Cruel and Unusual Death

"If he was a cut above the rest, he'd have picked rock."

"The Council has decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city."
The High Prophet of Truth, Halo 2

Some people die of old age, or gradually succumb to one of a number of illnesses. When death comes, the lucky among us will go out peacefully with dignity. Some of us might go out fighting the good fight, saving the lives of some unfortunate person whom our consciences cannot ignore and force us to help. They'll all die "good deaths" (and in some cases, heroic deaths).

This trope is not about those people.

Some deaths not only suck, they suck beyond the telling of it. The slow and painful, particularly gruesome, morbidly embarrassing deaths that leave the deceased absolutely no chance to retain any sort of dignity, forever. Deaths that transcend from being merely "bad" into the realm of being "ugly."

This trope isn't about just any unpleasant death. Sure, it's bad to get shot in the head...your blood spills all over the floor and you may void your bladder or your bowels. But compared to... oh, being eaten alive from the inside out, getting shot is a walk in the park. It is worth noting that for the most part, creators reserve these events for use as villainous karmic deaths (where the level of horror involved with the death is often part of the karmic punishment) and to get rid of unpleasant people who are Hoist by Their Own Petards... especially the embarrassing type. If this is done to a sympathetic character, on the other hand, it is usually the point where the killer crosses the Moral Event Horizon, if he or she is not on the other side of it already.

There isn't necessarily a correlation between the visible gruesomeness of the death and the actual nature of the character's death, some deaths that fall under this trope happen offscreen, and it's the very idea of it that makes it horrific. Deaths with a high horrible factor with less visible content can just as easily fall into scary, though.

Deaths like this tend to fall into two categories: The first one is where the victim is a rather sadistic villain who deserves it, who you really aren't going to feel sorry for (well, maybe a little...) The second one is where the killer fits that description, and the intent is to show the viewers how sadistic he is. (More often than not, it's convincing.) Occasionally, the two situations happen in the same work of fiction, with the killer in the second type becoming a victim in the first, which is very much a Karmic Death.

Warning: This page contains some serious Nightmare Fuel and Nausea Fuel, with a liberal dosage of Squick. Read at your own risk.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Comicbooks 
  • In Ultimate X-Men, a lackey failed Magneto. He was unlucky to have an implanted pacemaker.
    • And yet again Magneto: In the X-Men graphic novel God Loves Man Kills, he catches a group of thugs who have just murdered two mutant children. He tells one of the thugs that there is enough iron in an average human being's blood to make a small nail... and then he shows them.
      • A feat "repeated" by Magneto in the second X-Men movie with the death of prison guard Mitchell Laurio. Magneto arranged for Mystique to load Laurio's body with extra iron so he'd have enough to escape with.
  • Ch'p, a Green Lantern who looked like a humanoid squirrel, died when he stepped onto a road and was hit by a truck. Just think about that for a second and you'll realize why it qualifies for this trope.
  • In the ElfQuest: Shards storyline Two-Edge builds a particularly nasty execution device for the human tyrant Grohmul Djun. It consists of two large urns in the shape of birds with upraised beaks, between which the prisoner is strapped. The urns are slowly filled with water, the weight causing them to tip outward, putting greater and greater force on the prisoner's limbs until he is eventually torn in two.
  • At the beginning of The Dark Age of Comic Books, Moral Guardians made the mistake of forbidding the Spectre, DC's Spirit of Vengeance, from killing anyone, but failed to define "killing". Cue Body Horror, And I Must Scream, Taken for Granite, and the like, as the Spectre began inflicting "nonlethal" transformations on his prey — though any normal person would consider the results either death, or in some cases A Fate Worse Than Death.
    • To punish Doctor Light, the Spectre transformed him into a candle, with his head as the wick and his body made of wax. The results were obvious after a while. At other times, he transformed a criminal into wood, and chucked him into a grinder. A pedophile was brutally ripped apart by his collection of dolls. He once judged a country guilty (it had a long history of blood feuds and ethnic cleansings). His answer? Burn it to the ground, men, women, and children included, and leave the two top politicians alive, damning them to rule over the devastated land. He even threatened to do the same to the whole of the state of New York (a convicted criminal, who turned out to be innocent, was slated to be executed; this would mean the people of the State of New York would be guilty of homicide by the Spectre's book). In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, he takes minor criminal Professor Achilles Milo, turned him into cheese, and releases the group of rats he had mind-controlled. Do the math.
    • This was always the Spectre's speciality; some classic stories feature, in no particular order: being turned to glass and shattered, being turned into a mannequin and burned alive, melting as if made of wax, drowning in the clutches of a giant octopus; being cut in half by a giant pair of scissors (pictured above), being beheaded by a falling decorative sword, being sliced and diced by a spectral meat cleaver, aging to a pile of dust and simply being reduced to a skeleton in the blink of an eye while being center of attention on a crowded airplane.
