You know how when you were a kid your parents wouldn't get that awesome Lego set for you because it would cost "an arm and a leg"? This is slightly
Basically, limb loss as dramatic device.
Comes in three flavors, although some examples are neopolitan:
1:Chocolate is that the character deliberately cuts off their arm for some reason.
2:Vanilla is the loss is accidental, occurring in an explosion, from heavy wounds and/or infection, or someone else decided they didn't need it anymore.
3: And the bloody strawberry is when another person deliberately deprives them of the use of one or more of their limbs.
Alright, so far we've got:
- Edward Elric accidentally lost his leg and then deliberately sacrificed his arm to bring back his brother
- Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick
- HP and the Goblet of Fire
- Honor Harrington's arm was shredded by flechettes
- Captain Hook in Peter Pan
- Nihi'liir in Drowtales
- Vision of Escaflowne: Lord Folken's arm was bitten off by a dragon.
- Metal Gear Solid: Ocelot (type 3 the first time he loses an arm, 1 the second), Liquid (type 3, post-death), Gray Fox (type 3), Raiden (several occasions, type 1)... in 4, even the Metal Gears themselves lose limbs.
- In The X-Files there was a Russian village where they all chopped their left hands/forearms off, because somehow that would keep them safe from the Black Oil(?). Or something. They were going to do it to Mulder but he escaped; they did it successfully to Krychek.
- Becky from Funky Winkerbean lost her left arm in a drunk driving accident, caused by Wally Winkerbean... her future husband.
- Jaime Lannister in A Song of Ice and Fire has his hand cut off by a rival kingdom at one point. It's rather worse than just the loss of a hand though, as he's a knight (and one of the best swordsmen around), and his sword hand was the one chopped off.
- Roots - Kunta Kinte's foot is removed to keep him from running away.
- Since no one dies in Bleach, this is a popular method to show that someone is badly damaged. Grimmjaw got his arm sliced off as punishment for being too reckless ( Orihime fixed it); more recently, Soifon asked her lieutenant to chop her arm off when it got infected by Barragan's Super Death Powers. Also the gate guard the group encountered when they first went to the soul society got his arm lopped off by Ichigo (and healed by Orihime).
- Lieutenant Dan in Forrest Gump.
- The Evil Dead Trilogy: In the second film, Ash cuts off his own hand after it is infected with evil.
- Star Wars loves this trope: off the top of my head I remember 8 lost hands, 3 of them belonging to someone named Anakin. Also Luke and Tenel Ka of The Expanded Universe.
- In the James Bond series of books Bond's CIA friend Felix Leiter had his arm & leg bitten off by a shark. Twice. (In the book but not the film of Live and Let Die, then in License to Kill for the first time on film and in its novelization for the second time in Literature, since the film novelizations kept the book continuity.)
- In both 3.5 and 4th editions of Dungeons & Dragons artificers that become reforged remove one of their limbs and replaces it with an artificial one.
- Justice League: In the episode "The Enemy Below", Aquaman cuts off his hand to save his son.
- Unfortunately, though some go on to Take a Level in Badass.
- Aron Ralston is a well-known recent Real Life example; his arm became trapped under a boulder while hiking, and he wound up cutting it off when it became clear that his choice was between self-amputation and death by dehydration.
- The Tin Man from Wizard of Oz was based off of the Civil War amputees Baum saw growing up.