In the series finale of Alias, Big Bad Sloane finds the underground tomb of Rambaldi and uses his secret elixir to become immortal and invulnerable. Jack Bristow then proceeds to blow up the cave they're in, causing it to collapse on Sloane and leaving him to spend eternity buried under literal tons of rock, unable to move, all alone in the darkness, with only the stench of Jack's rotting corpse for company, while the rest of the world thinks he's dead.
In American Horror Story: Coven, Madame Delphine LaLaurie is buried alive and left bound, gagged, and completely conscious for 170 years. The last episode of the season, in which the majority of the main characters descend into Hell for a magical test, also reveals that this is the way the underworld works; sinners are trapped for eternity in a particular torture, fully conscious of what's happening but unable to do anything about it.
Misty, a Friend to All Living Things, has to relive a painful day in which she tried to Free the Frogs by reviving one with her power of resurrection—only to have to kill it herself, all while her classmates laugh at and mock her. Unlike the other witches, she doesn't get out.
Madison, a severe drama queen and actress, gets trapped on the set of a bad production of The Sound of Music forever—and she doesn't even get to play the lead!
Cordelia, who has a strained relationship with her mother Fiona, is reduced to desperately pleading for Fiona's affection, only to be cruelly rebuffed by her.
Fiona, a Rich Bitch who loves the finer things in life, is married to a grotesque, stinking serial killer and forced to live in a dilapidated shack with him.
Marie Laveau herself is stuck in the same portion of Hell as Delphine, and initially thinks that getting to punish her rival for eternity is a reward. However, when she's forced to also kill Delphine's daughters, who were innocent children, she realizes that she's lost her moral high ground—the one thing that separated her from LaLaurie's own murderous behavior—and understands that she too is being punished.
There's a baddy who ended up like this. After he'd died, his ghost survived by sending other people to Hell in his place. After using phlebotinum to bring him back to mortal life, and realizing they can't kill him without starting the whole thing over again, the heroes instead imprisoned him in a life-extending "cell": a locked closet in an empty basement hallway. He will be kept alive, unable to move, unable to blink, and unable to scream Forever.
Angel: Welcome to hell.
Perhaps especially terrifying, that hallway is full of cells. How many people are locked away down there?
Wolfram & Hart's organ donors are former employees who are kept sedated but awake as their bodies are harvested for pieces when the need arises.
Also happens to Angel himself, when Connor, believing Angel killed his adoptive father Holtz, decides that death is too good for him. So he seals Angel in a metal box and drops him in the ocean, knowing that hunger won't kill him, but it will torment him endlessly. He was rescued a few months later.
At one point Gunn was trapped in a hell dimension where he was strapped to a table, and every single day a demon would rip his heart out only for him to wake up the next day and go through it again.
Gregor Framkin in "Smile Time", a children's entertainer on par with Jim Henson. His Deal with the Devil leaves him a human puppet, helpless, tortured and begging for death.
Villainous example: Angelus describes his existence as this. He is forced to spend eternity looking out through Angel's eyes: unable to harm anyone, unable to taste human blood, forced to watch as Angel saves the world and helps the helpless, listening to the endless brooding and angst. And the Barry Manilow concernts.
Black Mirror : Season 4's "U.S.S. Callister" is an extended tribute to the trope's source material, and the concept crops up in "Black Museum" as well. The 2014 Christmas special, "Black Mirror: White Christmas" had some disturbing examples:
In the near future Britain portrayed, the technology exists to copy people's minds onto computers, creating sentient copies who believe themselves to be human. A copy of a woman is psychologically tortured by a computer programmer until she consents to become a slave for her real self, running the house's computers and her real self's diary. The nature of the torture is to be left conscious, unable to even sleep in solitary confinement for a simulated time period of three weeks, then six months until she begs to be given something to do.
In another instance, a copy of a criminal's mind - after confessing - is left in a simulated version of the crime scene with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" playing on the radio repeatedly. The police in control of the simulation have set it so that 1000 years a minute pass for the copy, and have stated they won't switch the simulation off until after Christmas.
Not quite as bad as the above, but the computer programmer who tormented the copy above has been caught breaking the law. In this future, people wear Google Glass-style contact lenses that can't be removed that allow recording of everyday life - and also allows people to be blocked as on social media in real life, so that you cannot see or talk to them, and see only a grey outline.
The programmer was running an illegal business helping guys meet women by seeing (and recording) through their eyes and giving them instructions. His punishment for being a peeping Tom? He is blocked - by everyone.
In "The Witch" Amy's body-swapping witchy mom has one of her spells turned back on her, and seemingly vanishes. At the end of the episode, it turns out she's been trapped in one of her old cheerleading trophies. She presumably died when they blew the school up at the end of season three, but fans speculate that this somehow released Catherine to possess her daughter Amy again, explaining Amy's otherwise inexplicable FaceHeel Turn.
The comics confirm that she's still trapped.
Angelus was trapped in a "Hell dimension" for a subjective five hundred years. What makes it more tragic is that he got his soul back right before, so it wasn't Angelus, but Angel, who had to suffer this, at Buffy's hands, no less.
"Hush" is about demons who steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. They then proceed to break into college dorm rooms, cut their victims open and remove their hearts, all while the victims cannot scream.
Warren gets strung up by Willow, his mouth sewn shut and tortured with a bullet slowly being driven into him.
In the season seven episode "Same Time, Same Place" Willow is trapped and paralyzed in a cave with the demon Knarl, who paralyzes his victims and then proceeds to eat their skin. One strip at a time.
Amy being stuck as a rat for several years. Despite how much that sucked, she kept the cage.
Ampata was imprisoned in her own corpse.
What Glory does to her victims doesn't really seem like this at first, sounding more like good old-fashioned Tear JerkerNightmare Fuel, but if you focus on how Glory describes her Mind Rape abilities as well as the look on Tara's face at certain points during her (temporary) insanity, it becomes pretty clear that Glory isn't exactly making people normally insane. From what we see of the Mind Raped Tara, it's more like she's fully aware of what she's doing but is incapable of stopping it. Just look at the horrified expression on her face when she hits Willow. The sane Tara is still in there, but Glory basically disconnected her from her body.
