Death sucks. That's why most people are afraid of it. 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 really bad to get shot; it hurts, you bleed all over yourself, 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. These are, most often, 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.
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Anime & Manga
The Getter Robo series has numerous examples of such deaths. From people being assimilated forcibly by Invaders and then getting pulped by the Black Getter to unsuccessful Getter pilots who get crushed by failed combination attempts, there are many, many unpleasent ways to go. Even the villains aren't exempt - Invaders are subject to so much Getter radiation they spontaneously "over-evolve", develop cancer, and die, Dinosaur Empire warriors melt from exposure to Getter Radiation at various points, and various major enemies are destroyed in quite wince-worthy ways when they pick fights with the Getters.
An anime/manga franchise well known for some gruesome ways to go is Fist of the North Star. The main character's mastery of pressure points due to being trained in the horrifying kung fu form known as Hokuto Shinken means a punch in the right place can make your blood pool in disfiguring ways, causing you to scream in agony before Your Head Asplode. Other schools of martial arts in the series can be gruesome in other ways: such as being able to freely push your fingers through people (which was how Kenshiro got the Seven Scars), or using them like Razor Floss.
Special mentions go to Ryuga, whose martial arts style consists of scooping pieces out of people while they are still alive as though they were wet clay and making them suffer freezing cold before they die even though the series takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert, and the Colonel of Godland, who receives one of the most absurdly gruesome deaths in the manga when Kenshiro literally punches his entire skeleton out of him. All at once, still all in one piece.
The biggest example of this in the series, though, is Rei. He's the only hero to not leave a presentable corpse, on account of being killed with Hokuto Shinken.
Mayuri kills Szayel via this trope. Szayel accidentally ingests a performance-enhancing drug during the fight. This increases mental processes so far that a second is like century. Mayuri spends a few minutes explaining this and slowly impales Szayel, who is standing there the entire time, unable to do anything but fervently wish for death to come faster. When he finally does die, in his mind he is a shrivelled old man driven mad by the pain and begging for death.
Imagine being a member of a group of humans whose very blood belongs to a progenitor king who can perform a ritual to rescind your power and your very life-force at any moment he chooses just to make himself stronger. And that it doesn't matter where in the world you are. He doesn't have to be near you to do it. This happened to both Ichigo's Missing Mom (Masaki) and Uryuu's Missing Mom (Kanae) as part of a ritual used to kill mixed bloods and tainted pure bloods to restore The Emperor's power. On the same day (17th June), Masaki and Kanae had their power sucked right out of them. Masaki's death was quick because she was de-powered in the middle of a fight. Kanae, however, collapsed into a coma from which she never awoke. It took her three months to die.
Naruto has several cases of nasty death, including...
Being ground to a paste by Gaara's sand and being trapped inside the puppet that suddenly becomes an iron maiden.
Given that the rest of Akatsuki have been revived and he was not among them, it means he's still rotting.
And we have his partner, Kakuzu who had every cell of his body destroyed. Kakuzu himself also caused deaths like this when he ripped people's still beating hearts out.
Baki ripped off the sick Hayate Gekkou's chest at night-time. In the morning, his dead body was serving as food for crows.
The Nuibari and Shibuki which the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Hidden Mist use. The first is a giant needle which can pierce three people at once and then sew them together. And the second blasts a point-blank explosion right into the victim's faces.
Deidara's C4 will blow every cell in your body to dust.
His first partner Sasori; one cut and it will causes you to writhe in a painful paralysis for THREE DAYS before killing you.
Edo Tensei, judging by Fuu's screams is... "unpleasant" for the sacrifice.
While Tajiki was battling a reanimated Gari, he took a single punch from him, which turned out to be an instant bomb, blowing him up and scattering his remains in his friend's face.
This trope is the entire basis and foundation of Violence Jack, both anime and manga.
In End of Evangelion, Asuka and her EVA die messily at the hands of the Mass-Production EVA. At 300% synchronisation with her EVA (100% the level control and feedback one has with one's own body) she is impaled through the eye. Then all the Mass-Production EVA swoop down on Unit 02, tearing its armour off and tearing at its flesh with their hands and teeth, eating it alive and consequently rupturing her vital organs in unimaginable ways. When they're finished with her, Asuka is amazingly still alive. She reaches outto attack them with her good hand, glaring them down with her uninjured eye. Then an MP EVA throws its spear and splits Unit 02's arm... and Asuka's... and then the others throw throw their spears into Unit 02, skewering the hell out of it and finishing her off. Shinji gets a good look at the corpse when he emerges from NERV HQ in Unit 01. There's not much left... of Unit 02, Asuka, or poor Shinji's sanity by that point.
Oh, and did we mention Shinji's horrible, insane scream as he sees it? Spike Spencer's scream is bad enough, but it'sworse with the Japanese dub — Megumi Ogata broke her voice doing it, I'm sure of it.
Evangelion Unit 03 is in each continuity beaten down and ripped apart by the Dummy Plug System controlling Unit 01 whilst Shinji begs his father to stop it. In the manga, the synched-in pilot gets it too — that would be Touji. In the anime, he's merely horribly wounded - though you can only see it in one scene (he's missing a leg).
Hellsing in general loves this trope, with most of the more horrific deaths being courtesy of Alucard himself:
Rip Van Winkle is impaled through the chest with a fairly large-caliber smoothbore musket by Alucard and then eaten alive (plus the rather brutal rape implications).
