Created By: SharleeD on July 30, 2013 Last Edited By: SharleeD on August 8, 2013
Troped

Mouth Stitched Shut

A character's mouth is sewn shut with string

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Trope
The eyes cost extra.
A grisly sister trope to Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, in which brute-force means instead of fantastic ones are used to seal a person's lips. Sometimes this trope is applied to living characters as a tortuous way to prevent them from speaking or crying out. It's also used occasionally on corpses, often to send a message to whomever finds them that the dead victim had talked too much. Self-inflicted examples also occur, for added Squick.

Variants may use something other than string, such as wire, pins, or padlocks. Whatever the means of closure, the unfortunate subject of this trope is going to have pierced lips.

Subtrope of Facial Horror, and the inversion of Glasgow Grin. Sometimes combines with Eye Scream if multiple facial features are sealed.

Can result in a literal case of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, especially if accompanied by other horrors.

  • .

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Claymore: Abyss Feeders are a weapon created by the Organization to fight the Abyssal Ones. The eyes and mouths of the Abyss Feeders are sewn shut and their sense of self completely destroyed so that they would only crave for the flesh of their targets. This makes the Abyss Feeders mindless creatures that are perfect for tracking down and destroying the powerful Abyssal Ones.

Comic Books
  • In Tales of the Jedi, this is done to Aleema and Satal's old tutor after Aleema transformed his tongue into some kind of hideous monster-slug.
  • The Flash foe Murmur was a mad criminal who could not stop blurting out his crimes. After a botched execution, he tore out his tongue and stitched his mouth shut to prevent himself from doing this.

Fairy Tales
  • In the French fairy tale "The Gold Dragoon", the hero must save his beloved from the Master of Night, and take her to safety without looking back at her or saying a word. Two attempts fail. The third time, the girl uses the trope (along with plugging his ears).

Film
  • In Saw IV, one of the victims in the Mausoleum trap has his lips sewn shut, preventing him from communicating with the other victim whose eyes are similarly sealed. After he's forced to kill his panicked companion in self-defense, he manages to force his mouth open and scream through torn lips.
  • Strangeland. A madman kidnaps a girl and sews her lips shut. Years later, he kidnaps her again and does the same thing to her.
  • Billy, Winnie's zombified boyfriend from Hocus Pocus. Winnie mentioned he talked so much that she sewed his mouth shut before killing him. Once re-animated, the first thing he does of his own volition is to grab a pocketknife and cut the stitches so he can curse her out.
  • In the David Lynch-directed version of Dune, some minions of Baron Harkonnen on Giedi Prime were shown with their eyes, ears, and mouths sewn shut, in the disturbing scene where the Baron rapes a boy while pulling his heart plug. Neither this particular scene, nor the people with the stitched-shut sensory organs, appeared in the novel however.

Literature
  • In the first novel of the Aftertime trilogy, a captive girl held by a fanatical religious cult was found with her lips sealed this way.
  • In Simon R. Green's Hawk and Fisher novel Wolf In The Fold, the Freak's mouth was kept sewn shut by his father over many decades' captivity. This wasn't fatal, because the Freak lived on absorbed life force rather than food.
  • In the Shadowhunter Chronicles series, there's an order of monks that sew their mouths shut.

Live-Action Television
  • Part of the M.O. of John Myers, aka The Silencer, on Criminal Minds.
  • In the first episode of Millennium, Frank rescues a man who has been buried alive with his eyes and mouth sewn shut.
  • Millennium was made by the same people as The X-Files, on which an entire faction of alien invaders were humanoids with their mouths and eyes (and presumably all other orifices) sewn shut to prevent contamination with the Black Oil.
  • The Masters of Horror episode "Pelts" features a seamstress who feels compelled to sew her mouth, nose and eyes shut until she suffocates. (Involves vengeful raccoon spirits.)

Music
  • "Two missionaries come with conversion kits / You'll be the one sewing cotton through their lips" (Factor 41, Sleeper).

Mythology
  • Loki of the Norse Mythology had lost a bet with the dwarves. The original bet called for them to cut Loki's head off if he lost- however, he told them that to cut off his head meant they would have to cut his neck as well. He reminded them that his neck was not part of the bargain, so they couldn't cut it without breaking their agreement. They debated on this without reaching a conclusion, so Loki got to keep his head. Angered by this, the dwarves sewed his lips shut instead.

