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Auto Cannibalism

left hand washes the right don't let your left hand know what your right hands doing
one potato two potato three potato four we got a refrigerator with a store-more door hahaha.
Who cares, this hand or that. good food good meat good God let's eat.
lady fingers they taste just like lady fingers

How do you take the already disturbing concept of cannibalism and make it even more screwed up? Why, by making the diner what's also being served, of course!

The reason for why the Hell someone makes a meal of themselves tends to fall under one of the following three categories:
  • an extreme last resort due to imminent starvation
  • a form of Cold-Blooded Torture inflicted upon someone by a particularly sadistic captor
  • simple insanity

A character eating a clone or duplicate of themselves also counts. Also see I Taste Delicious, which tends to be about characters finding themselves irresistibly delectable after becoming or being covered in food (try to keep examples of that on its page). Some of the more disturbing examples of Let's Meet the Meat (like the image of that page) can involve this.

Your body will also actually do this automatically in the later stages of starvation; breaking down redundant organs and muscle to keep the more vital parts running.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In a plot point exclusive to the manga, Zeff from One Piece cut off and ate his own leg while stranded on a deserted island with Sanji, who he had secretly given all the stockpiled food to.
    • Later, a villain gifted with Munch-Munch Fruit eats himself to make himself thinner when he gets stuck in an entryway.
    • Early in the Punk Hazard arc, Luffy tricks a dragon to eat its wings.
  • In Naruto, Chouji suffers from the medical version (body devouring itself) after overclocking his metabolism with his clan's Dangerous Forbidden Technique stimulant pills.
  • In Toriko gourmet cell users will suffer from "the autophage" (which they are at constant risk of due to their Hyperactive Metabolism) which gives them a power boost but kills them rather quickly.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey, who has multiple bodies, eats his own corpse after Homura shoots him. It turns out he is actually an alien, one of many, devoted to fighting entropy. Consuming his own remains recycles most of the energy that went into making them.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Hisoka gets an arm cut off in a fight. To demonstrate how much of a shit he doesn't give, he picks it up and eats some of his own skin off of it.
  • In Adam Warren's version of the Dirty Pair universe (specifically "Run from the Future"), Kei and Yuri are at one point called upon to capture a cabal of autocannibalistic cyborgs who believed that eating their flesh allowed them to concentrate their life essence.
  • In the first chapter of Trinity Blood Abel Nightroad eats his own severed arm, with a mouth in his other hand, then grows the severed arm back.

    Comic Books 
  • DC Comics villain Vandal Savage, having lost his immortality in one story, restores it by eating a disfigured clone of himself.
  • Universe X had Multiple Man eat a duplicate of himself while lost in the frozen wilderness. This result was him becoming the new Wendigo.
  • A bodybuilder in the first issue of Hellblazer falls victim to a demon's curse that makes people ravenous for what they desire most- he starts devouring his muscular arms.
  • In Knights of the Dinner Table, while playing Weird Pete's new game "Fairy Meat", Brian Van Hoose has his character eat its own arm to demonstrate that the rule for recovering hit points via cannibalism is broken.
  • Stem Cell of Livewires (an android) is forced to chew off most of her own artificial skin to digest and recycle into giant, flaming, self-replicating robots as a gambit to complete her team's botched mission.
    • In the aftermath, she considers "Autocannibal" for a new name.
  • Wolverine was forced to do this during a storyline where he was stuck in a snowstorm. Unlike most of the people here, his Healing Factor made this less of an issue.
  • Spider's exposure to a weaponized "Autocannibalism Meme" was Noodle Incident in Transmetropolitan
  • In The Smurfs comic book story "The Hungry Smurfs", one of the Smurfs wishes that he was still a sausage so that he could eat parts of himself during a village famine in winter.
  • A reboot of Terror, Inc. under Marvel MAX featured an immortal villain who had two demonic snakes bound to him which needed to feast on human brains regularly. The main character entombs him in a deep cavern for centuries, where the snakes eventually grow hungry enough to feed on their host, who being immortal grows his brain back, and this keeps repeating over and over and over...

