In The 7th Guest, the spirits of the children who died from The Plague were sealed in dolls. Also, Elinor Knox ends up being turned into a mannequin.
In the standard ending of the Interactive Fiction game The Act of Misdirection you end up as a sentient bust in a hat store. You are in this state for a few turns before the game ends with the implication that you will be like that forever. In these few turns you can try several actions including "shout" and "move" and the game will disturbingly remark on your inability to do them.
Afterlife has a few punishments like this, specially Lust's Screaming Subspace Voids, where the damned are put in a straitjacket, blindfolded, have their ears plugged, and are suspended by a cable in a black void with no sides to touch. Description states insanity comes real quick.
In the Girls LoveVisual NovelAkai Ito, Nozomi was trapped inside the Ryugetsu for... a long time. Even though in other characters' route she is always a villain, when you are in her route it's explained that she was a princess of some sort, and discarded her original body to obtain freedom from the deadly political game of her era. She then became a ghost that is attached to the Ryugetsu. How did she accomplish this? By making deal with Nushi, which, at that time, seemed sympathetic. When Nushi was defeated and sealed by the onikiri, she became trapped in the mirror. As she wondered why Nushi never come for her, her psyche crumbled, and out of loneliness (and low self-esteem, she's really a messed-up person) she created another persona that act as her twin little sister. But that little sister, Mikage, was really a part of Nushi's shattered soul, and manipulates her into manipulating the owner of the mirror to do atrocious things, all to free Nushi.
Captain Pregtz from the first game was turned into a tree and has lived in an underground city for 300 years. Subverted in that he still has servants waiting on him hand and foot. Er, branch and root.
Jack in the Dark, despite being a kids game, features sentient toys living in an abandoned toy store for years. Despite this, they don't seem to mind much.
In Amnesia: The Dark Descent, the fate of Cornelius Agrippa skirts this trope; he is left chained to a wall in a distant cellar, in a decayed, immortal body, aware but unable to move, for 300 years. Although he can speak, he has no one to speak to until you arrive. Given his predicament, he seems in remarkably good spirits when he meets you.
Depending on the ending, Either Alexander or Daniel will meet this fate, trapped in eternal darkness after being swallowed by The Shadow of the Orb forever.
The fate of the Pale Bride in Analogue: A Hate Story, after her adoptive parents cut out her tongue to keep her from arguing. While she was in stasis, the people of the Mugunghwa stopped using the Korean alphabet and can no longer read it, and she can't write the Chinese characters they use now, so she has no way of communicating with anybody anymore aside from body language. And then the only person who ever treated her with kindness after she came out of stasis dies. No wonder she snapped and decided to Kill 'em All.
The most obvious example are The Gray Legionnaires, an army of (very high-quality) undead raised by order of necromancers. They retain their appearance, intelligence, memories and personality and do not die of natural cases, but without magical support, they will slowly rot alive. While as much as the skeleton remains, they can be rejuvenated or killed, but once their bones turn to dust, nothing can free them from this state. According to the very last lucky survivor, they will live forever, immobile, voiceless and senseless, but still conscious.
In the very first location, you encounter the spirit of a thug, cursed to be trapped in his dead body forever, in constant pain. However, you can can at least resurrect him, but after his (very soon, as his first action is to attack you) death he still will be trapped in this plane of existence.
In the Void, Arronax was defeated by Big Bad Kerghan and imprisoned for 2000 years in some kind of force field just wide enough for him to stand, speaking only occasionally with Kerghan. And the Void is the weird place where the only way to die is by violence. However, not only did it not affect Arronax's sanity, but, as he states, actually gave him time to think about his life and deeds, eventually leading to his Heel–Face Turn.
Interestingly, a spiritual snake-like creature which has been sustaining Arronax's magical prison suffered almost the same fate, being summoned from the other world and forced to roam the same room for all 2000 years, apparently able to communicate only with the owner of the control medallion (which was given to the undead). If you get the medallion in possession, it will say that this place hurts it, and plead for release.
Azrael's Tear centers around the Holy Grail and the substance it's composed of, grailstone. It heals virtually all injuries, cures pretty much any sickness, generally promotes health, gradually mutates the body of some individuals, turns some minds to madness... Oh, and if you're lucky enough to be killed so thoroughly that the grailstone can't revive you, you get to exist as a ghost, with your spirit trapped near your body for as long as it remains under the grailstone's influence.
Centeol in Baldur's Gate, a minor NPC found in Cloakwood, was once a beautiful sorceress, but has been transformed into a grotesque blobby thing that is unable to move from the centre of its nest, where it is fed and protected by giant spiders.
In Baten Kaitos, the five islands are kept aloft by pieces of the dead god of evil, Malpercio. In the prequel, you learn Malpercio was actually five people (Seph, Thoran, Ven, Marno, and Pieda) who sold their soul to the Dark Brethren for power, and it was their bodies that were sealed into the End Magnus. Moreover, a chunk of Marno is inside Sagi, and Marno serves as Sagi's guardian spirit. Have the five of them been conscious while they're entombed in the islands?! Moreover, in Eternal Wings, the five End Magnus get fused together. Are they still conscious after that?
Poor Jenne is likely in a situation like this in the first half of Bayonetta 2 after she's grabbed by the demons of the Inferno, given the ending of the "Did You Miss Me?" trailer; a shot can be seen of her soul floating alone and helpless in a void, with Bayonetta's voice assuring her, "Jeanne, I'm on my way. Just behave yourself for a bit longer... " Whether she's conscious or not then isn't known, but assuming she can hear it...
The flash game series Being One features some disturbing examples.
In the first game, you have to disable three stasis tanks to escape the lab you were held in. One of the alien specimens, who is a telepath, says "Help us, help us, help us..." just before dying.
The fourth episode has werewolves (or Lycans, as they call them), and the scientists' research explains that being a werewolf actually comes from a virus activated by the moon, and those infected go on a rage-driven rampage in an attempt to kill themselves. But that's tricky when you consider that they heal very fast.
The fifth game, revealing how twisted the Big Bad is, has nanobots that can dissolve human flesh and turn brain-dead humans into zombies. The player is injected with these nanos as well, and has to endure incredible pain while trying to find a cure.
In Bioshock 2, Gilbert Alexander was experimented on by Sophia Lamb — her first test subject for what she plans to do with her daughter. He is reduced to a giant floating tentacled blob, his sanity long since disappeared, howling in the dark at the splicers and calling himself Alex the Great. His last recorded message to you begs you to kill him, to put him out of his misery. In a curious subversion, honoring his wishes and killing him is treated just as bad as killing the innocent little sisters.
The spoilered item only comes about because of a programming oversight they didn't catch until after it was released, namely that the achievement for being a saint involves not killing Alexander at the end, despite the implications of this.
There's another instance in Bioshock 2 that can be considered a good example of this — when Lamb turns Sinclair into a Big Daddy, he begs with the last ounce of humanity in him for death. The player can use the fully upgraded version of Hypnotize to have Sinclair aid them in killing the Splicers around and to follow them, but every moment not spent whaling on the poor bastard is more time for him to brokenly plead for death.
Some of the Big Daddy conversion subjects had their minds left intact. Yikes. In fact, the Big Bad even pities you for this, since you are one of those subjects.
Arakune◊ of BlazBlue has this on a few levels. Originally he was a scientist, researching the netherworld of lost souls called the Boundary. As he learned more and more, he eventually fell into the Boundary, and now... he is a shapeless mass of insects, who lives only to pursue knowledge. You see that face-like white plate? That's not his face. He has no face. That's just a mask he stuck onto himself to try and make communicating easier. Also, while he thinks he's talking perfectly normal, his speech comes out fragmented and incomprehensible, a lot like this actually. When his former love interest, who is trying to save him, finally tracks him down, he is able to remember her, and speak clearly for the first time in years, and tries to warn her that she is dangerously close to becoming like him... and while he tried to stop her from pursuing him further to avoid getting even closer, she also realizes that just running away at that point would pretty much doom her to the fate...
Subverted as of Blaz Blue Chrono Phantasma, where Arakune has regained full control over his speech. At this point, however, Litchi is now forced into anUnwitting Pawn to Imperator Saya, and continues to pursue Arakune in hopes of a cure... which can also be used at her due to avoid the doom as mentioned above... She has abandoned Kokonoe because while the latter is capable of the cure, she just plain refused to make one, preferring to concentrate on her lust of vengeance against Terumi (in fact Litchi asked her first, Kokonoe just refused). Oh and you may be wondering WHO is capable of at least giving Arakune coherency in speech. Why, it's our resident evil Mad Scientist Relius Clover, of course. This is Relius we're talking about, so you may say that the process of giving speech coherency to Arakune can be this trope altogether too.
Lambda-11's story mode in BlazBlue: Continuum Shift both plays it straight and combines it with Mind Rape. The former when she is the subject of durability tests with high voltage (which the researchers note would fry most Murakumo units), but is only partially online so she cannot voice her agony or requests for help. Later, Kokonoe acquires her and wipes her mind so she can be used as a combat drone. Lambda hears Kokonoe talking about mind-wiping her and panics, but again is not able to speak. Even her supposed "gag reel" has these elements present, making it more soul-crushingly depressing than funny.