  • Lots and lots of EC Comics stories, often as Karmic Death for good measure.
  • This is the modus operandi of Stardust the Super Wizard, a public domain Golden Age superhero, punishing Asshole Victims that deserve it. An example is in punishing a villain who tried to kill everyone in Washington D.C. by depriving them of oxygen, Stardust grew his head until his body was enveloped by it, flew with him very far into space, and threw him in the direction of a headless space giant that envelops heads where its neck should be.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has Griffin, the Invisible Man. He gets beaten, and then raped to death by Mr. Hyde. When he dies he becomes visible, but we only see the contents of one room (and Hyde) covered in blood. Resident Blood Knight Captain Nemo sees what Hyde has done, and is disgusted by it and wants to execute Hyde for his crime.
  • The Punisher has his share of brutal kills, but the one that takes the cake is his own Rasputinian Death in "The List", he continues trying to stab Daken after - in less than a half hour - having being shot, hit with grenades, punched around, cut across the chest by Daken, broke a leg, getting his throat slashed, lost an arm and about 3 gallons of blood.
    • Frank himself was probably the most brutal in the "Slavers" arc in Punisher MAX. With the Asshole Victims smuggling women into the US to be sex slaves, including an hours-long gang rape on each slave to start out, you don't really feel for them at all when Frank, among other punishments, throws a woman into shatterproof glass enough times that finally the frame bends enough for the pane to fall out and she plummets to her death. Or when Frank gets information from a slaver by disemboweling him and hanging his intestines from a tree with them still attached. The interrogation is implied to begin at sunrise which makes things worse when Frank casually mentions in the next issue that it took him until NOON to bleed out.
  • Elsewhere in Mavel, the enormously obese Miami drug lord Ulysses X. Lugman, aka the Slug, has been known to asphyxiate a man in the folds of his flesh when he wants to kill someone personally.
  • Black Adam pulls off a few of these during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and later during World War Three. These include:
    • Tearing a character's face off with one hand (complete with pun about trying to save face).
    • Grabbing Young Frankenstein's arms and tearing them both off simultaneously (which also qualifies as Narm for some).
    • Punching a hole in Terra ala Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
    • Tearing Terraman in half at the pelvis.
    • And flicking the president of Bialya under the chin hard enough to send him flying into the ceiling with enough force to liquefy his head.
    • Psycho-Pirate's fate in "Infinite Crisis". "No more silly faces."
  • The Joker's had his fair share of dealing these types of deaths like... well, like playing cards. This may be because he has two main beliefs: 1. Do anything for the funny. 2. There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
    • There were two rather cruel murders he committed in the Graphic Novel Joker. The first involved skinning a man alive because he got on the Joker's bad side by insulting his club, eyeing his girl, and then insulting the Clown Prince himself. The second? He shoots a man in the head, while said man is sitting on the toilet. It might not be the most cruel death, but it's certainly embarrassing. Stay classy, Mr. J.
      • His Joker Venom could qualify for this trope, too, considering what it does. First you just start laughing, and you can't stop no matter how hard you try. Then all the muscles in your body begin to seize up, especially in your face, causing you to grin. Then you start to take on the Joker's appearance, white skin, green hair and all. Then the muscle paralysis causes you to stop breathing. THEN you die. Oh, and if you're really 'lucky', he might merely dose you with the non-lethal version, which can cause not only insanity but puts you into a coma...
      • What he did to Alex Luthor. He ambushed him in a dark alley, sprayed him with acid that wound up melting half his goddamn face off, shocked him with an electric joy-buzzer, and finally shot him dead as Lex insulted him for his myopia and lack of foresight in not allowing the Joker to join the Society in the first place. Oh, and Alex? Deserved it.
  • Marvel Zombies runs on this trope.
  • Crossed is made of this trope. Anyone who falls afoul of the titular psychopathic monsters will die an unthinkably horrible death, usually after being raped and tortured for hours. Some of the non-Crossed characters also prove capable of murdering other survivors in brutally nasty ways.
  • In Über, the American superhuman Colossus tries to take on the German "living battleship" Sieglinde when the Nazis attack Paris. Colossus ambushes Sieglinde and at first seems to be winning against her, knocking her to the ground and strangling her...until she rips both of his arms off and uses her matter-disruption powers to twist his entire body into a gory sculpture of pulped flesh and shattered bone. By the end, he's so mutilated it's almost impossible to tell he was once human. The worst thing of all? He's still alive. His skull is so tough it takes five hours for the Allies to euthanise him with an industrial drill.
    • In another scene, Hitler has another of his "battleships" – the sadistic Markus - burn off the face of a disobedient general. The man's death is depicted in loving detail. Similar deaths are suffered by thousands of ordinary soldiers who go up against the battleships.
