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Beat Still, My Heart

At your command
before you here I stand
my heart is in my hand... (yeech!)

Classic creepout device: This heart no longer occupies its usual place. But it still beats. Blood seeping from the severed arteries is optional. This may be supernatural (with the heart functioning as a Soul Jar) or natural (in which case it's usually just a momentary gross-out after the heart is ripped from a living victim's chest), but it's always creepy as hell.

Note that the "just ripped out" variety is Truth in Television: Cardiac tissue, unlike other types of muscle, generates its own muscular impulses, so a heart can continue to beat for a brief time after it is removed from the body.

See also And Show It to You, for times in which tearing the heart out wasn't enough for the killer.

Supernatural examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Howls Moving Castle Howl sells his heart to a demon in exchange for more magical power.
  • In a filler episode of Naruto, a ninja disguised as Kabuto links his heart to Naruto's. Any damage to his heart also happens to Naruto's. The guy pulls his heart out of his chest, arteries intact, and as such it is still beating. The scene (which was essentially impossible to tone down in a way that doesn't make the scene incomprehensible) is why they put a Content Warning at the beginning of the episode.
    • Near the end of the episode, the ninja in question is revealed to be a female - the same one that had tried killing Naruto and co. in the previous episode. From the context of said episode, she most likely died soon after using what her accomplices referred to as a dangerous technique, but considering that a later scene (if not the next one) shows that said accomplices had brought her to Orochimaru, known by fans to have some medical experience...
    • In Shippuden, Kakuzu tears the hearts out of his enemies and absorbs them into his own body to extend his life. In a modified Gory Discretion Shot one can see him holding a still-beating heart in his hand.
  • In InuYasha, series villain Naraku controls one his subordinates, Kagura, by keeping her heart with him at all times. If she displeases him, he tortures her by squeezing it.
  • This, along with many other horrifically violent happenings, occurs in the first 10 minutes of the anime, Elfen Lied.
    • Anybody else notice where it landed? Granted, it had no actual force of impact, and so it probably didn't physically hurt the unlucky target, but smart money says that guard couldn't get it up again for weeks.
  • In volume five of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Gold Experience, Bruno Buccarati uses his Stand's ability to create zippers to remove his own heart and pick it apart, just to stop it from beating and thereby alerting the enemy of his position. Earlier, during Starlight Crusaders, Jotaro had his Stand grab his own heart and stop it for the very same reason.
  • In the fifth Kara no Kyoukai movie, Araya does this to Touko. Her heart keeps beating until he crushes it.
    • Bonus points that the victim still manages to hold a philosophical conversation. Welcome to the Nasuverse!
  • During the Hunter Exam in Hunter ◊ Hunter, Killua must fight against a criminal who can crush limbs, and very much loves it. His response? Taking his heart out, still beating, and destroying it in front of his face.
    • To drive the oddity of this example home: The criminal was alive, stumbling around, and begging Killua to give him his heart back until the moment it was crushed, at which point he fell down dead. No one present seemed confused or even surprised by this, including the guy who's studying to be a doctor. Apparently, in their universe, this is normal cardiac behavior.
    • Hey, this is a world where Nen is regularly used by the characters. Who's to say that the criminal wasn't a Nen user or something?
  • Also during one of the early episodes of Trinity Blood, since a Methuselah can't be killed by just shooting it or cutting it, you have to do something to the heart. Abel Nightroad does it as a finishing move, and rips out the Methuselah's heart, holds it in his hand right in front of the Methuselah, and crushes it while the other watches.
  • In one strip of Axis Powers Hetalia, Russia's heart somehow falls out and splats onto the meeting table, to the horror of the other Allies. Shown in a silly yet still creepy way.
  • Dark Schneider, the title character of Bastard!!, is also known as 'The Immortal', for very good reasons. When he tears his own heart out to save his adopted daughter/lover, we are treated to a double-dip into this trope. Not only does his heart continue to beat for a while outside his body, splattering blood all over her, but later, when he regenerates, he couldn't just regrow his heart inside his body, nooo... instead, his heart reforms in the air over his gaping chest-wound, and starts BEATING, before tendrils shoot out of the hole to grasp the newly-formed heart...
  • When Linna starts virtual reality training in Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040, she is battling against a rogue robot/artificial intelligence. It's not exactly a heart, but she rips out something organ-like and squeezes it in her hand until brown liquid comes out, and then recoils in horror at what she just did.
  • In One Piece, Trafalgar Law is able to do this to people using his Devil Fruit ability. Granted, due to the nature of the power, this doesn't kill the person unless you then destroy the heart. He can even switch people's hearts around to pull a "Freaky Friday" Flip.
  • In Beelzebub, when Lucifer does this to Furuichi, she removes his soul with it, leaving him in a coma. If Furuichi's heart isn't returned by morning, then his soul ascends and he truly dies.
  • Chapter 29 of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force has Hades cutting out Veyron's still beating heart after the latter was just hit with anti-EC bullets that stops his Healing Factor, leaving him in critical condition.
  • Bleach: A werewolf is a creature trapped in animal form because of the sins the clan committed in life. To gain immeasurable power as well as Nigh-Invulnerability, a werewolf can perform a special rite to regain their humanoid form by ripping out their heart and leaving it, still beating, in a safe place. Komamura performs the ritual, leaving his heart with his great-grandfather while he goes off to fight the Quincies. The sight of Komamura taking a full hit to the chest that leaves a gaping hollow-style hole where his heart should be while he lectures Bambietta on the lengths to which he was willing to go in Yamamoto's name abruptly shifting to a scene where an enormous dog watches a still beating heart sitting on a plate with a dejected air is one of the most serenely creepy moments in the entire story.
  • In Toriko, "Taste changed" Teppei appears right behind Komatsu, punches through his chest and crushes his heart right before his eyes. To make a bad situation worse, he somehow rendered all means of healing such a wound useless. Even forbidden "Dark" techniques can't save him. The only thing that can possibly save him before the temporary replacement organs fail him is Acacia's Soup "PAIR".