Also Continuum Shift, Makoto gets in on this in her bad ending. Relius Clover gets a hold of her and, in a rather harrowing sequence, tortures her via prolonged Mind Rape. Relius' last comment implies that he intends to transform her into something like his wife-turned-battle-doll Ignis, and Makoto is still conscious and aware as the ending fades to black. Yikes. Fortunately, it's a bad ending so it's not canon.
In Bloodborne, the Vileblood spirit killed by the Executioners lie inside the weapons of the Executioners and utilised as weapons, and the vengeful spirits grind by the wagon wheel and drenched into the gloves and are implied to be conscious. If you give a letter to Alfred to spoil th location of Cainhurst, Alfred would head to the throne room to grind Annalise, the immortal queen of Vileblood into mincemeat with his wagon wheel. It is implied those blobs of flesh are still alive after being grind into pieces.
During Bravely Default's false ending, Airy threatens your party with this after you enter the final dungeon: even though it will take five millennia for the destroyed crystal to regenerate, they will have your screams of torment to help pass the time.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Assault on Dark Athena introduces us to the Ghost Drones, who are humans that have had most of their insides ripped out and replaced with machinery and cheap AI so that they can be remote-controlled (no word on whether they retain their original human consciousness, though). Riddick encounters one man in the middle of this horrifying conversion, and obliges his request to be killed. Riddick's charitable like that.
Trilby gets this treatment in Yahtzee'sSix Days A Sacrifice, where he or one of his clones is absorbed into Chzo's body to suffer for eternity beyond casual interpretations of space and time. The same goes for Cabadath, an ancient druid who summoned but failed to control Chzo ages ago, and whose soul was joined to a tree, essentially granting him immortality and allowing him to manifest himself as The Prince to whoever disturbs the wood of the tree.
Yuri's fate in the Allied ending of Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2: Yuris Revenge, where he is captured, strapped down to what amounts to a metallic coffin, with something like a Dentist's lamp right over his head, and kept there for a life sentence, all to prevent him from using his Psychic powers.
Those who die in the school in Corpse Party are left to wander the school feeling the pain they felt when they died for eternity.
Dark Souls: The eventual and inevitable fate of all those cursed with the Darkbrand. As for more specific examples:
The Bed of Chaos is the Witch of Izalith. She tried to use her Lord Soul to recreate the First Flame, but it went horribly wrong. The Witch and 2 of her daughters were trapped in the chaotic flame, which also created all of Lordran's Demons. Its implied she and her two daughters are still vaguely conscious. Dark Souls 2 very strongly implies that the Lost Sinner is the Witch who has been reincarnated and has imprisoned herself to further atone for her crimes.
Turns out that when Gwyn set out to rekindle the First Flame he had to light himself on fire in the Kiln to keep the flame going. By the time you find him, he's been burning for over 1,000 years and has gone hollowed and insane. His fight is just him wanting One Last Dance before you finally end his misery.
Its implied that the bodies making up Gravelord Nito are still conscious. same with The Rotten in 2, which is a reincarnation of Nito.
Dead Island gives us Suicider zombies. A type of zombie that explodes on proximity to survivors. They still retain their minds, however, and are forced to roam the island looking for help, only to be gunned down by survivors. They can sometimes be heard saying "Help me" before exploding.
The final fate of Tiberius from Demonbane. In Al's route, he gets absorbed into the Shining Trapezohedron, forever trapped in a dimension of shrieking madness and suffering.
Late in Survival Horror/Guro game Demonophobia, it's revealed by Ritz that the game's respawn system is not simply a gameplay mechanic — it actually happens. Worse, every time main character Sakuri dies she remains conscious, aware, and feeling the pain of the fatal injury for three days before she's resurrected and her memory of the event is erased. Fridge Horror kicks in soon after when they player realizes that all of those corpses you've passed along your way are going through the exact same torture, but unlike Sakuri they don't have a guardian spirit to resurrect them and end their pain; they're going to be in that state for eternity.
In Deus Ex: Human Revolution is a quantum supercomputer which is assisted by humans with heavily augmented spines to connected them directly into the machine. When you're task to disable it, the victims of the machine continue to plea for help and complain of how cold it is. And there are emails in the facility with the computer with automatically generated passwords... which contains the person's thoughts.
Diablo. See, there are these things called soulstones, used to imprison the spirits of the main Big Bads of the game. But one of them, Baal, managed to shatter his. The biggest shard left wasn't powerful enough to hold him. A very powerful mage named Tal Rasha selflessly offers his powers to contain the demon in the soulstone. Guess what this entails? They strap his body to a giant stone tablet in an ancient tomb in the middle of a desert, shove the stone into his chest, and leave him to eternally battle a demon for his mind!About halfway through the second game, the main evil party releases Baal from his body, with the side effect of killing Tal Rasha.
In another example, an immortal angel made a stupid move to attack one of the main villains when not thoroughly prepared. Proceed to angel being captured by a pissed off Big Bad. They slowly ripped off his wings, and then put huge barbed hooks through his skin and stretched it out. After that, they trapped him in a chamber of mirrors, with his eyelids torn off. So that the only thing he can see for all eternity is his torn, bloated figure.
Happens to the Big Bad in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice: after defeating the would-be "hero", Mao decides against killing him and concludes that his immortal body would make him a perfect lab rat for his experiments... old school Mad Scientist type-experiments that usually involve rusty needles and a complete lack of anesthesia. For thousands of years.
As of the sequel, he has apparently been re-purposed as the power source for Mao's Humongous Mecha. And yes, he's still alive.
The Heart in Dishonored helps you find collectibles and upgrade runes while giving you information on Dunwall and people (should you be pointing it at them). Once in a while, however, you hear it say "What have they done TO ME!?" or comment on its past life. Horror and Fridge Horror follows when you realize what and from who it's made of.
The Outsider: "Here, take this heart. Made from a living thing."
In Dragon Age: Origins, Shale was unactivated, but never the less capable of thought, for 30 years in the middle of some little peasant village. As a result of this, Shale has a deep, deep and very vocalized loathing of pigeons and the various peasants the deactivated Golem was forced to stand still and watch for 30 years.
Shale also mentions having been stuck and deactivated in the deep roads in the complete dark for a few CENTURIES. At least there weren't any pigeons down there.
Meanwhile, the Sylvans of the Brecilian Forest are the disastrous results of a Fade spirit possessing a tree; deprived of sight and voice, most of them have reverted to slaughtering travellers in fits of insane jealousy.
As well as the Ancient Elven Arcane Warrior frozen in the phylactery for centuries in the Elven Ruins of the Brecilian Forest. When the player character finds him/her, he/she is practically insane except for the knowledge of the Arcane Warrior. You have the choice to free him/her or forever trap him/her in the state he/she is in.
There's also three examples of people turned into statues by Telvinter magisters, one found in the basement of the Circle Tower during the Mage origin, and two more found in the Wending Woods during Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening. The first one doesn't seem to be bothered, apparently the process of being turned to stone also removed her emotions, and one of the statues in the Wending Woods has managed to "sleep" for centuries, however the second statue was unable to sleep due to anger and has been conscious the whole time.
Then there's Xenon the Black Emporium merchant in Dragon Age II, who was granted eternal life, but forgot to ask for eternal youth. After 400 years... yeah.
Anders describes to Merrill that becoming an abomination is basically this. You become trapped inside your own body and fight to resist the demon's actions, having no choice but to watch in horror as the demon carries out its heinous acts.
Dragon Quest V has a sequence in which the protagonist and his wife are turned into self-aware statues for the better part of a decade (primarily as an excuse for a Plot-Relevant Age-Up for the protagonist's children).
Another case appears in Dragon Quest VIII, where the townspeople of Trodain are immobilized via magical vines by Dhoulmagus. It's clear to see that judging by the expressions on their faces that they are completely aware of what's going on... they get better when the curse is broken after defeating Rhapthorne, natch. Also, according to Jessica, anyone being controlled by the staff must feel this way considering they are being controlled by Rhapthorne.
Combining magma and water in Dwarf Fortress results in obsidian. It's very popular amongst the player base to make traps that encase an invading force (or elves, because nobody likes the elves) in obsidian, then mine and carve said obsidian into statues or even more mundane things. While in-game, the creatures are considered "dead" and the bodies effectively destroyed, the players particularly like to invoke this trope.
Even more fun is to carve the obsidian containing elven merchants into stone crafts, then sell those crafts to the next elven caravan.
Eiyuu: Zelos' fate in the 2nd ending (Read: Bad Ending) is being frozen in an ice cube forever...
The truth, the REAL main antagonist of this game, may count. It is an immortal being literally trapped in it's own world. This is in fact the reason why it adopts Zelos as his minion and wishes for the mask of truth needed to free himself... In fact, trying to give him the mask leads to one of your allies confronting you in a Hopeless Boss Fight and freezing you, leading to the worst ending.
According to the lore behind The Elder Scrolls, this is what happens to Daedra when they are banished or killed. They can come back, but spending a few hundred years in such a state may explain why most Daedra are so keen on destroying that place where so many pesky Daedra-killing heroes come from.
Strangely, this doesn't bother them at all. They are, after all, truly immortal, and being inconvenienced for a few hundred years when you've lived for tens or hundred of thousands and can expect to live for hundreds of thousands (or millions) more isn't a big deal, especially if you're not a creature which has to worry about 'sanity' and other tedious things. As for the coming back; perhaps it is just something to do.
