How not to be a mermaid.
When gangsters are punishing someone for crossing them, they are often shown having the victim tied up to a chair with his feet in a barrel, into which is poured quick-drying concrete. Once the concrete is dry, the victim is then dropped into a body of water, simultaneously killing the target and disposing of the body in a supposedly untraceable manner.
Alternately, the victim is left tied up at the bottom of a construction site while the basement is being poured.
Depending on the exact methods used, overlap with some form of Death Trap
This is largely a Discredited Trope
, as few gangland murders are actually performed in this manner. Most are simple bullet/tire iron to the head affairs that generally lack the torture that fiction demands.note
It may be related, however, to a similar method of execution supposedly once used by the Freemasons against oath-breakers.
As a Death Trope, all spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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- Parodied in a Red Bull commercial where a Mafia victim asks for a last request. Too bad the gangster forgot that Red Bull Gives You Wings.
Anime And Manga
- Baccano! has a particularly disturbing example of this: because Dallas Genoard turns out to be unkillable by any normal means, the Gandor brothers cement him into an oil drum and drop it in the Hudson River, leaving him to drown continuously for the next seventy years or so until old age finally gets him. Fortunately for Dallas, someone else fishes him out well before that.
- Case Closed: Discussed when the Detective Boys get captured by Italian gangsters and fear they'll be subjected to this.
- Actually used in a filler case where a cute girl appeared dead by the seaside with a heavy rock tied to her feet. Her ex-boyfriend was a Dr. Jerk who was offered a very good Arranged Marriage by his boss and feared that the girl would get in between him and this wonderful "union" by interest... so, after drugging her, he used a trick with said heavy rock, some rope and a floating ring with a hole to murder his poor ex and make it look like she had gone the Spurned Into Suicide way. Too bad Ran and Conan were the ones who found the girl's corpse, which led the victim's best friend to tell them about the Dr. Jerk...
- Parodied in Excel♥Saga: an attempt on Pedro's life is made by encasing his entire body in pudding, which somehow works even though he's a ghost.
- In One Piece, Luffy almost died this way when his feet got stuck in the ground and Arlong threw him in the water, complete with a huge chunk of said ground. For worse, Luffy (like all the Devil Fruit users) has Super Drowning Skills, meaning that his body is paralyzed and his powers are all but useless while he's under. He was saved by Nojiko and Genzo, who grabbed his head and brought it out of the water (his neck stretched because of the Gomu Gomu no Mi).
- The Spectre was originally the ghost of murdered police detective Jim Corrigan, who was tied up in a large, cement-filled barrel that was dropped into the Gotham River.
- In Elfquest, Lady Winnowill, posing as a human, has an interesting way of laying the floors for her lord's castle. Slaves dig a trench, after which they are knocked unconscious and cement is poured over them, filling the trench. After it hardens, repeat for the next section.
- Spider-Man villain Iceberg tries this on a henchman that he caught stealing from him by encasing his feet in ice with his freeze ray.
- One adventure of The Phantom revolves around the discovery of a whole "graveyard" of cement shoe victims.
- A three-part Batman story arc from the nineties ends with the Ventriloquist and Scarface inflicting this on a traitorous lieutenant, to go along with the whole The Bad Guy Wins (sorta) ending.
- Dick Tracy: "Big Boy" Caprice disposes of "Lips" Manliss via "the bath", which involves a large box, a cement mixer, and a warehouse on a pier with a trapdoor. He tries it on someone else later on, only to have Tracy use the box for an ambush.
- In the film adaptation of The Shadow , a bunch of gangsters try it on an academic who accidentally discovered their murder of a policeman. Of course, the Shadow saves the day/night and sends them packing.
- The title character in Lady In Cement.
- This is done to Finn and Jack in Tell It To The Fishes. With the added twist of being dropped onto a beach at low tide.
- In OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, the main character gets tossed into the Nile to drown. He escapes after seeing dozens of corpses that suffered a similar fate, including Larmina's father.
- In the James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever, Bond Girl Plenty O'Toole is murdered offscreen by Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd in this manner.
- Lethal Weapon 3: (bad guy shoves henchman who defied him into a foundation being poured) "Now we have a relationship we can build on..."
- Laurel and Hardy have a hilarious cement shoes routine at the end of their 1936 movie Our Relations.