    Fan Fiction 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Yellow Submarine, the vacuum monster eats everything in its universe; as a last resort it eats itself, mouth last.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Nikos' last dying act in The Anthropophagus Beast is to start gnawing on his own spilled intestines.
  • Wrong Turn 4 Bloody Beginnings reveals One Eye and Three Finger acquired their trademark deformities this way.
  • When he isn't collecting it in a box, Goldmember from Austin Powers enjoys eating pieces of his own skin.
    • Slightly less horrifying than the other examples on this page, since his skin simply peels off in thin layers, similar to a sunburn.
  • The Japanese horror film Splatter: Naked Blood depicts a gluttonous woman eating herself after being given an experimental drug.
  • The uncut version of A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child reveals that the stuff Freddy is force feeding to Greta is her own innards.
  • The "Sloth" victim in Se7en bit off and ate his own tongue.
  • Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs got locked in his limo and ate himself to death.
  • One of the creepiest examples ever - in an already incredibly creepy category - is The Shunned House. A young woman obsessively plays her violin to ward off evil spirits. Her violin strings break, whereupon she gnaws her own arm open until the sinews are exposed - and then plays the sinews with her violin bow!!! Shudder.
  • The second victim in The Christmas Season Massacre had his ripped off testicles shoved down his throat.
  • At one point in Land of the Dead, the group going out to reclaim Dead Reckoning from Cholo comes across one of the city's military commanders, who has recently been zombified. The zombie of the commander appears to be finishing the job that the other zombies started, and is eating bits of itself.
  • In Adaptation, Donald is writing a horror film where the killer does this to his victims. But given the villain, the protagonist and the leading lady are the same person, once the killer forces the girl to eat herself he dies.
  • A character in Cannibal coerces another into cutting off his penis. They cook and eat it, though judging by the looks on their faces as they do so, it isn't quite as tasty as they thought it would be.
    • This was based loosely on the Armin Mewes case; in that event, Mewes burned the penis while cooking it, which helps to explain why they don't like the taste in the film.
  • In Hannibal, Hannibal manipulates a drugged Mason Verger into cutting off and eating his own nose, and also feeds Paul Krendler his own brain.
  • Chop Top from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 is constantly picking at the exposed metal plate in his head with a heated coat hanger. He eats any skin that gets caught on it.
  • The talking fox in Antichrist is found eating its bowels.
  • In Airplane!, one of the parodied Spinning Newspaper segments includes the headline "Boy Trapped in Refrigerator Eats Own Foot".