The manual from the spinoff game Battlespire, and some of the dialogue found within, suggests that it's very much unpleasant, and they 'can' end up going insane. Mind, Daedra very much operate on Blue and Orange Morality anyway, so good luck for any mortal in telling the difference.
This doesn't seem to happen to them when you kill them normally on any of the planes. They only seem to return to some sort of spawn point in their (masters') plane in Oblivion. However, if you by means of strong magic manage to cast them into the void, they have to find their way back to a plane before they can do anything. Supposedly finding a (fairly) stable spacetime in the void takes a long time.
Big Bad Mehrunes Dagon suffers a particularly ironic version. As the Daedra Prince of Destruction, he exists to destroy everything and his Daedric realm reflects that, being a wasteland. However, due to the nature of Oblivion (the dimension that all daedra call home) and the immortality of all daedra, he can't actually destroy anything for good. He's the embodiment of Destruction, and he can't do squat in his own realm. It's his main motivation for trying to enter Tamriel — there, he can cause lasting destruction.
And another Daedra Prince, Jyggalag the Prince of Order, suffers a similarly ironic version thanks to the other Princes. He was cursed to become Sheogorath the Prince of Madness, the opposite of everything he originally embodied.
The Mythic Dawn agents that you kill over the course of the game. The place they're sent to upon death looks pleasant, but in truth they're on a plane in Oblivion, being killed over and over again by Daedra until Mehunes Dagon claims victory, which will restore them all.
The Corprus disease from Morrowind turns you into what the page quote describes. Except you're also hungry for flesh. And you become immune to all other diseases and don't age, meaning you're stuck in this state until someone cures you. There is a cure, but it only works on the player character. Anyone else who takes it dies. Also, most people who have a case in their family ship them off to a quarantine, where the staff tries to ease their suffering to whatever extent they can. Finally, corprus victims can die from the disease instead of becoming immortal. Or, even if it makes them immortal, they can still be put out of their misery.
Soul Gems. The other games had you assume that they were harmless and just capturing the soul of a dead thing that lived on peacefully. However, in Skyrim, you have to enter a soul gem to remove the soul from it, revealing that the soul trapped inside is completely conscious and alive, left floating in nothingness except for a few crystal platforms potentially forever. Doing it on a man, mer, or beast-man requires a special black soul gem, and is generally frowned upon.
M'aiq The Liar: "M'aiq was soul trapped once. Not very pleasant. You should think about that once in a while."
In the Dawnguard DLC, we are introduced (or for longtime fans, re-introduced) to the Soul Cairn. You think that random bandit's soul you trapped is simply "used up" when you recharge your weapon? Think again. The moment you do so, the soul is sent straight to the Soul Cairn. Where they remain. For the rest of eternity. There is absolutely no hope of escape or rescue. Ever. Nobody can remove your soul from the Cairn, and since you exist as a pure soul, you cannot even hope for the sweet release of death. While you are there, you can expect to be hunted down by undead horrors and have your soul's power drained and utilized for any number of horrific purposes. Even those who manage to successfully hide speak of merely being there as hellish; they exist in a constant state of fear, paranoia, and spiritual exhaustion, sure that they are constantly being watched by... something. The truly unlucky are turned into servants of the "Ideal Masters", the rulers of the Soul Cairn. The masters view this as peaceful immortality, but the afflicted souls are left in a state of unending psychological torment, only able to forever curse the beings who have entrapped them so.
Wrathman: "You have taken my life, and given me NOTHING! Eternal happiness? Life everlasting? No! Eternal nightmare! Death everlasting! Nothing now. Nothing forever more... What does it matter? It's not MY fault! You said I'd live forever. And this is LIFE? You CHEATED me! I HATE you!"
Emperor: Battle for Dune — there are three factions the player can side with: the noble Atreides, the profit-driven Ordos, or the malevolent Harkonnens — each seeking control of the spice planet, Arrakis. If the player sides with the Ordos, they become strategists whose imperative is to seek control of territories on Arrakis. However, if the strategist doesn't fulfill their contract, they will be "terminated" (meaning have their head severed from their body and kept alive in robotic devices) as a permanent reminder and motivation to their eventual replacement. One unfortunate strategist quips: "Why don't they just let us die?"
Dune 2000 had something similar in the Ordos Campaign — at one briefing the Ordos Mentat warns that failure in any mission will result in permanent imprisonment in a "pain amplifier".
Epic Mickey, despite being an E-rated game, has one of these with the first boss, Clock Tower, if you choose to kill it rather than redeem it. After melting the armour off its arms and tricking it into shattering them, its face and arm stumps fall into a lake of thinner, which is essentially hyper-powerful acid. Being an inanimate object anyway, Clock Tower's face is unable to move, but as it is a Disney creation, is sentient and can feel pain. It is still there at the end of the game.
This seems to be the fate of Mantorok in Eternal Darkness. Impaled by spikes and trapped between realities by his own Magick, Mantorok is often referred to as 'The Dead God', despite being clearly alive. One popular theory holds that, although being technically dead/dying, Mantorok is immortal and will therefore never actually die. Also, theoretically, no force in any universe can save him because his Magickal alignment is supreme.
And Anthony and Ellia both remain entombed and live on for centuries within their own rotting bodies. Mercy Kill doesn't begin to describe it.
EVE Online chronicles has a few: First there are the horrific Methods of Torture. Then there is a story about an Amarrian useless prince has been holding court and pronouncing judgements on people for the heck of it. A Speaker of Truth shows up with a commoner mob at his back to exact judgement on the prince: A piece of flesh for each person he wronged. The catch is that he can't be killed because he is a prince, so they keep him alive all the way through surgery. Finally, there is the Jovian Wetgrave, where the test subject is successfully connected to a spaceship's sensors and controls, allowing him to pilot the ship with his mind. Unfortunately, he can't maintain the connection to the ship and can't connect back to his body, leaving him trapped within himself.
Downplayed: While they are naturally very long-lived (even without their periodic centuries-long hibernation,) the most esteemed elders of the Vahnatai race in Exile/Avernum are offered the chance to be magically infused into special stones, becoming immortal, magically powerful, but completely unmoving crystal souls.
Not averted in Exile 3/Avernum 3 if you talk to the two Crystal Souls in the Vahnatai outpost: These are the two abducted by the Empire, and experimented with in unspoken ways for many, many years. One can't help itself from mentally 'screaming' into your mind when you 'talk' to it, and conversations can end with a horrible screeching sound if you try to ask too much about the Empire and its time there. Though I guess since the Vahnatai did eventually get them back, and all the other ones are safe deep down in the earth, generally, it's not that bad.
Considering that the Vahnatai thought it would be an appropriate response to strip the surface world of all life, yes, it was that bad.
In Fallout 3, Vault 112 contains a set of pods that keep their occupants alive forever, their minds trapped in a Virtual Reality simulation as the playthings of the sadistic Overseer Dr. Stanislaus Braun, who tortures, kills, and revives them at his leisure. When the Lone Wanderer becomes trapped in the simulation with his/her dad, he/she can activate a hidden fail-safe that kills all of the Vault's residents except for Braun, leaving him trapped alone inside the simulation, presumably forever. While this would normally be a horrible fate, for Braun, it was a fitting punishment for his atrocities.
In the same game, recurring character Harold has ended up grown into a tree on a cliff due to what is presumed to be the result of a FEV-induced mutation on his forehead some time in the past. According to himself, he has been rooted down for twenty to thirty years by the tree, named Bob, whom Harold calls Herbert for his own amusement (much to the tree's chagrin, apparently). In addition, he was eventually found by some of the wasteland residents, believing him to be a tree-god due to him having transformed the post-apocalypse-scarred area into a green oasis of trees and grass. These wastelanders went on to create a druidic, non-technological culture and religion with Harold as its center and god. The screaming part came when the religious "Treeminders" calculated that Harold would likely live entire centuries, if not millennia, rooted in the same place. Needless to say Harold, who was already extremely melancholic and tired from the decades he'd spent merged with the motionless tree, was Driven to Suicide following this revelation. But as a tree surrounded by religious loons who refuse to even as much as glare at their "god" the wrong way... yeah.
Depending on the player's choices, nobly subverted if you convince Harold that his existence brings happiness to others. He'll find a source of solace in this and, presumably, stop trying to off himself.
The human brain of the Robobrain is apparently still conscious and aware. Based on their dialog some of the robots subvert this trope as they apparently love randomly shooting people, but others play it straight as they constantly apologize for attacking the player and claim to hate what they are doing but their programming prevents them from being able to stop.
In New Vegas, there's a potential one of these involving Mr. House. If/when you decide to remove him, you have to enter the control room where his decrepit, ancient physical body is maintained by a Life Support Pod and once you open the pod, he is doomed to die because even a second's exposure to the microbacteria and such in the air is lethal to his unimmunised, 261-Year-Old body. The player then has the choice of killing him, conventionally or by overloading the electrical circuits in his LSP, or, in an invocation of this trope, disconnecting his brain from the cerebral matrix of the Lucky 38 — leaving him conscious and sustained physically by the life support machine (for a year, we are told, until he is killed by infection) but barely able to twitch or speak, isolated/forgotten, and with no way to influence or even access his computer network. At least it's only a year.