    Comic Books 
  • A variation is found in an old Superman comic. In an attempt to live forever, a character is implanted with a pacemaker that is remotely tied to a device at the Earth's core. Too bad that every heart murmur he experiences now sends shockwaves throughout the planet, and vice-versa. Ouch.
  • Appeared in an old Batman comic where Batman is fighting a vampire, but can't stake him because he transplanted his heart somewhere else. He has to find the heart by listening for a heartbeat when he gets the vampire excited. Batman notices that a clock is ticking louder. The vampire put his heart into the clock....
  • Delirium.
  • Shade, the Changing Man discovers that his heart has been stolen by a squatter in his home after a battle. He embarks on a half-hearted rescue of it and when he finally catches up to it, has a heart-to-heart talk with it. And then steps on it when he decides he's better off heartless. It appears from time to time, still beating, moving under its own power, and even has internal monologues.
  • An issue of Nightmares & Fairy Tales tells the twisted tale of Snow White, in which the Evil Queen is told that beauty reflects the heart, so she has Snow White's heart cut out of her body and then procedes to rip her own heart out and replace it with Snow's, making herself beautiful and leaving Snow in a zombie-like state. Snow later gets her revenge when she burns the Queen's original heart and rips out and reclaims her own.
  • Somehow Scud The Disposable Assassin managed to combine this trope with Tear Jerker and Chekhov's Gun: In the end it turns out that Jeff's heart, being forged by God himself, is completely indestructible. This means that Jeff will never die, and the now-suicidal Scud will never complete his original mission (meaning he won't ever self-destruct), meaning he can't finish the last job given him by the Seraphim: destroying Earth. Even as Jeff's body is ripped open and finally dies, the heart beats on. Of course, later Scud takes the heart with him into battle with the Seraphim, which in the end proves to save his life: by placing the heart in Sussudio's ribcage it reanimates her, and the first thing she does is greet Scud cheerfully. Of course, the second thing she does is PUNCH AN ANGEL IN THE BRAINS. Who Wants to Live Forever? indeed!
  • In Book Two of Suehiro Maruo's The Laughing Vampire, a female vampire uses the freshly-extracted heart of her victim for...self gratitfication.
  • In the Blackest Night Starman issue, the Shade's heart gets ripped out by the zombie Black Lantern Starman... then the heart promptly engulfs the zombie, trapping it in the Shade's shadow void.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Animated 
  • Played for laughs in Robots. The whole implication that Rodney Copperbottom is really carrying out extensive surgery on the outdated robots isn't really made clear until he brings out a still-active red pump from the body of a robot, and Fender faints from the sight.
  • Disney's Wreck-It Ralph plays this for laughs. To show appreciation for his speech, Kano from Mortal Kombat rips out a zombie's heart, but the zombie is clearly unharmed, and everyone else is mildly grossed out but not too disturbed.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Angel Heart. Twice. Once to Margaret, the other time, before the events of the film when Johnny ate Harry's still beating heart to steal his soul.
  • Davy Jones uses the Soul Jar variant in Pirates of the Caribbean (and Will, at the end of At World's End).
  • Last of the Mohicans: "When the grey-hair dies, Magua will eat his heart." And he does, cutting the still-beating heart from his body.
    Magua: Grey-hair! Before you die, know that I will put to the knife your children so that your seed is wiped from the earth forever.
  • In Bride of Re-Animator, the main characters use Meg's preserved heart when creating the Bride. It's an indicator of Dan's inability to move on after Meg's death — he wants to transfer a part of her life into the new body. In the final shot of the film, the heart lies on a table beside the Bride's dismembered body, stops beating, and shrinks slightly before the Fade to Black. Symbolic, baby.
  • In Bordello of Blood, a heart begins beating while outside of the owner's body. (In fact, it reconstructs itself first.)
  • In Dark Floors, the mummy Amun rips out the businessman's heart and shows it to him.
  • Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack!, a 2001 Godzilla movie, features this as a Plot Twist seconds before the credits. It's Godzilla's.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, Mola Ram (see page image). Oh, god, the horror. It caught on fire when the victim was lowered into the Lava Pit.
    Mola Ram: Kali Ma, Shakti Deh! Kali Ma, Shakti Deh!
    Sacrifice Victim: Om Namha Shivaye, Om Namha Shivaye, Om Namha Shivaye...
    • And somehow his victim remains alive and screaming as he's lowered, sans heart, into the pit.
      • Since he also didn't break the victim's skin, let's just call it 'magic'. The heart was still magically connected to the body until the body burned up in the lava, whereupon the heart promptly burned up too.
  • When the Mayincatec cut out the hearts of their sacrifical victims they will often be shown still beating.
  • From Dusk Till Dawn, people! Ripping a vampire's heart out from his own ribcage, and after seeing it still beating (and the vamp still kicking), staking it with a sharpened pencil, sure counts here.
  • Although the heart is never technically removed, the beating heart of Draco the dragon in Dragonheart can be revealed by lifting up a flap on his chest so that Bowen can destroy it.
  • In Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, after Jason is splattered by a S.W.A.T. team in the beginning, his remains are taken to a morgue. The mortician, while inventorying the bloody mess, begins dictating a description of the rotten, twisted black heart of Jason Voorhees. As he's staring at it, it begins to beat, gradually at first, then faster, mesmerizing him into picking it up and eating it, at which point he becomes possessed by the spirit of Jason and resumes the killing spree.
  • Dreamscape. After Tommy Ray kills a security guard by ripping his heart out of his chest, the heart continues beating.
  • A variation in Iron Man 1. Obadiah toys with Tony's new arc reactor right in front of him after yanking it out. It wasn't actually his heart, but the reactor kept his heart from failing.
  • In Queen of the Damned, when Akasha rips another vampire's heart from his chest, the heart continues to pulse for a few seconds before she feasts on it gleefully and sets fire the bloody residue in her hand.
  • Played for laughs with a transplant heart that hops off a table in Airplane.
  • Played for laughs in Dumb and Dumber. During one of Lloyd's dream sequences, he imagines himself in a romantic dinner with Mary, when the waiter decides to get daring and Lloyd hands his ass to him, as well as many other people. So far, so good. Further down the scene, out comes a Chinese cook who outmatches Lloyd, until he jams his hand into the cook's chest, rips his heart out, puts it in a food bag and returns it to the cook - who only drops dead when he picks up the bag.
  • Nudo e selvaggio Massacre in Dinosaur Valley; Cannibal Ferox 2: During the film, Betty follows John but gets caught in quicksand. John makes half-hearted efforts to rescue her until spears and blow-arrows start flying. He runs off screaming at what he perceives as "Gooks" until the natives bring him down and the native chief cuts out his heart and eats it.
  • In the Medical Horror film Autopsy, Dr. Benway harvests things like lungs and hearts to keep his wife alive, hanging them from a gory matrix of tubes and blood vessels to pump happily away outside a torso for some reason.