- In Lethal Weapon 2, the bad guys kill the love interest this way and try to do the same to Riggs, who used his Chekhov's Skill of dislocating his shoulder to cut himself loose.
- Prominently depicted in the movie Billy Bathgate.
- In Night of the Hunter, Harry Powell (Robert Mitchum) uses a variation on this method to dispose of the body of his wife, Willa Harper (Shelly Winters), after he slits her throat: he ties her body to the front seat of a car and pushes it (the car) into a river.
- Bullshot. The villainous Otto von Bruno tries to dispose of Bullshot by sealing his feet in a giant concrete eggcup, then flooding the room he's in. Fortunately the 'concrete' turns out to be Miss Fenton's scone mixture, so it softens in water.
- Played with in the Discworld novel Hogfather. A character has the nickname Chicken Wire because he figured out you can use chicken wire to prevent people who've had this treatment and have been dumped in the very polluted river Ankh from decomposing and having the pieces float up. The other problem is breaking through the crust on the river...
- E. L. Doctorow's Billy Bathgate opens with Dutch Schultz executing someone this way.
- In Gone, the villains trap several kids' hands in cement, but they don't intend for it to kill them. It's to keep them prisoner and prevent them from using their powers, which focus through their hands. Might be a villainous example of Cruel Mercy, or maybe just plain sadism/sociopathy.
- In the Space Precinct novel The Deity Father, a rival mobster to the Big Bad is found floating in space in Cement Shoes. It's pointed out that there's no reason for the concrete, except tradition.
- Without Remorse: In the Tom Clancy novel, the body of small-time drug dealer Angelo Vorano was weighed down with cinder blocks and dumped into Chesapeake Bay, where it was consumed by crabs. By the time the police found it (while searching the area for a totally different reason), it was just a skeleton.
- In Stephen King's novel Firestarter the head of the fictional secret U.S. government intelligence agency "The Shop" idly reminisces about the godfather of a victim of one of the agency's experiments, who had been determined to find out the truth of what had happened to his godson. Rather than getting to the bottom of what happened, the only place he wound up getting to was "the bottom of the Baltimore Trench, where he presumably still was, with two cement blocks tied around whatever remained of his legs."
- In the first Diamond Brothers book, Nick gets forced to let the bad guys trap his feet in a bathtub full of concrete, and nearly dumped in the Thames. Since this series spoofs the crime genre, it's hardly surprising this shows up.
- In Orhan Pamuk's novel My Name Is Red the narrator imagines Istanbul with the Bosphorus drained. As well as the remains of shipwrecks, suicides and traffic accidents are a number of harem women sewn up in sacks - a standard execution method for women under the Ottoman Sultans.
- In the Tabletop Game/Shadowrun novel 'Wolf and Raven', it is mentioned that this happened to Kid Stealth. He ran afoul of the mob, got fitted with a pair of cement shoes and dropped into the Puget Sound. He survived, because of an implanted air tank and because he blew off his own legs with plastic explosive he had hidden on his person. Afterwards, he replaced his legs with the iconic Kid Stealth cyber legs, modelled after those of a Velociraptor.
Live Action TV
- In The Incredible Hulk, David Banner is mistaken for a look-alike gangster, and the goons of a rival gang try to murder him by burying him in concrete. Of course, this gets Banner excited enough to change into the Hulk and escape.
- Referenced in the Star Trek episode "A Piece of the Action", in which Scotty, playing the Malaproper, refers to "concrete galoshes" while trying to threaten a thirties-styled mobster.
- In one of the last episodes of The Sopranos, AJ tries to commit suicide in a manner similar to this.
- Also Subverted: In an early episode, you are led to believe that, since Tony plans to have one of Junior's men whacked on or around a boat, cement shoes or something like it are in the offing; it turns out that no, Tony shoots him in port and then takes him out to sea to dispose of the body.
- MythBusters tested the buried-in-concrete version . They found out that it's impossible to stop it from smelling something horrible no matter what you do, so the body would be found very quickly if someone actually tried it. The gangsters who do this are fully aware of that fact. That's where the quicklime comes in.
- Mama's Family: In order to convince Iola to share a winning lottery ticket with her, Mama makes up a story about what happened to a woman who won $50 million: "Ten days later, they found her at the bottom of Lake Erie wearing concrete wedgies."
- Law & Order: Criminal Intent: a young boy (mistakenly thought to be the mark) is chained to some cement blocks (I believe) and tossed off the back of a speeding boat, but his body is found anyway.