Dark Matter: When the Android is hacked, she's fully aware of her unwilling acts but unable to stop them. Later Five and Sarah send a signal through the neural link to the hacker which leaves his mind stuck in a wholly empty and featureless space. He screams at finding himself in it.
Doctor Who has a disturbingly large number of examples.
The serial "The Space Museum" is all about the crew trying to avoid a Bad Future they witness while Just One Second Out of Sync in which they are preserved museum exhibits. At first, this seems simply like death, but after the Doctor goes through this process and has it reversed, he tells Ian that his mind was fully conscious and working as normal the whole time...
In the serial "The Three Doctors", we find that the co-founder of Time Lord society, Omega, survived being sucked into a black hole and is now in an anti-matter universe that he can shape-only problem is that he's the only one there. By the time the Doctor finds him, he's understandably lost it.
The serial "Mawdryn Undead" features a group of scientists who attempted to steal the secret of regeneration from the Time Lords. Caught by the Time Lords, the scientists were condemned to perpetual regeneration while also being trapped on a ship that is almost completely isolated from the universe.
In the serial "The Five Doctors," anyone who claims Rassilon's Gift is granted true immortality, as an unmoving (but still aware) stone carving on Rassilon's tomb. When Rassilon asked if the collected incarnations of the Doctor if they wanted the same, you can understand why they all chorused, "No, no, no, no!" in sheer fright of sharing that fate.
Between "Destiny of the Daleks" and "Resurrection of the Daleks," Davros was frozen in a cryogenic chamber for 90 years while the powers that be debated what to do with this criminal. When awakened, he reveals that he was conscious for "every agonizing second." He is considerably less sane from this point onwards.
In "The Mark of the Rani", some poor fool accidentally steps on a mine planted by the Rani, turning him into a tree. Initially this just looks stupid, but a few moments later one of the tree's branches suddenly moves to prevent Peri from standing on another mine, thus making it clear that the guy's mind still lives on inside the tree. In fact, a sarcastic comment by the Rani about how he's better off because trees live longer than humans makes things worse, as he could end up tree-ified for decades, if not centuries.
As far as the Doctor is concerned, just being a Dalek falls under this trope, although they can (and do) scream. "From birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage, completely alone..."
In the new series, the Doctor did this in a different way to each member of the Family of Blood in the episode of the same name. (Moral of the story: never, ever piss off the Doctor.)
He throws the mother into the orbit of an event horizon of a black hole, to be trapped there forever. He wrapped the father in unbreakable chains. He trapped the sister in a mirror— every mirror in existence. And he suspended the son in time, covering his face with a sack and sticking him upright as a scarecrow to watch over the fields of England.
In "The Idiot's Lantern", the Wire pulls off people's faces from inside their televisions, leaving their bodies to wander around blindly (until they're taken away by The Men in Black, that is) and their consciousness trapped on a TV screen. It's not explicitly stated whether they are, in fact, aware, but as they're seen silently yelling for help, it would seem so...
Ursula in "Love & Monsters" becomes a disembodied face embedded in a paving tile. She claims to be reasonably content, but regardless, it's hard not to shudder at the thought of her fate.
In "Fear Her", victims are turned into drawings that are somewhat mobile while on the page. They can scream. Silently.
The Carrionites from "The Shakespeare Code" are trapped in their crystal ball. "The Unicorn and the Wasp," a year later, has him taking the ball out as part of a Rummage Fail scene, and they can still be heard inside, shouting.
This also happens to the Weeping Angels in "Blink". They turn to stone when looked at by any other being, including their own kind. They get tricked and end up standing facing each other, turning them to stone forever. The Eleventh Doctor mentions that the Angels in that episode were starving to death, which suggests that none of them have long to go anyway (although that makes it worse, being trapped as stone while starving.)
The Doctor himself in "Midnight" falls under the control of a malicious alien and can't move... except for being forced to repeat everything she says, leading the others to think he's the malicious alien and try to kill him.
In "The Pandorica Opens," the Doctor is contained inside a super-prison built exactly to his specifications, unable to move at all and preserved for eternity. He's even screaming as it closes- this trope to a T.
The Gangers from "The Almost People" that were discarded. They rot, all the while fully alive and conscious.
In "The Bells of Saint John" this was the villains intention to do this to every human on the planet to preserve them forever by trapping them inside the internet. The Doctor tricks the leader of the villains into becoming trapped herself, though only for a short time, she begs her minions to release her but doing so releases everyone else.
In "Dark Water" it turns out that when people die they remain conscious. The 3W group, allegedly named for the three words the founder could decipher when they figured out how to communicate with the dead ("don't cremate me"), uploads their minds to a simulation, and gives them the option to have their emotions removed and their bodies converted into Cybermen. Good news is the whole thing was just a scam perpetuated by The Master.
And in "The Witch's Familiar", it's revealed what happens when Daleks' organic bodies break down from old age: they're reduced to puddles of slime but keep right on living, even after the younger Daleks flush them down into the sewers.
At the end of "Heaven Sent", it's revealed that the Doctor as been stuck inside a never-ending loop for billions of years, forced to endure, survive and figure everything out each and every time the loop starts over! And that's not even going into the details: like that each loop takes at least three weeks to finish; which includes solitary confinement and being hunted by an Eldritch Abomination, which eventually kills you each time. And when it finally kills him at the only way out which is blocked by a substance 400 times harder than diamond, he's forced to crawl back to the start as he can't regenerate! And THIS process takes at least a day and a half in his state! And then there's the fact that he has to come to terms with Clara's death each time the loop starts over as he always forgets what's happened when he's "revived". And in "Hell Bent", it's revealed that it wasn't two billion years he was stuck in there as originally perceived... Oh no, he was in there for twice that long for a whopping FOUR AND A HALF BILLION YEARS!!! What really drives this home is the moat inside the castle is filled with MILLIONS of skulls... That all belong to him!
In "Hell Bent", the Cloister, which holds the Matrix where Time Lords are uploaded upon death, does this to anyone it catches. Deceased Time Lords are used to animate the guards, their faces stuck in a perpetual scream. Invaders are captured by living fiber-optic cable and turned into defenses. A Dalek caught as such begged Clara and the Doctor to exterminate him.