    Literature 
  • A gag in Christopher Moore's Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal is that during Biff and Joshua's time at a monastery, one of the monks teaching them self defense claims to know a trick involving tearing out someone's heart. Most people are skeptical. Every day he asks the class if anyone is willing to help him demonstrate. Nobody ever is, on the off chance he isn't lying.
  • In Neil Gaiman's short story Snow, Glass, Apples (in which Snow-White is shown from the perspective of the evil queen), the Queen has Snow-White's heart cut from her chest, but it continues to beat, and the girl lives on. When she finally kills the girl with a poisoned apple, the heart stops — but when the prince revives her, the heart begins to beat once more.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, the killer-protagonist imagines he still hears the beating of his victim's heart.
  • Seen in A Song of Ice and Fire when Dany visits the warlocks.
  • The creepiest story in the Defictionalization of The Tales of Beedle the Bard is The Warlock's Hairy Heart, in which a warlock takes his heart out of his chest to preserve his youth and life (very Horcrux-like), as well as to prevent himself from the embarrassment of acting lovesick (which is his original intention for his action). He keeps the heart in a little box under his house, and, because the shrivelled, still-alive thing is so cold, it starts growing hair. It has a particularly gory ending.
  • In The Knight of the Swords by Michael Moorcock, Corum has to kill the Chaos God Arioch. To do this he must destroy Arioch's heart. Which he keeps locked in a tower, so it will be safe. Corum is running around with the Hand of Kwll and the Eye of Rhynn, two other disconnected god body parts, so there's a lot of this sort of thing going on.
  • Inverted in Matthew Woodring Stover's Blade of Tyshalle. It would have been less nasty if he took the heart out...
  • In the Stephen King novel IT, Stuttering Bill kills the eponymous monster by tearing out Its heart and smashing it between his hands.
  • The second of Barry Sadler's Casca series, God of Death, had Casca sacrificed by pre-Aztecs who cut out his heart. But Casca was cursed by Christ to live until the Second Coming. The priest cuts out his heart, and it keeps beating. And beating. And then Casca stands up, takes his heart out of the priest's hand, sticks it back into his chest, and announces, "No more human sacrifices." Nobody dares to argue very hard.
  • In one of Gustav Meyrink's short stories, we can find a very grotesque clock. In fact, it's composed of the severed internal organs of a guy, which were then stitched together by some crazy alchemist-like Moor and connected with wires and tubes in order to allow the head of the poor guy to go on living. The only thing he's able to say it's the time. Imagine the reaction of his two friends when they find him. His organs are all working, by the way.
  • Elizabeth finds them tasty in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
    • Only if they belong to ninjas.
  • In the Culture novel Matter, the story begins with a king being killed by his Evil Chancellor. The king was wounded in battle, and when the Chancellor visits him, he sticks his hand into the king's chest and squeezes on the king's heart until the king dies in agony.
  • In Lawrence Watt-Evans's The Obsidian Chronicles there exists a form of magic that allows a person to remove their heart from their body in order to protect it from harm and thus their lives. This proves to be an effective method of purging the human body of dragon venom.
    • Similar magic is also used by Ethshar wizards in Night of Madness - the wizard removes and hides his heart. (We don't see the ritual or the removed heart, so whether the heart remains beating or not is a matter of speculation.) This magic is used as a protection against warlocks, who usually kill by telekinetically inducing a heart attack.
  • In Bridge of Birds by Barry Hughart removing one's heart is a key to invulnerability. Alas, the ritual renders the person heartless both literally and figuratively. Also, the heartless tend to long for the "cold" things (treasure) above all else.
    • Also the usual fairy-tale choice of hiding places for the removed heart is lampshaded:
    Why, one of those dolts was so mindless that he hid his heart inside the body of a lizard that was inside a cage that was on top of the head of a serpent what was on top of a tree that was guarded by lions, tigers, and scorpions! Another cretin, and may Buddha strike me if I lie, concealed his heart inside an egg that was inside a duck that was inside a basket that was inside a chest that was on an island that was in the middle of an uncharted ocean. Needless to say, both of those numbskulls were destroyed by the first half-witted heroes who came along.
  • In an alternate-organ variation, the first book of the His Dark Materials series mentions a variant of the Real Life Viking "blood eagle" torture, in which a victim's lungs are pulled out of slits in their back. In the universe of His Dark Materials, where everyone has a daemon-spirit companion, this isn't immediately fatal, as the victim's daemon is reputedly able to prolong life for a time by manually pumping the protruding lungs of its companion.
  • Rare, not-done-to-be-creepy example: A short story by Michelle Lawrence, "Lividity", begins with the main character cutting out her heart and leaving it on the fence (still beating) for her married neighbor. It is a metaphor.
  • In the Dramatic Audio version of the Left Behind book Armageddon, Nicolae Carpathia holds the still-beating heart of a Global Community loyalist that he personally murdered for calling him "impotent".

