Created By: JoieDeCombat on August 9, 2009

Wound That Will Not Heal

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Do We Have This One?? I checked through the Injury Tropes, but I couldn't find one that covers when a character has a wound that - usually for supernatural or symbolic reasons - just won't seem to ever heal.

For example, in Robin McKinley's Sunshine, the title character is given a cut on her chest by a vampire. While the other injuries she takes during the experience heal normally, the cut lingers, scabbing over and then cracking and bleeding again, indicating that Sunshine has been somehow tainted or poisoned by the vampires. It doesn't heal properly until Constantine helps her purge the taint.

Another example is Dalamar the Dark in the Dragonlance novels; Raistlin dug his fingers into Dalamar's chest and left five seeping wounds which cannot be healed.

A wound that won't heal is also featured in at least some versions of the story of the Fisher King, though in some versions of the story it's a crippling or disfiguring wound instead of one that truly won't heal.

Related to Scars Are Forever and Achey Scars, but in both of those the wound at least heals enough to leave a scar, whereas these don't even heal that much.

Help a troper out?
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • August 7, 2009
    (Heavily) Related to Scars Are Forever.
  • August 7, 2009
    I can't really tell since I'm not familiar with the examples posted, but this might be distinct from Scars Are Forever. That has more to do with...well, scars and other damage that is permanent. If I understand OP correctly, this is more like one that doesn't even get to the scarring part; it just stays as an open wound more or less.

    Short version: Scars are technically a form of healing. These wounds don't get that far.
  • August 7, 2009
    Right. Scars Are Forever covers a wound that heals but leaves a permanent scar; what I'm referring to here is a wound that remains open and raw permanently, or until special measures beyond normal medicine are taken (again usually supernatural and/or symbolic). It's related, but a different trope.
  • August 7, 2009
    • Would Frodo's stabbing wound from the Morgul-blade count? It gets patched up a bit in Rivendell, but everyone says the wound "will never fully heal."
    • The Dungeons And Dragons supplement The Book of Vile Darkness introduced Vile damage, caused by weapons or magic so profane that it could only be healed in a consecrated or hallowed location.
  • August 7, 2009
    • In The Wheel Of Time, Rand has an unhealable and highly plot-significant wound in his side.
  • August 7, 2009
    • Cuts caused by the holy spear in Persona2 would not heal. This unfortunately does in Maya.
  • August 7, 2009
    random surfer
    Les Nessman from WKRP In Cincinnati always had a bandage on his face or upper body - it was eventually revealed that he had a ferocious dog.
  • August 8, 2009
    Web Comics
    • Several characters from Dominic Deegan have this, by ways of having made a deal with the demon of wounds.

    • Frodo from Lord Of The Rings has his stab wound from the Nazgul he got on the hill Weathertop.
  • August 8, 2009
    Chaotic Dreams
    Berserk: Guts loss of his arm and eye.
  • August 8, 2009
    Maybe Sagat from Street Fighter since the pain is still there.
  • August 8, 2009
    Played up in Harry Potter (and other fandom) fanfic for Wangst, especially with Lupin and Bill and werewolf scars (which are said to not heal in canon, but it's taken to ridiculous levels in fic).

    I'm pretty sure this happens in Patrick O'Leary's The Gift, but I can't remember the details.
  • August 8, 2009
    @Chaotic Dreams: I think that one falls under Scars Are Forever, actually.
  • August 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    In His Dark Materials, Will's wound doesn't heal throughout the entirety of The Subtle Knife until Jopari his father fixes it in the end of the book. It just keeps opening up again. Granted he's missing a finger and a half, but...
  • August 8, 2009
    Torak in David Eddings' Belgariad has half his face burnt away when he steals the Orb. Being a God, his body has no natural capability of healing, so he suffers for thousands of years.
  • August 8, 2009
    Hmm, I didn't notice you already mentioned the Fisher King. I think he may be a borderline case with Scars Are Forever.

    • In Arthurian stories, the Fisher King (or a similar character) has wounds that won't heal except through divine intervention. However, this could be interpreted as Scars Are Forever and a desire to "heal" the king's disfigurement.

    • Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Dominion uses energy weapons that have anticoagulant effects, disrupting the natural healing process and typically requiring advanced treatment--even by 24th Century standards--to prevent death from blood loss.
    • Real Life: Failure to heal is a potential symptom of an infected wound.

  • August 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    In The Cosmic Trilogy by C.S. Lewis the main character receives a bite on his heel from a demonically-possessed man, which never fully heals afterwards.
  • August 8, 2009
    I'm really surprised if we don't have this yet. Anyway, related to Achey Scars.

    Kenshin in the Samurai X OVA prequel has this.
  • August 8, 2009
    In Mnemosyne, Sayara Yamanobe is severely disfigured in episode one, then turned into an immortal by the Big Bad to come back for episode three. The catch? Since she was effectively half-eaten alive when she became immortal, her wounds cannot kill her... but do not kill her either. Naturally, she is very pissed at Rin for doing this to her.
  • August 8, 2009
    Unknown Troper
    Somewhere around volume 11 or 12 of Priest, Ivan Isaacs gets stabbed in the chest by Armand. Even with an exceptional healing ability, the wound perpetually bleeds and never closes, never heals- not until volume 15, at least, due to a bit of magic.