  • Deena Pilgrim in Powers gets hits with Cruel and Unusual Deaths when she goes to confront the now-totally-batshit-insane nearly-omnipotent Captain Ersatz of Superman and Captain Marvel called Supershock. First, he strips her naked and flies her into orbit, exposing her to hard vacuum. He then uses his powers to protect her from the vacuum, but kills her with a heart attack. He brings her back to life, then kills her again with another heart attack. He brings her back to life a second time, and kills her with another heart attack. He then brings her back to life a third time, and because he's a sadistic prick, keeps her alive while physically removing her heart from her chest and letting her see him hold it.
  • A number of characters in Astérix are threatened with things like being roasted alive, crucifixion or (Once An Album) being flung to the lions of the circus. Justified as this is Ancient Rome we're talking about.
  • The Sentry is a terrifyingly psychotic individual, as Ares found out the hard way when the Sentry very literally tears him in half, reducing him to an explosion of bone, blood, and Ludicrous Gibs.
  • X-23 was bred to be a Tyke Bomb master assassin, and she certainly lives up to her reputation — Captain America spent years personally hunting her down after her first mission. Usually she's quick, clean and efficient. At least until her creator/mother had enough with the abuse the poor child had been subjected to and turned her loose on the project which created her. When X caught up with Zander Rice, the psychopathic lead scientist on one of her main tormentors, she went to work on him for ten minutes. With her bare hands. And damned if he didn't deserve every second.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome. Who honestly wants to be run through a jet turbine? Feet first!
    • Even worse, the same thing happened to teenage super-heroine Stratogale.
  • The Lion King:
    • King Mufasa, when he is thrown off Pride Rock by his treacherous brother, Scar. If the fall didn't kill Mufasa, being tramped to death by a stampede of wildebeests did.
    • Scar, after he attempts to betray the hyenas, is attacked by his former "friends" and shortly after that, a wall of fire swallows them all whole!
    • Averted with Simba: He barely escapes death by dehydration and exhaustion (after fleeing for days from Pride Rock), and later Scar nearly throws the adult Simba into a pit of fire.
  • Mulan: Shan Yu is hit by a huge rocket that flies towards a pile of fireworks. Impressive Pyrotechnics ensue.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Although it was thought that Judas hanged himself, it's stated in Acts that he dropped dead with his body bursting open and his guts spilling out.
  • Several of the apostles according to tradition. Peter was crucified upside down, Simon sawed in half, Bartholomew flayed alive...
  • Jesus' death: For more information, see The Passion of the Christ.
  • The death of Jezebel also deserves a special mention for sheer graphic description and squickiness: first, thrown out a window, then run over by a chariot, and then eaten by dogs; however, she deserved it.

    Music 
  • Death Metal is flooded with this trope. Done by the most evil people on innocents, though the token Asshole Victim shows up from time to time.
  • The traditional Irish song "The Two Sisters" (covered by several musicians over the years, including Tom Waits, CLANNAD, and Bob Dylan) recounts the tale of a girl who is drowned by her own sister out of jealousy over a man both girls fancy. The song ends with a line that notes that the murderess is punished by being boiled in lead.
  • While not the official video,Child's Play has the lyric imply this, as the person killing her cut out her eyes, cut off her lip, and that cut of her foot, in addition to cutting her hair out of jealousy because the man she was infatuated with loved the victim. The official vid vaguely states what had happened but it is not explicably shown and the relationship between the two girls is unclear but it is safe to assume that they are sisters like "The Two Sisters" example or that they are very close friends.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Killer Game Masters of Dungeons & Dragons are quite fond of devising some pretty nasty ways to go, usually in the form of Death Traps.
    • The players can get pretty creative, too. The expansion book Stormwrack has sample rules for holding your enemies underwater until they drown, for instance.
  • GURPS: Ultratech has a weapon that releases nanites into your blood. After a few minutes your blood explodes.
  • A Blood Magic spell in a Rifts supplemental is called Carnivorous Blood. Your imagination can handle the rest...
  • Half the stuff that can kill you in Warhammer 40,000 counts as this. From flesh-eating worms to bio-acids that melt the skin off your bones, to razor-sharp shards of psychically charged material which will not only tear you to pieces but make you feel unimaginable pain, to guns that flay you apart molecule by molecule, or open a portal to what is essentially hell and suck you in.
    • The Orks' Shokk Attack Gun teleports a tiny goblin though hell, driving it psychotically insane, and causing it to reappear inside you, at which point it rips you apart from within.
    • The Dark Eldar civilisation revolves around inflicting this on people, and they are terrifyingly good at it. One passage in a Dark Eldar codex describes a poor man in a Haemonculi's lair being reduced to a collection of mutilated organs and skin pieces hanging from meat hooks on the ceiling... and this guy was still alive.