Tabletop Games
  • In the box set Return to the Tomb of Horrors, an important NPC is found hanging on a hook with his mouth and eyes sewn shut.

Theater
  • Variation: In The Magic Flute, Papageno is punished by having a padlock placed on his mouth. This prevents him from speaking, but it does not prevent him from humming.

Video Games
  • In the third Last Half of Darkness game, Tia's ghost sometimes manifests with her lips sewn together. It's implied that Marcos actually did this to her before she died.
  • Twisted Metal Black has Frank "No-Face" McCutcheon, who was once a boxer until one bad match that broke his face. When he visits a surgeon to fix his face, the doctor, who actually bet on him to win that particular match that he lost, decides to cut his tongue and eyes out and sew his lips and eyelids closed in Disproportionate Retribution. Needless to say that when he woke up, he was incredibly pissed.
  • The Saarebas (Qunari mages) in the Dragon Age series often have their lips stitched together to prevent them from reciting spells.
  • In the opening level of Planescape: Torment the zombies operating the Sigil mortuary all have their mouths stitched shut for some reason. The Nameless One can get one of the few live mortuary workers to disguise him as a zombie, including mouth-stitching.
  • Skullgirls: The character Squigly, last of a long line of opera singers, used to be an undead minion of the Skullgirl and has her mouth sewn shut.
  • The Mudokons in Oddworld have their mouths (and sometimes their eyes) sewn shut. The Glukkons aren't particularly big on employee input.

Web Comics

Western Animation
  • In Cat City, the cats seal Grabowski's lips with an actual lock. Ouch.

Franchise / Multiple
  • Stitched: Not only the mouth, but also the eyes, nostrils, and any other orifice you can think of.

Real Life
  • A common practice in the mortuary trade, to prevent cadavers' lips from shrinking or curling apart from one another as they dry out.
  • Some versions of the process used by Amazon tribes to create shrunken heads involve sewing the mouth shut. Others use wooden pins instead of string.
  • Used in some methods of taxidermy, assuming the mouth is being depicted as closed.
  • One of the more unusual body-piercing techniques places one or more wire loops through the upper and lower lip. Unlike most examples above, they're easily removed at mealtimes, and are usually too loose to impair speech.
  • Occasionally self-inflicted by political protesters, to graphically express their assertion that their views are being silenced.
Community Feedback Replies: 49
  • July 30, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    The X Men Origins Wolverine version of Deadpool had his mouth sewn shut by The Weapon X Program because of his annoying wise cracks. Cue much snark from comic book fans about how "The Merc With a Mouth" got demoted to "The Merc With No Mouth".
  • July 30, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • In Tales Of The Jedi, this is done to Aleema and Satal's old tutor after Aleema transformed his tongue into some kind of hideous monster-slug.
  • July 30, 2013
    MrRuano
    • Twisted Metal Black has Frank "No-Face" McCutcheon, who was once a boxer until one bad match that broke his face. When he visits a surgeon to fix his face, the doctor, who actually bet on him to win that particular match that he lost, decides to cut his tongue and eyes out and sew his mouth and eyes back in Disproportionate Retribution. Needless to say that when he woke up, he was incredibly pissed.
  • July 30, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the first epsidoe of the tv series Millenium (which appears not to have a page here) Frank resuces a man who has been buried alive with his eyes and mouth sewn shut.
  • July 30, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Found the page for Millennium; you'd just left out the second "n", that's all.
  • July 30, 2013
    Koveras
    • Millennium was made by the same people as The X Files, where an entire faction of alien invaders were humanoids with their mouths and eyes (and presumably all other orifices) sewn shut to prevent contamination with the Black Oil.
  • July 30, 2013
    Chabal2
    Stitched: Not only the mouth, but also the eyes, nostrils, and any other orifice you can think of.
  • July 31, 2013
    OlafMerchant
    Mythology

    • Loki of the Norse mythology had lost a bet with the dwarves. The original bet called for them to cut Loki's head off if he lost- however, he told them that to cut off his head meant they would have to cut his neck as well. He reminded them that his neck was not part of the bargain, so they couldn't cut it without breaking their agreement. They debated on this without reaching a conclusion, so Loki got to keep his head. Angered by this, the dwarves sewed his lips shut instead.
  • July 31, 2013
    Arivne
    ^ So that's where Shakespeare got the idea for the way Portia defeated Shylock in The Merchant Of Venice... :)

