Created By: Unknown TroperFebruary 8, 2010
Troped

An arm and a leg

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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 more literal.

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.
Anime
  • 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).
Film
  • 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.)

Role Playing Games
  • In both 3.5 and 4th editions of Dungeons And Dragons artificers that become reforged remove one of their limbs and replaces it with an artificial one.

Western Animation
  • Justice League: In the episode "The Enemy Below", Aquaman cuts off his hand to save his son.

Newspaper Comics

Real Life
  • 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.

Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • August 23, 2009
    Westrim
    Does this cover any fictional loss of a limb, or is it more specific than that?

    Would these count?
  • August 23, 2009
    Westrim
    Sure. Amending the top to reflect that.
  • August 23, 2009
    Westrim
    • Real Life, of course.
    • The tin man from wizard of Oz was based off of the Civil War amputees Baum saw growing up.

  • August 23, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    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.
  • August 23, 2009
    calronmoonflower
    Anime

    Film

    Role Playing Games
    • In both 3.5 and 4th editions of Dungeons And Dragons artificers that become reforged remove one of their limbs and replaces it with an artificial one.

    Western Animation
    • Justice League: In the episode "The Enemy Below", Aquaman cuts off his hand to save his son.
  • August 23, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Star Wars love this trope: off the top of my head I remember 8 lost hands, 3 of them belonging to Anakin
  • August 23, 2009
    random surfer
    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.)
  • August 23, 2009
    Fanra
    In Doonesbury, B.D. lost his leg in Iraq.

    [Just to mention, Doonesbury is not Western Animation, as listed above, but Newspaper Comics.]
  • August 23, 2009
    CodeMan38
    [Gah, missed the Fullmetal Alchemist example. I really should read these entries more carefully...]
  • August 24, 2009
    thedreadednyondo
    General Peter Randall in Prototype.
  • August 24, 2009
    Echidnite
  • August 24, 2009
    dotchan
    Bleach - 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.
  • August 24, 2009
    Freezer
    Becky from Funky Winkerbean lost her left arm in a drunk driving accident, caused by Wally Winkerbean... her future husband.
  • August 24, 2009
    Taeraresh
    Apologies for the bad example with Jaime Lannister, but after thinking about it, 'limb removed by enemies as a warning or punishment' might be a good third type of this.
  • August 24, 2009
    random surfer
    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.
  • August 24, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Otto van Hoek in Neal Stephenson's The Baroque Cycle makes a vow that he'll cut off his right hand if he's ever taken by pirates again. He slices off his pinky to prove he's serious. Later, he loses a few fingers from that hand in an accident involving phosphorous. When he actually gets taken by pirates years later, he makes good on his vow, and he gets a hook to replace his right hand (which was no great loss, since it was mostly a fingerless stump by then).
  • August 24, 2009
    BlackDragon
    I feel I must mention Dominic Deegan at this point... he looses his left leg at the end of the 'Storm Of Souls' arc, but the real joke shows up a lot later... he gets a prosthesis made from rare 'Nagaste Starmetal', and a while later, he negotiates with an Earth Elemental for a rare gemstone he intends to use for an engagement-ring. Seconds later, he falls over, as the elemental takes the Nagaste Starmetal in payment. Dominic comments, "Usually these things cost an arm and a leg. Good thing Rocky gave me a discount."
  • August 24, 2009
    insofar
    Herr Starr from Preacher.
  • August 24, 2009
    Katherine
    Misery is an example of Taeraresh's proposed third type--the crazy nurse cuts off her captive's foot to punish his attempts at escape (and prevent further ones.)

    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.
  • August 26, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    • 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.
  • August 26, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Taeraresh's third type also comes up in Roots - Kunta Kinte's foot is removed to keep him from running away.
  • August 26, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Ichise from Texhnolyze has an arm and a leg torn off near the beginning of the series, although he receives futuristic prosthetics.
  • February 6, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    westrim here: reviving this for a day before I go ahead and launch it.
  • February 6, 2010
    ParadiscaCorbasi
    • Alex Haley's Roots: Kunta Kinte lost half a foot in an attempt to stop him from running away.