      • To put it this way: the basic Dark Eldar ranged weapon is a gun that fires poisoned projectiles designed to kill the victim as painfully as possible (or incapacitate them as painfully as possible so they may be taken alive and subjected to even worse torture). Their more exotic wargear tends to be even worse, such as weapons that spray flesh-eating acid, burn out the victim's nervous system, turn them into glass statues or instantly drain all moisture from their bodies, leaving behind a mummified corpse that disintegrates to dust. Now consider that despite all the horrible ways Dark Eldar weapons can kill you, the most famous quote associated with them is "pray that they don't take you alive"...
      • Speaking of the Dark Eldar, there's this from the 5th edition codex:
    Asdrubael Vect tricks his would-be rival Archon Kelithresh into opening a casket that has ostensibly been presented as tithe. Held precariously in the collapsing field of the casket is the unstable essence of a black hole. Kelithresh's entire realm is plunged into a howling, yawning vortex.
  • Warhammer Fantasy, isn't short of them either. The Chaos Dwarfs sacrifice their victims to their god Hashut, by herding them into a massive brazen bull, and are burned alive in it.
  • Dark Heresy and its spinoffs has the critical hit table, which consists entirely of cruel and unusual injuries and deaths. Examples include having your head blown off by an energy weapon and your headless corpse catching on fire and running around (possibly igniting anything flammable, like other characters, in the vicinity), your body split open and everybody within D10 meters having to take an agility test or slip on all the blood gushing everywhere, and having every bone in your body pulverised by the force of the impact you took. The psychic phenomena table has some rather unusual ways die, with having your soul devoured by Daemons being the worst.
  • New World of Darkness has several extremely horrifying deaths for the very unfortunate humans that run foul of its supernatural denizens. Certain vampires can restrain a human while eating his flesh, then wear it as a cloak to protect from sunlight. Abyssal entities can do all sorts of unpleasant things to people. The grand prize, however, has to go to the Shartha, or the hosts, who can possess humans by getting into their bodies and slowly eating their hearts or brains.
  • Paranoia: Many traitors are simply lasered to death in the heat of battle, but the really unlucky ones get to serve Alpha Complex one last time by getting assigned to nuclear reactor shielding duty. No, they don't get to repair the shielding, they get to be the shielding.
  • Planescape. If the Lady is displeased with you and wants to publicly voice said displeasure she lets her shadow fall over you. The victims die from having the skin and flesh flayed from their bones while still alive and capable of feeling every last moment of it, with the end result being little more than a ragged pile of leaky meat.
  • While not nearly as bad as some of the ones above, in BattleTech, if you're an infantryman, you can look forward to the following attractive deaths: being stomped to death by a 50+ ton mech, having your limbs blown off by a gauss rifle, vaporizing in the middle of a huge person-wide laser beam, being sliced in half by a smaller beam, kicked so hard by a giant mech that if you aren't killed by the blow, you will be when you hit a wall flying 80 KM/H. A pilot in a BattleMech can look forward to having his limbs torn off by jagged pieces of metal as he ejects, being sliced open by jagged pieces of metal as he ejects, accidentally auto-ejecting into the vacuum of space, without a space suit, and those are when you eject. Inside the mech a pilot risks becoming brain-dead following their neurohelmet zapping their brain with so much biofeedback, that the worst Black ICE in Shadowrun would be jealous.
    • The worst fate would be being on a jumpship that improperly jumps. Let's just say that some of your molecules jump with the ship, while others don't.
  • Exalted: There are a lot of means to kill someone in cool and fascinating way, but the Abyssals make an art out of it with Illustrative Overkill Technique: you kill someone in such a gruesome and nauseating way that anyone watching it will start running away from you, most likely while vomiting their bowels out.
  • The Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic magic and spell supplement for Mongoose Publishing's fantasy roleplaying game Legend deals with the topic of using physical pain and blood sacrifice - including human sacrifice - to power spells and placate cruel gods. The dangerous spell casting methods include self-harming, exsanguination, cannibalism and soul consumption to activate and fuel spells, enchant items and summon demonic entities. The themes of the book's spell list include pain, suffering, sacrifice and death. Several of the listed spells can inflict cruel and unusual deaths such as Boil Blood, which is self-explanatory; Haemoptysis, which causes the victim to begin coughing up blood; Heart Seizure, which induces heart failure; and the Sorcery spells Extract Heart, which causes the victim's heart to literally leap out of his chest, and Transmute Blood, which turns the blood in the victim's veins into some other substance such as potent acid, ruby or molten iron.

    Theatre 
  • The eponymous hero suffers from this in Jerry Springer: The Opera
    Jerry: "Accidently shot by a man in a diaper, trying to kill a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Not exactly the epitaph I was hoping for. Still, it might look good in Latin..."
  • Heracles' poisoned shirt from The Trachiniae seems to meld to him, eat away his skin, and just be very painful and terrifying in general. Instead of waiting for it to properly kill him he asks to be immolated asap.
  • Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus sees its main character slice the throats of his rival's sons, bleed them before letting them die, and bake them into a pie which he then serves back to their unknowing mother.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Grisaia No Kajitsu during Amane's flashback we see the results of a bunch of middle school girls trying to survive a bus crash. It doesn't go well: One girl dies wallowing in her own filth because she was too embarrassed to say anything and couldn't get out because her legs were broken. One girls lacerated stomach became infected and began leaking pus and other various fluids. The flashback cuts out when the narrator ran from the group, but we get the second half of the story in Grisaia No Rakuen with deaths every bit as gruesome, including two stabbing based deaths and one girl's broken nose beginning to leak not just blood but intercranial fluid. However, these deaths all still contained more dignity than those in the first flashback, perhaps because the girls had largely given up their hopes of escaping alive.
  • The deaths in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors can get exceedingly gruesome, but the worst is what happens to the Ninth Man. The nine main characters have been forced to swallow an explosive that has already passed into their intestines, and the Ninth Man is used by the game to demonstrate that this is no idle threat. The bomb goes off in his gut while he is crying and screaming about his impending death, and the game goes into a disturbing amount of detail as to just what his shattered and twisted remains look like.
  • The sequel, Virtue's Last Reward also has its share of nasty deaths, but he worst may be what happens to Dio in one route. He is locked in a medical pod as a way of holding him on suspicion of murder. The characters later return to find that his oxygen supply was cut off, and he suffocated within the pod, clutching his throat in his final moments. He likely also saw his murderer as it happened, unable to do anything about it. Couldn't have happened to a less nastier guy.
  • Each of the "executions" in Dangan Ronpa is specifically tailored to the guilty party. For example, the guilty party of the first case, Leon Kuwata, is a baseball player who is chained to a post and bludgeoned to death by baseballs.
    • The sequel isn't much better. Super High School Level Chef Teruteru Hanamura, is covered in egg and breadcrumbs and fried alive in a volcano. Mikan Tsumiki, a nurse, is sent into space on a rocket shaped like a giant arm; gamer Chiaki Nanami is crushed to death by a Tetris block; animal breeder Gundam Tanaka is trampled to death by wild animals; and swordswoman Peko Pekoyama is forced to fight her way through a horde of samurai robots. Some of the murders also count. Pity poor Ibuki, who gets strangled to death and then hung, not to mention what happens to Komaeda.
  • Pick a dead end in any Nasuverse Visual Novel. Almost any dead end will do. Some of them are so implausibly over-the-top that they cross the line into Narm territory... And it only gets better when the Tiger Dojo or Teach Me, Ciel-sensei segments come next.
    • Just from Fate/stay night.
      • Death from blood loss because your feet were pulverized when you used them to crush evil magic bugs.
      • Soul trapped in doll for eternity.
      • Dissolved by manifestation of all evils in this world.
      • Stomach punched out with Kung Fu.
      • Melted to death, despite already being fatally wounded by swords spontaneously stabbing out of your own body... due to falling from a third floor window.
      • Murder/suicide by best friend.
  • Phantasmagoria. Carno's murder of his wives ranges from Narm (how can someone's head be twisted 360 degrees before the neck snaps?) to absolutely horrifying (ever wonder what death by force-feeding looks like?)
    • The sequel isn't much better. We've got a guy getting the shit beaten out of him, crucified with exacto knives, his mouth stabled shut, and finally being cut open with a box cutter, another guy getting his head beaten in with a sledgehammer, another character beaten stabbed, and electrified using her own blood, a woman getting melted down into a human pizza, and finally the main character's best friend is strangled with wires. (which is, oddly enough, the tamest death)
  • In Corpse Party, poor Mayu Suzumoto ends up being levitated by three malevolent ghost children, who then launch her into a wall at supersonic speed, leaving nothing more than a stain on the wall and a pile of meat and organs. Kensuke Kurosaki probably gets the second worst death. After surviving being stabbed and kicked into a hole downstairs, his "best friend" Yuuya Kizami finishes him off. We don't actually see him do it, but we see the results. It's not quite as bad as Mayu's, as we can still tell it's him, but it's still rather messy.
    • A lot of the Wrong Ends, while nowhere near as gruesome, still count. As does Seiko's death. And then there's what happened to the aforementioned ghost children, whose deaths (long before the events of the game) easily qualify as horrific.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has some pretty impressive bad endings, and some equally nasty offscreen fates for the other characters. Anghel and Yuuya presumably get experimented on and dissected by Dr. Shuu unless you go on their routes and rescue them. On the "Bad Boys Love" route, the heroine's death by suffocation is revisited in a flashback, as is Nageki's suicide by setting himself on fire.

    Web Comics 
  • Every death during the "KITTEN" arcs from Sluggy Freelance.
  • 8-Bit Theater: Black Mage kills people in ways that are virtually indescribable.