In "World Enough and Time", Bill winds up in a dilapidated hospitalcurrently prototyping the first Cybermen. She comes across a room full of patients, who are stuck in wheelchairs with their faces fully bandaged and strapped to IV machines. The patients seem quiet and calm, though their hands keep twitching. Then Bill approaches one, and turns a volume dial on his IV machine all the way back up...
This fate is planned for Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Season 2; she ends up turning the tables with the same exact punishment for Xaro and Doreah.
Khal Drogo is mercy-killed with a Vorpal Pillow after he ends up locked in a magical coma.
Varys describes his castration by a sorcerer in these terms, apparently being fully conscious but unable to move or speak during the ritual. Understandably, he's hated magic and those who practice it ever since. He eventually has the sorcerer who did it shipped back to him trapped in a box with his mouth sewn shut for revenge.
In the The Sarah Jane Adventures: episode "Mona Lisa's Revenge", the Mona Lisa emerges from her painting and traps gallery visitors into numerous different paintings, including Sarah Jane Smith. She is later freed at the end of the episode, and mentions that she was conscious the whole time.
This is what happens to a vampire when starved of blood. Their skin desiccates and their muscles atrophy, leaving them paralyzed, essentially mummified, and COMPLETELY CONSCIOUS.
This happens to Stefan he is locked in a safe and thrown into a lake, where he drowns, reviving every half hour or so, only to drown again. He s eventually found after several months he starts to hallucinating to try and stay sane.
This is also what happens to Sybil who is trapped in the basement of the Armoury's Vault by the magic of Beatrice Bennett.
Or if a vampire is struck with the Phoenix Sword and sucked into the Phoenix Stone. The Phoenix Sword is neither fiery nor does it come back from destruction. It creates a sadistic "Groundhog Day" Loop forcing vampires within it to confront their sins repeatedly.
Or if Damon and Bonnie heroically destroy the Other Side and get trapped in an Alternate Universe devoid of anyone else but them called a prison world created by the Gemini Coven to isolate Lillian Salvatore, Kai and the doubly screwed Heretics, since without living beings to feed upon these vampires entered their starvation state.
In the episode "Exit Wounds", Jack Harkness is buried alive under Cardiff, constantly suffocating, reviving (painfully), and dying again... for 1874 years. He was buried in 27 AD then dug up in 1901, then cryogenically frozen (yes, in 1901, Torchwood could do that then) to bring him back to the present, paradox free.
Owen Harper's personal story arc in Torchwood, Season 2: The worst part wasn't when he died, or when he was revived as a deathless, sentient zombie when Jack used one of the alien Resurrection Gloves on Owen. Or even when Owen discovered that his body, while immortal, was no longer able to digest food or heal injuries naturally, making him rather fragile. No, the worst came in "Exit Wounds", when Owen was trapped in the control room of the Turnmill Nuclear Power Plant and faced the decision to vent the radioactive steam from the overheating core through the room he was in, in a Heroic Sacrifice to save the plant from going into meltdown. As he told Tosh over radio, the fact that this body was already dead meant that he wouldn't die quickly from the massive dose of radioactivity but instead would be trapped inside his body while it was slowly being consumed by the radioactive waste shredding his cells. He shut off the radio before he vented the system as to spare Tosh having to listen to his screams... assuming he was still able to scream, that is.
Attempted by the government villains in Day Two of Torchwood: Children of Earth, as they try to contain Jack by encasing him in concrete. Fortunately, he gets rescued by Gwen, Rhys and Ianto pretty quickly.
The premise of Torchwood: Miracle Day is that no-one dies or heals after what would have killed them, making this trope apply to everyone who had a particularly violent almost-death in that season. Ellis Hartley Monroe's fate at the end of episode four of 'Miracle Day' is merely one of the most extreme examples (her car was crushed into a cube... while she was tied up in the back. The last shot of that episode is an extreme close up of her eye frantically looking around from inside the car cube...), see also the 'survivor' of the explosion in the first episode (who was still living after being at the centre of an explosion and having his head removed to see what would happen) and everyone who was burned to ashes for being as good as dead in the overflow camps...
CSI featured a serial killer that would pose his victims as they were dying so that rigor mortis would freeze them into "whimsical" poses. They found the last victim trapped in a complicated rig, just barely alive.
Tin Man: The eponymous lawman was trapped in an iron maiden and forced to watch a hologram of his family being tortured and killed until DG and Glitch let him out.
The low-budget horror anthology series TerrorVision has a 15-minute episode (referenced here) in which a pair of elderly clothing store proprietors lure young women inside on the pretext of giving them modeling auditions, then use their "special camera" to turn them into mannequins. The special effects are very bad, but at least the concept is still scary.
In the season 2 finale, Hiro Nakamura takes revenge upon Adam Monroe this way by sealing him in a coffin, buried deep underground. Since Adam is immortal, he's likely trapped in there for eternity.(Or at least until season 3.) In the graphic novels, it is shown that he is repeatedly dying, presumably of suffocation, only to be brought back to life by his regenerative powers again and again. Beware the Nice Ones indeed...
And in season three, Angela is temporarily rendered unable to move except for her eyes by her husband.
An immortal once sought out Duncan for revenge. Why? Because Duncan had left him stranded on a tiny, barren island, where he'd died of starvation every day until rescued.
An immortal Nazi had been bound with weights and thrown into a river, resulting in him drowning, reviving, drowning, reviving...(never mind that the first movie had Connor breathing underwater)
There was also an episode where a pair of immortals were doing a Bonnie and Clyde routine for kicks and/or money, with Duncan as their helper. Their M.O. was to rob banks until they were killed in the inevitable shootouts, then Duncan would dig them out of their graves to do it all over again. This worked fine for them until Duncan got fed up with their Jerk Ass ways, and left them in their graves the next time they died.
Yet another was locked in an insane asylum for seventy years. No wonder these guys hate MacLeod.
In the Flash Animations staring Methos, prior to taking his first head, Methos did this to the pharaoh that had been mentoring him after learning that the pharaoh had been the one that had ordered the death of Methos' wife and her family. The pharaoh was mummified alive and buried until his tomb was discovered under water 5000+ years later.
Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk's mentor, Captain Christopher Pike, was horribly scarred and left immobile while rescuing his crewmates from a radiation leak. The accident left Pike in a futuristic iron lung, able to communicate only through flashing green and red lights. Ultimately, Pike's former first officer, Spock, decided the only humane thing to do was to deposit him on Talos IV, where the Talosians create a fantasy world for him. Pike is reunited with his lover, Vina (who had suffered a similar fate) with the illusion of perfect health. ("The Menagerie")
"Datalore" ended with Lore being beamed into space after his attempt to betray the crew to the Crystalline Entity fails; he can't be killed simply by the vacuum of space, being an android, so he spends three years simply drifting in space until, much to his good fortune, he's found by a group of Pakleds. Understandably, he's not in a very good mood the second episode he appears.
In "The Royale", a 21st century astronaut is recovered by aliens, along with a pulp novel, Hotel Royale, which is found in his possession. The astronaut survives by living inside in a phony construct of the fictional hotel/casino, built by the aliens to provides a suitable habitat. It proves to be an unfortunate choice, as the novel was full of clichéd dialogue and bad writing. Unknowingly, the aliens had sentenced the astronaut to a sort of Hell, trapping him in a world of shallow characters and no real human interaction.
In the episode "Skin of Evil", the creature called Armus fits the trope. The result of an alien race's attempt to transcend evil, Armus is a self-loathing creature with no redeemable qualities, filled with emptiness, and living on a dead planet with no way off or any company. Picard even rubs this in, making a speech to Armus where he informs him that he's arranged to have Armus trapped on his empty planet "forever, alone and immortal". Although it's hard to feel pity for a literal pool of evil who kills for fun and really does have no redeeming qualities. The only thing one can feel pity for is that Armus had no choice in the matter of his creation.
Moriarty — the self-aware hologram intended to outsmart Data in "Elementary, Dear Data" — is still conscious when he is deactivated, and when he is brought back in "Ship In A Bottle", he speaks of "Brief, terrifying periods of consciousness... disembodied, without substance." In a subversion of this trope, he is eventually trapped in a small device running a permanent simulation in which he thinks he has escaped into the real world.
Annorax (Kurtwood Smith) from Star Trek: Voyager's "Year of Hell." Originally a benign inventor, his time-travel bungling ended up dooming his home planet. By the time of the two-parter, Annorax has ascended to Emperor Scientist, wrecking the timeline ever further in a futile mission to bring back his world. The ending is an ambivalent one: time is rewound and Annorax is returned home, but a blueprint for his machine is still there. He's called away by his wife, suggesting that he could yet return to his work, trapping himself in a loop of destroying his world over and over. It depends on your interpretation.
Sam and Dean bury Doc Benton (who's immortal) alive, chained up in a refrigerator. Another thing to consider: although he can't die, his body parts wear out, so eventually he'll rot away into a sentient and forever conscious pile of dirt.
The episode "The Rapture", in a slight subversion, has the good guys bestow this kind of fate upon another good person. Jimmy, the vessel for angel Castiel, begs Castiel to possess him to save his daughter from having a similar fate. It's essentially the fate for every human possessed by an angel or demon. Even the "good guy" angels like Castiel, Anna and Gabriel have been pulling this stunt for countless millennia.
Averted in-show in the case of Anna; the only vessel we see her use was her body when she was human, which she had recreated for her use.
Later episodes reveal that actually Castiel has been the only resident of Jimmy's body for years; since the human soul can only remain in a body with a certain level of mass, Jimmy's soul apparently went to Heaven the first time Castiel was blown up by Raphael, and Castiel has just been using his body ever since while Jimmy is at peace.
Also intentionally given by the good guys to the H.H. Holmes, the USA's first recognized serial killer. They left the ghost underground, encircled by rock salt. And barricaded the place. And for good measure, sealed the entrance up with concrete in case of earthquakes. That ghost is NOT going anywhere anytime soon.
In the fifth season finale, Sam actually volunteers to trap Satan by allowing himself to be possessed by Satan and then jumping into an inescapable cage at the bottom of Hell. Because being locked up for all eternity with a very pissed-off fallen angel who has nothing to do but take out his frustration on Sam was the only way they could think of to prevent a global apocalypse. Downplayed because his body gets set free by Castiel not long after, and his soul a year later by Death.
Played for very dark comedy with a teddy bear brought to life by a child's wish, which finds it can't even commit suicide.
Crowley of all people plays this for laughs. When he becomes King of Hell, he transforms it from a Fire and Brimstone Hell into an eternal waiting line, where the people who get to the front are sent all the way to the back, and are forced to go through the experience for the rest of eternity. Crowley's reasoning behind this is that some of the people in hell are Too Kinky to Torture, but nobody likes waiting in line.
Sam and Dean use this to beat the high demon Abaddon in "As Time Goes By". First they shoot her in the head with a bullet engraved with a demon trap, permanently locking her in her meatsuit, which she can barely move. Then (offscreen) they cut her up into little pieces, and to boot it off, bury them in cement, encasing her for at least a few thousand years. As Dean put it, she'll wish they had killed her.
Then they bring her up again and sew her back together, in their attempt to 'cure' a demon.
In the season 3 finale of True Blood, Eric and Bill trap vampire Russell Edgington wrapped in silver and encased in concrete, because true death would be too merciful for him. He swears to spend the following hundred years to plan his revenge.
And the vampire council threaten Bill with this punishment in the first series.
Early in Stargate Atlantis, a Living Shadow that was trapped in the lower levels of the city for thousands of years starts stalking the expedition. As Sheppard said, "I know I'd be pissed."
The hosts to the Goa'uld are subjected to being stuck within their own bodies unable to communicate or control themselves, watching their bodies commit horrible atrocities- for millennia.
Marduk, an ancient Goa'uld was, after a revolt by his people, locked in his sarcophagus (which can heal anything up to and including apparent death) with a carnivorous beast. The sarcophagus kept both him and the beast alive for decades, if not centuries, with the beast eating him alive the whole time until the body finally died (as even the sarcophagus has its limits), with the symbiote jumping into the beast.
Jack O'Neill: Okay, it's official; this is the 'worst way'.
Hathor's host has it pretty bad as well. Goa'uld are well known for choosing female hosts based on physical attractiveness. In addition, Hathor is known as the Egyptian goddess of fertility, inebriety, and music. Basically, she was taken as a host because she was sexy, and she knows it. Then she was forced to watch as her body was used to get drunk and have lots of sex, whether she wanted it or not. If that wasn't bad enough, Hathor then gets locked inside of a sarcophagus inside a Mayan pyramid for the next 2000 years, before being released and doing it all again.
Subverted. The crew stops on a planet where the newly-declared Empress and Regent are customarily turned into living statues for the eighty years it takes for the current rulers to die. However, rather than being viewed as a punishment that drives them insane, it's a duty that makes them wiser by allowing them to observe royal court proceedings; also, people can talk with the couple via a psychic headset, which no doubt helps lessen the monotony somewhat.
Played horrifyingly straight in "Eat Me." Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana and Jool dock at a barren Leviathan in search of replacement parts for their transport ship. The ship is infested with zombie-like creatures (actually Peacekeepers whose mental capacities have been rendered primitive thanks to the episode's main villain). Their only source of food is this Leviathan's Pilot, who gets his arms ripped off. Unfortunately, his species has a Healing Factor, so the trapped creature has his arms repeatedly re-grown and ripped off. By the time Crichton finds him, this Pilot is understandably border-line insane.
In the second season finale, Crichton is undergoing surgery to remove the neuro-chip that Scorpius implanted in his brain. Unfortunately, halfway through the episode, the doctor reports that the offending object is dangerously close to Crichton's speech centres; removing it will mean that he will be unable to speak coherently until a suitable donor can be found. Crichton wearily agrees. No sooner has the operation been completed, when Scorpius strolls in, kills the doctor, and retrieves the extracted neuro-chip; seeing Crichton strapped to the operating table, unable to speak and with no help arriving for quite some time, Scorpius provides this little speech:
You've cost me much, and I do not suffer disappointment well. I condemn you, John Crichton... to live. So that your thirst for unfulfilled revenge... will consume you. ( Beat ) Goodbye. (He exits, leaving Crichton screaming in impotent rage.)
In season three of Desperate Housewives, the question of how to punish the season's Big Bad when doing so would lead to a main character going to jail was solved when she stroked out and ended up with Locked-In Syndrome. Her son then twists the knife a little further: "I'm going to turn your head now so you can watch me walk away. It's the last time you'll ever see me."
The episode "Forever" features this trope with the Monster of the Week, whose touch can turn people to wax. They clearly remain conscious during this, though, as the camera shows their eyes still moving. Shattering the wax statue, however, is implied to be fatal.
Implied to be the fate of another immortal:
Clark: What'd you do with Knox?
Martian Manhunter: Your father and I had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to crime and punishment. I suggest we abide by the same rules.
Clark: You didn't kill him, did you?
Martian Manhunter: Knox is immortal, Kal-El. You can't kill him.
Lana Lang suffered a temporary case of this when Brainiac placed her in an "anasthesia awareness" state during the last few episodes of Season 7. According to what Brainiac told Clark, Lana was fully aware of her surroundings and in a constant state of excrutiating pain, but she was also fully paralyzed so that she could do nothing to try to ease her pain or communicate with anybody else in any way. She was left in this condition for over a month until Clark finally defeated Brainiac and freed her. Brainiac could have been claiming this just to emotionally torture Clark as Lana did not seem to be suffering any psychological aftereffects from the experience when she returned as a guest star the following season.
An episode of ER featured Cynthia Nixon as a stroke victim who could perceive what was happening to her but not communicate with anyone.
The "Soul Hunters" are a brotherhood who capture the spirits of the dying in little globes, as they believe the soul dies with the body unless it is preserved. The Minbari at least consider this a fate MUCH worse than death, since they believe the soul is reincarnated into the next generation unless it's captured first.
For much of season 4, Garibaldi was under the influence of mental programming courtesy of Mr. Bester that causes repeated conflicts with his comrades, eventually drives him to resign, and ultimately causes him to betray Sheridan. When Bester gives him The Reveal, he off-handedly says, "I can feel you, you know, the real you. Beating at the inside of your skull...screaming to get out."
There's an episode featuring a patient with Locked-In Syndrome. Most of the episode was shown from his perspective.
In another episode, one scene shows the patient of the week rendered unconscious by her ailment. House enters, frowns, and approaches her, putting his ear near her mouth to better hear the nearly inaudible, whispery gasps she is making. It is then that he leaps into action, revealing to the rest of the team that she has been screaming in agony the entire time, only she was too weak to make much noise.
A particularly dark example was in Crossing Jordan, which, for those of you who didn't know, is a show about a coroner's office. The victim is shot and spends the most of the episode paralyzed. He used to be a prosecutor and Macy's friend, but underwent a FaceHeel Turn to Amoral Attorney when Macy refused to falsify evidence to put away a serial killer. He keeps pleading with Jordan and Macy not to autopsy him, promising he'll change. He's only saved when Macy digs the bullet out and realizes he's still bleeding. Turns out he and his two guests (who were killed) had improperly prepared Fugu, and his secretary shot him. On his way out of the hospital, Macy gives him a bell, and tells him that people used to be buried with strings attached to bells in case they were buried alive. The lawyer points out that Macy just effectively admitted the coroner's office is at fault, and he'll both be suing and representing the woman who shot him. Then he walks outside and gets hit by a bus. The last shots of the episode is the team looking down into his body bag, and their evaluator asking if they're sure he's dead. The bag is closed up, using the same POV shot from the lawyer's perspective as earlier, and then we hear a bell tinkling.
In part seven of Nightmares and Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, "Autopsy Room Four", the protagonist is bitten by a venomous snake and falls into a paralytic state extremely similar to death, except he's fully aware. When he's taken to the hospital, the doctors prepare for an autopsy...
"You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" has a similar situation: a young married couple gets lost in the woods on a road trip and find themselves in a small town called Rock and Roll Heaven, which is populated by two groups of individuals. The first group consists of the spirits of famous rock stars—Janis Joplin's the local waitress, Elvis is the mayor, Otis Redding is the police chief, etc. While this seems amazing, the ghosts/zombies Came Back Wrong and are cruel, vindictive people who love to torture humans. This explains the second group: a collection of everyday people who also got lost in the forest and are now trapped in the town. They spend all day doing menial jobs, then are forced to attend the nightly rock concerts in the town park—which, despite "ending" at midnight, can go on for an entire year. And none of these poor individuals ever age, or die, or change in any way. The kicker? They did nothing to deserve this—King expressly states that this isn't Hell. It's just some horrible pocket dimension for people who get lost.
An episode took that theme Up to 11, letting a character face such a fate twice. The first time, he'd been injected with an experimental anaesthetic by his medical-researcher brother, who knew the protagonist was still conscious and staged the "autopsy" as a prank (!), paying back how his sibling had picked on him for years. After being revived, the protagonist dies for real, and the episode ends with him — consciousness prolonged by the residual drug in his system — facing a second trip to the autopsy table, this time with the capacity to feel pain.
Also the main theme of a later episode titled "You, Murderer". We watch through the eyes of the protagonist who dies about a third through the story — but for some reason not being able to pass on through his body. He is still fully conscious, unable to speak and can still feel pain as he continues on with telling the tale.
In Lost, Nikki and Paulo get bitten by Medusa spiders, which paralyzed them into a death-like state where they were fully aware, but pale, cold, and unable to move. This culminates in them being buried alive by the rest of the Lostaways (who think they're dead), and slowly suffocating to death underground. The dog is the only one who realizes something is wrong.
In "Stiff", a season-ten episode of Law & Order, a woman is found comatose because her husband has been injecting her with near-overdoses of insulin (with her consent) in their sex games to render her immobile but conscious. It turns out that she's not comatose at all: her daughter has replaced the insulin with a drug that permanently puts her into a locked-in state. Permanently.
On Fringe, areas exposed to rips in space-time are isolated by quarantining them in amber, even with people still inside. It's revealed that quarantine amber causes a state of semi-aware suspended animation for those encased inside, rather than death, as had been previously thought.
On Charmed, there was a magic school that was enchanted so that you can't die as long as any part of your body is on its grounds. You can be beheaded, and your still-conscious, talking head will stay alive, even outside the school, as long as your body remains at the school. Now, think about what that means for that one guy Gideon blasted into a pile of ash while there.
Presumably what it was like for Matthew Tate when he got trapped in a locket.
Prue attempted to do this to a warlock couple by trapping them in a painting, but they ended by getting vanquished when it was set on fire.
On Dead Like Me, George, the main character, is a Reaper who must take people's souls out of their bodies at specific times. On an early episode, she decides to not show up to take a soul. It then shows the person trapped in their dead body receiving an autopsy and screaming in horror.
"Breakdown" involves a man getting paralyzed in a car wreck and mistaken for dead.
In "Final Escape", a woman serving life imprisonment for murdering her husband plans to escape by conspiring with the prison gravedigger (a trustee inmate) to hide her in the next coffin to be buried in the prison graveyard and dig her up later. When the next burial is imminent, she hides in the coffin without looking to see who the corpse is. After burial, the gravedigger seems to be taking an awfully long time to arrive to dig her up; she becomes curious as to who is in the coffin with her, lights a match, and sees that it's the gravedigger himself.
In the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "The Long Silence" a woman is paralyzed. Although she can't speak, she still has her sight, and, just as importantly, her mind.
"The Tale of the 13th Floor". At the end, Karin is stuck frozen on Earth for ten years in her natural (faceless/mouthless) alien forma.
At the end of "The Super Specs", the protagonists from the "normal" universe are trapped in a crystal ball.
The pilot episode for the Swamp Thing TV series showed the title hero fusing the still-living body of one of the bad guys into a tree, leaving him a half-man, half-tree hybrid, in very much the same fashion as the Doctor Who example above - although in this case the effect is even more disturbing, as the bad guy's face is left frozen in a way that very much brings Munch's The Scream to mind.
In the Dinosaurs episode "If You Were a Tree, Earl gets struck by lightning, causing his soul to get transferred into a tree. Earl's face is sticking out of the tree's trunk, however, he is unable to interact with the other dinosaurs.
"Dive Bombed": The scuba divers who avoided getting decompression sickness when they came up top...then boarded a non-pressurized Cessna for a joyride. The lowered air pressure induced the DCS they were trying to avoid getting, resulting in all three of them, and they were forced to watch in helpless paralysis as the plane flew straight at a mountain.
"Chippin' Dale": The construction worker who gets shredded alive by his wood chipper after using his foot to dislodge a jam. What makes it worse is that this type of death is distressingly common in real life.note At least 31 people died in woodchipper accidents from 1992 to 2002. Makes you want to ensure that every woodchipper comes with a DVD copy of Fargo.
"Drunk Die-er": The drunk driver who was still alive and had to not only watch his organs being harvested, but feel every second of it.
"De-Coffinated": The Haitian man was paralyzed by his brother through a witch doctor's toxic dust and buried alive.
"Constriction Accident": The construction worker who was buried up to his neck thanks to a truck driver who went to work with a hangover, but died slowly and breathlessly because the pressure on his chest prevented his lungs from expanding.
"Suffer-Cated": A cyclist trying to get an edge over his competition uses an altitude tent to increase his red blood cell count, giving him more oxygen to burn while cycling. His dog (which was actually his girlfriend's, but she left the dog behind when she dumped her cyclist boyfriend), who's been deprived of food and water at the expense of the cyclist's training, accidentally turns off the oxygen while getting his water bottle. The cyclist wakes up, panics from the lack of air, and falls door-down in his tent and suffocates to death.
"Smoke Stalked": A crazy ex-girlfriend who wouldn't accept the fact that her ex-boyfriend was married to another woman ends up stalking him to the point that the couple have to go away on vacation just to get away from her. The girlfriend decides to break in the house by climbing through the chimney, Santa Claus-style. Unfortunately, she gets stuck for days, wasting away from starvation, suffocation, and dehydration. When the couple returns, they freak out when they find the ex-girlfriend's corpse blocking the flue in the fireplace.
"Pretty Fly For A Dead Guy": A nerdy man bent on killing bugs creates wall-sized flypaper treated with an extremely sticky glue as a means to capture any and all creepy crawlies. Once he's finished, a mosquito buzzes around him and the man goes after it with a flyswatter. The man slips and gets stuck to the wall, completely immobilized, soiled from losing control of his bladder and bowels, and dead days later from dehydration and the bugs turning his body into a buffet.