- Underbelly: Brian Alexander, criminal lawyer who loses everything, is portrayed to have gone to the corrupt police for help, knowing they would probably just kill him so he doesn't talk. Which they do by tying him to a stove then throwing it off their rented boat, ignoring his pleas for a quick death on the account they didn't want to use a police weapon.
- Highlander: The Series does this in one episode.
- In Ultra Seven, aliens chained up a scuba-diving Dan Moroboshi to a buoy or mine at the bottom of a lake. He got better.
- The song "Zip Gun Bop" by Royal Crown Revue has these spoken lines:
Hey spinach chin,
Why don't you try on these cement shoes.
Look like they fit you pretty freakin' good.
Now see if you can walk on water puppy, you jackass
- Long Island band Brand New refer to this in the aptly-titled song "Luca," singing 'So we've fixed you with cement galoshes / And no one can save you now / Unless you have friends among fish / There'll still be no air to breathe'
- The music video for "La Fidanzata" ("The Girlfriend") by Italian hip hop group Articolo 31 features a Mafia-inspired 1920s-type storyline, where, at the end, two henchmen are seen standing in a cement bucket with the cement coming up all the way to their ankles. The henchmen are seen repeatedly apologizing (in English) to their boss for screwing up the caper, to which the boss replies, "apology accepted" before being sent off into the water to drown.
- Frequently spoofed in The Far Side.
- Fish gangsters encase a victim's fins in styrofoam, sending him on a deadly trip to the surface to " sleep with the humans".
- Another had the sandwich mafia dropping their victim into a school cafeteria to sleep with the fourth graders.
- There is another cartoon with a man trapped inside a trash can and dropped off in a forest to "sleep with the bears"
- And then, when gangsters in The Far Side are feeling especially vicious, they'll paint a victim's face with mime makeup and trap him in a soundproof glass box on the street, where he slowly and painfully dehydrates to death. The cartoon shows one of these victims desperately screaming to be let out — and a tourist, thinking he's just witnessing a harmless bit of street theatre, simply snaps a picture with his camera.
- And another one where two mobsters were dropping a dog with all four paws encased in cement off a bridge, and explaining to a passer-by that "he bit the Godfather".
- Dick Tracy once had some post-war gangsters try a variant; it entailed tying a victim between two steel i-beams and drop him into the river so weighted. Fortunately, Tracy and Sam Catchem stop this murder in time.
- City of Heroes: This trope is occasionally played out by mobs. If you kill the mobs before they throw their intended victim into the water, they hop away, Cement Shoes and all.
- One mission in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has CJ, using a cement truck, pushing a construction foreman into a rectangular pit while the foreman is locked inside a portable bathroom stall. CJ then proceeds to dump cement from the truck inside the pit.
- In Eternal Darkness, the sacrifices for the Pillar of Flesh are stacked high in a tower and then buried in concrete, their images shown on the outside of the stone tower.
- Joked about in Jump Start5th Grade. A dialogue tree option with junkyard owner Jimmy D'Shadow has Jo mention she just saw a shoebox marked "Cement: One Size Fits All". Jimmy nervously confirms that Cement is his favorite shoe brand.
- In Sly Cooper And The Thievius Raccoonus, the gangster Muggshot threatens Sly with a pair of "cement bunny slippers".
- Referenced in Kingdom of Loathing with the penguin mafia's cement sandals, which "aren't quite heavy enough to make you sleep with the fishes, but they're heavy enough so that you get a workout just by walking around". They reduce your combat initiative, but let you level up your muscle stat faster.
- Mocked in The Secret of Monkey Island, when Guybrush is thrown off a pier tied to an idol.
- Mentioned in the first mission of the second act of Max Payne, in Max's distinctive style:
Max Payne: The Brooklyn riverfront was a maze of rusty containers, sharp-boned cranes looming up from the snowstorm. On a night like this you couldn't help but to think of the dark army of dead men sleeping with the fishes, cement shoes in line.
- One of the EasterEggs in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a guy in the water with cement shoes on. He's not far from Diaz's mansion unsurprisingly.
- In Kingpin: Life Of Crime, one level in the shipyard episode features a dead man in cement shoes underwater.