There's also the Divide's Marked Men. Being ghoulified is already a pretty nasty fate, with certain perks, but these guys got the entirety of their skin flayed off by wild sandstorms, and are in such terrible pain nothing at all can dull it as a result. The pain is so much, it's erased any enmity between NCR and Legion troops that became Marked Men, only joined by this pain, and resulting hate. It's relatively minor in that they still can act, but years upon years of being flayed alive have to count in some way.
Fate/stay night. Fate route, under the church. Made worse by the fact that if you don't go there it's game over for you. Despite the protagonist actually saying that he feels a massive evil presence from the church's basement and that he should leave. This feeling has saved his and Saber's life around 5 times before, but the game designers suddenly just expect you to go against it. And the reward is Body Horror. Joy.
And then there's the Bad End where Caster turns Shirou into a living wand for projection magecraft.
And the Bad End where Ilya puts Shirou's soul in a doll. And the one where she carries off his severed but still living head to torture. Really, this trope shows up with disturbing frequency.
Final Fantasy VI has a bizarre subversion: When Espers die, they're turned into crystals called Magicite, but they can still be summoned and still communicate.
That only helps magicite who happen to be in someone's possession (at least even Kefka's abuse of them still counts as someone). The likes of the cracked Phoenix or frozen Tritoch (the latter is confirmed to still be alive and conscious when it talks to Terra) have been trapped in their respective states for who knows how long.
The Warring Triad, who willingly turned themselves to stone, may also be examples of this. Kefka's ability to communicate with them (and even encourage them to attack Gestahl) certainly proves they're still conscious.
Final Fantasy VII. After being hurled into the Lifestream by Cloud after the Nibelheim Incident, Sephiroth spends FIVE YEARS immobile at the Northern Creater, absorbing the knowledge of countless dead & gradually learning how to manipulate Jenova. Is it any surprise that he's a little bit ticked off at his spiky-headed nemesis? That's not even getting into the fact that he could only maintain his individuality by focusing on a few aspects of his personality and ditching the rest. In the end, the only thing left in Sephiroth's mind that wasn't related to Jenova's imperative to kill everything on the Planet and suck it dry of lifeforce was his hatred of the lowly grunt that nearly killed him.
Additionally, Seto's mind and awareness are implied to be intact given that he sheds tears after Nanaki's speech. Despite being turned to stone.
Vincent Valentine, after years of experimentation, had in fact become immortal. It doesn't help the fact that most of his life was filled with misery of losing his love, Lucrecia, and the turmoil of her giving birth to Sephiroth, among other things. Though Word of God states that in the far future, while all their friends had passed away, Red XIII has a very long lifespan, so Vincent visits him once a year to ease his friend's fear of being alone.
Adel of Final Fantasy VIII was locked into a technological "tomb" and launched into orbit to keep her sorceress powers sealed, and spent seventeen years this way before being freed by Ultimecia to use as a vessel. Rinoa almost undergoes the same process voluntarily, but Squall talks her out of it.
Just to top up your nightmare fuel tank, remember that scene where Rinoa and the SeeDs attempt to get into the TV station in Timber, and pass a big screen showing red static? Rinoa says it's caused by radio interference. If you look closely, though, it says, "bringmebackthereiamalivehereiwillneverletyouforgetaboutme" over and over again. And what, do you remember, caused the interference? ''I am alive here...''
In Final Fantasy X, the only known way to defeat Sin is for a summoner and his guardian to perform the Final Summoning. The guardian (a close relative or friend to the summoner) is transformed into Final Aeon. What the summoners and guardians don't know is that the Final Aeon doesn't destroy Sin, but is possessed by the spirit within (known as Yu Yevon) and rebuilt into a new Sin. The guardian waits inside Sin's body, conscious of the carnage he is causing but helpless to stop it, trapped inside Sin until a new Final Aeon takes his place. The summoner at least gets a quick death by psychic blast when Yu Yevon possesses the Final Aeon.
Similarly, each Aeon represents the spirit of a person who willingly sacrificed their life to benefit a summoner. We learn later that the body and mind of that person are encased in crystal, potentially forever.
Final Fantasy XIII has the Cie'th Stones. In the game's story, humans live alongside strange and powerful beings, the fal'Cie. Occasionally, a fal'Cie will choose someone to perform an important task, a "Focus"; these chosen humans are known as "l'Cie", and are branded with a mark that counts down the time they have remaining to complete their Focus. If a l'Cie fails to complete their Focus in time, they are transformed into horrific shambling monsters, Cie'th. By itself being turned into a Cie'th seems horrifying enough, but when left to wander for many years, they are eventually consumed by despair and become Cie'th Stones, living statues whose only thoughts are regret at failing to complete their Focus.
Succeeding in the focus isn't much better; they turn to crystal and gain eternal life... at the price of being unable to move, speak, or do anything at all. Not much is elaborated on about crystal stasis beyond turning into one, but it thankfully seems they're not conscious under the shell.
Serah elaborates on turning into a crystal during the sequel; she describes the moment of transformation as the scariest and loneliest in her entire life, but ultimately subverts this by saying that she spent most (if not all) of her time in stasis dreaming of happy times with Lightning and Snow. And it's proven that those in crystal stasis are aware by Crystal!Vanille commenting that Hope frequently visits Fang and her (in one of the fragments).
Suspended in a constant dream state, reliving your happiest memories, while still aware enough to know that people care about you? Sounds like the closest thing to heaven you can get.
In Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates, this is the final fate of Galdes. He's doomed to world-jump forever to undo his defeat, but there's no world anywhere that Yuri and co don't beat him. The last thing you hear of him is a mental "Help me..."
Fire Emblem Awakening shows this to be the ultimate fate of The Avatar if they are possessed by Grima. He/She is trapped in a void, fully aware of what the Dragon is doing to the land and people he/she loves and being totally unable to free him/herself or stop the slaughter.
This is heavily implied to be the case of the children murdered by the Purple Man in the Five Nights at Freddy's series. Specifically, the Purple Man killed them in Fazbear's Pizza, which somehow ended up binding their spirits to the animatronics which entertain the restaurant's guests during the day and go on murderous rampages at night. In other words, picture cheerful, happy children being brutally killed, then trapped for eternity in nightmarish mobile suits, with little to no control over their motor functions, forced to watch other children having the time of their lives while they suffered silently.
The third game reveals even further details about the torments found in the game. Even if the animatronic suits are destroyed, the children's spirits aren't freed from them—it takes the actions of the player to do that. In the bad ending, the final shot shows the severed heads of the animatronics with the eyes still glowing, suggesting that now, the children are stuck immobile and unable to speak, and will be that way forever.
In a bit of Laser-Guided Karma, the is ultimately the case for the Purple Man as well. He tried to destroy the animatronic suits to eliminate the evidence of his crimes, but instead temporarily released the spirits of the children he had murdered. To protect himself, he hid in a spare suit known as "Springtrap"...only for the mechanical components of the device to activate immediately, slowly and painfully mutilating every bone and muscle in his body. And the kicker? We don't know how long he survived. For all intents and purposes, he could have spent years suffering excruciating pain every second of every day.
Towards the end of Ghost Trick, Sissel, Lynne, Kamila, Missile's ghost, and Yomiel are left trapped in a submarine that's slowly sinking towards the bottom of the ocean. Kamila and Lynne will obviously die, but the other three will be left as ghosts to forever haunt the dark wreckage. Scary enough. But in Ray's timeline, where Sissel never tried to help out Lynne, it still happened... except Yomiel was down there alone.
God of War: Chains of Olympus: After being defeated by Kratos, Atlas is shackled and forced to stand atop the Pillar of the World, carrying the world itself on his shoulders for all eternity.
God of War II: After providing the Fires of Olympus to mankind, Prometheus was punished by Zeus by being stripped of his powers, chained to Typhon's fingers, and being disemboweled and Eaten Alive by a giant eagle every day, his wounds automatically healing by nightfall. Kratos actually ends up Mercy Killing him at his own request by burning him alive in the Fires of Olympus.
The villagers of Kolima in Golden Sun are turned into trees for attempting to cut down the local tree divinity. Fortunately, Isaac's party eventually frees them, but according to some dialogues, they had been that way for several weeks.
You can even use Telepathy to read their minds: some are desperate, some saddened, some simply resigned. Also, on the way to the village there is a group of three trees who are later knocked down.Two of them are forced to helplessly watch as their companion is threatened to be dragged away by the river.
In Half-Life: Opposing Force, the eventual fate of Adrian Shepherd is to be "preserved" in a place where he can do no possible harm... and no harm can come to him. This takes the form of floating through an alien dimension on a plane, alone, indefinitely. (Some fans argue that this is similar to Gordon Freeman's stay with the GMan, which he came out of some ten years later, looking just fine, so it may just be a cryogenic sleep of sorts.)
Also, the Headcrab Zombies. Just go ahead and kill them before the damn things have to suffer for one more second. In this instance though they can scream, and they are very, very vocal. Their cries are especially disturbing if they played backwards. They mostly consists of repeated panicked variations on "Dear God!" and "HELP ME!"
Set one on fire. What you get is horribly anguished, muffled screaming, indicating that the "zombie" knows what is going on. They can feel the pain. These poor wretches can survive without their lower torso. It's implied that the unfortunate victims and hosts of the headcrabs are aware of the horrible things they are doing and what has happened to them but are powerless to stop. What sounds like a creepy roar, when played backwards, is actually them screaming for help and pleading for you to kill them. This also goes for the zombified Combine soldiers (AKA 'Zombine'); when the pitch of their radio chatter is altered, they can quite clearly be heard saying things like "Necrotics imbound", "Infestation", and "Sector is...not secure...", trying to warn their surviving comrades.