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel Wesley comes across a member of a race that worships Jasmine. Who is constructing a flesh and blood mandala as she is 'older than words' out of various bodies. Including those of at least three vampires, one of whom has had his body flayed and ribcage split open to expose his heart. As they haven't been staked, they are still living and conscious. Played for dark humor as the main example endlessly bitches about being trapped before having his tongue ripped out to shut him up.
  • In the Fringe episode "Power Hungry", a heart sitting on a lab table starts beating due to "residual energy" from the power incontinent electrokinetic who killed the owner.
    • And in the musical noir episode "Brown Betty", a "glass" heart is pulled out of several characters' chests, switched around, popped back in, etc., etc., and continues to beat throughout.
  • In The Gates Officer Leigh keeps a beating heart in a box. It's implied to be her own, as she later says that her ex-boyfriend "ripped her heart out".
  • In Once Upon a Time, the Queen does this so that she has power over them and keeps the hearts in a special vault. It is revealed that this vault also exists in the real world.
    • Her (far more evil) mother was also fond of this, and also had a special vault for them.
  • One Imagine Spot on Scrubs has Turk and The Todd battling Ninja!Surgeons, one of whom gets his heart ripped out of his chest. Good thing they're at a hospital...
  • One episode of Strange World featured a surrogate mother who was being used in an experiment, it turned out to be a human heart, not a baby, growing in her uterus.
  • In The Vampire Diaries this is the best way to kill a vampire/werewolf hybrid.
  • Done to magnificent levels of horror in the season 2 finale of True Blood; Sam pulls out Maryann's utterly black heart and squishes it.

    Music 
  • The music video for the Nine Inch Nails song "Closer" features a heart on a board attached to a bunch of electrodes.
  • The Tom Lehrer song "The Masochism Tango", as quoted above.
  • Hard 'N Phirm's "El Corazon" is a song all about the heart, sung Spanish-ballad style. Part of the translation is: "It can continue to beat long after its removal from the body, as we see with this turtle's heart." (It makes more sense if you're seeing it performed live; there's a video going on behind them that illustrates the line.)
  • Ludo's "The Horror of Our Love" is a song about a serial killer/kidnapper/rapist who falls in love with one of his victims. The climax of the protagonist's experience comes at the following lyrics:
    "..And I hold your beating chambers until they beat no more
    You die like angels sing..."

    Mythology 
  • Koschei the Immortal, out of Russian myth — his soul/heart (a vortex of flame) is hidden inside a needle, which is hidden inside an egg, which is hidden inside a duck, which is hidden inside a bear, which is kept in an iron chest, which is buried under an oak tree(or chained to the branches), on an island that flickers in and out of existence. Someone still manages to find it and destroy it. Koschei is immortal until his soul is destroyed.
  • Older Than Dirt: In the ancient Egyptian text called The Tale of Two Brothers, the younger brother Bata removes his own heart and places it on top of a tree. He tells his older brother Anpu/Anubis that he will receive a sign if anything happens to the heart, and that if something does happen, he is to revive the heart by putting it in a bowl of water. Of course, the heart is eventually knocked down when the Femme Fatale cuts down the tree, and it dries up into something resembling a date. Anpu finds it and puts it in water, whereupon it grows to its original size and starts beating again, hence reviving Bata. This could be classified as Literature as well, but the story contains a number of mythological elements.

    Pinball 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • 1st Edition Mayfair Games' Role Aids supplement Lizardmen. In the Twilight Jungle, clerics of the lizardman deity Twillus perform sacrifices in which the victim's still-beating heart is removed from their chest right in front of their eyes.
    • Third Edition
      • One of the spells listed in the sourcebook Book of Vile Darkness is the Grip of Orcus, which gives the target a heart attack. If the target dies from the spell, their smoking heart appears in your hand.
      • Relics and Rituals supplement. The spell Sacrificial Heart rips the still-beating, living heart from the victim's chest and causes it to fly through the air to the the caster's hand.
    • Tiyet, darklord of the Ravenloft domain of Sebua, is cursed to hunger for the still-beating hearts of others. And her own, which was removed and hidden long ago, and which she'll be compelled to consume if she ever comes across it: the only way she can be destroyed.
  • In Exalted, one of the weirder things the Sidereal Exalted can do with their Martial Arts and Crafts is to inflict "Jigsaw Organ Condition" on a victim, which causes their body parts to be very easily separable. Said parts still function when detached, making it possible for them to pull someone's heart out and hold it hostage against their good behavior.
  • Rolemaster campaign setting Shadow World. The Shards of Viour rip out the hearts of their victims and eat them while they're still beating.
  • In Scion, the Aztec Scions have the ability to, once an enemy is defeated, rip out their still beating heart and eat it to gain supernatural powers, that make them rip open their chests and expose their beating heart, which is on fire. No other internal organs are shown.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade has the Setites, whose custom Discipline, Serpentis, includes an ability that allows them to remove their heart and place it in a jar, which keeps them from being sent into torpor when staked. At elder levels, they can do this to someone else for one hell of a bargaining chip.
  • * Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. In the city of El Dorado, priests of the Sun God cut out the hearts of Human Sacrifices and hold them up in the air for the Sun God (the Hollow Earth sun) to gaze down upon.

    Video Games 
  • Mortal Kombat, before becoming increasingly complicated with each passing game, originally had 7 characters and each had one fatality move, and Kano's original fatality was to tear his opponent's heart out and hold it high in the air in one hand while it continued to beat, and the game would play the sound effect of a beating heart until the fade-out at the end of the fight.
  • 'The Heart of Darkness' from Legacy of Kain. In the first game, it was nothing more than an extra life/healing-potion with creepy graphics and a nifty description: "Torn from the chest of the greatest vampire to have ever existed, Janos Audron, the Heart of Darkness restores vampiric un-life. Life is precious, Janos discovered, as it was torn - throbbing and bleeding - from his own body." In the later games, it becomes an important Mac Guffin, since Janos Audron can be revived by putting the still-beating heart back into his chest. Raziel eventually gets to watch his past self tear Janos' heart from his body, and later learns that Mortanius used the Heart of Darkness to resurrect Kain...by placing it inside him.
    • Hilariously touched on during the outtakes of the Soul Reaver 2 voice sessions for mook dialogue for the scene for Janos: "Look at his black heart! How still it beats!....How it STILL beats!"
  • Subverted in World of Warcraft's expansion Wrath of the Lich King, there's a questline where you find the eponymous Lich King's heart and there's a race to destroy it before he can get it back. Turns out the Lich King destroys it himself anyway, since he sees it as his last shred of "human weakness", but it is not beating: It's frozen.
  • Team Fortress 2: Meet the Medic features the Heavy having an operation to strengthen his heart in order to sustain an ‹bercharge. When the Medic exposes the Heavy's heart to the Quick Fix's beam, it starts beating rapidly once before exploding. He then replaces the heart with a Mega Baboon's, which starts to beat vigorously and continues beating even while the Medic holds in in his hand, detached from the Heavy.
  • In the Oblivion quest 'Mehrunes Razor', you find that the final test that must be passed to obtain the eponymous artifact is to devour the still-beating heart of Mehrunes' previous champion — after you've torn it from his chest, that is. Doing so will turn you into a vampire, if you haven't already immunized yourself.
  • In Shadow Warrior, one of the 'weapons' you could acquire — the final one, in fact — was the still-beating heart of a type of demon. By squeezing the heart, you could summon a demon to fight for you. Nifty.
    • The demon in question is called a Ripper, and is so named because if it kills you, it will rip out your heart.
  • Baldur's Gate II has one part of a quest where you need to get one of these from a demon to be able to leave a particular dungeon. The expansion, Throne Of Bhaal, requires you to destroy one (in fact, two) in order to make an enemy vulnerable, allowing you to kill him.
  • One of the "decorations" in Doom 1 & 2 is a still-beating heart on a pedestal.
  • The object of the game Vexx is to collect hearts that still beat.
  • Red Falcon, a recurring Contra boss, is a giant beating heart that may or may not be attached to anything.
    • There is also a giant beating heart in the depths of a Strogg Factory in Quake IV, You have to destroy it before you can move on by increasing the electric shocks it receives to keep it beating until it beats so fast that it dies of a heart attack. To make it creepier, you can hear a distant scream from some unseen source as you do this.
  • In Gothic, the demon final boss is protected by five hearts that must be slain before he can be killed.
  • In Grand Theft Auto IV the beating "heart of the city" can be found in the Statue of Happiness.
  • Slightly subverted in the videogame adaptation of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream. Gorrister's heart was removed prior to the events of the game, but as he's fond of pointing out, that old heart of his don't beat no more.
  • In Eternal Darkness, dancing girl Ellia is given one of Mantorok's five hearts, which contains its essence. Since Mantorok doesn't die until just after the end of the game, the heart remains intact for over 1000 years so that Alex can use it in the final battle. Unfortunately, you don't see the heart beating in-game (presumably to match the other essences, which don't move in any way), so this trope is only partly adhered to.
    • If you examine the heart you get to see it beating. And it's nightmarish.
  • In Clock Tower when Jennifer enters the trophy room, you can click on a jar on the shelf which she'll pass by and accidentally knock down. The game then cuts to a scene of a heart that was in the jar give a single beat.
  • Paper Mario (the original) has a heart separated from its owner, Tubba Blubba. The idea is that he can't be defeated as long as his heart is hidden elsewhere. Like most things in the game, the heart has its own personality and has to be fought.
    • And it has a lot more HP than its owner does.
  • Kingdom Hearts, however they're the cartoonish variety but this is so common, we have The Heartless.
  • In Grim Fandango, Manny's driver, Glottis, in a fit of despair after losing his job, rips out his heart and throws it into the woods. This does not kill him, but puts him in a catatonic state instead. Manny must then retrieve his heart in order to revive him.
  • Devil May Cry has a room just before the final boss fight with a giant, beating heart.
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance has Raiden ripping out Armstrong's heart after beating him, still connected to the man by some unnaturally long blood vessels. Raiden lets it beat a few times before crushing it in his hand.
  • Grandia II has the Heart of Valmar, amongst other body parts. They're less soul jars, more bits of a god that possess people. And all of them also mutate their human host into a representation of what they are. The Heart is about the closest to just being the organ it's named after. Complete with an attack where it gushes blood at you.
  • Happens in Umineko no Naku Koro ni. Twice.
    • It's weird to say this, but one occurrence of this is actually the most beautiful and touching moments in the series.
  • Part of the game mechanics in Obscure: The Aftermath: each dispatched monster dissolves into black powder, leaving behind a still-beating heart. A few scenes after this is introduced, the player is given a syringe with which fluid can be drawn from the heart to create a healing serum.
  • Jenova, in Final Fantasy VII, has a giant mutated heart outside of her body. It can't be seen in cutscenes since she stands on it.
  • In Wizards And Warriors (the 2000 Heuristic Park title), the lich G'Ezzered Ra, at the end of the game, has had his still-beating heart ripped from his chest by his archnemesis Cet, and the lich is now chained to a wall for an eternity of agony.
    • A female character can help him out by finding the heart in the pyramid, burning it in the Urn of Black Flame, thus killing him and setting his spirit free. Doing so earns her the rank of Valkyrie.
  • Toward the end of BioShock 1, one villain activates "Code Yellow", which commands your heart to stop beating, little by little. This reduces your maximum health until you find an antidote, at which point the lost health returns.
    • And in BioShock Infinite, the Handyman is a human grafted into a crude cyborg body, including a glass case on the front containing his still-beating heart. Three guesses as to where its weak point is...
  • You can collect these in Vexx.
  • Ninja Gaiden on Xbox had an upside down tower in what I'm assuming was Hell that had the walls of a floor covered with these. And they follow you closely.
  • True Assassin in Fate/stay night has a Noble Phantasm that does this to people by exchanging their heart with a magical double and keeps the heart alive and beating while Assassin destroys it at his leisure. We see it get used on Lancer and Kotomine — unfortunately for Assassin, it doesn't work on the latter since he hasn't got a heart.
  • In Return To Ravenhearst, a heart (implied to be Charles Dalimar's) sits inside a steampunk device which you have to deactivate. It can be seen beating behind a glass porthole, and it speeds up if you push the attached "Adrenaline" pump.
  • In one of the most brutal scenes of the The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim expansion Dragonborn, the climax of the "Old Friends" quest has you killing Ildari Sarothril by ripping out the Heart Stone that she's been using to keep herself alive.