  • Dead Of Summer has a lot of deaths, being a Zombie Apocalypse story. One among them stands out, though. Getting your eyes torn out, then having a huge electrical wire jammed into your mouth.
  • The Asperpedia Four in Sonichu. After a deeply biased trial, Alec, Evan, Mao and Sean are sentenced to death. Alec is strapped to an electric chair, as each of the main characters tell him to go to hell as he is reduced to ash without a sponge to direct the currents to his brain. Sean is killed by firing squad and his entire body is riddled with bullet holes. Mao is torn apart by Chris's psychic powers, and worst of all, Evan is chained up and brutally tortured to death, by an eight year old girl, nonetheless. And this is after Chris criticised Asperchu for its excessive violence.
  • LOL - Comics! has the "Cereal KILLA".
    HRROORK
  • Goblins has quite a few of this. Examples (all contain spoilers) include this, this, and this.
  • Homestuck has had quite a few unpleasant deaths during Act 5 Act 2, but Neophyte Redglare's takes the cake. She either a.) didn't know about or b.) severely underestimated Mindfang's mind control abilities. As a result, Mindfang manipulates the angry mob at her trial into lynching Redglare and hanging her with one of her own nooses. Given that the story is written from Mindfang's point of view, it is highly unlikely Redglare survived the encounter.
  • Looking for Group's very own Heroic Sociopath, Richard, revels in this trope. This appears to be mainly because Richard, being an ageless, undead warlock, as well as a sadist without equal, needed something to keep him going throught the centuries, but also due to his inability to distinguish "going too far", and "going much, MUCH further than merely 'too far'".
    Guard: General! Our scouts have returned.
    General: Report.
    Guard: The invaders march upon the city faster than anticipated. On foot and wings. Word has also reached us of a disaster that has befallen Bertu. Every last citizen; slain. At times, in very peculiar and imaginative fashions.
    Richard: You like my work?
  • In the world of Zombie Ranch, someone dying from the zombie bite itself is considered one of the worst, most painful ways to go, and a horrible act of cruelty to let occur. At least one outlaw gang is known to use this as a ritual punishment.
  • From The Order of the Stick, one word: Implosion. (Warning: spoilers!)
    • What Redcloak does to Tsukiko just a few strips later is even worse.
      • Xykon kills Dorukan in similiar way in Start of Darkness and considering how his body looked at the end of lethal series of Energy Drains makes you glad what Redcloak did happened mostly off-panel.
    • Nale brutally kills Malack by taking advantage of his vampire weakness to sunlight, causing him to be reduced to ash.
  • And Our Little Adventure also used an Implosion spell. Unlike OotS's version, OLA's Implosion crushes the unfortunate victim into a gruesome, bloody cube. What makes this worse is that Angelo immediately cast Soul Bind to trap Eva's soul into a jewel, never allowing her to get to the heaven she said she would go to.
  • The Zombie Hunters has three variants of zombies that are especially notable in this respect.
    • Spitter zombies spit acid at people instead of biting them. Unlike with a zombie bite, their acid zombifies somebody instantly.
    • Berserker zombies are almost as intelligent as the living, are insanely strong, and insanely sadistic. They are known for torturing their victims.
    • Basilisk zombies have a glowing red eye effect that paralyzes anyone who sees it. Anyone affected by it will be forced to lay there, fully conscious, while it slowly eats them.

    Web Original 
  • The whole point of Madness Combat. Happens more in later episodes
  • Three Words: "Happy Tree Friends".
  • King Womp's death in the Klay World movie, where he gets an axe in the back, falls on top of a communication structure, is electrocuted, and explodes.
  • Dumb Ways To Die is nothing but this trope.
  • Death Battle:
    • Boba Fett getting his head blown off By Samus Aran.
    • Every ninja turtle that wasn't Leonardo.
    • Felicia getting split in half by Taokaka.
    • Doomguy getting reduced to giblets by Master Chief.
    • Zelda's head getting obliterated by Peach's kick.
    • Raiden getting smashed in half by Thor before being hurled into the sun.
    • Batman having his torso slingshotted off by Spidey.
    • Blanka eating Pikachu.
    • Shao Khan ripping M. Bison in half and consuming his soul.
    • Ivy Valentine getting turned into a frog by Black Orchid, then being squashed flat.
    • Luigi being punched directly through the chest... BY AN EXTENDO-GLOVE!
    • Venusaur getting its plant violently torn right off, then burned alive while writhing in agony, clearly terrified, and Charizard getting its wings torn off and then having water sprayed down its throat to the point where it explodes like a balloon.
    • Gaara being crushed to death rather messily by Toph compressing his Sand Armor.
  • It seems to be a point of pride among Protectors of the Plot Continuum to do the most unpleasant and appropriate things to their victims, though the oldies have recently been insisting that the point of the business is more "have fun writing" than "try to outdo everyone" (and they're right). The Sues still suffer an impressive range of nasty deaths, from being eaten by Flesh-Eating Slugs to being given to the Discworld elves.