"Texas Fold 'Em": A poker player who regularly cheats gets in trouble when he uses his cheating tricks on a group of workers with ties to the mob. The player makes a run for it and ends up in an old car. What he doesn't know is the car is scheduled for destruction. A claw drops and the door pins down on his leg, rendering him immobile. A forklift takes him to a car compactor (no one can hear his screams because of the machinery) and he is slowly crushed to death while fully conscious and had to watch himself get crushed and slowly asphyxiate.
"Botoxicated": An ex-beauty queen hires an unlicensed doctor to give her a Botox injection. Not being a real doctor, he accidentally gives her a bad injection. Feeling the effects setting in, instead of calling 911 for a real doctor, she decides to take a dip in her hot tub to calm herself down. The bad Botox paralyzes her, and she slides under the surface, drowning in about three feet of water.
The famous episode "Time Enough At Last", where, now that the rest of humanity has been destroyed, Burgess Meredith can finally read all he wants. Unfortunately, his coke-bottle glasses slip off his head, and shatter.
"A Kind of Stopwatch" has a man discover a stop watch that stops time, and using it to rob banks, and things like that. Until it falls out of his pocket and breaks while the rest of the world (and presumably the universe) is still frozen (unless this is just his point of view).
In another episode, "The Long Morrow", an astronaut is sent into space for forty years. He is to be put into suspended animation, so he will be the same age when he returns, and won't have to deal with the loneliness of space. However, he releases himself from suspended animation early in the flight, so that he will be the same age as his girlfriend when he gets back. After forty lonely years in space, he returns, only to find that she froze herself to wait for him, and she is still young.
The Twilight Zone (1985): The remake was "A Little Peace and Quiet" in which an overstressed homemaker can stop time to escape the pressures of everyday life, until she freezes time during a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States, and she can see an inbound missile frozen over her own town. She's stuck with the choice of either living forever frozen in time, or unfreezing time and dying instantly.
In a season one episode of Carnivāle, Dora Mae is murdered in Babylon, a town that has been cursed with immortality. If you die there, you have to stay forever, meaning she has to spend eternity as a whore to a town full of similarly cursed miners.
The Attic is a Lotus-Eater Machine where people that the Rossum Corporation wants to dispose of are sent to. It's actually a giant neural supercomputer with the people trapped inside it experiencing never-ending nightmares. For example, one guy has been forced to eat his own legs over and over again for years.
Well, goodness gracious, but it is good to be out of doors... unless you happen to be one of the women that Terry Karrens kidnapped, kept paralyzed but aware, and used as mannequins in his own personal twisted croquet game.
Recurring baddie Frank Breitkopf from Criminal Minds injected his victims with a drug that left them paralyzed but fully awake while he vivisected them. He does this in a room with a mirrored ceiling, so they could see it happen. As he's been active for around thirty years, its implicated Frank's done this to around two-hundred people.
The UnSub from "The Uncanny Valley" kidnaps women, drugs them with a paralytic, and keeps them as dolls in a hellish tea party.
From Wizards of Waverly Place of all places! In one episode, Alex brings a mannequin to life to be her boyfriend. But when it becomes unmanageable, Alex has to turn it back. The mannequin is terrified of having its face turned back into a "featureless knob." After a few moments of life and mobility, his new life is cruelly snatched away and he is stuck as a frozen plastic doll in a store window.
This is what "bronzing" is implied to do to people kept in Warehouse 13. According to H.G. Wells who was bronzed for over 100 years, they're fully aware, but immobile. She seems to have come out of it fairly well, if more than a little angry. If anything, she just used to the time to perfect her plan.
In the second season finale, H.G. Wells is captured after attempting to destroy the world and is taken away by government agents. Her fate is unspecified, but it is said that it will be even worse than "bronzing.". The actual reveal in season three is debatable on whether it is worse as it is her entire persona is downloaded into a coin whilst her body is given a new personality. It's not stated if her normal personality is aware of being in the coin.
In the Canadian TV show The Collector, a woman tries to evade death and eternal damnation by placing her mind into the body of a robot. The transfer was a success. The only problem is there is a malfunction, causing the robot to be stuck in place. She can see and think, but is stuck forever. The devil notes that she is the first client to create her own personal hell. In admiration he decides to keep her running for the next millenia, but seals off the door so no one can ever find her. It ends with showing her robot body endlessly chanting "I will move now. I will move now. I will move now"
Misfits - Season 2, episode 6. Nathan; a man who can control dairy products 'kills' the immortal Nathan by basically strangling his brain with cheese, leaving Nathan in a permanent vegetative state
Also in Season 3, episode 5 when a coma patient uses her power to switch bodies with Kelly. To make matters worse, the patient's mother decides on turning off the life-support machine the next day.
Night Visions, a short-lived "Twilight Zone"-type series hosted by Henry Rollins, had one particular half-episode called "Switch." In it, a woman seeing a psychiatrist to find her alternate personality and eliminate it found that she WAS the alternate, created by her child-like real self after her parents died when she was 5. The real twist? She murdered them. The episode ended with this woman - trapped in her mind, unable to speak, and unable to move - encased in 8 big hollow bricks that spelled out "ETERNITY," with holes only for her forearms.
Season 5 episode "Déjà Vu" from The Outer Limits (1995) deals with a failed teleportation experiment that traps the main character in a shrinking time loop. While he manages to break free in the end, the antagonist isn't as lucky. He gets caught in another time loop that forces him to relive the last few seconds preceding a nuclear explosion at point blank range, most likely for all eternity.
Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: There are a few examples. A monster called Pineoctopus (who could disguise himself as a clown) had the ability to turn people into cardboard cutouts, the Rangers were turned into pachinko balls on one occasion and bricks on another.
A particularly ironic Fate Worse Than Death befalls an escaped Nazi war criminal in the Pilot Movie for Night Gallery (this was the third of the three stories it told). He discovers that he has the power to wish himself into paintings (or at least, into one particular painting at a local art gallery, which features a lone figure in a serene fishing scene). Near the end of the story, when he's on the run from the authorities, he escapes to the museum and tries to wish himself back into the painting— only to discover that it has been replaced with a scene of the crucifixion of a death-camp inmate. He then gets to spend the rest of eternity trapped in the painting, undergoing perpetual torture as the figure of the inmate.