    Webcomics 
  • Freddy gets his heart torn out on the first day of the job in Carnies. It's a little different from other examples in that he was already undead to begin with.
  • Ursula Vernon's Digger inverts this: the heart is not beating on its own, nor is it a sign that its owner is alive. Instead, a team of slaves pull on ropes that force it to beat and keep an otherwise dead god alive against his will, even though the rest of him has rotted away to bones. When the protagonist skeptically lampshades this, pointing out that the heart isn't even hooked up to anything, she receives the explanation that it's the metaphor of the thing that makes it work.
  • Though not actually seen, one has made an appearance in Fox Tails, kept in a case by the Morally Ambiguous Doctor, revealing how he is able to control one of the otherwise uncontrollable Kitsune. It's her heart, and apparently, squeezing it is quite painful to her. (Probably inspired by the InuYasha-example above.)
  • Homestuck: The Land of Pulse and Haze is this. Not only are there oceans of blood, but there are broken ramparts and bridges from which beating hearts peek out of the masonry. Bonus points for the fact that this entire construct is basically one big fuck you to the player for this land.
  • Monster Pulse: Not only is Bina Blum's heart still working outside of her body, it's also walking around as a monster twice her size.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • "Lisa's Rival" had Lisa taking rival Allison's diorama of "The Tell-Tale Heart" and replacing it with an animal heart. Then, in a direct Homage to the poem, she imagines herself hearing the heart in the gym floorboards. So, yeah, subversion.
    • In another episode, Homer picks a fight with a group of Shaolin monks during a trip to China - their retaliation concludes with one of the monks ripping his still-beating heart out, showing it to him, and then shoving it back into his chest, whereafter he walks away no worse for wear (and was mildly annoyed that he didn't wipe his hands).
    • And then there's the episode where the girl Bart is interested in tells him she has a boyfriend, and worse, it's Jimbo. Bart imagines her tearing out his heart and throwing it in the garbage.
    • The earliest mention on The Simpsons is When Flanders Failed where Bart references a move in the arcade game to cover having ditched karate lessons he was forced to attend: the Touch of Death, where one person rips out the other person's heart in a single jab. He proceeds to threaten Lisa with the move when she disbelieves him.
    • Happens in an episode of the The Itchy and Scratchy Show, of course.
      • YOU NEED A HEART TO LIVE.
    • Another Simpsons example: In the Treehouse of Horror short Hell Toupe, Homer, possessed by Snake by means of a hair transplant, kills Moe by removing his heart with a corkscrew. The heart beats after its removal.
  • In Transformers: Beast Wars, Rampage's Spark is treated by Megatron this way. Since his Spark is said to have mutated (and supposedly indestructible) Megatron cuts it in half with an Energon knife, and keeps one half in a spiked cage which he squeezes at will to keep Rampage under his control.
    • And Transformers Energon features Jetfire rescuing Inferno's spark after Inferno does a sun-dive. Good news for Inferno, but Jetfire holding Inferno's life essence casually in his hand is a bit weird.
    • The Transformers series seems to be quite fond of the trope. The second movie used it on two separate occasions.
  • Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation featured the heart of a vampire.
  • One episode of Adventure Time revolved around "Ricardio, the Heart Guy", who as the name suggests was a guy who happened to be a living heart. Turns out he used to be the heart of the Ice King, brought to life by a spell gone awry. He makes a second appearance much later on, setting up a Womb Level-like lair and replacing his limbs with muscular arms and legs...but still leaving his body exposed.
  • In The Venture Bros., this is the final fate of King Gorilla at the hands of The Investors.