  • February 7, 2010
    random surfer
    Two films starring Lon Chaney:
    • The Peanalty: Chaney plays a man with no legs, who forces the doctor who amputated him to implant the legs of another man on him.
    • The Unknown: Chaney plays a man who is hiding from The Authorities by pretending to be a circus knife thrower with no arms. He falls in love and forces a doctor to amputate his arms for real, so he can be with the woman he loves. The doctor does so, but then Chaney learns that the woman he loves loves someone else.
  • February 7, 2010
    Arivne
    Anime and Manga
    • Bleach: Add Arrancar #10 #1 Yammy Riyalgo. When he first arrived in the World of the Living, Ichigo sliced off most of his right arm (it was later successfully reattached).
  • February 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    • Long John Silver in Treasure Island. "Beware the one-legged man!"
      • In Treasure Planet, Silver also loses an arm and an eye. All are replaced by cybernetics.
  • February 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    The Black Knight in Monty Python And The Holy Grail.
  • February 7, 2010
    TBTabby
    Kinnikuman: Terryman is shot in his leg by Kinkotsuman, and it has to be amputated and replaced with a prosthetic. Ashuraman manages to steal his arms during their match, but he's able to borrow Buffaloman's arms to even the odds. In the Dream Tag match arc, Suguru himself loses an arm trying to save Mongolman from the Hell Missionaries' Cross Bomber, but Dr. Bombay is able to reattach it.
  • February 7, 2010
    Aelfwine
    Maedhros and Beren from The Silmarillion both lose one hand. (Cut off by a friend in a Life Or Limb decision for the former, bitten off by a giant wolf in the latter.)
  • February 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    A note about that X-Files Example: the villagers were cutting off their own arms because that was where they had smallpox vaccination scars (and some kind of genetic tracker device). Without the vaccination scar and the genetic tracker, they were useless as test subjects in the Russian experiments to find a cure for the Black oil.
  • February 7, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    I'll start incorporating the new responses, but go ahead and add them directly to the YKTTW in the future so they're already formatted right.
  • February 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Berserk has two major examples of this:
    • The first is during Guts's past, where Gambino lost his right leg to a cannonball during a battle, which ended his career as a mercenary and made him further hate Guts.
    • The second is during the Eclipse, where Guts has to cut off part of his own arm with what's left of his weapon due to Borkoff, an Apostle with an impressive set of choppers, having them right around it and not letting go, and due to Griffith, newly incarnated as Femto, raping Guts's love interest Casca right in front of him. After the Eclipse, Guts has the arm replaced with the badass Arm Cannon that we know and love from the first two arcs of the manga.

    By the way, the "chocolate" option should be Life Or Limb Decision, if you're planning on making this puppy a supertrope.
  • February 8, 2010
    Idraena
    Is this limb loss as a method of paying for something? Because that actually is a trope ... and that's what the first sentence makes it sound like.

    Vanilla: Red Dwarf, with the Epideme virus.
  • February 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    westrim here: The first paragraph explicitly does not sound like that. I was just providing a bit of etymology, then noted that this was for literal cases of limb loss. And I'm not sure if the three flavors division should be kept and whether this is a supertrope or a regular trope. I just saw a hole and made a YKTTW to fill it. And chocolate may be close to Life Or Limb Decision, but it's notable that there are several FMA examples there but not Ed losing his arm. (why does the%2
  • February 8, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Why does the wiki keep chopping off my comments after a bit more than 4 lines?
  • February 8, 2010
    sweeneysjoking
    not sure if this counts, but Jeeves from the Men in Black cartoon always lost a limb during any episode that he gets to be in.
  • February 8, 2010
    random surfer
    @westrim: Obviously TV Tropes Wiki Hates You.
  • February 8, 2010
    EveryonesFool
    Cyborg from the Teen Titans animated series and comic lost most of his limbs....does that count?
  • February 9, 2010
    Grue
    In Venture Brothers Phantom Limb loses an arm in an explosion at the end of second season. And Billy Quizboy loses his hand to a dog. In both cases the characters become equipped with Artificial Limbs.
  • February 9, 2010
    Tannhaeuser
    • Ronald Reagan's character, Drake McHugh, in the 1942 film Kings Row [sic], has his legs cut off by sadistic surgeon Dr. Henry Gordon (Charles Coburn), thus leading to the famous line, "Randy! Where's the rest of me?!" that Reagan used for the title of his authobiography.

    • William Shakespeare's eponymous Titus Andronicus
  • February 9, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    @ random surfer: Actually, it does seem to... When I'm back at an unblocked IP tomorrow I'll clean up and launch this.
  • February 10, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Dougkas Bader, lost both legs, refused to let such a trivial thing get in the way of his career as a fighter pilot in WWII. When eventually captured by the germans he escaped. They ended up confiscating his legs to try and keep him from running.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable