Cruel And Unusual Death / Literature

  • Choose Your Own Adventure: Many of the undesirable endings in these game books have particularly gruesome fates. These fates range from torn apart by squids, sharks and other forms of wildlife; being locked in a deep cellar of a warehouse and left for dead; falling great distances; being sucked apart by a force field or extreme pressure; being drawn and quartered; and much more.
    • One fate is implied to be so horrific, so brutal and so indescribably violent that the description of the final confrontation reads (in bold print and all caps) "CENSORED DUE TO EXTREME VIOLENCE!!!"
  • In Johannes Cabal the Detective the epilogue contains a short adventure involving Cabal, an amateur British spy, and an immortal Asian warlock named Umtark Ktharl. The Evil Sorcerer has a variety of killing methods at his disposal, from his mentioned but not seen Red Snow (which falls softly and then dissolves with a sigh tearing flesh away and killing armies), and we see this when Ktharl encounters some bandits shortly after he is freed—he sets one on fire (he keeps screaming after he is ash) he apparently teleports one's skeleton out of his body, another vomits out his heart, another gets just his head set on fire and his skin melts like candle wax, another is partially teleported inside a cave wall (it's implied he might be alive) and yet another has an animated tree string him up by the ankles and dash his brains out. Our first hint to what a dangerous monster Ktharl is is Cabal's reaction—the man who insults Satan to his face is very, very scared of Ktharl.
  • In "The Cone" by H. G. Wells, a man gets deliberately roasted to death by being thrown onto the top of a blast furnace.
  • East of Eden has a character's mother get gangraped so brutally that she survives only long enough for someone to, quote, "claw (her son) from the mangled meat of his mother."
  • In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, some workers are implied to have fallen into lard rendering vats and boiled into lard and their bones ground into fertilizer.
  • In Jon Skiftesvik's book Viltteri ja Mallu, the protagonist's father, a paperworker, dies from falling into a paper machine and getting crushed by the calander rollers. Ouch.
  • Almost every single death in Another. Some notable ones:
    • A girl slips on a flight of stairs and her umbrella impales her through her throat as she lands. Her body twitches violently and she wets herself as she dies.
    • A nurse gets caught in an elevator that plummets several stories down and crashes at the bottom of the shaft, slamming her head-first into the floor, where her skull cracks open.
    • A girl accidentally hangs herself after being caught in a bunch of wires. She flails violently while urinating in fear and pain as the wires choke her to death, with her yellow urine spraying everywhere, until her body goes limp as she dies.
    • A girl is impaled by numerous shards of glass as a nearby window explodes due to lightning.
  • In the original draft of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, Doctor Jimmy Cody is eaten alive by a horde of rats. The book's editor convinced King that it went too far, so he replaced it with a scene in which the doctor falls into a booby trap made of butcher knives that have been driven through a table. When the book was rereleased as a "10th Anniversary Edition", he (King) made sure the original scene was restored to the story. (The 2004 TV movie has him fall onto a running table saw. Tzzzzzing!)
    • In IT, Patrick Hockstetter receives what is quite possibly the most horrific death in the whole book. He is killed by the titular Big Bad, who has taken the form of what can only be described as giant, flying leeches who possess extremely large and extremely sharp proboscises, which proceed to completely swamp him and almost completely drain him of his blood. It's made even worse by the fact that one of them penetrates his eyelid and utterly destroys his eyeball, and another lands in his mouth and drains all the blood from his tongue. He eventually dies after fainting, being dragged away to Its lair, and then being devoured alive when he awakens.
    • The botched execution of Eduard Delacroix from The Green Mile, which happened because Percy Wetmore, the guy who insisted upon being in charge of the execution and a sadistic asshole to the core, neglected to soak a sponge in brine that was supposed to be tucked inside the electrode cap to ensure a quick death in the electric chair because he wanted to get back at Del in the cruelest way possible for laughing at him in an earlier scene. When the switch is thrown, the result is a prolonged, agonizing and exceedingly horrific death involving Del being burned alive in the chair. The volume in which this execution takes place is called "The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix" with good reason.
      • The film adaptation toned this scene down from its original literary version, removing, among other things, Del's eyes popping out of their sockets (which was Truth in Television — electric chair victims had to wear a leather hood to catch them). And the scene in question, despite all toning down, still manages to be one of the most brutal and agonizing scenes for any movie that was marketed (at least in Europe) for young teens, which only showcases how utterly horrifying Delacroix's death actually was.
      • This scene was actually based off of the very first execution by electric chair in America where the person burned alive due to a malfunction of the chair. Stephen King said once that he got the idea from that.
    • In Misery, Annie murders a cop by running over his head with a riding lawn mower.
    • In Firestarter, Andy's "push" can accidentally set off an echo effect in the mind of the individual being "pushed," causing them to become dangerously obsessional about certain objects or concepts. When he pushes Dr. Herman Pynchot, this echo effect causes Pynchot to become enamored with his wife's new garbage disposal. He commits suicide by turning on the disposal and sticking his arm into it (while wearing his wife's underwear, to boot).
    • Most of the deaths in Chapter 38 of the Unabridged version of The Stand would qualify for this trope. To survive the superflu, only to die of accidental or natural causes because no one's around to help you? That is "cruel and unusual" writ large. Of particular note are:
      • The death of five-and-a-half-year-old Sam Tauber, who falls through a rotted well-cover while picking blackberries, breaks both his legs at the bottom and dies twenty hours later, "as much from fear and misery as from shock and hunger and dehydration."
      • Irma Fayette, morbidly afraid of being raped, finds a .45 pistol and some "green and mossy-looking" bullets in the attic of her home and camps out on her front porch, waiting. When a man approaches her, she points the pistol at him and fires. The gun explodes, killing her.
      • Judy Horton, a petty and shallow teenaged girl, who doesn't seem to mind that the world has ended (or that the superflu has taken her husband, baby boy and everyone else she knows). She accidentally locks herself into the walk-in freezer in the basement of her apartment building, and that, as they say, is that. No great loss.
    • And no discussion of this trope as regards The Stand can be complete without mentioning the death of The Kid, Trashcan Man's insane companion (for a short time) on his journey West. Flagg sends wolves after The Kid to take him out, but before they can, he dives into an old Austin. The wolves stay, waiting patiently. Later in the book, Stu, Larry, Glen and Ralph find his body on their journey West. The Kid's remains are half in, half out of the Austin, his hands wrapped around the neck of a dead wolf.
    • Flagg also crucifies people who piss him off. One victim screams in agony as he's being nailed to the cross hoisted up, since he never imagined anything could hurt that much. Of course, one hapless guy who fails Flagg discovers that this isn't the worst thing Flagg can do to people.
      There were worse things than crucifixion. There were teeth.
  • The Reynard Cycle: Let's just say that the Chimera of this series have the tendency to eat people while they are still alive. And some of them may rape you first.
  • In one of the Prelude to Dune prequels, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has his etiquette teacher drowned in raw sewage. The man had been trying to teach the Baron how to behave in polite society.
    • Anyone swallowed by a sandworm qualifies, as they get incinerated in its burning belly.
  • Deposed Archbishop Edmund Loris has Bishop Henry Istelyn hanged, drawn, and quartered in The Bishop's Heir. Some time before hand he has the man's ring finger cut off (complete with his bishop's amethyst ring) and sent to Kelson in a show of defiance, and afterwards, he sends Istelyn's head.
  • The Honor Harrington series has a couple of these, the most notable being Honor's execution-by-duel of minor antagonist and Smug Snake Denver Summervale, who had a few weeks prior murdered her lover in a similar duel. He comes to the dueling ground expecting to first humiliate and then kill her; instead she puts five shots in his belly before blowing his brains straight to a well-deserved Hell with her sixth.
  • American Gods: A minor goddess is chased down and runover by the Kid's limousine over and over until she's small and liquid enough to be washed away in the rain.
    • May be Laser-Guided Karma, as all of the gods who died in that book had killed someone earlier in the novel. Goddess kills human; Kid kills goddess, Loki kills Kid, Shadow's wife kills Loki, and then dies herself of the self-inflicted wound and loss of the talisman that had brought her back from death.
  • In Günther Wallraff's novel Ganz Unten (The Lowest of the Low) a Turkish steelworker is reported to have fallen into a blast furnace.
  • In Gary Jennings's historical epic Aztec, a man has the skin of a little girl placed on his vital areas and is left to let the skin dry and thus suffocate him.
  • Orson Scott Card:
    • In "Eumenides in the Fourth-Floor Lavatory" (collected in Maps in a Mirror), the Asshole Victim protagonist becomes forever plagued by monstrous, grotesquely-deformed infants whose sucker-like suction cup appendages rip off his skin when they make contact with it, as well as cause pus-filled sores to appear. And only HE can hear... and see... and experience these things, causing everyone else to believe him to be insane.
    • In "A Thousand Deaths" (also in Maps in a Mirror), a repressive government uses cloning and brain-taping technology to torture a dissident to death over and over and over again, in increasingly gruesome and detailed manners — and each time make his newly decanted self, fresh from the trauma of dying, clean up the bits of his body. This story actually inverts the trope however, because the protagonist eventually gets used to dying horribly, so the torture no longer works.
  • Matthew Reilly seems to like these. We've got shredded to bits by a fragmentation grenade, eaten by killer whales, roasted alive when the sparks from some Mooks' guns ignite flammable gasses in the air, hung upside-down in a pool full of killer whales and eaten, poisoned by sea snake venom and getting lockjaw, freezing after getting soaked in liquid nitrogen, crushed in a depressurizing diving bell, stabbed in the back by your own squad mate, getting drilled through the head, and being mauled alive by mutant elephant seals. And that's just in his second book.
    • His first book contains being thrown through a book case then being ripped in half, getting mauled alive by wolf-like aliens, burning to death, being electrocuted, being telefragged and, being crushed under a descending elevator.
    • In Scarecrow, in addition to the more mundane exploding planes and multiple bullet holes, there's being burned alive by a fighter jet's afterburner, multiple decapitations using various methods like guillotine and machetes, the burning oil trap, microwave beams causing a person to explode, being eaten by shark, and having a hole burned through the mouth.
    • His other series involved many appearances from the Durable Death Trap, amongst other things. There's getting melted by volcanic mud, smothered by tons of sand, hunted by specially trained hyenas, having the Hanging Gardens of Babylon dropped on you (that one doesn't take, but still), along with other oldies but goodies like getting caught under a rolling boulder during an Indy Escape, falling into a spike pit, being thrown into a Turbine Blender, and getting shot with an anti-aircraft cannon.