Turbalcain Alhambra gets a broken knee, one arm ripped in half and finally is eaten alive and burned to ashes.
Luke Valentine is eaten alive and turned into a bloody smear by Alucard's Eldritch Abomination form after his legs are blown off.
If that wasn't enough, Luke gets revived during the final battle between Walter and Alucard, only to be used (along with the demonic dog that ate him) as a gruesome puppet via Walter's wires- then killed again.
Zorin Blitz, an illusionist from the Quirky Miniboss Squad, has her head grated against a wall by a vamped-out and supremely pissed off Seras until only an ear and a tiny bit of lower jaw remains.
And Incognito gets the full Vlad the Impaler treatment from Alucard, getting impaled on a pole in vicious fashion just like the real Vlad did to his victims.
Its sequel, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, is even more sadistic. Both series actually cross into nightmarish territory, so much so that they each have their own sections.
Four words: Happy Halloween for Maria. If you for some reason want a more detailed explanation: The first twilight of the second arc resulted in six people (Maria's uncles and aunts: Krauss, Natsuhi, Eva, Hideyoshi, Kyrie and Rudolf) locked in the chapel, arranged around a table elaborately spread with a Halloween feast. Their stomachs were ripped open and stuffed full of delicious candy, and the aforementioned note to the resident Creepy Child was scrawled on the door in blood. It was so gory the Japanese TV networks had to censor it.
The very premise is that Beatrice plans to keep killing the same people over and over in new and interesting ways until she can make Battler surrender, but in the third round the new Beatrice gets impatient and starts reviving people as soon as she's killed them just so she can find another few dozen ways to do it again.
The time when another witch, Eva-Beatrice, decided to join the "let's kill people gruesomely over and over" game. Her victims? Maria and her mother Rosa. It was in such bad taste that even Beatrice was all "What the...?".
In Black Lagoon, there's what Hansel and Gretel did to Makhalov, some poor bastard from Hotel Moscow. started hammering nails into poor Makhalov's head when he was still alive, and just didn't stop when he died from it because his body still responded to it due to spinal reflex This act is so vile that even members of the local Mafia didn't like it.
Balalaika, said poor bastard's leader (to whom he kept calling out in his last moments), went Mama Bear on the twins and dealt one of these to Hansel... by having his arm and leg blown off by one of her snipers as punishment, then having him bleed to death as she gave him a Breaking Speech. Gretel's own death (merely being shot in the head when she thought she had pulled a Karma Houdini) was fast and painless in comparison.
Later on, in the Japan arc, Chaka meets a horrible fate, with his hands cut off by Ginji's shirasaya blade, he's shoved into a pool and held under to drown. He did have it coming...
In Elfen Lied Lucy/Nyu/Kaede uses her powers too much, with the predicted results of her body cells starting to disintegrate. Though the effect becomes apparent when one of her hands falls off, she decides to rather go down in a final battle than to live with the consequences of all her horrible deeds. When she finally gave up, what remained of her was only held in the air by her telekinetic powers with most of her body already liquefied or fallen off. During her dying speech she's covered by a jacket, as her face had started melting some time ago.
But seriously, which death sequence isn't cruel and unusual in Elfen Lied? Kisaragi-san (the poor clumsy secretary who's Too Dumb to Live) thinks she's going to die honorably when Lucy has her hostage... before Lucy pulls off her head and uses her as a Human Shield.
The worst deaths in Berserk are typically reserved for those sacrificed to the Godhand. And many Apostles go on to do ugly things to people. The few human villains in this saga, such as Mozgus, are not much better.
Sieg Hart from Rave Master who slowly starves to death and could have avoided the situation by opting out of helping the male and female lead. He's the only character who appears in more than just flashbacks to die in any way other than instantly, and the only former villain to die who doesn't really count as Redemption Equals Death victim, since he redeems himself 19 volumes before he bites it.
When Frieza murders Krillin he captures him inside a beam and controls his movements with his fingers, ending in him causing Krillin's body to inflate then explode into tiny pieces. He then threatens to do the same to Gohan, crossing the line that sends Papa Wolf Goku into Super Saiyan.
His own death is by no means pretty, for he was sliced in half lengthwise, sliced into itty bitty pieces and then blasted into oblivion. Justified though but sheesh.
Cell's death consists of blowing apart every cell in his body vaporized, again justified but still.
The assistant of the guy who shot Bee. His death is by far one of the worst deaths in the show's history. Buu turns himself into ooze and forces himself down the man's throat and expands inside him till he explodes.
Or the poor bastard who gets sucked dry by Cell.
Make that all the people sucked dry by Cell. Or in 17's case, swallowed whole.
Spopovitch's death was especially gruesome. After Babidi no longer had any use for him he cast a spell on Spopovitch that caused his body to graphically swell up until he splattered apart. His distorted screams and gurgles of agony only made it worse.
As Kemonozume can attest, turning into an Eldritch Abomination then getting eaten alive (on-screen) by the nice young woman you had helped out is not the nicest way to go.
Narutaru has a fair few of these. Let's put it this way: getting impaled through the chest with a broken plane strut is one of the nicer ways to die in this series.
Norio was crippled by having his tendons cut, then was raped, castrated, eviscerated, injected with drugs to make sure he don't slip away by losing consciousness and finally decapitated, all done by a thug that had no relation to the plot and killed Norio for no other reason than satisfying his sadistic urges. And to top it off Norio could defend himself from most of that if only he had recalled his Shadow Dragon back to his side, instead throughout all the agony inflicted upon him he was concentrating on making that Shadow Dragon defend the girl who was the love interest of the guy he was in love with and his last thoughts before his death were that he won't be able to tell his love interest his true feeling anymore.