    Film
    • Strangeland. A madman kidnaps a girl and sews her lips shut. Years later, he kidnaps her again and does the same thing to her.
  • July 31, 2013
    foxley
    The Flash foe Murmur was a mad criminal who could not stop blurting out his crimes. After a botched execution, he tore out his tongue and stitched his mouth shut to prevent himself from doing this.
  • July 31, 2013
    Koveras
    • The Saarebas (Qunari mages) in the Dragon Age series often have their lips stitched together to prevent them from reciting spells.
  • July 31, 2013
    Antigone3
    Tabletop Games: In the box set Return to the Tomb of Horrors, the PCs are hunting a specific NPC through most of the adventure. They finally find him, hanging on a hook with his mouth and eyes sewn shut. (I'll pull out my copy and give you the character's name when I get home, if no one beats me to it.)
  • July 31, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ To avoid spoilers, I trimmed your entry a little, Antigone3. No need for the name now, but thanks for the example. :-)
  • July 31, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    • Billy, Winnie's zombified boyfriend from Hocus Pocus. Winnie mentioned he talked so much that she sewed his mouth shut before killing him.
  • July 31, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Should we broaden this a bit so it would also cover cases where it's the eyes that are stitched shut? In many cases (like the Saw one) these two go hand in hand.

    EDIT: Also, an example:

    Anime And Manga
    • Claymore: Abyss Feeders are a weapon created by the Organization to fight the Abyssal Ones. The eyes and mouths of the Abyss Feeders are sewn shut and their sense of self completely destroyed so that they would only crave for the flesh of their targets. This makes the Abyss Feeders mindless creatures that are perfect for tracking down and destroying the powerful Abyssal Ones.
  • July 31, 2013
    chicagomel
    Literature: The first novel of the Aftertime trilogy has it. The scene involved a fanatical religious group that had captured the girl it was done to, and chaos broke out shortly after with one of the protagonists arriving to rescue her daughter, who they also had, but IDK if the victim survived or not.

    The Stand : Flagg does this to someone in the movie's climatic scene but does anyone recall if it was in the novel or not?
  • July 31, 2013
    Tardigrade
    Music: "Two missionaries come with conversion kits / You'll be the one sewing cotton through their lips" (Factor 41, Sleeper).
  • July 31, 2013
    Generality
    • In Hocus Pocus, one of the witches killed her unfaithful boyfriend and sewed his lips as a final insult. When he is raised as a zombie to do her bidding, the first thing he does of his own volition is to grab a pocketknife and cut the stitches so he can curse her out.
  • July 31, 2013
    StarSword
    Video Games:
    • In the opening level of Planescape Torment the zombies operating the Sigil mortuary all have their mouths stitched shut for some reason. The Nameless One can get one of the few live mortuary workers to disguise him as a zombie, including mouth-stitching.
  • July 31, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^^^ We could expand this one, or we could make a sister trope for eyes. Let's see how many cases of overlap we get, then decide if mouth-only can stand on its own. (BTW, eyes-stitched-shut already has a place under Eye Scream.)
  • July 31, 2013
    xanderiskander
    Video Game
    • Skullgirls: One character Squigly, who is the last of a long family of opera singers, and used to be an undead minion of the Skullgirl, has her mouth sewn shut.
  • July 31, 2013
    spudwalt
    • The Mudokons in Oddworld have their mouths (and sometimes their eyes) sewn shut. The Glukkons aren't particularly big on employee input.
  • August 1, 2013
    SharleeD
    Any page image suggestions? Preferably disturbing but not too gross.
  • August 1, 2013
    paycheckgurl
  • August 1, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ Something that's obviously derived from fiction would be better than generic photoshopped pics, I think. Maybe something from a video game or comic?
  • August 1, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    https://www.google.com/search?q=deadpool+x+men+origins+wolverine&client=safari&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=GPn6UeXWBOeh4APioIG4AQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAA&biw=1024&bih=672#biv=i%7C6%3Bd%7CUt9AHWvzq-HT0M%3A

    Well this is Deadpool from the X-Men Origins Wolverine movie (next to his comic self because it was one of the only close ups I could find). I'm not sure it's obvious his mouth is sewn shut unless you've seen the movie though (it looks more like he doesn't have a mouth at all).