    Literature 
  • The Animorphs novels use this as an aspect of the taxxon race's Horror Hunger. Though sapient, the extreme harshness of their initial environment caused them to evolve a super-powerful hunger response that neither their own will, nor even infestation by a yeerk, can control it. Whenever Visser Three turn a taxxon into Half the Man He Used to Be (which is often), the half with a mouth will instinctively try to eat the other.
  • The Stephen King short story "Survivor Type" centered around a surgeon and drug runner who becomes shipwrecked, and is ultimately forced to eat himself by cutting off bits.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs books, Hannibal Lecter manipulates a drugged Mason Verger into cutting off and eating his own nose, and also feeds Paul Krendler his own brain.
  • In Misery, Annie cuts off Paul's thumb, uses it as a candle on a birthday cake, and threatens to make him eat it.
  • When injured in battle, the perpetually hungry Taxxons from Animorphs may begin to consume themselves.
  • The Shel Silverstein poem "Hungry Mungry" ends this way. Another poem "Me-Stew" is all about a chef having no idea what to put in his stew, so he puts himself in.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, the leader of the Brave Companions, Vargo Hoat, gets hacked to pieces one part at a time by Gregor Clegane while he is imprisoned. The flesh is then fed to Hoat and the rest of the prisoners.
    • Earlier, a minor character is locked in a tower and left to starve. She is found dead with her fingers chewed off.
    • A mercenary captain known as the Tattered Prince recounts an incident where one of his troops tried to desert because of the bad quality of food. The Tattered Prince chopped off the deserter's leg, roasted it, and fed it to him, and then made him company cook. Oddly, the man didn't hold a grudge, and willingly signed up for another tour of duty.
  • It's mentioned in Monstrous Regiment that while cannibalism in dire circumstances is acceptable (it's supposedly a military rule that it doesn't count as cannibalism if you don't eat the whole person), eating your own leg is frowned upon. So you swap legs with a partner.
    "It's not done to eat your own leg, is it? You'd go blind."
  • In the Hawk & Fisher story Guard Against Dishonor, a teenager doped out of her mind on super-chacal has her belly ripped open by her equally-berserk boyfriend. When Hawk and Fisher find her, she's nibbling on her own exposed guts.
  • Ender’s Game has Ender munching on his own hand while sleeping—a slightly uncommon example in that it's not out of starvation but a manifestation of stress and guilt after riding Petra until she cracks up.
    "I don't care how much you eat, Ender, self-cannibalism won't get you out of this school."
  • In Jeff Long's Deeper, a monster gets his comeuppance when he's paralyzed from the neck down and left to starve to death in a desolate cavern. He regains partial mobility in his hands, but it happens so very slowly that he realizes he'll die before he can crawl his way to food; he therefore finger-climbs his hand up to his face, and begins eating his own fingers. And then gets attacked and killed before he can move anything else, meaning he chewed himself up for nothing.
  • In The Silmarillion, Giant Spider and Eldritch Abomination Ungoliant, according to one in-universe theory, devours herself while wandering in the wastelands of the Middle-Earth after finally running out of other ways to sate her Horror Hunger.
  • In the short story "It's a Good Life", Reality Warper-tyke Anthony knows his Aunt Amy dislikes rats, so he mind-controls one and forces it to eat itself.
  • In the novel The Journeyer by Gary Jennings, set in 12th-century China, a section of the book is devoted to the art of torture. The fate for people accused of treason is called The Death of a Thousand. According to the book there are 332 places on the body that will cause pain, and four that cause sudden death. The torturer writes these body parts on pieces of paper in a basket and goes to work as he draws the names. The Death of More than a Thousand is the same, except the person's body parts are fed to him/her.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms has a rare example of this trope played for Badassery. When Xiao Dun has an arrow shot into his eye, he proceeds to rip it out and eat it.
  • John Dies at the End has a brief example. The narrator and main protagonist, David, is being haunted by unknown supernatural forces he's managed to upset with his occasional heroism (or maybe he's just crazy), and at one point, he hallucinates a display at a McDonald's warped into a picture of Ronald McDonald eating his own intestines. note 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hannibal Lecter serves Dr. Abel Gideon his own leg (roasted in a clay mold) on the TV series Hannibal.
    • And then there's Mason Verger, who... well, meets much of the same fate as listed under Literature.
    I'm full of myself.
  • One of the people kept in The Attic in Dollhouse is a man forced to eat his own legs as sushi.
  • In Supernatural, Leviathans who fail are forced to eat themselves, a punishment called "bibbing" since all that's left in the end is a bloody bib. If they eat themselves too slowly, their Healing Factor kicks in... and they have to eat that part of themselves again.
    • If you really piss off the leader however, he'll just eat you himself.
  • A fake political ad from This Hour Has 22 Minutes claimed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper cuts himself so he can collect and drink his own blood.
  • Gary, a Fae butcher, in the Lost Girl episode "Death Didn't Become Her"
    Gary: You know what they say— sometimes a flesh-eater is just too tired to get out of bed, go to the fridge, know what I mean? [bites off his own index finger].
    • In his defense, they do grow back.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Referenced as one of Anya's past vengeance curses in "The Prom":
    Anya: "... then, this one time, a girl wished that her ex would cannibalize himself. Even I had a hard time watching that one, let me tell you—"
  • A Saturday Night Live skit with Chevy Chase as Jeffery Dahmer had him trying to convince his lawyers to let him act like he's insane during the trial so they can try for the insanity plea. They try to convince him that no shenanigans are necessary. He seems confused that someone might think he's insane without acting insane... as he begins to calmly eat his own fingers.
  • Monday Mornings: It's revealed that some women are allowed to take home their placentas after giving birth, and it's known that they probably get eaten. It's supposed to be helping them to deal with stress. One patient uses it as an argument when she wants to take home her own kidney which was supposed to get transplanted into her sister. She wants to eat it. Um, that's how she deals with her grief, and it's also a ritual from one eastern culture. She's deemed completely sane, but it caused some major in-universe squick.

    Music 
  • The Vocaloid song 'Evil Food Eater Conchita' by mothy depicts a deranged aristocrat who devours everything she can get hold of, including her servants, before finally turning on herself.
    • Also, another one by the name of "Rot", although this one uses the spin-off program UTAU
  • Happens in a children's song by Swedish poet Lennart Hellsing. A Reality Warper sorcerer from India is goaded by the Emperor of China to turn himself into a glass of lemonade (presumably because his magic is dangerous or at least annoying, it isn't clear). However, it was a very very warm day and the sorcerer got thirsty...
  • The music video for "Obscure" by Dir En Grey features, among other bizarre things, guitarist Die ripping his heart out of his chest and eating it.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Ouroboros is a snake that eats its tail; it represents eternity and perfection and shows up as symbolism in a lot of works.
  • Classical Mythology also has a story of Erysichthon, king of Thessaly, who punished by the gods for killing a dryad with an insatiable hunger that drove him to poverty, and forced him to wander the lands with just his daughter to help him scam money out of people for food until she finally left him. He then raised his shaking fist to the sky curse the gods, prompting him to notice how plump, meaty, and juicy his hand looked. The curse then placed on him by the gods then evidently made it possible for him to consume his entire body, including his own mouth which of course had to be eaten last.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Toys 

    Video Games 
  • In Zork, the command "eat self" returns the message "Autocannibalism is not the answer."
  • From Amnesia: Justine, we get Malo, one of Justine's suitors who was forced to eat his own flesh to survive. He then takes a liking to it, and when he sees another human...
  • In Mass Effect 3, Javik mentions that the punishment for traitors in his time was to rip their limbs off and give them a choice between eating their own flesh or starvation. And then killing them anyway if they do eat.
  • Dead Island features the Butcher enemy, rabidly aggressive zombies that have their forearms ending in chewed bone. It's implied that they chewed off their own hands as the virus set in.
  • One of The Many Deaths of You in the first Space Quest involved being locked in a chamber. The death message says that you tried to resort to autocannibalism, only to find out that you weren't tasty at all.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, those infected with Corprus disease take advantage of Corprus's regenerative qualities by eating bits of themselves, as anything they bite off will quickly grow back afterward.
  • In Monster Hunter, the monster Deviljho will eat any meat lying around on the ground to recover stamina, including its own severed tail.