    • Temple: Being shot up by bullets, pierced by arrows, and being turned to bloody smears by grenades are common deaths. So is being eaten by monster-sized caimans and freakishly huge black panthers called rapas. And being blown up by a small nuclear device. The bad guys—members of a Neo-Nazi terrorist group and members of a US militant group whose leader is psychotic and hellbent on literally destroying Earth with a planet-killing weapon called the Supernova—die in more memorable ways. During an epic river battle, Nazis get blown up by torpedoes, blown up when a speedboat rides up the wings of a seaplane and straight into a helicopter, and in the end, the remaining boats in the Nazi flotilla are literally evaporated when a box full of isotopic charge grenades detonate. Anistaze, second-in-command of the Nazis, gets decapitated by helicopter rotors. Ehrhardt, the leader of the Nazis, gets blown up by the backup detonation, after Race disarms the Supernova bomb. Copeland, who was a member of the US militant group (and who played both the Army and the Navy groups sent to recover the idol), gets decapitated by a shell fired from an M1A1 Abrams tank, which just happens to be in a Soviet transport plane. Bittiker, the leader of the militant group, is inside said tank when it crashes into the jungle floor (after Race disarms yet another Supernova device). Nash, the leader of the Army group (who also massacred the Navy group and tried to steal the idol made of a magical nuclear element), has his arms bound (since his hands were cut off), gagged, dragged to the sacrificial chute, has his legs bound, and is tossed down the chute to be eaten by the rapas. He's alive and screaming when it happens, but he deserved it.
    • Area 7: The Sinovirus kills everyone but Asians in a gruesome way. Gastrointestinal irritation, stomach melting, kidney and liver melting, complete organ failure, and then death in under two minutes. A 7th Squadron Commando gets his skull crushed after being ejected from an aircraft. Scarecrow blows up a Chinese space shuttle. Warrant Officer Webster, the guardian of the Football (the suitcase containing the nuclear weapons codes), is a traitor and is league with the main Bad Guy, General Russell. Webster gets his throat slit by Mother during a pit fight. Colonel Harper, the head of Area 7, seems to escape death by setting off a grenade loaded with Sinovirus, but he doesn't. Lucifer Leary, the Surgeon of Phoenix, a serial killer who carves his victims into pieces, captures, crucifies, and carves up Harper. The aforementioned Leary gets eaten by komodo dragons. Major Logan, a minor bad guy, goes splat after falling 400 feet down an elevator shaft; that and his head gets sliced off. And Russell, the main bad guy, he gets shot in the chest, then, assuming he was still alive, was obliterated by a W88 nuclear warhead detonating.
  • There are some grisly deaths in Fate of the Forty Sixth, but the one that stands out is when Wolf kills a dragon by punching through its neck and yanking out its windpipe.
  • Christina's death (from before the story started) from Haunted (1988). She set the house on fire, killing everybody who was trapped inside, accidentally got herself set on fire, she jumped into the pond to stop the flames and drowned.
  • The worms from David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr series eat their victims alive, and their mouths are built to inflict about as much pain as possible while they're doing it. But here's the bad part: the worms aren't the worst thing that can kill you in this story...
  • Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony features an execution machine that gets examined in such meticulous detail that what it actually does seems ten times as horrifying.
  • In The Vor Game, Miles is investigating the mysterious death of a soldier found stuffed in a drainage pipe. Turns out the soldier had been hiding contraband (homemade cupcakes) and went to save them when the rain started, got lost in the dark, panicked, and managed to wedge himself in the drain pipe so that he suffocated.
  • In Diana Wynne Jones' Year of the Griffin, an assassin almost dies by drowning in orange juice.
  • Robin Jarvis' Thomas, a prequel to the Deptford Mice trilogy, is arguably the goriest of that series of books. This is due to the nature of the poison-covered blades the villains use to kill their enemies. Just one prick is enough to doom the victim to an agonizing death where their body slowly melts into a pile of sludge. One character is not only subjected to this, but also sliced in two and his carcass is pushed off the side of a ship.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey short story "The Abominable History of the Man with Copper Fingers", an artist murders his mistress because he suspects her of cheating. He kills her by electroplating her. The artist later falls into his own vat and is killed in a similar manner.
  • In "A Very Offensive Weapon", a take-off of heroic fantasy by David Drake, the hired retainers are Genre Savvy and know there's no chance of surviving the heroic quest they're on. So they strive to die heroically, regaling each other with tales of legendary deaths.
    "Say, did you notice the way the Old Man threw his arms and legs wide as he fell forward? He was making sure that he'd be smashed absolutely flat. Now, that's craftsmanship if I ever saw it."
  • In Polystom, a servant convicted of murdering an aristocrat is executed using the "skin frame": after fattening him up to loosen the entire skin, the skin around his ankles is cut and pinned to the lower part of the frame and he must hold the upper part of the frame until his arms give way with fatigue.
  • In Death Masks, a novel in The Dresden Files series, Shiro is brutalized and tortured to the point that Harry Dresden almost doesn't recognize him anymore.
    • Gruesome deaths are par for the course in The Dresden Files, starting with the very first book, where Harry is called to the scene of a crime where the victims' hearts have exploded out of their chests. Harry reacts, quite sensibly, by being violently sick.