    Another choice would be this from googling the Claymore example:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=deadpool+x+men+origins+wolverine&client=safari&hl=en&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=GPn6UeXWBOeh4APioIG4AQ&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAA&biw=1024&bih=672#biv=i%7C6%3Bd%7CUt9AHWvzq-HT0M%3A

    Although I'm not sure how you feel about the drawing being in grayscale.
  • August 1, 2013
    TheSlendermanXx
    Webcomic Homestuck: Kurloz's mouth is sewn shut so his doesn't say (Spoiler:) Lord English's secrets.
  • August 1, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    This picture of an Abyss Feeder could work. Caption could be something like: "The eyes cost extra."
  • August 1, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    ^ That was actually what I meant to link in my post (it looks like I accidentally linked Deadpool twice)
  • August 1, 2013
    Omeganian
    Fairy Tales:

    • In the French fairy tale "The Gold Dragoon", the hero must save his beloved from the Master of Night, and take her to safety without looking back at her or saying a word. Two attempts fail. The third time, the girl uses the trope (along with plugging his ears).
  • August 2, 2013
    Melkior
    Webcomics
  • August 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^^ Okay, that looks good. Caption, too. Could somebody put the Abyss Feeder's pic into the trope description? I'm still not sure how to do that so it lines up neatly.

    After a closer look at the other pics, BTW, I think we'll have to drop the Deadpool reference. It really does look like that film example belongs on Wipe That Smile Off Your Face and/or No Mouth, not this one. (If we actually saw the process by which his mouth was sealed in the film, and it involved sewing at some stage, it'd be okay, but IIRC the movie played it as The Reveal and didn't show anything but the result.)
  • August 2, 2013
    DAN004
    ^ I'm fairly certain that there's no "magic" in X-Men, or at least in that movie. So that example counts as this trope.
  • August 2, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ But if it wasn't actually physically sewed shut but closed in some other way (like surgically) then it's not this trope.
  • August 2, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ This. If anything, movie-Deadpool looks like his mouth grew shut, perhaps via Healing Factor Gone Horribly Wrong. Certainly there's no visible evidence of stitching, which is what this trope depends upon to get a visceral reaction from the audience.
  • August 2, 2013
    Prfnoff
    Variation: In The Magic Flute, Papageno is punished by having a padlock placed on his mouth. This prevents him from speaking, but it does not prevent him from humming.
  • August 2, 2013
    Snicka
    In Cat City, the cats seal Grabowski's lips with an actual lock. Ouch.
  • August 7, 2013
    StarSword
    Loaded the image and caption. It will have to be right-aligned after launch.
  • August 7, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

    • In the David Lynch-directed version of Dune, some minions of Baron Harkonnen on Giedi Prime were shown with their eyes, ears, and mouths sewn shut, in the disturbing scene where the Baron rapes a boy while pulling his heart plug. Neither this particular scene, nor the people with the stitched-shut sensory organs, appeared in the novel however.
  • August 7, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Live-Action TV

    • The X Files episode "Je Souhaite", when the kid who finds a genie in an abandoned storage unit makes his first wish that his scolding boss at the storage company would "shut up", the boss' mouth literally disappears--i.e. the flesh of his face closes up that orifice.
  • August 7, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Film

  • August 7, 2013
    WeAreAllKosh
    Can be related to I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, especially if accompanied by other horrors.
  • August 7, 2013
    littlemissmuffet
  • August 7, 2013
    JonnyB
    In the Shadowhunter Chronicles series, there's an order of monks that sew their mouths shut.
  • August 8, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^^^^^ That's Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, not this. Same for the Matrix example.
  • August 8, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Name Spaced a couple examples.
  • August 8, 2013
    SharleeD
    Added an empty bullet-point to move "Examples" down, to place it below the pic instead of alongside. If anyone knows a better way to ensure it's placed properly, please revise it.
  • August 8, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Ah, I think my edit overwrit that. Sorry! It's not a big deal though, the page will sort itself when it's launched (the picture will be right-aligned and stuff). Oh, and just so you know, the edit was to add a link to the Norse Mythology example.
  • August 8, 2013
    SharleeD
    ^ NP, happens all the time. Thanks for letting me know the launch will fix the formatting issue: now, I'll know to remove the extra bullet once it's released. :-)
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=cv7r7i54hh0tcwlcw1hllgpq&trope=MouthStitchedShut