    Other 
  • There's the classic Bill Cosby routine about him listening to a radio drama about a chicken heart that not only keeps beating...but grows...and grows...and grows. I forget if that was an actual episode he was remembering.
    • Lights Out, episode "The Chicken Heart".
    • An episode from Fat Albert uses a made up version (I think it "eats Cleveland"). But there really was a radio program about The Chicken Heart That Devoured the World so it's most likely a Shout-Out. Stephen King mentions the radio program in some detail in Danse Macabre.

Natural examples

    Anime 
  • Battle Angel Alita at one point pulls out her robot heart to use as stakes in an arm wrestling game - placing it directly on the table, on her right side. It's still attached and functional though.
    • In a similar (but grosser) vein to the trope, she also attaches a severed head to her circulatory system to keep it alive.
  • One episode of Black Jack 21 centers around a mysterious, way-ahead-of-its-time artificial heart. Its very existence is creepy enough, but after Black Jack removes it from the owner (replacing it with a more realistic artificial heart), it KEEPS BEATING on the table where he leaves it. It also glows.
  • Employed in the second episode of Darker Than Black, where the episode's antagonist can teleport things into each others' places, resulting at one point in a woman with a chunk of concrete in her chest and her heart lodged in a nearby wall. It is still beating since it hasn't gotten a stop signal yet.
  • Under this header because the characters react like it's a biologically natural occurrence, and no supernatural powers are stated to have been used, but in Hunter ◊ Hunter, Killua rips a man's heart clear out of his chest during one of the tests in the Hunters Exam, and stands several feet away from him, holding the still-beating heart in his hand. The guy, however, is still very much alive (if in extreme pain), even begging for Killua to "give that back" and doesn't die until Killua crushes the heart to bits, at which point he instantly falls over, dead as a doornail. What the hell are humans in Hunter ◊ Hunter made of, anyway?

    Film 
  • In Airplane, a still-beating heart intended for transplant jumps around on a desk.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, James Bond is threatened with this. "He should stay alive just long enough to see it stop beating."
  • The bad guys in The Living Daylights successfully transport diamonds across borders, mixed with ice in a medical cooler containing a beating (animal) heart - even in this clinical state, it gets hastily waved through by squicked-out officials.
  • Several scenes in Apocalypto feature these.
  • While it's a dream sequence, Dumb And Dumber has Lloyd removing a heart (which beats), putting it in a doggy bag and returning it to the victim...
  • Sci Fi Channel movie Yeti. The title monster rips the heart out of a victim's chest and it continues beating in his hand.
  • Threatened at the beginning of Red Dragon, although it never happens.
  • Rat Race has a subplot about a courier transporting a donor heart for transplant, which gets lost by The Italian Mr. Bean. At one point a character is holding it when he touches an electric fence, which starts it right back up again.
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs parodies this, when Steve the Monkey, while fighting a semi-sentient Gummy Bear, shoves his hand into its "chest" tears out a glob shaped like a heart, and eats it.
  • A living heart-in-a-jar appears as a throwaway bit of weirdness early in Doctor X.
  • In Theatre of Blood, Edward Lionheart cuts out the heart of one of his victims while he's strapped to a chair.
  • Pro Wrestlers Vs Zombies features it for both cases where Angus rips a heart out of someone's chest.

    Literature 
  • In Philip Jose Farmer's Nature Hero deconstruction Lord Tyger, the horny Tarzan-like title character at one point rips a baboon's heart out of its chest, and while it's still beating he (Painfully NSFW and Squick-tastic) shoves it into the reluctant heroine's vagina like an organic vibrator until she comes. What the hell.
  • Silverwing: The Vampyrum do that to their sacrificial animals in the second book. At one point (after a dream) Goth becomes obsessed with ripping Shade's heart out of his chest and eating it while Shade watches.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Anthony Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern have both swallowed beating snake hearts on camera as part of their Travel Channel shows. (See below.)
  • The Doctor Who episode "The Girl In The Fireplace" features the repair robots of a damaged starship repairing its systems with the organs of the crew - an eye as the lens of a camera, and a beating heart as a pump wired into the pipes.
    Repair droid: We did not have the parts.
    Doctor: Fifty people don't just disappear, where — Oh. You didn't have the parts, so you used the crew...
  • One of the episodes of First Wave had an autopsy preformed on the body of Cade Foster. When coroner (who commented about the body being too fresh) pulled out his heart it started beating for a few seconds.