The Stalkers in Half-Life 2. They'be been forcibly captured and horribly mutilated by the Combine by having all of their limbs being cut off and are artifically kept alive by some form of nutrient fluid which is being fed to them through an externally implanted hatch located just at the side of their belly. Moreover, their sexual organs have been roughly removed as well, leaving only a very big scar behind between their legs. Their eyes and ears have been removed too, being replaced with more crude horrific combine gadgets instead. Oh, and they don't have any tongues anymore either, leaving them with a wide variety of gruesome, animal-like moans and screams as their only means to "communicate" with the outside world, if you want to call it that way. And the worst of all of this? These poor folks are technically still fully human.
In The Halloween Hack, one of the citizens of Dr. Andonuts' Magicant invokes this by telling you that they're all doomed to repeat the same action over and over again. Funnier than it sounds.
The Flood in the Halo does this to any sentient it infects. It causes a host to mutate, replacing any "useless" components with Flood organs, while retaining "useful" aspects of its host. Unfortunately for the host, the higher cognitive systems are considered to be a "useful" function, and will preserve its hosts awareness so it can tap into their knowledge. Since the Flood also has no regard for the comfort of the host and otherwise takes over all motor nerves, the host must continue to exist in pain while being forced to experience themselves doing horrible things to spread the Flood to others. The only "natural" escape from this is when the host body gets so worn down and damage that it becomes otherwise no longer useful to the Flood and bloats into a carrier form which will burst apart into several infection forms, continuing the cycle.
This is the basic premise of the Spirit Overload ending in Hellsinker.
The Prayers are like this, ever praying for a release that never comes. Cause even if destroyed they will just ressurect a while later.
In Homeworld Cataclysm the Bentusi (an advanced space-faring race that exist as individuals physically linked with their ships) preferred suicide to being captured and corrupted by 'The Beast' — a borg-like infection entity that took control over any ship it touched. Normally, it would convert the crew of a ship into 'bio-matter' that was recycled into bio-circuitry. With the Bentusi, who are linked directly to the ship itself, the beast's infection rendered the ship's sole crew member completely paralyzed and corrupted, unable to move or act of their own accord. As such, any Bentusi that was infected would destroy itself before being corrupted.
"Some hundreds of years may have passed. I don't know. AM has been having fun for some time, accelerating and retarding my time sense. He made certain I would suffer eternally and could not do myself in. He left my mind intact. I can dream, I can wonder, I can lament. Outwardly: dumbly, I shamble about, a thing that could never have been known as human, a thing whose shape is so alien a travesty that humanity becomes more obscene for the vague resemblance. Inwardly: alone. I have no mouth.And I must scream."
It becomes apparent that in the game, AM suffers from this. He has enormous power, but because of his programming, he can only think in violence and death. It completely baffles AM when the players act against his expectations, and his Id cries out over this fact if you show him compassion.
In the first Jak and Daxter game, the Big Bads' ultimate fate is being sealed, still alive and conscious, inside a silo of Dark Eco.
In Chapter 18 of Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pit's mind is trapped in a ring. He cannot move or communicate with anyone unless they are wearing the ring themselves. It takes a while for this to sink in, because Pit doesn't really realize how terrible it is until magus starts walking away from the ring. All Pit could do was beg for Magnus to wear the ring, but Magnus couldn't even hear him.
A nice handful of people in Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep have pretty horrible fates. No worries, though. Sora's probably going to save 'em, along with any other good person who dies and/or disappears in the series.
Also implied to happen to Ansem the Wise after the betrayal of his apprentices, when he was trapped in the realm of Darkness and became DiZ.
Special mention goes to Terra's fate; his Heart endured And I Must Scream by entering an unending Battle in the Center of the Mind with Master Xehanort, which has been going on for over ten years. His soul, on the other hand, is trapped inside of his armor and marooned on a virtually inaccessible world, unable to focus on anything besides his hatred for Xehanort and his promise that he will, someday, set things right. It's little wonder that the Lingering Sentiment is a tad unbalanced when Sora accidentally encounters him, having a brief breakdown when Sora's presence reminds him of Xehanort and rampaging until Sora beats him to calm him down.
Oh, and Terra's body? Currently in the possession of the person who placed him in that state, made even worse by the fact that there's evidence that there's still some of the original owners' being left in there, unable to fight off the intruder without his soul and heart.
The Unkillable Skeleton in Kingdom of Loathing was a criminal sentenced to death who couldn't be killed, even when the electric chair burned off all his flesh. Even after he's defeated and his finger bone is taken as a trophy he's still alive, trying to point at things. Ed the Undying is in a similar position.
The Lord of the Dead in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow was once a man, but while still alive he was enslaved to the throne of the Underworld. Unable to free himself or move anything more than his hand, he was forced to witness every horror and tragedy when the spirits of the dead made their way to him. His humanity seeped away as he grew numb to the horror and became something else entirely. And he will never be free of what has been done to him.
Narrator: His is an existence that has no possibility of redemption, no end.
Knights of the Old Republic gives us the mind prison. An almost-featureless open space in which undesirable minds are trapped, with no possibility of escape, nothing to see and very little to do. Supposedly they are reopened at a suitable time, but some are forgotten for millennia...
Legacy of Kain: Defiance implies that between the end of Soul Reaver 2 and the start of Defiance, Raziel has spent half a millennium in the spectral realm, presumably being tormented by the Elder God, though it may actually be that the 500 years passed much slower than they actually would in the real world, because Time Stands Still in the spectral realm.
At the end of Defiance, Raziel winds up trapped in a Stable Time Loop, first inside the Soul Reaver sword, then grafted onto his former self's arm when the sword is destroyed.
It's probably not so bad at the end of Defiance; the soul reaver (and presumably Raziel as well) were purified at the spirit forge. It was a curse for the imperfect soul reaver, but perhaps the purified one isn't a tortured existence.
Plus, after it was realized that not even having his heart ripped out would stop Kain, the Elder God tried to collapse the ruins of the Vampire Citadel on top of him, burying the vampire for all eternity. Tried being the operative word.
"You may ponder the futility of your ambitions as you spend a deathless eternity beneath a mountain of rubble: you and your Soul Reaver will go equally mad as the eons pass."
In the intro to Soul Reaver, Raziel is executed by being cast into The Lake of the Dead. Water burns like acid for vampires, but the Lake's waters operate so slowly that the official sentence is to "burn forever." As such, Raziel spends several hundred, if not thousand, years burning alive before finally dissolving and awakening in the Underworld.
In The Legend of Kyrandia Book 1, Malcolm turns Kallak to stone, but leaves his eyes, claiming "I shed no tears for Kyrandia, but cannot deny you yours."
In Legend of Legaia, the fate of the people of Conkram, and for a comparatively brief time, those of Rim Elm. Both towns are engulfed by a massive Sim-Seru that has fused with the town and all its inhabitants. There are heavy implications that the great pain has driven most of Conkram's inhabitants insane.
Jovani in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess sold his soul to the Poes and was turned into a living gold-and-jewel statue. He can still talk, but that's not much help since he's stuck in his house until you find a way in. After you find enough Poe Souls, he can move again, but he's still made of gold, so he can't leave the house out of fear of being seen in this state. His cat also suffers the same fate.
Also, in A Link to the Past, the Flute Boy in the Haunted Grove turns into a living tree, and in Majora's Mask, the Deku Butler's son was also turned into a tree.
It's implied that they're actually dead. In the case of the Deku Butler, he is seen at the end of the game, in front of the tree his son was transformed into, seemingly mourning.
The Skultulla Cursed Family in Ocarina of Time could very well fit in this trope. They can't free themselves and being it a side-quest, you could skip it completely.
Actually, it gets kind of worse. You do, after all, free some of them. But chances are you didn't free them all. Which means that some of the relatives are still trapped in that shape after the end of the game. And that they will watch the saved ones grow old and die, leaving the still cursed one alone, forever.
The entire Lanayru desert is littered by the time-ravaged, rusted remains of the Ancient Robots, a population of robots who used to thrive in the past, when the desert was a luscious forest filled with precious "Timeshift Stones". It's implied they may be still active, reacting with a pitiful beep when you try to communicate with them. One of them, restored to life by a "Timeshift Stone" (that "resets" his personal timeline to a point in the past) is shown to be fully aware of being living on borrowed time.
The Big Bad himself, Demise, appears first as The Imprisoned, an inhuman monster, scattered and sealed in a mystical pillar since ancient times, unable even to restore his physical appearance for ages.
Zelda has to seal herself for several thousands of years, sleeping to direct her energies to the seal keeping The Imprisoned in, unable to wake up on her own.
In Luigi's Mansion, the idea of Mario being trapped inside the painting possibly for all eternity is a good example. Of course, you could say the same thing about what happens to the Portrait Ghosts, but at least one of them (Madame Clairvoya) doesn't seem to mind that at all, actually asking Luigi to put her there.
In the sequel, King Boo does it to Mario again, along with a few Toads, and plans to do it to Luigi and Professor Gadd too as part of his revenge plot.
In MapleStory, the hero Aran was frozen in ice for hundreds of years. Although he was asleep during this time, his/her Empathic Weapon Maha remained fully conscious.