Saint Seiya has more than one example of this trope. Auriga Capella's death is one of these... His Weapon of Choice is a pair of shields attached to his armor, which can be also thrown as projectiles and always come back to him - so far so good, huh? Well, Phoenix Ikki uses his Mind Rape powers to trick the guy into cutting off his own hands with said disks/shields (on screen, no Gory Discretion Shot here... which considering this is a TV series of The Eighties... hardcore for the day), and goes further when Capella ends up even moreHoist by His Own Petard by having said shields fatally injure him in the chest and stomach before he falls off the cliff him and Ikki fighting in. AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!! URGH.
The Puella Magi Oriko Magica manga deals several of these, like Yuma's abusive parents being melted alive by a witch, sweet Kazuko-sensei being chomped on by another witch's familiars in front of her students until only a bone remains of her, or Madoka being impaled in the chest with a HUGE shard of said another witch's body.
In Gankutsuou, corrupt banker Dangler is left adrift in space on an empty ship he can't steer to starve to death surrounded by his precious gold. Hanging Judge Villefort is poisoned by the illegitimate son he tried to kill at birth, and left for his mind to slowly rot away in an asylum.
In One PieceAdmiralAkainu decides to punish a deserter by melting him alive with Magma. He also drives a magma-punch through Ace, burning his innards.
Several deaths in Detective Conan are seriously unpleasant. For example, there's the Rich Bitch who was gagged and taped up inside a very deep bath tub... and left there covered with a wooden cover... as it very, VERY slowly got filled with water... therefore dying in an improvised Drowning Pitin the span of hours.
There were two victims who were stabbed in the lungs and left to die. Just an FYI: it takes several minutes to die of asphyxiation. The first victim who died in this manner was still conscious from the attack and the weapon was a knife. The second had a pin puncture.
The very first episode had the principle second victim have his head decapitated by a combination of piano wire and a falling roller coaster.
A victim committed suicide by willfully launching himself into a knife wedged inside an ice block.
How about getting slashed and then impaled on a painting by a knight in shining armor. Best part? The murderer was a freaking 80 year old museum owner. How the hell did he carry that BFS?
At some point a fake wig was used as a means of strangulation.
Shinichi's first case was the iconic example of the trend of impossibly unintuitive murder weapons (severed brain nerve from being stabbed by a sharpened bra wire).
One victim was decapitated (head and other limbs) and the murderer actually had the gall to transport the severed limbs as his trick to avoid suspicion.
Freefalling from a high story hotel room and then impaled by the lance fixture on a horse statue - thank goodness the guy was drugged asleep.
What's worse then getting stabbed with a pen in your wrist? Falling into a sharpened picket fence.
A pendulum made out of a sock filled with rocks.
Instead of hanging someone normally, one murderer had to go and wrap the rope with gagging paper around the victim's mouth so that when he could not hold the bite grip anymore, his teeth got ripped open.
A guy got smashed by a tampered truck.
Impalement by a falling sword.
One victim was offered a eating treat and he got a bullet through the mouth instead.
Using an insane complicated rope system, the murderer tripped the victim and the momentum caused him to be dragged through a bunch of obstacles before being hanged high above a Buddhist pagoda.
One guy died of a PURE heart attack - no electric shock, no induced poisons, the victim had a poor heart condition and so was literally bound and gagged. To add insult to injury, the murderer spilled his heart medicine in front of him and just waited for him to die.
Throat slit by a box cutter blade - or an extremely sharpened fingernail.
Potassium Cyanide - BORING!! Okay, how about we introduce it as ice cubes?
A molotov cocktail made out of garden fertilizer - if the blast hadn't killed him, the shrapnel would have finished him off.
Very suave to get crushed by a chandelier, or a steel beam for that matter.
Tricking the asshole victim to shoot himself in the head from point blank range.
Snapping a neck with a clothes hanger and later silk threads in a slingshot mechanism.
Your everyday bike machine is attached to a string tied to a bookcase with a knife jammed inside a book at the top of said shelf.
A poison needle embedded inside a headphone set - enjoy your last song!
Instead of shooting someone with a bullet, attach that fired bullet inside a bed mattress and use its springs to create a giant crossbow machine - wait for victim to take a peek.
Trapped in a locked car with carbon monoxide exhaust pouring inside.
Wrapped in a net with a boat placed on top of you as the shore tide ebbs in to drown you.
Such a lovely pearl necklace - too bad it's attached to a raising curtain...
Smack'em with a frozen fish.
A victim gets bludgeoned in the head and is cremated by a bomb in the shape of a match lighter.
Victim was set in a time trap where a concrete pile driver would cave his face in (subverted).
Chinese Bamboo Torture is insane: so is being hanged by one growing so quickly.
Send a tied body down a waterfall with rope around neck for epic hanging display.
Getting choked by fishing line in a driver's seat.
Blood-C: Chances are if your name isn't Saya or Fumito this is your fate, Elder Bairn or not. Humans, however, often get the worst due to their inability to stand up to the Elder Bairns. Special mentions go to the baker, the policeman, Saya's class, the main cast and, finally, the Red Shirt town.
A Certain Magical Index: Chances are if you fight Accelerator and your name is not Touma, expect this trope. Case in point: one guy Accelerator especially hated was launched into the sky at such speeds that his body was incinerated due to air friction. He's also done fun things like shooting a person's jaw off at point-blank range and then throwing them in a hydraulic press just to be cruel, or reversing the bloodflow in his victim (read, all the blood rips itself right through the skin). In his fight against Touma, he was similarly going for a flashy death: compressing air into plasma with the intention of throwing it at Touma.
Karasu from YuYu Hakusho inflicts one of these on another competitor in the Dark Tournament, causing localized explosions to remove his opponent's arms in an excruciatingly painful manner, before blowing his head off.
In Attack on Titan, characters are under constant threat of being messily torn apart and Eaten Alive by Titans. Worse, Titans do not digest their prey, and their bodies produce immense heat, so anyone not bitten in half is either drowned in a soup of human remains, or boils alive in said human remains. To add insult to injury, since the Titans seemingly don't have any digestive organs nor derive any actual nutritional value from eating humans, whatever's left of the remains is eventually regurgitated back up.
What makes the Female Titan so despicable is that it's prone to doing this to it's victims. Petra was very cruelly crushed under it's foot, like an ant. And there's what it did to one poor sod: it grabbed his 3DMG wire and spun him around on it, the immense forces tearing him limb from limb.
Hell Girl is all about this. Sure some deserve it, but the actual requisite for this to happen to you is that some one has to hate you enough to make Deal with the Devil to send you to hell, no real reason needed.
A lot of people in Hunter × Hunter die in nasty ways, but the Chimera Ant Pike's death takes the cake. Shizuku makes a bunch of small cuts on his body and uses Deme-chan to suck the blood out of his body. It's not very quick either. Zazan's death isn't much better. She gets slowly roasted alive by Feitan's "Pain Packer", a miniature sun that emits heat proportional to Feitan's pain.
Lots of criminals from Psycho-Pass love making their victims into works of arts. The deaths are so disturbings that some of them are only fully detailed in the novelization.
In Yuureitou Rika tied her mother to a clock tower, and she died when her back broke. Two years later someone else begins repeating her actions.
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.
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 paedophile was rent 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 the most recent Batman cartoon, he takes minor criminal Professor Achilles Milo, releases the group of rats he had mind-controlled, and turned him into cheese. 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.
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 (and I do mean LOST) an arm and about 3 gallons of blood.
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.
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 Uber, 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.
Zazu has all the bones in his body crushed by the Writer.
Ugaidi and Sarafina have their souls burned into nothingness.
The Hermit of Hekima has his soul ripped clean from his body.
The Family of Blood melt away into piles of bones.
In "The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13", Fate attempts to defeat God of Fear Link by extending magical threads from his body into every living creature across all of reality to suck out their souls for a power boost. Link responds by removing Fate's godhood and immortality, causing each thread to snap off one by one... each taking a piece of the former god with them. Apparently the pain drove him so irrevocably insane that it actually stuck with him into the afterlife.
Also, Link kills Rampart by sticking him to the floor with a sword and then overloading his mind and body (in a sort of inverted ExpositionBeam/CareBearStare combo) with all the rage, hate and despair he felt over seeing his son's murdered corpse, causing the poor kid to cry tears of blood while his scorched heart blasts right out of his chest and the back of his head explodes.
Hadrian is killed when the shadow demon forces his body to melt away into sand.
Yognapped: Peva's Establishing Character Moment has him murdering Sips by slowly emptying a pistol clip into his arms and legs, waiting until his vocal cords give out from the screaming, and splitting his skull in half with a sword.
Later, Martyn is slowly and painfully drained of most blood and other fluids by scientists attempting to clone him. Teep, the resulting Humanoid Abomination, then finishes him off by crushing his skull.
I Did Not Want To Die is an absolutely heartbreaking example of this trope. The protagonist is shot early in the story and spends the rest of it gradually bleeding to death, regretting his life and early death. If you don't shed a tear, then you are not human.
Crossoverpairinglover should be called Crueldeathlover. Characters he doesn't like have a tendency to die horribly; Cornelius Fudge gets 'death by dragon', he comments that the children of Artemis created by the splinter cell of the House of Life died of both rape and Holocaust style gas (by a Nazi), has Lagoon Boy eaten by the Light and has more planned.
In "Happy Families Are All Alike" we don't know how Tsunade died, only that Orochimaru was responsible for it, that it was very messy, and that Shizune saw the whole thing and won't talk about it. It gave Kakashi nightmares just looking at the aftermath.
In ME2, Sidonis can be killed by a shot to his head, but in the fic "Weightless", Shepard first led him to believe that he is gonna escape safely before letting Garrus beat him to a pulp with his bare hands while reminding him how it feels to trust someone only to get betrayed. His life finally ends with a throat slash from inside out.
Before that, Shepard kill the volus who acted as Fade for Harkin by severing his intake atmospheric pressure compressor. He imploded before the oxygen had time to poison his blood.
Jack killed Warden Kuril (she probably had tortured him first) by ripping his body into two with her biotic.
Ghost/Kai Leng strapped young Shepard's doctor to the chair where she had taken her treatment and let her burn him alive.
Mierin's artery was served as her leg crushed beneath a crate. They had to amputate it then or she would burn. Melanis cauterized it with her omniblade, but the vein had already retracted up into her thigh so she lose all of her blood without spilling a drop.