    • It doesn't actually happen, but in the short story "Love Hurts", a Red Court vampire describes to Harry the death her Court has planned for him. It involves a cage lined with sharp objects, the bottom of which is a closed bowl to collect his waste, spears in a rack underneath so anyone who feels like it can prod him with them, and eventual disembowelment and flaying to be turned into a chair in the Red Temple.
    • Harry himself inflicts a few of these over the course of the series, mostly as a result of using fire magic to burn monsters alive. In one memorable instance, he ignited the fat beneath a ghoul's skin. Shortly after that, in what would have been possibly the nastiest death in the books if it hadn't been narrowly avoided, Harry buried a ghoul up to its neck, glassed the sand around it with fire, melting its face off, and then used a trail of orange juice to draw a nest of fire ants to it. Fortunately, he relented and executed the ghoul with his pistol.
    • Madeline Raith's death at the hands of her cousin, Lara Raith in Turn Coat qualifies. Lara fed on her cousin in White Court vampire style (this implies incest, though it wouldn't be the first time Lara's done such a thing) while simultaneously tearing her intestines and innards out and lovingly telling Madeline how she'd always wanted to do this.
  • In the first book of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, The Lies of Locke Lamora, Barsavi tries to have Locke (who is disguised at that moment as the Grey King) drowned in the same barrel of horse urine that the real Grey King sent back his daughter Nazca in.
    • There are many of these in the first book alone. For instance, Capa Barsavi knows that the Grey King's killing the leaders of the gangs under his watch, and so keeps bringing the survivors of said gangs in for "questioning." When he's done with them, he either throws them to the sharks or lets his Torture Technician, Sage Kindness, go to town. One such death involves taking a leather bag, filling it with broken glass, slipping it over the poor bastard's head, and kneading.
    • An even worse death is described in the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. An assassination attempt on crime boss Requin left Requin's lover, Selendri, horribly disfigured on her left side. When Requin caught the assassin, he dipped his left side in cement, let it harden, then left him like that, forcing water down his throat to keep him going as long as possible, while the trapped side rotted and became gangrenous...
  • Carl Hiaasen:
    • In Strip Tease, the sleazy ex-husband of the main character falls into a drug-induced sleep in a vat of sugarcane — which is then fed through a processing plant.
    • In Native Tongue, a hitman falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and simultaneously drowns and is humped to death by the undersexed dolphin that lives in the tank.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Viserys Targaryen weds his sister to Khal Drogo in the hopes of using Drogo's army to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Eventually he pisses Drogo off enough that Drogo crowns him. With molten gold.
    • Also Joffrey, who dies by slowly choking to death and clawing out his throat at his own wedding as a result of being poisoned.
    • In the "embarrassing" mode of things, we have Lord Tywin Lannister who is shot in the bowels, and ends his life with a stunning aversion of Nobody Poops.
    • Then we have the Bolton's preferred execution method (Flaying Alive), what the Mereenese Grand Masters did to the slave children (nailing them alive to posts with their entrails hanging out), what Dany did to said Grand Masters (the same), a bunch of dragonfire-related incidents (most notably Quentyn), Joffrey, the sacrifices presented to R'hllor...
    • And then there is the death of Gregor Clegane. He is wounded with a spear smeared with a poison that is specifically designed to kill someone slowly and painfully. The maesters try for days to save him. After they fail, Cersei suggest to just kill him, but Qyburn thinks it's worth to take a better look on the nature of the poison.
    • The spear in question was delivered by Oberyn Martell, who dueled with Clegane with the intent to kill him out of the fervent belief that the Mountain had murdered his sister and her children years ago on Lord Tywin Lannister's orders. After Oberyn delivered the lethal blow with his spear, Clegane confessed to raping and murdering Elia Martell, and her infant son... while gouging Oberyn's eyes with one hand and pulverizing his entire skull with the other. This he did in front of half of Westeros' nobility.
    • Possibly the worst deaths in the series (though admittedly there is a lot of competition) are the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark in the backstory, for both physical and psychological torture. Rickard was roasted alive while his son Brandon watched. Brandon had a noose around his neck and his sword was placed just out of reach, causing him to strangle himself while trying to save his father.
    • Robb Stark breaks his vow from the first novel to marry a Frey girl, and instead marries Jeyne Westerling. Angry at the slight and having made plans with the Lannisters, Walder Frey invites another marriage pact between Catelyn's brother Edmure Tully and his daughter Roslin Frey. At this wedding, the Freys break the time-honored and sacred guest right (a guest cannot be harmed after they have received food and drink at a host's table) and slaughter most of the northmen including Catelyn and Robb. Robb's head is removed, as is the head of his direwolf Grey Wind, and Grey Wind's head is sewn onto Robb's body as a mockery. This wedding is known from then on in the series as The Red Wedding.
    • The first High Septon (the obese one) was dragged from his litter and torn apart by an angry mob. Tyrion thinks that they resented the septon for being too fat to walk while they went hungry.
    • Kevan Lannister gets a crossbow bolt to the chest and is stabbed to death by a bunch of children.
    • Possibly the most horrifying death in the series is that of Vargo Hoat. He gets captured by Gregor Clegane, who proceeds to cut off each of his body parts, cauterize the wound and FEED them to him until he runs out of body.