Well think about it: Maha had to sit in the polearm for hundreds of years. He can't speak to Aran over the distance and is possibly kept sane by the thoughts of Aran coming to save him. Cue Aran walking past him several times, not noticing him. When Aran finally sees Maha again Aran's forgotten all about him.
Implied in Mass Effect 2 by the confused, yet relieved expression with which the Collector General faces death after being released from Harbinger's control. Also, the Fate Worse Than Death of anybody who gets taken alive by the Collectors consists of suffering this while waiting to be processed into pure genetic slurry and watching others endure the same agonizing fate.
Saren's fate, especially if your Persuade skills are high enough. First he figures out he's been had. Sovereign has been controlling him the whole time and has no intention of saving any organic sapients. He's gone rogue, betrayed everything he once stood for, and killed tens of thousands in the process. Horrified at what he has done — and what he could have done — Saren shoots himself in the head. But that's not the end of it. Moments afterwards, Sovereign takes full control of Saren's cybernetic components. In one of the game's creepiest and greatest moments, Sovereign burns away Saren's flesh, leaving nothing but a skeleton of bone and steel. The kicker? Saren is screaming during the whole transformation. He's still ALIVE.
The Expanded Universe has this for a young quarian who is captured by Cerberus. In order to gain the pass-code needed to infiltrate the Migrant Fleet, he is brutally tortured over a period of days. When he is later found by Grayson, he is repeating the pass-code over and over again, in obvious, extreme pain, until he dies. While he WAS technically speaking, he was so delirious and in pain (also from infection gone rampant) that all he can do is repeat the pass-code over and over again and hope that all the pain will stop.
The Project Overlord DLC. David Archer is strapped to a machine intended to be a Geth mind control device and is forced to have Geth communication beamed into his skull constantly without being able to move or do anything about it. To add to it, he has autism that means he probably finds loud noise really disquieting. By the time you get to him his mind is broken by the trauma to the degree that can only scream for the voices to stop and recite math equations — and the renegade option involves leaving him there.
Let us not forget the colonists attacked by the Collectors swarmers' who are frozen unable to move anything but their eyes and watch as the collectors take their fellow colonists away.
As revealed in Mega Man Zero 4, this was The Punishment to Dr. Weil for his orchestration of the Elf Wars. His consciousness was implanted into a constantly-regenerating armor, making him somewhat immortal. If that wasn't enough, he was sent to exile on the barren wasteland that he caused, forever banned from returning to the last place in the world that was inhabitable. If he's bad enough back then, he only got worse now because of THAT... Death really wouldn't let him escape this fate.
He suffers an even worse fate than that later. After Zero defeated him for good, Weil, fused to the remains ofRagnarok, remains immortal, but now, he's completely immobile. He could've stayed that way forever if it weren't for an unlucky group of humans that just happen to find his remains, and he possesses one of them, still intent on revenge on humanity. Try to guess who is responsible for everything that's happened in the Mega Man ZX series?
Revealed in Metal Gear Solid 4, Big Boss was held in suspended state by the Patriots, somewhat aware and somewhat not.
And when he was released, Solidus took up the job.
Monkey Hero : This is the fate of the Great Dragon in the Dragon Mountain . He was reduced to an immobile yet sentient skeleton by the the Nightmare King and locked away in a room inside a dungeon all alone. He even Lamp Shades his plight by telling the hero that his misery knows no bounds and begs him to end his suffering. Also The fate of The nightmare king in the ending.
Lechuck plans to do this to Guybrush in Monkey Island 2, burning his flesh of his body, leaving only his bones "still alive and very much in pain" which he'll make into a chair that screams when he sits on it. Luckily Guybrush escapes before this happens.
With how funny and hammy Murray is, it can be hard to realize that he's a skull... A skull... Unable to move, sleep or eat... And he's going to be stuck like that unless he actually dies or is restored to a proper body.
At the end of Mortal Kombat X, Dark Raiden shows off his new, more pro-active plan for keeping Earthrealm safe by decapitating the game's Big Bad, Shinnok, and presenting his severed head to the Revenants Liu Kang and Kitana. Thing is, Shinnok is an Elder God and therefore completely immortal, so even after being decapitated, he remains alive and clearly in agonizing pain, yet unable to scream due to lacking lungs or vocal cords.
Three characters from the Myst series ended up this way, at least before the Trap Books were ret-conned into Prison Ages. It can also happen to the player in some of the 'bad' endings.
For those curious, a "trap" book works the same way as a Linking Book except that it cuts off the link midway through the transfer. This leaves the person stuck in an empty void for the rest of their life unless someone lets them out (usually this is done by taking their place).
In Nameless — The One Thing You Must Recall, all dolls and stuffed animals, unbeknownst to humans, have sentience. However, they are still (without the influence of magic) just inanimate objects, and therefore they suffer whatever violence a careless or vindictive person might casually inflict on a toy while having no means to fight back or even indicate their distress. Additionally, they are capable of human emotions of attachment, sorrow, etc., but again, have no means of communicating them and suffer constantly at the whims of others. It's really no wonder that the cast (largely made up of magically animated toys) is such a Dysfunction Junction.
In Neverwinter Nights: Hordes of the underdark, you can find a tomb full of undead warriors, one of whom wields a sentient Evil Weapon. The weapon introduces itself as Enserric, and claims it became sentient after a piece of the soul of its last victim became lodged within it. It then begs you to take it with you, use it in battle, you can even sell it to a merchant... anything but leave it to spend any more time alone in the tomb.
In Neverwinter Nights 2, the dragon Nolaloth has spent millennia living as a ghost, bound to the Prime Material Plane by an artifact called the crystal heart, unable to move and with only the occasional visitor seeking his wisdom for company. He offers you information in exchange for a promise that you will destroy the heart, so he can finally make the transition to the afterlife.
The Wall of the Faithless in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer. Nothing says Hell quite like having your soul fused to a wall for eternity as it slowly envelops you and consumes your psyche. Bishop gets to experience it first hand.
The eponymous Betrayer's punishment, to become a mindless hunger that possesses people, sends their souls to the previously mentioned wall while forcing them to eat other souls/spirits.
Interestingly, one of the game's endings implies that you devour the god responsible, as well as several other gods, giving Kaelyn the Dove a much better chance at bringing the wall down. Another ending has you voluntarily stay on the Wall.
In Pathways into Darkness the bodies are fully conscious, but unable to move or communicate until you use the crystal to interact with them. Some of the German soldiers have been there so long that they've forgotten their own names.
In Persona 3 the Updated Re-releaseFES's extra chapter, The Answer, reveals that the Main Character's death in the main game was actually his soul becoming the Great Seal that prevents Erebus, the beast borne from humanity's unconscious desire for death, from ever actually reaching Nyx, Death Itself. (Should the two ever meet, Nyx will descend upon the Earth and claim the conscious self of every living thing, effectively turning everything and everyone into unfeeling, mindless bodies.) On the one hand, it is because the Main Character has such indomitable will that Erebus will never break open the Golden Gate, keeping humanity safe, on the other, it's also because of this that the MC is fated to stand guard forever... Or until humanity learns to move past its fear of death, whichever happens first. Since he would only be freed by a fundamental change deep within the human soul, his friends decide to lessen the MC's burden at least a little bit by living their lives as best and as fully as they can.
Persona 4 mentions that Elizabeth has left the Velvet Room and is currently searching for a way to free the Main Character from this.
In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Trials And Tribulations, the Big BadDahlia Hawthorne brags that about avoiding punishment for past crimes due to already being dead, seeing as how she's been executed for crimes she committed years before, having come back from the dead by way of spirit channelling to get revenge. However, Phoenix and Mia describe the malevolent spirit's failure of the attempted crime and, because spirits live on after death, give the "ultimate punishment" of remaining a failure for all of eternity. This does the job, and ended up causing the spirit to scream in agony, before fading back into the afterlife.
Phoenix: "…I remember what you said earlier in the trial. You said there was no way we could punish you...because you were already dead."
Dahlia: "What about it!?"
Phoenix: "Then you said… Even when the body dies, the spirit, the ego, it lives on… forever."
Mia: "…That's very true, Dahlia. And that's exactly the punishment you'll never be able to escape from. For all of eternity, you'll have to remain as Dahlia Hawthorne. A miserable, pathetic, weak creature who can never win at anything… And for you, there is no escape from that. No hope of freedom. Since the day you were executed… the narrow bridge that once stretched out in front of you has burnt to a crisp!"
The are several such opportunities for an immortal protagonist of Planescape: Torment to "lose", despite being unkillable. If the character decides to become the next Silent King, you arguably get a variant of this trope as you get stuck to the magical throne that comes with the job, unable to move until death claims you (which will be never). Hargrimm and the rest of the Dead Nations will be keeping you company. The manual also states that The Nameless One can also be Buried Alive or eaten or in many other ways rendered incapable of moving or dying, making them potential examples that never happen.
Another danger that is mentioned is being sent to a crematorium. It's unclear what would happen to him; either he'd be killed for good because he couldn't regenerate, or he would still be able to regenerate only to die again in horrible, burning agony. If the latter, then it would fit this trope.
Also, if the Nameless One tells the Transcendent One that he no longer loses his memories upon death and will just come back to the Fortress of Regrets again should he be defeated, the Transcendent One angrily replies that he will keep him locked in a pocket dimension for all eternity to prevent this.