In "Plasma's Folly", Colby dies after he injects himself with a faulty sample of the formula which results in his skeleton transforming at a faster rate than the rest of his body. Since the Pokémon he ended up being fused with was Lugia, the results weren't exactly pretty.
Hivefled has a lot. Special mention probably goes to Dualscar, who was shot with a gun lodged somewhere very unpleasant; Vanate, who died when his body's attempts to expel the tainted water he'd drunk expelled most of his intestines with it; and Rasasi, who was drowned in a bucket of "genetic material".
Sailor Lead Crow, a.k.a Sailor Eiron is forced to inflict one of these upon her own son courtesy of Sailor Galaxia. Fortunately, it's undone.
The sequel has Fish Eye and Iron Mouse have their throats torn out messily by [[Animeand Manga/Ranma1/2 Ranma as a Senshi with the mind of a cat]].
Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon averts this for the most part... in the anime recaps. The manga recap has been much gorier so far. However, it reached a peak with the introduction of Manga!Sailor Venus, who (as part of her Establishing Character Moment) cut Zoicite into bloody chunks (and while it may have been filtered, you could see the remains afterward).
Poor,poor Chet Kelly in the Emergency! fic "Requiem". Pinned by a flaming beam while fighting a fire and burned over 70% of his body, a fatal thing in The Seventies without today's technology. The worst part? He's fully conscious til almost the end. He's fully feeling the agonizing pain of the areas that still have nerves to feel it with and fully aware he's about to die. He only slips into a morphine coma right near the end.
In Episode 73 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Tsali rampages through the Blue Typhoon searching for Tails and Cosmo. When he corners them and Tails tries to stop him, Tsali throws the fox to the floor and graphically his heart and lungs from his chest. With his bare hands.
The death of Cosmo's sister Galaxina is shown this time around in Episode 62. Tsali grabs her head and shoves it into a ruptured fuel line. Theresult is not for the faint of heart.
Chris gets impaled through the chest by Beelzebub's stinger in Episode 67, which injects corrosive acid into his body with very Squick-y effects. He gets better when Beelzebub saves him with Chaos Regeneration - so Beelzebub can torture him some more.
Rourke and Clemont suffer these types of deaths in the Pokemon fanfic Natural Liberated. Both are essentially tortured to death by N's own blows and psychic powers. Rourke's bones are gradually broken as N mocks his lack of bravery, culminating in N psychically smashing his skull, while Clemont is broken in half at the chest.
Films — Animated
The Incredibles: Syndrome. Who honestly wants to be run through a jet turbine? Feet first!
Carrie: The original Stephen King novel has deaths that are graphic enough. But the various film adaptations are equally, if not even more gruesome:
The original 1976 movie saw most of the students die in one of three ways:
Several of the students are killed from the pressure of a fire hose, which Carrie telekinetically sprays into the gym.
The students who were not sprayed or survived that were horrifically electrocuted when the water makes contact with electrical wiring from the scoreboard.
Those students who somehow endured the electrocution were left to burn to death when the electrical wiring shorts out and causes a massive fire. Some of them are still conscious until the point where they are consumed by flames.
Chris and Billy are killed when their car is overturned and slams into a gas station, exploding shortly after impact.
The 2002 TV adaptation shows most of the student prom goers from Thomas Ewen High School being electrocuted, enduring up to a full minute of electric shock at a dose powerful enough to kill several people before they finally pass out … and some are even still semi-conscious when they burn to death in the gym. Thing was, most of the students were innocent and (unlike what Carrie saw in her view) did not laugh at the prank. Carrie's mother, Margaret, dies after her daughter literally stops her heart.
The 2013 movie once again features most of the students at Thomas Ewen High School being electrocuted. Tina endures a particularly horrifying shock, being whipped by electric cords and enduring a several minutes-long shock until she bursts into flames. Later, main tormenter Chris is thrown into a gas pump at a nearby convenience store before it bursts into flames, this coming after she was already badly hurt when the car she was riding in is flipped over by Carrie; the driver, Billy, is killed in the crash. Margaret endures being stabbed by several knives – kept alive by her daughter – before she finally dies.
The Towering Inferno: Most of those killed are consumed by fire. One particularly gruesome scene is where several people try to escape in an elevator, but the elevator stops at the 81st floor (where the entire floor is heavily involved in fire) and a fireball shoots in the car. A firefighter watches in horror as the people scream before finally being consumed by the flames and dying; one of the victims screams for several seconds before he finally succumbs.
Pan's Labyrinth has a man beaten with a bottle until his face is pulp, then shot. While his father watches.
Dying by being electrocuted next to a generator set off by a taser in Batman Returns. Hard to feel entirely sorry for Max Schreck, though.
In Dagon we have lots of these from people skinned alive to make ceremonial masks to hara-kiri with a pocket knife.
In Under Siege, Casey Ryback kills the baddie by pushing his eyes into their sockets, stabbing through the top of his head, and ramming the still-living body into a computer screen, to die of electrocution.
Almost all the deaths from the Saw franchise are karmic and horrible.
The Scream franchise has some. Casey and Steve are both Gutted Like a Fish, Tatum's head is crushed between the garage door and the wall, Stu's head is smashed and electrocuted by a television, Officer Andrews gets his head impaled with a long metal pole, Olivia is savaged and gutted, and Perkins is stabbed right through the forehead.
In RoboCop (1987), criminal Emil Antonowski gets doused with toxic waste so caustic that it melts him into a semi-human shambling blob with bits of organ and bone showing. And then he gets hit by a car. And Alex Murphy's own horrific death before being rebuilt as the titular cyborg, which was a vicious two-minute long torture session at the hands of Clarence Boddicker and his men involving lots and lots and lots of bullets.