    • The method that Tywin Lannister used to wipe out House Reyne turns out to have been pretty nasty as well. As revealed in The World of Ice & Fire, all of House Reyne and their followers fled into a series of mines, thinking the Lannisters would be reluctant to storm it, since the narrow mines were easily defensible and filled with traps; what's more, while the Reynes knew all the various twists and turns of the mines, the Lannisters didn't, therefore attempting to take them by force would require time and massive casualties. Thus to the Reynes it seemed like a good move to buy time, either for the allies of the Reynes to arrive or for Tywin to decide that negotiation was the better way to go. Instead Tywin sealed the exits to the mines and diverted a local river into those mines, flooding it completely and drowning all of the hundreds of men, women and children trapped inside.
      Tywin Lannister did not honor Ser Reynard's offer with a reply. Instead he commanded that the mines be sealed. With pick and axe and torch, his own miners brought down tons of stone and soil, burying the great gates to the mines until there was no way in and no way out. Once that was done, he turned his attention to the small, swift stream that fed the crystalline blue pool beside the castle from which Castamere took its name. It took less than a day to dam the stream and only two to divert it to the nearest mine entrance. The earth and stone that sealed the mine had no gaps large enough to let a squirrel pass, let alone a man... but the water found its way down. Ser Raynard had taken more than three hundred men, women, and children into the mines, it is said. Not a one emerged. A few of the guards assigned to the smallest and most distant of the mine entrances reported hearing faint screams and shouts coming from beneath the earth one night, but by daybreak the stones had gone silent once again.
  • The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, illustrates, in horrific detail, just how terrifying it would be to watch someone getting skinned alive.
  • Warrior Cats has Tigerstar, who gets ripped open, causing him to scream in fits of agony as he bleeds to death nine consecutive times. Other deaths include being run over by a car, getting killed (and presumably eaten) by an Ax-Crazy mountain lion, and being stabbed in the throat with a wooden spike and gushing blood everywhere. And this is a series marketed for children.
    • Plus there was the incident with one cat getting killed by dogs.
      • Ripped to shreds by dogs. SHREDS.
    • Snowkit- a deaf kitten snatched out of the camp and eaten by a hawk.
    • Antpelt is beaten so badly in a training session in the Dark Forest (which he was visiting in a dream) that he died in real life.
    • Several cats die by giving birth; the descriptions generally involve enough blood to give the reader nightmares.
    • Honeyfern is bitten by an adder and dies screaming as its poison slowly kills her.
    • Fallen Leaves was trapped in a pitch-black tunnel that was being flooded. He drowned while trying to desperately get out.
    • Two very young kits are ripped apart by a fox in "Yellowfang's Secret".
    • Firestar's final death is pretty brutal. He gets squished by a flaming tree.
      • Word of God later states that he actually died of his wounds while taking down Tigerstar and the character who saw him killed by the tree in fact hallucinated him standing up. Either way, a brutal death.
    • Bright Stream is snatched by an eagle while trying to save Gray Wing. To make matter worse, she was pregnant with Clear Sky's kits. We can only imagine her fate.
  • At one point in the war story The Things They Carried, the protagonists pitch their tents in a field they later find out is fertilized with the excrement of the entire nearby town. When they're attacked in the middle of the night, the explosions stir up the ground, and a major character drowns in shit. Proving that life is shittier than fiction, the book's Based on a True Story, and the death was apparently a real incident (though this is definitely questionable).
  • Sword of Truth:
    • The death of Annalina Aldurren in the final book is particularly cruel. The actual death is fairly quick (you don't live very long when someone blasts a foot-wide hole in your chest), but the killers then disintegrate her body, not just to cover their tracks, but explicitly stating that they're doing it so nobody will ever know what happened to her.
    • In the first book, we have the death of Demmin Nass, The Dragon, pedophile, child murderer, and all around bastard. After taunting Kahlan about how Richard was dead and he was going to let his men rape her to death while her friends are forced to watch, she goes into a Tranquil Fury Unstoppable Rage and confesses him, then chops off his testicles and feeds them to him before embedding an axe in his head.
    • And in the backstory, Zedd's wife's death qualifies. Not only is she beaten, raped, and left for dead by a squad of D'Haran soldiers, but she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal his wife...only to find doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing.
    • In Faith of the Fallen, Verna orders that the assassin who killed her husband Warran be tortured all night before being put to death in the morning. These are the Good Guys.
  • The short story "Dark Red Mind" has a scene where, after finding out that the Colonel was in on the villain's plan the whole time, the three lead superhumans kill him in a truly nightmarish way. The Colonel gets in his car, turns the key in the ignition, and looks into the rear-view mirror to find Justin and Bethany sitting in the backseat. Just before he can get out, Justin uses his telekinesis to forcibly buckle the Colonel's seatbelt as tight as he can, making sure he can't get out. But that's not enough. Bethany uses her phasing powers on his hands without even touching him, making sure he won't even have a physical chance to escape. Then, the third superhuman, Kaitlyn, with the ability to cut through things with her mind, slams her hands on the hood of the car. The Colonel begs for mercy, and Justin, with his only line in the story, simply replies, "Sorry, man. None left for you." Then Kaitlyn uses her power to cut through his neck as slowly as possible until she finally cuts all the way through.
  • Pick a tale by The Brothers Grimm: odds are good there'll be a gruesome death - you've got dancing to death in red-hot iron shoes, ripping yourself in twain pulling your foot out of the floor... and Herr Korbes had a pretty bad day.