The Pokémon trap turns all unclaimed items back into Pokémon, suggesting that all items are really Pokémon.
Pokémon in general - what exactly happens to Pokémon in Poké Balls? Are they conscious? How about Pokémon that get sent to the PC? Do they live in a virtual world?
The trophies in Super Smash Bros. games state that Poké Balls contain miniature worlds for them to live in. The anime states that Pokémon rest there in a special habitat designed for them.
And in the Pokémon Special manga, they just become tiny and are kept inside the balls. They're fully conscious and can move, but don't seem to mind. Pikachu even walks inside the Poké Ball so that it rolls around like a hamster ball, which is just adorable.
The planet's populace under Primal Dialga. With time stopped, and if you die, chances are you cannot die but remain in the pain of dying forever. In addition, the world is shrouded with darkness, so what little intelligent population left must be starving, but never dying.
Step 1: Freeze you with Glaciate, and keep you alive inside the ice.
Step 2: Freeze the rest of the world, letting you literally Watch the World Die, while you cannot cry, scream, resist, or do anything about it.
Step 3: Have Kyurem finish the job.
Happens to Wheatley in Portal 2. Just as you look like you're about to finish off the final level, Wheatley (in a rare moment of cunning) boobytraps the button you needed to return control of the facility to GLaDOS. Cue Chell firing a portal onto the moon, which sucks him out into space, where he will float, spinning, forever. Even worse, the final video just has him saying that if he could do just one thing he'd apologise for all the problems he caused. But now he can't.
However, unlike most examples, he has someone else to experience it with. Even if he won't shut up. Also worth noting is that the alternate was GLaDOS torturing him for years before killing him, so in comparison this seems almost dignified.
What about Gla DOS? She tells you that she had to relive her last two minutes over and over again for HUNDREDS of YEARS!
For perspective: Let's take 300 years, as it is the most oft-quoted figure. Taking into account the 72 leap days in 300 years (every 100 years a leap day is missed), GLaDOS watched her own death 78,891,840 times. And she could do nothing about it. (Of course, this isGLaDOS we're talking about; given her history as a Blatant Liar, it is possible that this claim was a lie too.)
In [PROTOTYPE], you can, if you like, read this as Alex's ultimate fate. The people he consumes add their memories to his, their identities to his own — and this includes the moment he pounced on his victim, viciously beat him/her to death and absorbed them. As he himself says, he can still hear them in his mind, screaming and crying and begging for mercy; since he seems immortal, memories he'll relive forever.
Elizabeth Greene suffers an even worse fate. Once a perfectly ordinary teenage girl before she was made a test subject, she is ageless and possibly immortal, held captive for 40 years, subject to multiple experiments and treated as little more than a living petri dish (her head has been shaved for cranial surgery; her bodysuit has channels for nutrients, so she can't feed herself; and no one involved in her capture and containment seems to feel even the slightest pity for her). Needless to say, when Mercer unknowingly frees her from captivity, she's very happy. In fact, so happy that she goes on a biochemical rampage and covers the entire island of Manhattan in viruses that all work on a rural network, all connected to her. As you do.
Her child, PARIAH — who has been described as the end of things to come — was taken away from her, and is also presently held captive somewhere in the world in a location higher than top secret. Though held in military facilities and watched at all times with snipers, he seems an ordinary male toddler...and he's stayed one all the decades he's been in captivity.
Stroggified humans in Quake IV become conscious slaves to the Nexus, their mind intact but their body completely under its control. Matthew Kane was spared this fate since his squad rescued him from the People Jar before the mind control chip could be activated.
Bégoniax, a witch in Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, turns the men who reject her into frogs thanks to her love potion, and then breeds with them.
Lisa from Resident Evil. She's kidnapped, experimented on, turns immortal, only wants her mother, kills a woman impersonating her mother, wears that woman's face over her own so she doesn't forget her mother's face, was abandoned by the scientists, is left living forever in what might be grueling pain wandering around a mansion, and by looking at the original Resident Evil and the Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, Lisa has "died" three times. First Jill or Chris make her fall into an abyss, then Wesker shoots her down, then Wesker shoots her down SOME MORE until he traps her under a chandelier leaving her to die inside the exploding mansion.
Resident Evil 5 has a lite version of this: Jill Valentine, after supposedly having fallen to her death, was rescued by her (and your) nemesis Wesker, who initially wanted to use her as his first subject for his new toy, the Uroboros virus. Turns out Jill's exposure to previous viruses has made her organism create antibodies for them, so she spends several years in suspended animation for Wesker to harvest those antibodies for his research. Then she is connected to some apparatus releasing mind-control drugs in her bloodstream and made to serve as his enforcer and right right hand. Yep, that's her in the intro video, watching the man get consumed by Uroboros. The bad part? At least during her mind-control, she was aware... she just couldn't do anything about it, right up to the point when she and Wesker fought against her former partner, Chris. Subverted in that, in the course of the campaign, Chris and Sheva get the gizmo off, but still...
In the MMORPG Runescape, there's a species of living obsidian creatures called the TzHaar. When TzHaar die, their bodies are broken up into what they call Tokkul, which they use as currency. What they don't realize though, is that the consciousness of the dead TzHaar still inhabits those Tokkul. A quest has the player find a way to infuse a Ga'al (a TzHaar born without memories) with the Tokkul of a recently killed TzHaar. The Ga'al revealed that turning into Tokkul is crushing agony, with such intense pain and pressure that they can't even think coherently. He was nearly driven mad - and that was from only a few hours of Tokkul.
This fate used to befall rule breaking players before a proper banning system was put in place, placing them within the Black Hole. An area of the game that was pitch black, no ability to move and nothing to interact with. Players were at one point so curious to see this place that Jagex added an npc who would take you there and give you a Disk of Returning to take you back. Anyone foolish enough to drop their disk bound themselves to this fate.
During the Samhain mission, "The Organ Smugglers", the Dragon faction's superiors make the horrifying suggestion that the player characters' immortality could lead to infinite harvesting of all their major organs, and tell you that you should probably avoid being captured by this group.
Which is exactly the fate of one unfortunate, faction-less Bee held prisoner by Vali. Orochi's Project Odyssey is trying to find something they can add to their robots that will grant them access to Agartha, so they create pseudo-cyborgs using tissues harvested from their captive. This man is kept heavily sedated and restrained while they regularly cut him up, or open, hoping to find some organ or quantity of his flesh that will serve as their key, killing him when they take too much and forcing him to respawn within their secure facility. He's helplessly trapped as a human guinea pig without the luxury of death and nobody who cares to save him.
In Shadowrun Returns DLC Dragonfall you can take a run on a corp to retrieve a special combat cyborg that is supposed to be the most effective ever created. The catch? The being is so cybered up that they have practically no essence less and are completely under the control of who has their remote system. The poor Troll that was subjected to this is still very much aware at the end if you chose to release them instead of turning them over. The Troll thanks you in a digitized voice, then proceeds to crush their own head with their hand. Your followers will lament on any decision you chose but are most negative with turning them over.
Jyoji Hijiri was given one in Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne. Let's just say his "punishment" was explicitly compared to emptying an ocean with a drinking glass. And he will never have the power to end it.
In Silent Hill. Several of the monsters, particularly the humanoid ones. Silent Hill 2 is pretty much dominated by these guys; Even Pyramid Head, the most invincible of the bunch, was animated to suggest great pain under his helmet.
Downpour: After being beaten to within an inch of his life, Frank Coleridge spends the rest of his life as a vegetable before succumbing to organ failure.
Even monsters suffer, in Homecoming, ending specific, you see Alex Shepherd strapped to a chair as two Pyramid Head's converge on him with the two sides of the helmet, the insides clearly lined with long spikes. All he can do is scream while it's closed onto his head. No wonder Pyramid Head can only make incoherent groaning noises.
The main bosses of that game Joey: the mayor's son who, after being buried alive, became Seplucher, and Scarlett Fitch, dismembered alive becoming a boss by the same name. And while Asphyxia and Amnion had painful deaths but not quite as gruesome, their monster forms are nothing to wave off. Talk about long lasting effects!
Implied in Silent Hill: Downpour that there's a lot of people stuck in And I Must Scream situations in the town. Howard Blackwood has been stuck there for 200 years delivering mail, DJ Bobby Ricks has been stuck for an indeterminate length of time (He can't even tell you how long it's been). Of course, this being Silent Hill, it's justified that they would — if the town wants you there, you will be there as long as it pleases. Or until you've come to terms with your guilt or what have you.
And then he tosses it into a giant container of molten metal.
Shadow the Hedgehog was forced to sleep in a container for 50 years with the knowledge that his only friend had sacrificed her life to save him. Suffice to say, he did not take this well.
Mad enough to A) Try to wipe out the human race, B) Successfully destroyed the Black Arms alien race, C)takes down 40 or 50 GUN troopers in a level on Shadow the Hedgehog, although it happens in his memories of BEFORE Maria is killed.
Eggman's former habit of turning cute fuzzy animals which may or may not be sentient (it varies) into his robotic slaves.
In SatAM, it's even stated that they know what they're doing, but cannot do anything about it.
In Sonic Generations, its heavily implied that Sonic's friends that have been petrified by the Time Eater are fully conscious and aware. Not a fun thought.