The Movie version of Silent Hill has Anna skinned alive and Christabella given what can only be described as a barbed-wire enema. Christabella is then ripped in half head-to-toe whilst Demon!Alessa dances in the ensuing shower of blood. Then there's poor Cybil getting roasted alive, which the movie showed in almost gleeful detail.
A reporter in Teenage Wasteland with a closet drug addiction asks Angela for acid and is given literal acid.
The deep fryer death in part 1.
A security guard in Mimic has his face boiled off by some sort of acidic spray from the Judas breed.
In the movie What A Way To Go!, four different men (played by Dick Van Dyke, Robert Mitchum, Paul Newman, and Gene Kelly) each suffer this type of death after becoming romantically entangled with Shirley MacLaine's character. (In order: Literally works himself to death, kicked by a bull so hard he almost achieves orbit, gets painted to death by his own brush-wielding robotic art-display, and trampled by a horde of his own groupies.)
As part of his punishment for murdering Pharaoh Seti I, Imhotep is buried alive in a sarcophagus filled with flesh-eating scarab beetles.
Toward the end of The Mummy 1999, Beni Gabor, a Dirty Coward who had spent the movie betraying everyone, faces a slow death by dehydration and starvation after being trapped in Hamunaptra's treasure chamber. That's bad enough, especially given that the single torch he has is going out. Cue the flesh-eating scarab beetles...
Some hired locals were sprayed with acid when they pry open a pass in the tomb and trigger a booby trap.
The fat guy apparently gets eaten from inside by the scarabs.
Everybody unlucky enough to be in the vicinity of the chest (that held the Book of the Dead) when it is opened - they get their flesh sucked away by Imhotep.
Some of Imhotep's mooks get drowned in tar.
The priests who helped Imhotep in the prologue are mummified alive.
Anck-Su-Namun in the second movie abandons Imhotep, unwilling to risk her own life to save him. As she is fleeing, she stumbles and falls into a swarm of scorpions (and possibly the flesh-eating scarab beetles). The scorpions/beetles crawl all over and inside her, choking her dying screams.
The main character's sister in Mirrors died by having her jaws ripped open by the mirror demon — this results in a double dose of gore as we see both her reflection breaking its own jaws and the real person seemingly having her mouth torn in half by invisible hands.
Easily 85% of the Necro Non Sequiturs in the Final Destination movies seems to be less about Death saying, "You're going to die," and more about Death saying, "You are completely boned and I'm going to play with you a bit before you go splat."
In Kick-Ass, a criminal is being interrogated by other maffiosi at a lumbermill, and gets put into a gigantic microwave (used for drying off the lumber that comes in from the log flumes) and basically becomes the Incredible Exploding Man.
In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the elimination of Judge Doom in a vat of Dip is horrible. Actually, anyone who gets it via the Dip is going out ugly.
In Conan the Barbarian (1982), Thorgrimm, one of Thulsa Doom's two Dragons, is impaled through the chest by a spike about the size of your average birch tree in a nasty trap set up by Conan.
In Cube, Alderson (who serves no real purpose in the film other than serving as a Decoy Protagonist), enters a red-lit room from an adjacent one. When he takes a few steps, a loud sound is heard, and for a while, he just stands erect and in place. He then collapses into a loose pile of bloody chunks that fall to the floor. It is only then the audience sees a razor-wire trellis silently folding up and realise how he has been killed.
Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen - Bumblebee grabs Ravage (a cyber-puma-ish-thing) by the tail - and then uses a motion akin to wringing out a washcloth to unceremoniously yank some kind of Transformer equivalent of a skeleton out.
"GIVE ME YOUR FACE!" Probably the most vicious thing an Optimus Prime has ever done in the history of the franchise.
The death of Bonnie and Clyde is a bit tame by modern standards, but for the time (1967), the sight of the cops pouring boxes of bullets into Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway... in slow-motion, no less... was considered horrifying and nightmare-inducing.
Truth in Television! They really did die that way. Legend says they were so full of holes that the undertaker couldn't preserve them properly because his chemicals just leaked out like a sieve. Bonnie was so shot full of holes that one of her hands was severed. Consider the small caliber of the bullets when you think about that.
Strenuous objection came from the the Christian Anti-Communism Crusade for the details and especially for the slo-mo, which seemed to eroticize the couple's gruesome death. Film historians say one of the reasons such deaths are routine in media today is that this picture set a new standard.
The shower scene in Scarface (1983), when they hack up Tony's friend Angel with a chainsaw... and they make Tony watch. Most of the "action" is off-screen, but the seeing the sprays of blood and watching Angel's face start shaking violently lets you know exactly what's going on.
Barry Convex in Videodrome. It is impossible to describe what happens to him if you haven't seen the movie.
Troll 2 for all its poor production values still manages a disturbing death scene when a young woman is forced(?) to drink a potion that turns her into vegetable goop from the inside out.
A simple gunshot wound may not be a particularly cruel and unusual way to go... but in the case of Mr. Orange from Reservoir Dogs we may need to make an exception. He begs to be taken to the hospital only to be left on the cold floor for hours, slowly bleeding from a gunshot wound to the stomach. It's made worse for him by Mr. White actually lampshading how painful it is, although that's also darkly funny.
