capable of Pulling Themselves Together. Falls solidly into Older Than Dirt territory, as one of the earliest known examples comes from the myth of Set's murder of Osiris (see the Mythology section below). For this trope to be in effect, the body must end up in at least two pieces (more is fine). Simply stabbing/hitting a corpse isn't sufficient, those examples should go under Pummeling the Corpse.
Examples: Anime and Manga
Examples: Anime and Manga
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "Jungle Run" featured a serial killer who did this to his victims.
- In Astérix this is a common threat and was carried out once... on a man who had just drunk magic potion...
- The Sandman has ClassicalMythology's Orpheus' still living severed head as really important to a few stories set long after his dismemberment.
- Seymour does this to his rival, in order to feed Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, before the plant is big enough to devour people whole.
- Stoneface Vimes, The Kingslayer, was given this treatment after his execution.
- In Discworld, golems must be destroyed this way as removing their 'chem' (the scroll that powers them) only switches them off. Though you can just destroy that (so long as another is not made).
- Granny Weatherwax threatens a vampire (vampyre) with this treatment in Carpe Jugulum. Since vampires are immortal, it won't actually kill him, but being staked, burned to dust, scattered to the winds and left as a cloud of atoms floating through space for billions of years is close enough for the townsfolk.
- Justified in Dracula, where after Lucy Westenra dies, Van Helsing stabs her in the heart and cuts her head off so she stops being a vampire. Somewhat downplayed, as it is seems with Dracula's death that the head does not need to be completely severed i.e. the body could remain mostly intact.
- In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, the Villain Protagonist dismembers his victim's body and hides it under the floorboards. This does not stop him from imagining(?) the corpse's heart beating while the police are visiting, driving him to expose his own crime.
- In Jumanji, after Alan Parrish's disappearance into the titular otherworld, one nasty rumor that started flying around was that his father chopped him up into little pieces and hid them throughout the house.
- The Outskirters in The Steerswoman books bury all their dead this way. It's because they're terraforming the planet; the wider they spread the body, the larger the area they're exposing to Earth-based biochemistry.
- This is standard procedure for powerful vampires in Anita Blake Vampire Hunter. After being 'killed', the head and heart are taken from the body and all burned separately and then the ashes scattered over different bodies of water.
- The novel The Skinner by Neal Asher has the titular character existing mostly as a severed head, the rest of his bits being scattered everywhere. He's still an "i accidentally the whole planet" big bad even with this handicap.
- Happened in the Erast Fandorin homage to Edgar Allan Poe (short story Table-Talk, 1882): Fandorin solves the mystery of what happened to a murdered girl's body by deducing that she was dismembered and smuggled out of her home in small boxes.
- Twilight: Standard procedure for werewolves who have just killed a vampire is to rip the vampire into pieces, then burn the pieces.
- The Saga of the Noble Dead: Vampires are beheaded and burned to prevent their return as just staking and burning them is quickly discovered not to keep 'em down.
- In one of the Judge Dee novels, this trope was granted as mercy. The letter of the law called for the criminal in question to be cut to pieces while still alive, but due to a posthumous plea by his father (a noted court official) the criminal was allowed a quick death with the dismemberment coming afterwards.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer
- The gang had to separate the parts of at least one demon to prevent it coming back.
- The Judge had had this done to him in the past, and Angelus put him back together again by reuniting all the pieces. Then Buffy blew him away with a missile launcher.
- This often turns up in CSI and its spinoffs as a method of disposing of a body, but there have been a few instances where it was ritualistic or for intimidation (for example a guy in CSI: Miami who did it based on a song to try and look cool).
- There was a variant in an episode of Jonathan Creek. The masked villain carried the unconscious victim into an old garage and was surrounded by witnesses as he closed the garage door. When the door was reopened after the police showed up, the victim lay passed out on the floor with the killer nowhere to be found. Turns out the victim was the masked villain. She (in her mask) carried a foam dummy into the garage and, while the door was closed, she cut the dummy into pieces and hid them (along with the mask and costume) in empty paint cans left in the garage, then pretended to lay down, knocked out.
- Voltaire sings about doing this to his ex-girlfriend's new lover in the song "Ex-Lover's Lover", and mailing each body part to another city around the world.
- Egyptian Mythology: Set tried disposing of Osiris' corpse by throwing it (sealed in its casket) into the Nile. When the casket washed ashore, Set called upon this trope as Plan B and tore the body apart, scattering the pieces across Egypt. While Isis was able to collect most of the bits, her inability to find everything meant Osiris could only come back as the ruler of the dead.
- Happens in The Bible. In Judges 19, a gang rape/murder victim is dismembered, and a part of her body is sent to each of the twelve tribes to send a message about the depravity of the crime. The tribes are appropriately outraged.
- Greek Mythology: When Jason and his crew were fleeing king Aetes (who wanted to reclaim the Golden Fleece and his daughter Medea) on the Argo, Medea murdered her brother Apsyrtus and started dismembering him, throwing the chunks overboard one at a time. As she'd expected, her horrified father slowed down to pick up the pieces, letting the Argonauts escape.
- In the Suspense radio play "The Pasteboard Box", a murderer dismembers a body to make it easier to dispose of, but just can't get rid of the pasteboard box containing the head.
- Dungeons & Dragons.
- Dismembering a body and scattering the pieces made bringing back the person with a Raise Dead or Resurrection spell impossible. It was still possible to do so (e.g. with a Wish) but much more difficult.
- One way to permanently destroy a vampire involved cutting off its head.
- In Warhammer when the great necromancer Nagash was slain, the skaven not only dismembered him but burned his remains with warpfire and then sent bits of ash in separate packages for their agents in different parts of the world to scatter. And the bastard still came back.
- Castlevania: After Dracula's defeat, his corpse was separated into five pieces and scattered across the land. In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Simon Belmont has to reunite the pieces and destroy Dracula in a ritual meant to undo a curse the vampire cast.
- In Higurashi: When They Cry, Rena does this in one arc. After killing her father's cruel girlfriend and her yakuza lover, she dismembers their corpses and tries to hide them. Her friends catch her in the act. Luckily, Mion herself is yakuza related and thus was able to help hide the bodies for Rena.
- In the SCP Foundation there's a dismembered evil that came together in the boxes it was stored in once. - Zero-Context Example
- Rasputin in Anastasia . And he came back too. - Zero-Context Example
- Taken Up to Eleven in a Robot Chicken sketch where a warrior defeats a werewolf and goes so far as to divide, cook, snort, and excrete him. It turns out to be one kid explaining to another how his role-playing game character shouldn't be able to revive itself.
- A person sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered was facing this trope. The last word should be taken literally — after everything else was done, the now-headless corpse would be cut into four pieces. Normally those pieces (and the head) would be put on display at various places around the country as an example of the fate awaiting anyone who committed treason. While the linked article only talks about drawing and quartering in England, the sentence itself was passed in many other countries as well.
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