Also from Generations, we have the punishment of the final boss, the Classic and Modern versions of Eggman. After you win, they are trapped inside the game's hub White World with all the stage accesses removed and thus no way to any other world, for presumably eternity. Sometimes you just have to feel bad for poor Eggman, but then you remember the demonic Time Eater and stop caring. Earlier in the game, Classic!Eggman was disturbed at how maniacal Modern!Eggman was. This was probably a major contributor to that.Thanks for breaking the villain, ''Sonic''.
Death of the Author is encouraged by the writing team of Spec Ops: The Line, who have their own interpretations of the game's story and events, especially with an Unreliable Narrator in full effect. Lead writer Walter Williams says that one way to look at the game is that Walker actually died in the helicopter crash and is trapped in a Dying Dream or Purgatory of reliving the events of the game, of the Hell Is War kind. The game does drop a few hints of this, such as a list of the dead with Adams and Lugo on it, or Walker pointing out the In Medias Res of the helicopter sequence.
The game over screen of Spooky's House of Jump Scares describes that, after you die, your soul will be wandering through an endless maze. As if confirming that this is Not Hyperbole, Specimen 11 was proven ineffective because the souls of those who killed do not remain inside the house, leading in to some Fridge Horror in regards to what it does to you after it kills you (since the last thing we see after dying to it is the player character being trapped in what could be described as a "meat hallway").
Specimen 8 is a floating Animalistic Abomination of a deer that, when it opens its cloak (which it will when close enough to the player), shows a couple of screaming heads underneath. When you find its CAT-DOS entry later, it reads that the damn thing directly absorbs its victims inside of it.
In The Suffering, after he was executed in the seventies, Horace Gage's spirit was bound to the electric chair he died in, still being electrocuted and unable to communicate with the living. It's not until the disastrous events of the game that he's allowed to temporarily leave the chair and travel the prison as an electric ghost, and he's still in horrible pain.
Warden Elroy's approach to solitary confinement, which Ranse Truman calls "akin to live burial." It involves the victim being placed in a lightless, soundproofed room and left alone to scream and cry and attempt suicide. And since death isn't as permanent as it was, the inmate's tortured souls are still there, still screaming.
The Super Mario games: Koopa's Hell, a video by College Humor about a Koopa rebounding between two pipes indefinitely.
In System Shock 2, the hosts of annelids worms, who eventually turn into hybrids, are forced to go through this.
Tales of Symphonia: Anyone who's been sacrificed to an Exsphere or Cruxis Crystal suffers this fate, even if they retain their body to a degree, like Colette and Presea. Most who do retain their ability to speak after becoming an Exsphere beg to be killed or have the Exsphere broken, even the Big Bad. Most of the time, The Hero Lloyd ends up shattering the thing and freeing the person's soul, but in the sequel, even though his own MOTHER's soul is trapped in HIS CRUXIS CRYSTAL and he knows this, he's still using it.
He uses it because he has to. Since he's collecting Exspheres to destroy, he's going to have to fight people who have Exspheres and don't want to give them up. Without an Exsphere himself, he would be putting himself in a lot of danger fighting an opponent better equipped then him. In the sequel Sheena DOES say that eventually the original cast is going to have to give up their Exspheres, too. But for the moment, so long as other people have Exspheres, they need to keep them since they're the people governments trust to do things.
And then in Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Richter's fate if you get the neutral or good ending is like this. He has to burn alive for as long as the mana in his body lasts, functioning as a living door to the demon world. According to Ratatosk, it'll take 1000 years for him to be able to free Richter. So if Richter's mana can last that long, he'll be free. If not... well...
We know he'll last the full thousand years. He acquired/tried to acquire two items. One let him burn mana for fiery power and the other gave him unlimited mana. He uses the former in your boss battle against him.
The mysterious Hag from Thief: Deadly Shadows skins her victims both to take their form as a disguise and to extend her life. One of the cutscenes show the many faces on her body move and blink, suggesting they're still alive as she wears them.
In Too Human, Baldur's Wife, unable to live without him after he is killed by Hod before the game begins, kills herself, only to have the Aesir resurrect her, only to have her commit suicide -again- in the same manner, with the Aesir continually resurrecting her after each death
It then gets worse. When the Aesir can no longer do anything for her, they dump her at Hel's doorstep, where Hel infects her with the Nidhog virus which keeps her alive even though she keeps trying to kill herself through cutting. When Balder finds her the question of whether to put her out of her misery or not is taken from him by his Empathic Weapon.
The 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal has this as punishment for losing the tournament. Calypso takes the souls of fallen drivers and sticks them in the portrait inside of his office, having them locked up in an alternate dimension (if not a Fire and Brimstone Hell itself) in asylum-like cells. Every time the camera pans past or away from it in cutscenes, faint screaming can be heard.
In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, this is the consequence of a witch causing a Logic Error. The offending witch becomes trapped in the paradox until they can think of a way to resolve it — or for all eternity, whichever comes first.
The Big Bad of Undertale threatens the player with this trope in the Neutral/Pacifist route, overridng your save data with his to force you in an endless loop of him killing you over and over again. Though the more souls you free from him, the less power he has over this and you take him down.
The Big Bad himself is constantly suffering through this, as he is the dead son of Asgore and Toriel's soul trapped in a flower, for what is implied to be for all eternity in the True Pacifist ending.
Sans himself suffers from this as he is unable to escape the time loop, forced to live countless lives at the whims of the "Players" fancies. While this isn't always bad, the knowledge that you could be given euphoria or endless misery by way of watching your loved one's murder repeatedly might leave one a little unsettled..
The point-and-click adventure game Uninvited had two endings where you become a member of the undead. Made especially creepy as it was nearly all text, narrated in second person and played dead-serious.
Should you choose to ally with the Kuei-jin in Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, Ming Xiao will — after you defeat the Sheriff — chain you to the Sarcophagus and throw it in the ocean. Since vampires cannot drown and the blood will prevent decomposition, your best hope is to be eaten by sea creatures (good luck, you traitor).
The only bad ending on Sigma's route in Virtue's Last Reward. When Sigma wakes up in the infirmary and finds that his cybernetic arm has been cut off with everyone else gone. Next, he screams and passes out.
Another thing which takes a bit of Fridge Horror is that, if the sensor between chromatic doors doesn't register the correct bracelets, then everyone in between said chromatic doors will be trapped forever, with the chromatic doors never opening.
This is what happened to Ner'zhul when Kil'jaeden captured him and transformeated him into the Lich King between Warcraft II and III.
And after defeating the Lich King in World of Warcraft, Bolvar Fordragon takes his place in order to keep the legions of undead in check and will forever remain frozen upon his throne. To make it worse, no one will ever learn of his sacrifice, as he instructs Tirion Fordring to tell others only that the Lich King died and Bolvar along with him.
Arthas's fate in the afterlife, as revealed in Sylvanas's short story on the official website.
Thaddius in World Of Warcraft zig-zags this. When you read up on Thaddius, you find out that Thaddius is made from the flesh of women and children, and their souls are stuck underneath that. By the way, you know that "Please noooo!" and "Help me! Save me!" cries you hear? That's Thaddius. When you run after these voices, Thaddius shouts, "You are too late, I must obey!". Zig-zagged the most because upon death, Thaddius says, "Thank...you."
Played straight with the Klaxxi paragon Iyyokuk the Lucid. The thing with Klaxxi paragons is they were chosen as the greatest warriors of their generation to be preserved in amber should the Klaxxi empire need warriors of their power in the future. They're supposed to be eternally asleep until the Wakener comes. Iyyokuk wasn't. He was fully aware of the passage of time for 877 years. When the player talks to him after his awakening, he quite calmly states:
After seventy-eight years, I stopped trying to escape. I kept my mind sharp by creating and solving puzzles. The amber took care of the rest of my body. But my sanity? No, I cannot say with good confidence that it survived intact..
From the white chamber, this is the fate of souls trapped within the Artefact, the reality warping device that causes all the problems in the game. In the bad ending, this is also Sarah's fate.
X-COM Terror From The Deep gives us the Bio-Drones, brains that have been attached to antigravity life-support units and then butchered into submission to the aliens. They can scream... but only to power their sonic weapon and kill others.
Zork: Grand Inquisitor introduces the totemizer, a nasty piece of machinery that traps any being inside a small bronze disc for eternity. What's even worse about it is that the Inquisition uses it over ten thousand times a day.
There's also Dalboz, who was personally trapped in a lantern by the Grand Inquisitor.
In earlier Return To Zork the Big Bad Morpheus has been turning his enemies to statues, leaving them fully conscious. The old guy giving you helpful hints through Tele-Orb is one such victim. Unlike other prisoners he's a telepath, which allowed him to call for help via Tele-Orb.
Infocom also had the Bad Ends of The Lurking Horror(You're turned into the semi-intelligent puppet of an Eldritch Abomination. In the few moments of clarity you have while in this state, you wish you had been murdered instead.) and Sorcerer(Nothing says it better than the text: "You feel an overwhelming sense of oppression as the demon seizes control of your mind and body. (...) You see the enslaved people of the land toiling to erect great idols to Jeearr. Parents offer up their own children upon these altars, as the rivers of the land fill with blood. And YOU embody Jeearr; you are cursed by ten thousand generations of victims; your face adorns the idols. And worst of all, you remain awake and aware, a witness to horror, never sleeping, and never, ever to escape.")