  • Magic: The Gathering's tie-in novels feature a heavy dose of this. The Kamigawa trilogy was probably the high point: a minor god is devoured by disembodied mouths, a monk is drowned by a water mage while restrained, a telepath gets being frozen to death sent to her via telepathy, an immortal king is turned to stone and shattered, breaking his mind and his sight into thousands of tiny bits... Choryu, the water mage, suffers a fate almost beyond comprehension: he is bound with life-sustaining spells, burned beyond recognition, cursed a thousand different ways, has poison soaked into every inch of his flesh, and is slowly fed his own limbs. His actual death is a Mercy Kill, making this an inversion.
  • In the Domination series by S.M. Stirling the stock punishment for any dissent is to be staked. The victim slowly dies, but if they tire and relax they'll just fall onto the stake more. It takes some skill to make the stake just the right length so as not to kill the victim too soon.
  • In Without Remorse, John Clark tortures and kills a drug dealer by jamming him into a decompression chamber and giving him the bends.
    • And it goes on for a chapter. With all the detail and exhaustive research that Tom Clancy is famous for.
  • Richard K. Morgan's fantasy novel The Steel Remains has one society sentence various people to death by gradual, mechanically-assisted impalement. This happens to a childhood friend of the main character. Later, due to a journey through possible alternate worlds/lives, the central character himself lives through such an experience. The description is... memorable, and not in a good way.
    • More to the point, in his other novel series, the Takeshi Kovacs novel Broken Angels has a description of a torture device used on soldiers deemed fit for the brutal punishment. Essentially a modified autopsy machine, the device in question flays the skin, flenses bone, breaks teeth and probes the exposed nerves, boils the eyes, disects and removes organs, and finally decapitates the body. Whilst the criminal is alive. Suffice to say, when Kovacs blows up the teammate subjected to the toture, it is nothing less than a mercy kill.
  • ghostgirl - She chokes on a friggin gummi bear while distracted by the guy she likes.
  • In his short story "Patriotism", writer Yukio Mishima describes the act of seppuku in excruciating detail, to the point of causing physical discomfort in some readers. Mishima-san would later make himself a Real Life example of the practice.
  • Failing to bind an Andat in The Long Price Quartet can have some pretty horrific consequences. For example, having your veins fill up with crushed glass. Or growing twisted mouths all over your body that vomit up you blood. Or slowly filling up with seaweed and black ice until your stomach ruptures.
  • In Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus!, which is based on the Columbine massacre, one character ends up being trapped under a table by a group of angry teens. The students jump up and down on the table, and Coupland has the narrator describing how as the students are jumping on the table, the gap between the table and the floor is getting smaller and smaller, until the table is practically touching the floor. OK, the person under the table was part of a group who had shot several students dead for no real reason, but it's still pretty nasty.
  • Too many to count in Gone, but EZ being eaten alive by mutated worms certainly comes to mind. And anyone who Drake kills. And the kids eaten by coyotes during the Thanksgiving Battle. And the kids who get thrown through a wall by Caine. And Panda's suicide, particularly because of what happened afterwards.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the fourth book, where the two main problems in the FAYZ are a hacking cough that causes kids to choke up pieces of lung, and a cockroach-esque parasite that eats you alive before hatching from your body. Nausea Fuel indeed.
  • "The Cocoons" by Thomas Ligotti has psychiatric patients being eaten from the inside out by giant Lovecraftian arthropods after the "pills" they were given have hatched. While this never actually occurs "on-stage", the narrator watches some very educational home videos of his doctor's work...
  • In the Larry Niven short story "Wait It Out", the first manned spacecraft to land on Pluto malfunctions and strands Jerome Glass and the unnamed narrator there. Glass commits suicide by leaving his spacecraft and removing his helmet. The narrator, inspired by the cryopreservation of humans back on Earth, leaves the ship and completely removes his spacesuit. Freezing to death is a horrific way to go, but this qualifies for the trope because he froze in such a way that his brain "turns back on" when he's out of direct sunlight, making him conscious of the fact that a) he's a Human Popsicle and b) he's likely to stay that way until the sun explodes or until help arrives. Even while his mind is switched on, his time perception is altered, and he has blissful oblivion after sundown — so he hopes he can "Wait It Out." Someone's sure to come back to Pluto someday, and who knows what Earth science may be able to accomplish by then?
  • In the David Eddings novel Regina's Song, Twinkie, the Seattle Slasher, killed her victims by stabbing them with a syringe of curare to paralyze them, and then slowly carved them to pieces with a linoleum knife. While singing. When she finally tracked down the man who killed her sister, she slices him with the knife about eighty times. The coroner wasn't sure of the exact count, as some of the cuts were very close together — especially around the groin. He was still alive when she cut his throat at the end.
  • In the book They Thirst The Renfield falls into a Snake Pit with rattlesnakes inside after the Intrepid Reporter fights him off. He soon realizes that being The Renfield doesn't save one from death by rattlesnake bite. He was evil, but the way his death is described is borderline horror.
  • Tame compared to some of those listed here, but several characters in Darkness Visible are killed by mishaps with collapsing Reality Thresholds. The guy who gets his head cut off gets off lightly, compared to the one who gets cut in half. Even worse is the one who loses a couple of limbs and bleeds out under Lewis's hands whilst screaming in agony.