    Web Originals 

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, where Squidward tells Spongebob a Ghost Story, prompting Spongebob to bite his nails. Next cut is of him actually eating his arms (they grow back ridiculously fast), then going through them like a paper shredder, then eating down a bucket of his own arms like popcorn.
  • In a The Itchy & Scratchy Show short, Itchy (disguised as a restaurant employee) serves Scratchy his own belly. The unknowing Scratchy's attempt at eating it only results in the bits of it he swallows popping back out of a hole cut in it.
  • An early episode of Beast Wars had Dinobot dispose of a fully biological clone of himself by eating it.
    Dinobot: I'm afraid he's gone for good. A shame, really. He was such a handsome creature...and quite tasty.
  • In the last episode of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (2002), Zodak mystically hypnotizes four of King Hiss' heads into eating the fifth, and main, one (had the show gone on for another season he would have regenerated it).
  • One episode of Bounty Hamster has Marion discovers his Bag of Holding cheeks are actually a portal between dimensions so, in order escape the dimension they're trapped in, he eats Cassie then himself. (It Makes Sense in Context... kinda).
  • Nibbler does the exact same thing in one of the Futurama films.
  • In the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Mickey's Garden", a giant caterpillar tries to eat Mickey, who jumps on its tail. In trying to eat him, it bites off its own tail until it's just a head.
  • Sidekick:
    Eric: It's Master XOX!
    XOX: The one and only! Except for those clones I made, and ate.
  • Done apparently offscreen in Invader Zim. In one episode we see Skoodge being shot into a planet via cannon. He later shows up alive and well, much to the confusion of The Tallest. According to the writers, he survived by eating his own skin.
  • In one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Billy is turned into a living chocolate statue. However, Billy eats himself before they can change him back. Keep in mind that Billy is a complete idiot and the chocolate is really good. Half the time, he's screaming in pain due to eating himself, and half the time, he's happily enjoying the taste of the chocolate. It's that kind of show.
    • The Chocolate Sailor, the dispenser of the same chocolates that made Billy into living chocolate, did this with several other individuals in an attempt to make a proper crew. It turned out as well as you'd expect.
    "It happens every time! How can I have a proper crew when they keep eating themselves?!"

    Real Life 
  • King Richard II of England was deposed by Henry Bolingbroke (afterwards King Henry IV) in the fall of 1399. Not long after that, he was taken to Pontrefact Castle as a prisoner and put in chains. He died in February 1400, apparently deliberately starved to death. There are tales that hunger drove Richard to rip flesh from his hands and forearms with his teeth and eat it.
  • Bernd Jürgen Brandes, who infamously consented to being killed and eaten by a man he met online, tried to eat some of his own penis before dying.
  • Lizards whose tails drop off when grabbed as an anti-predator defense mechanism will sometimes eat the dropped-off bit of tail if the predator doesn't do so, reclaiming its protein for their bodies.
    • Many lizards also do the same with their own shed skins, for the same reason.
  • Some mammals will eat their offspring's placenta after a birth. See Placentophagy.
  • Ant queens consume their own wings once their mating flight is done and they are ready to start a hive.
  • Snakes can eat themselves. Less related to the ouroborous than one might think.
  • One of the symptoms of Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome is this.
  • Technically called 'Autophagia', this is not classified as a specific disorder. However, some individuals with mental disorders, especially psychosis, Impulse-control disorders, and Obsessive-compulsive disorder feel compelled to eat their own flesh. In extreme cases this can lead to infections, nerve damage, amputations, and death.
  • One horrific case of child abuse in Gloucester, Virginia, revealed a 6-year-old girl starving in a filthy cage made from a crib and a piece of plywood stuck on top. She was so hungry (she'd only ever be fed Pop Tarts or sandwiches twice a day at the very most) she was eating flakes of her own dead skin. Fortunately, she's far better off now and eating real food. Her parents, Brian and Shannon Gore, have been sentenced to 30 years in prison.
  • A female octopus ceases to hunt while guarding and tending her eggs, typically dying of starvation around the time they hatch. If she's already underweight when the eggs are laid, she may consume one or more of her own arms to sustain herself long enough that the eggs aren't left undefended.


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