- Merrie Melodies: Mobsters Mugsy and Rocky try this on Bugs Bunny in the short "The Unmentionables", with an ignorant Bugs protesting, "Look, fellas, how many times do I have to tell you? I haven't got a cold!" while the cement is being poured. Bugs later manages to hop out of the lake he was thrown into after the gangsters leave.
- In the Spanish dub, he protests instead that he doesn't want to hit a piņata while they blindfold him.
- Spoofed in Futurama, where one of the Robot Mafia members says, "So I gave him the cement shoes. Which he liked, because they were lighter than his lead ones."
- During one South Park episode, Kenny is thrown from a bridge with cement shoes on his feet, but the water beneath the bridge is too shallow, so he's left to hop around through most of the closing credits. Then he hits a deep spot and drowns.
- Pasila: Inverted in the first episode of this Finnish animated series. The bad guys are trying to brainstorm a fate worse than death for their former associate turned informer. One of them suggests not doing anything and leaving him to wonder for the rest of his life when and how they're going to strike. The leader of the group likes this idea, but then suddenly says they're getting too complicated and orders the others to get standard cement shoe accessories. Then they sail out to the sea, where he reveals that they're now going to use them to drown themselves so that their bodies will never be found and the snitch will be left in fear for the rest of his life. They do it, too. And it works, too.
- Played straight in Captain Planet, in which ancestors of the Planeteers actually were captured and tied up, with their feet in cement.
- In Alpha Teens on Machines, a guy who got this treatment was tossed into a river... which had barrels of toxic waste at the bottom. He mutated into a beast made of living cement. And still talked in rhyme.
- In a "Fractured Fairytales" segment from Rocky and Bullwinkle that parodied "Sleeping Beauty", Prince Charming (who bore a striking resemblance to Walt Disney) decided not to kiss Sleeping Beauty awake, but to build a theme park around her ("Awake, she's just a princess. Asleep, she's a goldmine!"). When the evil fairy who cast the spell on Beauty showed up demanding a cut of the profits, Charming showed her a new "submarine ride" he set up as an attraction, insisting that the cement shoes were part of the ride ("It's just a safety precaution, the state makes us do it.")
- An episode of The Simpsons had The Mafia selling these at a shoe convention as a background gag. They're promoted as being "the last pair you'll ever need".
- The Mask referenced this in the episode "The Terrible Two." A series of gags in the episode involved Kellaway and Stanley handcuffed together, but on the other side of an elevator. The Mask had to keep switching between Stanley and the Mask, and at one point he observed, "This would be so much easier if I could just put concrete boots on Kellaway and throw him in the river! BUT since I can't..."
- In the Ren and Stimpy episode "Terminal Stimpy", the two look at photos of how Stimpy lost his many lives. Stimpy pointed one picture describing how he helped Ren with his gambling debts, the photo showing him not just with cement shoes, but also a cement coat, hat and umbrella.
- This is much older than they think. During the Protestant Reformation in Europe many unrepentant Anabaptists, of the radical 'end is nigh and we must celebrate with anarchic violence and orgies' type (as opposed to the pacifistic, non-confrontational sort who actually survived the events of the 1530s and 40s), were punished by being sewn into sacks with bricks and thrown into rivers or lakes in a mockery of their belief in adult baptism.
- Any Roman found guilty of killing their father would be sewn into a sack with a cockerel and a snake and thrown into the Tiber, which was a bit rough on the animals.
- Japanese military personnel disposed of several American POWs in more or less this same manner by tying water-filled cans to their limbs and dumping them overboard.
- The Swedish name for this trope is Ståplats i Nybroviken (Standing Place at Bay Nybroviken). A corpse was found 1966 in Bay Nybroviken, Stockholm, in standing position. The corpse itself was connected to organized crime.
- In 1989, Oba Chandler offered to take the vacationing Joan Rogers and her daughters Michelle and Christies for a sunset boat ride on Tampa Bay. Then one by one, he bound them, raped them, tied a concrete block around their necks, and tossed them into the water to drown, tauntingly telling them to "swim for it".
- Some gangs are known to put people in tires or dumpsters and then immolate them.
- Related to this, but much less awful: when conducting burials at sea in the age of Wooden Ships and Iron Men, navies would wrap the deceased in sailcloth with a couple of cannonballs at his feet to ensure he sank.
- That was also done to Osama bin Laden's corpse, in order to prevent his grave from becoming a shrine, or getting desecratednote