  • Patrick Bateman's victims in American Psycho definitely go through this trope, at the end you're left wondering whether Patrick really did commit all those murders or if they were all in his head, but still...
  • In The Pale King, Chris Fogle's father gets his arm stuck in a closing subway door, and is dragged the length of the station and beyond. The authorities find pieces of him roughly 65 yards away from the platform, at which point the train was traveling over 50 miles an hour.
  • In The Hunger Games, many of the deaths in the arena are especially cruel. And some of the ones in Mockingjay are so gory that many can't imagine how the movie could be made without earning an R-rating.
  • The last chapter of Zola's Nana focuses on other characters as they visit the title character's deathbed. The cheerful prostitute, who single-handedly ruined the fortunes of some of the richest men in France through sheer profligacy, dies horribly disfigured by smallpox.
  • Given The Monk is a Gothic novel, they have to make it extreme, but it's a bad death even for a woman as heartless as the prioress. She gets ripped to shreds by an angry mob.
  • Grenouille, the protagonist in Perfume The Story Of A Murderer, has murdered twenty-five beautiful virgins to create the most glorious, irresistible perfume in the world. For his crimes he is supposed to have his ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders shattered and then be hung up to die, but he escapes this fate: in the end, he pours the perfume over himself and is torn to pieces and devoured by an adoring mob. The author makes it clear just how hard it is to tear a living human being into pieces, too.
  • In "The Quest for Blank Claveringi", a short story by Patricia Highsmith, the protagonist is stranded on an island populated by INTELLIGENT man-eating snails the size of Buicks. Suffice it to say this does not end well.
  • In The Parasite War, one of the rebels is grabbed by the giant "Neonate", or monstrous alien baby. It rips off first one arm, then the other, then rips him in half.
  • In The Braided Path, the fate of one would-be Blood Emperor is to be set on fire, fall off a tower, and be pecked apart by pissed off crows.
  • In Unwind, we have Roland. Oh my God, Roland. He was being unwound (systematically taken apart, organ by organ) while conscious...]] The few details aren't very gory, but that leaves what exactly they're doing to him to your imagination.
  • An off-screen death in Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil: Josiah Byrd imprisoned his daughter in an attic room after she fell in love, maintained contact with the forbidden suitor, and became pregnant. Her father allowed her to die of birth complications, and the nurse had to smuggle out the infant girl to keep him from killing her as well. Lori senses the ghost leave her when she and her companions find the room; apparently the experience was so traumatic the ghost can't or won't return to the room.
  • Battle Royale is absolutely loaded with these, but perhaps the most infamous one is when a boy makes an Attempted Rape on a girl. She gouges out his eye with two fingers, crushes his genitals with her foot, stomps on his throat and finally stabs the roof of his mouth with an ice pick, killing him.
  • The Edge Chronicles, by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell, take much glee in giving their characters the most inventive and horrific deaths imaginable. It's like Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket had a party and got Bosch to provide the illustrations.
  • Threatened at one point in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series: "As for you, Private, if you mention a word of this to anyone, I'll feed you to the cat thing here." The "cat thing" is Mogget, a very ancient magic... thing, who would likely make the eating painful and lasting.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000 Space Marine Battles novel The Siege of Castellax , several of the Iron Warriors who rule the titular slave-planet suffer some very interesting and undignified deaths at the hands of the Ork Waaagh! invading the planet:
    • Algos the Skintaker suffers the dog biting back in a particularly embarrassing fashion — paralyzed by rubble, this superhuman champion of the Dark Gods has his throat cut. By a slave. With a piece of rebar. Worse, Space Marines have special genetic enhancements that prevent blood clotting, so this incredibly humiliating end for a Proud Warrior Race Guy takes quite some time.
    • Over-Captain Vallax ends up captured, tortured, and lobotomized by an Ork Dok. After helping his captors gain access to the Iron Warrior's stronghold, all sneaky like, he snaps out of it...only to be beheaded.
    • Mallox, another Iron Warrior, is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice on an Obliterator's chain fist. Only then does the Obliterator actually turn the device on, shredding him.
    • Warsmith Andraaz suffers possibly the nastiest, and most drawn-out, end of the lot, coupled with a Humiliation Conga. After engaging the Ork Warboss in close combat, he has his Powered Armor shut down, immobilizing him. It is then spit open, and he is pulled out of it piece by piece, all whilst the Orks laugh at him for giving a poor fight.
  • Discworld:
    • These don't tend to happen on page, but Vetinari mentions one of his predecessors used to have people pulled apart by wild tortoises. It was not a quick death.
    • Although none of them happen onscreen, horrible tortures and cruel deaths keep being mentioned in Interesting Times, too, not least by the Emperor himself, who thinks it's fun.
    • And in Small Gods, Brutha is handcuffed to a big iron tortoise and almost roasted alive.
  • Discussed in Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium. The protagonist is a professional bodyguard hired by one of the most powerful men in The Empire to safely deliver his son to a remote planet. Should he succeed, the man, who is the owner of the aTan Corporation that specializes in resurrection technology, will grant him unlimited resurrections (i.e. eternal life). Should he fail, he will also grant him unlimied resurrections... only to be tortured and killed in the most painful and unusual ways possible. In fact, the man says he will hire the best torturers and writers to think of new tortures to that end. When the protagonist talk to the man's son, the boy reveals that this is not an idle threat and that a number of former bodyguards are already getting the "eternal torture" end of the deal.