    Music 
  • Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell features the lines: "And the last thing I see is my heart,/Still beating,/Breaking out of my body,/And flying away,/Like a bat out of hell."
  • "Weird Al" Yankovic's song CNR paints the late actor Charles Nelson Reilly as a Chuck Norris-style Memetic Badass who, among other things, could "rip out your beating heart, and show it to you right before you died".
  • Avenged Sevenfold's song about murder, necrophilia, zombies, and love, "Little Piece of Heaven" includes this gem:
    "Ripped her heart out right before her eyes/ Eyes over easy, eat it, eat it, eat it!"

    Video Games 
  • Kano's fatality in the first Mortal Kombat is to rip out his opponent's still-beating heart. Jarek and Kobra both used this as one of their fatalities, as well. This is Hand Waved by how they're also members of the Black Dragon, like Kano.
    • Deception has the Hara-kiri moves, where dazed characters kill themselves to deny the fatality to their opponent. When it's performed with Kobra, he rips his own heart out.
    • Almost every fighting game with fatalities has used a similar move at least once. Mace: The Dark Age gives it to the heroic priest. Primal Rage and War Gods have variants where the character eats the heart afterward.
  • Serious Sam 3 BFE, when a beheaded rocketeer's heart is removed with a melee kill, it still beats a couple of times.

    Western Animation 
  • Kano's heartrip (see above) was performed by Luna on The Boondocks. Not in the game, but on a live person she had defeated in a mystical martial arts tournament on a mysterious island... Shang Tsung shouted at her to "finish him".
  • This happens to Eddie Murphy after Nick Nolte rips out his heart on Celebrity Deathmatch.

    Real Life 
  • Extremely fresh snake hearts are a delicacy in Vietnam, and swallowing them on camera is a popular stunt among tourists. Look if you dare. A great many amateur YouTube videos document the same phenonemon.
    • In Japan Frog Sashimi is served with the heart still beating (also considered a delicacy).
  • On a lighter note, Aztec sacrifices involved ripping out the heart while it was still beating. Yeah, it happened.
    • Debated. This may be a case of an Unreliable Narrator. The Spanish reported that this was how Aztec sacrifices were performed, but the method of removing the heart does not seem conducive to the kind of quick removal necessary (ie they went through the ribs, which would take some time to break). Furthermore, most Aztec artwork shows the sacrifices being decapitated, not having their hearts ripped out. So, many scholars now believe that the Aztects beheaded their sacrifices, and removed the hearts much later.
  • Nobel prize winner Dr. Alexis Carrel decided to take this trope to a new height. Taking tissue from a chicken heart, he kept it alive for over 20 years. No one was able to completely replicate the experiment, and later advances in biology proved it impossible, as cells can divide only a certain number of times. How Dr. Carrel got his results is still a mystery.
    • Normal cells can divide only a certain number of times. One of the defining features of cancer is that, well, the mechanism that limits the number of times a cell can divide got broken in the cancerous cells. This, incidentally, means that most cell lines used in cell biology labs come from cancers; most of which have outlived the person it killed...
    • Especially notable in one particular case.
  • Not a heart, but a close neighbor: researchers have built a machine to keep human lungs alive outside the body, to keep them fresh much longer for transplant. You can find videos of the disembodied lungs under a glass dome, breathing.
    • Not quite as creepy as it sounds, as lungs can't inflate and deflate under their own power even when they're inside the body. The machine makes them expand by altering the pressure surrounding the (passive) organs, which would work just as well for a couple of balloons as for lungs.
    • They've done it with hearts too for the same reason. And they beat hard, strong, and fast within their chamber.
    • And I thought what they did in House was fake...
  • When scientists use stem cells to grow cardiac tissue, they look for spontaneous beating in the plate to see if/where it worked.
  • While any human organ harvested for transplant will be packed in ice slurry for transport, this is particularly crucial for donor hearts. Because it keeps on beating, a heart that isn't chilled down immediately will quickly exhaust its available oxygen, resort to glycolysis to make ATP, and fill its tissues with destructive levels of lactic acid, effectively suffering the ill effects of a heart attack while outside the body.
  • Ikizukuri, translated to "Prepared alive", involves a chef butchering their meal (Usually a fish) in such a way that it's still alive when served, depending on where you eat, they may put the heart on display in an easily viewed spot, still beating away for a few minutes.
  • Newborn baby Audrina Cardenas recently underwent surgery to re-position her heart, which was tilted so far forward when she was born that it protruded from the front of her chest, its beating ventricles in plain view.
  • A Syrian militant attacked a government soldier, cut out his heart, and started eating it. Video here (NSFW).
  • In China, two men had an altercation over a bowl of noodles. One of the men drew out a knife and cut the other's throat. Then he used the still bloody knife to slice open the man's chest and pulled out his heart. The eyewitnesses swore the organ was still beating. Even worse is that the killer walked around with the heart in his hand while occasionally biting into it

... Hey, what's that thump-thump noise?
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alternative title(s): Beat Still Thy Heart
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