  • Being a site based around the concept of Anyone Can Die, Survival of the Fittest occasionally falls into this trope when the Ax-Crazy characters get "creative". At times the scenes can turn into Narm either because it isn't possible in real life or just because it wasn't written well. Other times, though, it works. An example from v4 would be the majority of Sarah Atwell's kills, one of which involves rigging up a death trap where if the poor victim even moves, he gets shot in the head, which he decides not to take part.
  • The Horribly Slow Murderer with the Extremely Inefficient Weapon has the inevitable death of Jack Cucchiaio be this. He'll die at the hand of the Ginosangi... eventually, after years of being beaten with a spoon with the only pauses being when he's trying to convince someone of the Ginosangi's existence. Even when he tries to kill himself to get it over with, the Ginosangi won't let him.
  • In The Graystone Saga, Lady Gray wields an ornamental dagger called Silverblood, alleged to be forged from moonlight, and she cautions the narrator that it can never be touched by anyone but herself. The proof of this comes shortly afterward, when a thief tries to take it from her by force. After a scant few seconds of handling the blade, the thief's entire body begins to combust and disintegrate from the inside out - while he's still alive.
  • In the Creepy Pasta "Blueberries", the protagonist's punishment is effectively a drawn out self-inflicted execution. He has to eat an entire varnished oak desk (to add insult to injury, he claims he didn't even commit the crime for which he received this punishment). He is given a hammer to smash the desk into smaller pieces, and tries to endure the ordeal by imagining that each wooden chip is a blueberry. The pasta goes into loving detail about the damage he is inflicting on himself with each chip he swallows. Then the guard takes away his hammer so he has no way to make the bigger pieces of wood bite-sized. After nearly mutilating his throat trying to swallow a big piece of wood, he notices that he had only split the desk in half with his first blow. The hammer was basically a cruel Hope Spot.
  • The protagonist of Worm inflicts a particularly nasty one on Alexandria, by using her bug-control powers to cram insects down her throat and into her lungs so that she suffocates, as it was the only way she could bypass Alexandria's Nigh-Invulnerability.
    • The Sluaghterhouse Nine love to do this to people. Bonesaw's poisons are designed for cruelty rather than efficiency, and she sometimes vivisects people until they die. Siberian has a nasty habit of eating people alive by holding them down and taking bites out of them (she is human-shaped, so this presumably takes a while). One victim, killed by an unknown member, had his arms and legs cut off at the knee and reattached by lengths of chain, and was then hung up inside an empty building and left to bleed to death.
  • The titular vigilante in The Flying Man is easily strong enough to just snap criminals' necks, but seems to prefer dropping them from a great height. He also throws one under an oncoming train at one point.
  • In Pyrrhic Tina is killed by drinking from a water bottle that contains chloroform, while her sister drinks her blood, thinking herself to be a vampire. Sonny is killed by Helmut in self-defense with a revolver, but his body is slowly eaten by army ants.
  • In Ten Little Roosters, the Gavins are killed by being chewed apart by mousetraps.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: A large number of deaths happen in ways that are virtually indescribable.
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Too many to count, particularly for Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester the Cat:
    • Perhaps Wile E.'s most famous death making this trope came in the final segment of the extended (infamous) catapult gag in "To Beep or Not to Beep." After trying in vain to unjam a stuck, loaded catapult (this after he already had been crushed five times by the boulder), which he hopes to use against his longtime nemesis the Road Runner, Wile E. finally does get it freed only not realizing it until he sees himself fast approaching a large rock formation. After doing an Oh, Crap, Wile E. and the boulder smash through the formation, crushing the still presumably conscious Coyote; the boulder eventually hits a network of high-voltage power lines and, while he somehow avoids electrocution, Wile E. and the rock is slung all the way back on top of the catapult's arm, which then plops him to the ground, and the boulder finally crushes the Coyote to death.
    • The death that most fits this trope for that bad ol' puddy tat, Sylvester, is probably "Satan's Waitin''," where a satanic version of Hector the Bulldog exploiting the notion that "cats have nine lives" goads the cat into chasing Tweety into the most violent of situations. He falls from a tall building, is crushed beneath a steamroller, scared to death in a fun house, shot multiple times in a shooting gallery and slams into a low-clearance entrance of a roller-coaster tunnel. With just one life left, Sylvester decides that chasing Tweety isn't worth it and initially avoids the trope-fulfilling death. Unfortunately, he decides to move into a double-enforced bank safe on the day two crooks use nitroglycerin to blow open the safe and rob it of its contents. After the explosion, Sylvester and the crooks are headed down below. Once of the crooks tells his partner that he used too much nitro. "Now he tells him!" mutters a battered but disgusted Sylvester.