Blade had its fair share; the aristocratic vampire when exposed to sunlight and ordinary vampires when injected with EDTA.
Pearl was slowly burned to death with an UV lamp.
Cloverfield and the death of Marlena Diamond. After getting bitten by one of the sewer parasites, Marlena's condition slowly deteriorates until finally she's bleeding from the eyes and complaining that she "didn't feel so good". Her actual death occurs off screen and is only seen in silhouette so the exact details are left to the viewer's imagination, but anything that causes your abdomen to swell until it pops like a zit can't be a good thing.
In Smokin' Aces, Jeeves Tremor (played by Kevin Durand) falls ass-first onto his own chainsaw.
In 2001 Maniacs, one of the main characters gets bent over a table and run through from ass to mouth with a giant skewer, while the rest of the townspeople look on approvingly. Lin Shaye's character, Granny Boone then licks the gore off the end of the skewer that's sticking out of his mouth.
The Green Mile: Eduard Delacroix's botched execution. See details under Literature below.
Dario tries to drop Bond into a massive rock crusher being used to pulverize cocaine: naturally, he ends up falling in himself, feet first, hanging on for a few moments before evaporating into a cloud of red. (Ignore the fact that what with all the powdered cocaine flying up into the air, everyone in the room should probably be dead of a cocaine overdose.)
Milton Krest is is framed by Bond as a traitor to his boss (Franz Sanchez). He gets thrown into a decompression chamber and killed through Explosive Decompression. We actually see his face distort before exploding. And he was killed for the wrong reasons too.
Bond set a gasoline-soaked Sanchez on fire ...with Felix's lighter. He hobbled around for a couple of seconds, then the tanker truck wreck he had just survived blew up, killing him.
The Naked Gun: Frank Drebin of Police Squad dreams of dying this way.
Frank Drebin: A parachute not opening... that's a way to die. Getting caught in the gears of a combine... having your nuts bit off by a Laplander, that's the way I wanna go!
The first movie has two Rasputinian Deaths that count, a mind controlling doctor (swerves his car into a truck transporting gas, escapes the explosion with half his car only to roll into a truck carrying huge missiles, escapes that explosion as well, ending up on the last missile that rolls into a nearby fireworks factory...) and the main villain (plummets to his doom, then is run over by a steamroller and trampled by a marching band). Both Played for Laughs.
There is one particularly nasty death in Ghost in the Machine which involves a middle-aged man microwaving some popcorn. The serial killer is somehow in the electrical circuit and starts a fire. When the man returns his face starts to bubble like the popcorn in the microwave. Then to make his death seem more pathetic he slips and hits his head on the kitchen bench. If you're after a night of good old fashioned Gorn, I would recommend this classic.
In Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Jabba the Hutt condemns Luke and Han to be thrown into the mouth of the sarlacc, where they'd be slowly digested over a thousand years. You might comfort yourself with the fact that you'd die quickly, but that's not the case - the sarlacc's digestive system will keep you alive for all those years to attain maximum nutrition. Luckily, the two escape this horrible fate.
In Men Behind the Sun, about the infamous Unit 731 from World War II era Japan, a nameless maruta is locked into an airtight chamber, and the air is pumped out. First his ears bleed... then his colon decides to make a break for freedom...
One unlucky enemy soldier in The Beast is forced to lie down in front of a tank, and is then slowly run over feet-first.
Robert getting hit with a cherry bomb in the face in Mystery Team.
Gladiator: Commodus has the protagonist's wife and little boy crucified after taking the imperial throne.
Jim's torso is cut-in-half at a 45-degree angle through his right shoulder.
Shannon almost loses her head (well the part above her jaw) after Victor puts his hands in her mouth and pulls back. Only a few strands of skin and muscle keep it from falling completely off.
Jenna's lips and the front of her jaw are destroyed by a belt sander. She is then impaled on the wooden handle of a shovel after crawling around in agony for a bit. Said shovel was planted in the ground to decapitate Shawn a minute earlier.
Misty is killed off-screen. Her head and torso are used as projectiles to hit Ben.
Marcus has his arms ripped off and is picked up by the ankles and swung like a baseball bat; his head strikes the side of a mausoleum splattering his blood and brain onto a nearby tombstone.
Cracker Jack's head pops-off while he's being strangled with part of his (large?) intestine.
Chad takes multiple blows to the face with the top of a hatchet causing it to cave in. This takes almost a minute.
Cletus gets his face shoved into a boat propeller. Despite his skull resembling a crater one of his eyes is still intact.
Bob is locked in the house by the traitorous Rev. Zombie and is torn apart. Viewers are shown the outside of the shack as blood paints the walls.
Rev. Zombie is cut into two pieces with 10 blows to his side and stomach by Victor's hatchet after (foolishly) deciding to take him head-on (his lower half folds like a chair). His exposed spine is used to pull him out of his skin before he's tossed into some nearby bushes.
The sacrificial victim in the original film The Wicker Man, burned alive in the titular wicker figure. Ouch.
Mr. Dietrichson (Nirdlinger)'s death by neck-breaking in Double Indemnity isn't shown on-screen, but the sounds are definitely nightmare and nausea-inducing.
A low-budget film called The Devil's Bedroom is a nasty story about two brothers. Norm covets brother Jim's oil-rich land. When Jim won't sell, Norm and his wife Della conspire to have Jim committed to an insane asylum, but he escapes. The accidental deaths of Norm and Della are blamed on Jim because Jim is a Loner and everybody knows that Loners Are Freaks. (Because Jim has always declared he will never marry, there's Mistaken for Gay in it, too). The townspeople come after Jim with Torches and Pitchforks and the whole gruesome spectacle ends with Jim being set on fire and burning to death. Every bit of it on camera.