Though probably more a case of What Could Have Been, Harlan Ellison's original script for the Star Trek episode "The City On The Edge Of Forever" climaxed with a drug-dealing, murdering Enterprise crew member called Beckwith leaping back into the vortex of the Guardians of Forever in a bid to escape Kirk and Spock (he'd beamed down to the planet after killing a colleague and gone back to the '30s, with our heroes in pursuit). The Guardians trap him in a time loop which sends him into the heart of an exploding sun, where he's there just long enough to die in agony before time turns back to his arriving inside the sun, so he'll be materialising and burning up over and over again forever.
In Once Upon a Time, this was how sleeping curses worked. The victim appears dead but they are trapped in an endless sleep filled with nightmares formed by their own regrets.
Rumpelstiltskin gave a potion to Jiminy so he could be free from his cruel parents. However, by accident, Geppetto's parents took the potion and are now trapped as puppets forever.
Gaston was turned into a rose by Rumpelstiltskin and then clipped by an unknowing Belle. It is later confirmed this did kill him, as he appears in the Underworld, but then again, he later goes to hell.
Medusa is turned to stone. Her petrification releases those she did the same to, and is never undone, leaving her a statue forever.
The season 4 mid-season finale, "Heroes and Villains", has Hook being mind-controlled by Rumplestiltskin...and, judging by the desperate way he clings to Emma's arm before Rumpel re-asserts control, he's fully aware the whole time.
In Season 6, Prince Achmed, and later Jafar are turned into a staff. Though, like with the puppets, it's unclear as to whether they're conscious for it.
Stanum's transformation into the Tin Man leaves him immobile, as a tin statue. He is not seen again, though it is implied by Zelena that Dorothy may release him down the road, and also possible that he was restored when all the realms destroyed by the Black Fairy (including Oz), and everyone in them including the Evil Queen, were revived.
The Dead Body, after Jake's ghost sends Will back in time to save him from dying, Will ends up dying in his place, and returns to his own time as a ghost, where no one can see or hear him.
Pumpkinhead sees Scott and Allie's heads replaced with pumpkins.
Mascot Willie is swallowed alive by the Big Yellow mascot monster. His one chance of getting help vanished when his cell phone battery dies when trying to call his friend Drake.
Scarecrow in the alternate ending to this episode, Bobby, the only living thing left on Earth, is turned into a scarecrow and forced to watch as the world comes to an end.
In I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie was trapped in her bottle for 2000 years before Tony Nelson rescued her. (It was little wonder she was so adamant about staying with him.) The Blue Djinn, who had trapped her there, met the same type of fate about 500 years after what he did to her, being trapped himself for 1500 years. He was not pleased.
In the Red Dwarf episode "Rimmerworld", Rimmer's clones turn on him for having small amounts of the un-Rimmerlike traits they believe are evil and throw him in a small prison. As he's a hologram, he doesn't die and, as everyone on the planet is an even less likable and more treacherous copy of Rimmer, he knows they'll turn him in if he escapes. He ends up imprisoned among these reminders of what a mess of a human being he is for 557 years.
In The Tribe, during season 4 the Technos don't kill some people, but give them a much worse fate and instead use them in human experiments by hooking them up to an endless, inescapable virtual reality simulation for their boss's twisted enjoyment.
In the Hannibal episode "Tome-Wan", the terms of the late Mr. Verger's will will disinherit Margot if Mason dies. Mason tries to feed Hannibal Lecter to his pigs. Hannibal persuades Mason to mutilate himself and then breaks Mason's neck, leaving him paralyzed. Mason is then given to Margot to be kept technically alive.
Salem: In order for Mary Sibley to control her husband, she shoves a toad familiar down his throat, leaving him unable to speak and so weak that he can't even leave his chair.
Red Band Society has Charlie, a nine-year-old in a coma. His new roommate is Kara Souders, a bratty cheerleader who, just for kicks, blows cigarette smoke right on Charlie's face. Being the Narrator of the series, his only reaction is a relatively lighthearted comment, "You gotta wonder what I did to deserve this." A few scenes later, he gets some revenge by farting loudly while Kara's nearby.
In Haven, Audrey Parker's evil, original personality Mara takes control and reveals that she is conscious the entire time no matter what personality (she has dozens) is in control, unable to communicate and interact with the world. She's been alive for centuries.
The Machine from Person of Interest was this for the first few years of its existence, as its creator, Finch, never gave it a voice, so the most it could do is call him on payphones and say nothing. It's memories were also deleted every night at midnight and it couldn't interfere with anything in the real world, despite being programed to help people.
In the series finale of Forever, Henry is forced into a showdown with fellow immortal Adam. Unwilling to kill the old bastard, Henry resorts to jabbing a syringe full of air into Adam's bloodstream, causing an embolism that leaves him with "locked-in" syndrome. Adam is left alive, but unable to move, and thus unable to kill himself and regenerate. Henry ensures that Adam is hooked up to live-sustaining machines and promises to Adam that he'll stay alive for a very long time.
In The Magicians an entire class is magically paralyzed as a faceless man stalks around the room, then rips out Dean Fogg's eyes and eats him alive when he tries to intervene.
Grimm: As demonstrated by Eve (AKA Juliette), extremely-powerful Hexenbiests are capable of covering up various orifices in an unfortunate victim with skin flaps. Eve does this to torture a member of the Black Claw for information. After a short while of being completely cut off from the outside world by having his mouth, eyes, and ears covered up, the guy is ready to spill everything. Strangely, having skin flaps on his ears somehow makes him lose all hearing ability, even though certain animal species (e.g. snakes) are able to hear just fine with them. Hexenbiests are also able to remove the extra skin with seemingly no harmful effects.
Westworld: Peter is unable to resist when he's ordered into cold storage after his confrontation with Dr. Ford when he "glitches".
Jessica Jones: If you become a victim of Kilgrave, you want to do what he wants you to do, whether or not it's what you want to do. When his victims talk about their ordeal afterwards, Jessica herself included, many mention how they were hating inside their minds all the while.
Here's one example: An ambulance driver who picked up Kilgrave was forced to give him both of his kidneys, and as a result suffered a severe stroke that gave him extensive brain damage. When Jessica finds him, he is stuck in a wheelchair and being cared for by his somewhat creepy mother. He manages to get enough control over himself to ask Jessica to put him out of his misery.