      • Other cartoons have depicted Sylvester being beaten to death by an army of bulldogs and mauled to death by lions.
    • The fate that Bugs Bunny humorously faces if he fails his mission in "Knighty Knight Bugs." (The King threatens to have him "put to the rack, burned at the stake, and beheaded." Bugs laughs at first, but then starts crying when he realizes the king is serious.)
    • Other characters - both the regular Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies gang, and one-off characters have also suffered cruel deaths. One example of the one-time character suffering this fate was the villain taking a (presumed) Karmic Death in the 1951 short "Chow Hound." Here, a cruel, merciless bulldog uses two unwilling patsies a cat and a mouse in a scheme to obtain dinner from various masters. After holding the cat and mouse hostage for weeks to elicit large rewards for their return to various "masters," the dog purchases a butcher shop and proceeds to eat everything in sight until he is severely bloated and unable to move. At a veterinarian clinic, after two doctors diagnose the case as "a distinct case of overeating," the cat and mouse march in to begin enact the trope. The cat speaking for the only time in the film menacingly says, "This time, we didn't forget the gravy" (referring to all the times the cat was forced to obtain dinner but it never included gravy); the mouse places a large funnel into the dog's mouth and smiles as the cat begins to pour the contents of an institutional-sized canister of gravy into the funnel. The nervously perspiring dog mutters "no" several times but is helpless to stop them as the picture irises out over the sound of the dog gurgling. It is presumed that sometime after the iris out, the dog slowly suffocates to death.
  • The Itchy & Scratchy Show: Scratchy suffers one Once per Episode.
  • In "Ren Seeks Help", Ren tortures Mr. Froggy by shoving firecrackers up his ass, spinning a bicycle wheel on his stomach till his guts start flying out of his mouth, and electrocuting him with jumper cables, causing him to catch on fire. Then, Ren finally decides it's time to kill him via hitting him with a hammer, however, when Mr. Froggy begs Ren to put him out of his misery, Ren refuses to kill him and leaves him there to suffer. Eventually, Ren's parents find out about this and tell him to go outside and kill the frog on the "Finishing Tree". However, while his parents weren't watching, Ren decides not to kill him again and throws him into a garbage can. Years later, the frog goes to Mr. Horse's office (after Ren brutally killed Mr. Horse and got taken away by animal control), still badly burnt/crippled. Mr. Froggy then takes Mr. Horse's gun and fires projectile dart threw his mouth, finally killing him.
  • About 95 percent of all Kenny's deaths in South Park.
    • Oh, you want a truly horrific death in South Park? Chef's death, from the episode "The Return of Chef" is solid terror and fits firmly to this trope: first burned by the fire, then falls to a rock, then a bear and a leopard will begin to dismember the face and body in general. Worse, in an attempt to want to save, the Super Adventure Club members shoot accidentally. Plus Chef craps himself.
  • The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3: The Doom Dancer Music Box forces whoever hears it to dance until the day they die and they can do nothing but dance until they are dead.
  • Blurr's death in Transformers Animated. He was crushed into a cube for crying out loud! And that was after he found out that his "boss" so-to-speak, was a double agent.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Spy Roach gets hit by an energy drill, causing him to expand until he explodes.
  • Though there were quite a few different deaths in the One-Episode Wonder Korgoth of Barbaria, nothing matches the death of a Giant Mook named Scrotus, who gets interrupted in the middle of a wonderful To the Pain/Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon speech. After the title character is unimpressed by the overly long speech, he proceeds to dish out a brutal murdering by ripping half of the mook's skin off from the ponytail straight down, tossing a full glass of alcohol into the godawful wound, then setting the alcohol on fire.
  • Many instances occur in Aqua Teen Hunger Force to Carl and Master Shake, especially Carl.
    • Some of Carl's deaths include getting his arms sawed off, his skin ripped off, shot by lasers, and mauled alive by vampire bats.
  • Superjail is all about this trope. Just watch any episode for really horrible, cruel and unexpected deaths.
  • The Legend of Korra; Season 3 has Zaheer murder the Earth Queen by pulling the air out of her lungs, essentially suffocating her. Viewers are even given the lovely imagery of the Queen's eyes bulging and going bloodshot from lack of oxygen while she gasps for breath.
    • P'li's death is not pleasant either. While Lin distracts her, Su metalbends a piece of armor around her head, just as P'li's about to use her combustionbending. Effectively, Your Head Asplode, but unlike the Earth Queen P'li is given a Gory Discretion Shot.
  • Many of the deaths on Celebrity Deathmatch count as such. Having your entire skeleton pulled out through your mouth, being sliced to pieces by a giant bladed rotary fan, being burst open like a pinata, being cut up into paper dolls, having your nipples ripped off before having your internal organs squeezed out through the holes that were once occupied by them, having your eye stabbed out by someone's erect penis... the list goes on.


Need something to take the edge off now?