  • In Iain M Bank's Use of Weapons the bad guy has his sister made into a chair. Her bones make the frame, and her skin is the cushion. Fortunately, we never see this happening on the page. It is truly one of the most shocking moments of the book.
  • There's quite a few in The Power of Five, but Raven's Gate takes the cake. The thug in the beginning, Ms. Deverill's acid bath, being crushed in the hand of your god... Yeah.
  • Elfangor's death in Animorphs. In one prequel novel Visser Three promised Elfangor that he would make Elfangor's death very personal. He kept his word. Visser Three transformed into a huge monster and ate Elfangor alive. The Animorphs hear Elfangor's psychic death cries and watch as pieces of Elfangor's flesh fall to the ground and are eaten by hungry Taxxon-Controllers.
  • In The Drowned Cities soldier boy Soa is set on fire and then eaten alive by coywolv. Not a good way to go.
  • In In Death Ground and The Shiva Option both by David Weber and Steve White, humans and their allies are engaged in a Bug War against the Arachnids. The Arachnids like to eat populations they conquer alive. For added horror, they tend to prefer children and will also raise sentients on ranches the way humans raise cattle and pigs. Humanity's reaction to this behavior is quite severe.
  • 1634: The Baltic War: One subplot surrounds Eddie Cantrell's captivity in Denmark, where he is forced to help the Danes develop diving technology. Unfortunately, they forgot to install a safety valve on their old-fashioned diving suit. After the pump fails and the diver (who was a condemned criminal) is crushed by the water pressure, the king plans to use it as a method of execution for treason and similar crimes. Anyone who has seen the Mythbusters episode with the Meatman knows why this is here.
  • In her first (and hopefully last) science fiction story, "Commencement," Joyce Carol Oates writes of the 200th commencement ceremony of an unnamed university. The highlight of the televised ceremony comes when the three dignitaries — identified only as the Poet, the Educator, and the Scientist — receiving honorary degrees are dragged up a temporary pyramid on stage and restrained while two university functionaries cut out their hearts and flay them. Why the honorees were unaware of this tradition is never explained.
  • Dr. Donald Williams in Star Trek The Eugenics Wars met his end when Khan decided that he was no longer useful. He died minutes after being exposed to genetically engineered streptococcus, which killed much of his flesh before toxic shock finally finished him.
  • In Dora Wilk Series, Viola is ripped apart by angry ghosts until nothing but her skeleton remains, in a manner so vicious, even Dora considers it messed up.
  • The greedy and hypocritical merchant Droogstoppel in Max Havelaar is made to choke on coffee by the book's author. However, depending on how you read the passage, it's also possible to interpret the passage as Droogstoppel drowning in coffee.
  • The Silerian Trilogy: The Valdani punish Silerian rebels with death by torture-slowly being disemboweled. Later the Silerians use it on traitors also.
  • Rubin Pritchard in Where the Red Fern Grows dies a surprisingly awful and prolonged death, considering the book was written for preteens, and the fact that he himself was only a kid. He trips while carrying an ax and ends up with the blade embedded in his stomach. This includes lines about him bleeding profusely and begging Billy to pull the ax out, finally dying after he succeeds when a "bubble of blood" bursts from his mouth. His death is actually toned down in some prints of the book, and the film version goes directly for the Gory Discretion Shot method.
    • Billy's dog, Old Dan, dies a slow, horrifying death at the end of the book, getting disemboweled by a mountain lion trying to protect Billy from it. The walk home from the attack includes surprisingly gruesome lines about Old Dan's intestines dragging on the ground behind him and getting caught in bushes, with Billy having to clean dirt and leaves out of them, before he finally dies shortly after arriving home.
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, Pilar dies when trying to stop a pack of hunting raptors (small, but vicious and sharp-teethed dinosaurs) from catching her friend Melodía. She's quite literally torn apart alive.
  • In The Discreet Princess, Rich-Craft captures Finette and intends to kill her by putting her in a barrel filled with blades and rolling it off a mountain. She acts so calm that he loses all caution in anger, allowing her to push him in instead. He survives... for a few months, at least.
  • Victoria has several, from tailored plagues designed to be agonizingly painful. But standing out is the mass crucifixion of Christians when Muslims occupy Boston.
  • Many victims of Roderick Whittle, aka Jack the Ripper, from Richard Laymon's Savage.
  • Agakuk tell the story of an Inuit living in the cold north in 1940. At some point, Agaguk killed a smuggler. Some chapters later, a lone RCMP officer came to investigate the murder. Agaguk's father, Ramook, wasn't very cooperative. The RCMP officer eventually realize he has outstayed his welcome and hastily departed. Before he could make it far, Ramook shot the policema him in the back. Then the whole village descended on him. They stripped him off naked, in the snow, and chopped him off. Piece by piece. While he was still alive and screaming in agony. His penis was cut off and the women fought among themselves to devourer it. Ramook took the liver and ate it. In the end, there was nothing left of him but bones. The chapter was appropriately entitled "The Butchers".
  • In the second book of The Girl From The Miracles District, Nikita crucifies Turner with a nail gun to the wall of his room to show other Shadows what happens when you cross her. And because after an entire book of his mooks hounding her, she's absolutely tired of him.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/CruelAndUnusualDeath/Literature