Ae has her own handbag sewn onto her head and neck in such a way that, when fellow nurse Nook tries to help by undoing the stitches, it causes her head to fall off.
Orn has all of her limbs brutally removed with a surgical saw... while she's still alive. What makes it worse is that her twin sister, Am, is the one who has been supernaturally forced to do it, and Orn herself has been possessed into helping with the mutilation.
Then there's Jo, who suffers the most well-known death in the film (thanks in part to the trailer), played with an equal amount of horror and very, veryBlack Comedy. First, Tawaan compels her to violently force-feed herself a handful of razor blades, removing her lower jaw. Then her damaged tongue falls to the floor, which Jo's abused kitten proceeds to devour. To top it all off, Tawaan knocks over a jar containing a preserved foetus, which lodges itself in Jo's throat, cutting off her air supply.
Se7en built its house on this trope. Imagine force-feeding a guy to death. The thing with the strap-on is so bad we don't even see the body.
In the film version of Doom, Duke, one of the most likeable and sympathetic characters in the film, gets the most brutal and horrible death out of the entire cast. In the middle of a firefight, an Imp grabs his feet and pulls him through the metal grate he was unlucky enough to be standing on, shredding him.
A Nightmare on Elm Street series revel in this, taking full advantage of its dream world killzone to make some of the most ludicrous and creative deaths in cinema history, and then upping the ante by having the victim's actual body reacting to the death in a (usually) more realistic manner. Some particularly fun examples include:
Being pulled into your bed and winding up reduced to more blood than the average body can hold, which is splattered all over the ceiling in a friggin' geyser of blood.
Though it was a dream sequence, Sarah Connor's vision of death by nuclear annihilation in Terminator 2 is pretty bad. Director James Cameron said several experts commented that what was depicted was Truth in Television, something he'd really rather not have known.
In 28 Weeks Later, infected Don kills his own wife in horrific fashion. First, he repeatedly punches her in the head, then rips out some of her throat with his teeth, before finally gouging out her eyes with his thumbs. Throughout the entire ordeal, she is strapped down, therefore she can only lie there and suffer. Adding insult to injury, her bloody body is later incinerated in a firebombing.
The monster of the movie kills its victims by swallowing them whole to be digested alive and slowly. As bad as this is, this does not beat what happens to Billy. He gets swallowed, but his comrades manage to "save him", only to watch with horror as he reveals himself to be half-digested but still alive. He lives long enough to call out to the characters and drops dead.
At the beginning of the movie when the monster first attacks the ship, one of the passengers went hiding in the restroom only to get the monster forcefully pulled her into the toilet. No, the toilet size is normal. Imagine how messy it was.
Death Proof is a bit far even by Tarantino's standards. Stuntman Mike kills his first victim by driving recklessly enough that she is essentially beaten to death by the car's interior - only he has a safety belt. He then proceeds to ram his own "death proof" car headlong at high speeds into an oncoming vehicle, ripping the leg of one of the passengers and grinding the face off another. Ugh.
Mindhunters: If being sprayed form the feet up with liquid nitrogen until you fall over or finding out the hard way that your smokes have laced with Hollywood Acid don't fit this trope, nothing does,
The Big Bad in Iron Sky is killed by Renate sticking one of her Combat Stilettos through his forehead. He flails around a little, trying to get at the shoe, and falls dead. Oh, and this is after she tricks him into getting electrocuted by performing a Nazi salute under a broken light.
All over the place in Law Abiding Citizen. Considering the guy has 10 years to plan his revenge, and he is revealed to be a government-trained expert at killing people remotely, many of the deaths are pretty gruesome. He starts with giving the accomplice to his family's killer a very painful death by replacing the chemicals for the (normally painless) lethal injection. He then abducts the killer and graphically dismembers him, with a camera recording every second. The rest of the murders are quicker but still quite sudden and unusual. While in prison, he stabs his cellmate with a t-bone from a steak. The judge gets her head blown off with a mini-bomb in her cell phone. Most of the legal staff gets served with car bombs, exploding one after another (with the protagonist's assistant watching and preparing for her own car to go up). The protagonist's boss is killed by a remote-controlled drone.
Several types of people in Push can kill in painful ways. Bleeders emit ear-splitting screams capable of shattering glass and tearing flesh. Do it long enough, and the target dies. A Stitch has Healing Hands... which can also reverse the effect for a very slow and painful death. Movers can throw people and objects with deadly force with Mind over Matter. At least a few characters get impaled with bamboo sticks by a Mover.
The Nigerian crime boss in District 9 gets first impaled through the head with a metal bar, then said bar gets electrified, and his head asplodes. On the other hand, the mercenary Koobus Venter survives everything in the film, only to be ripped apart and eaten in the end by a pack of angry Prawns.
In Star Trek: First Contact, the Borg Queen is killed by Data dragging her into a cloud of plasma coolant engulfing main engineering, liquifying her organic components as she screams in agony. Even that is not enough, however. After Picard uses the ventilation system to clear out the gas, her robotic brain is still helplessly writhing on the floor. Picard snaps her in two to finally kill her, at which point it's a mercy.
In Star Trek: Insurrection, there's the infamous death of Admiral Dougherty, where a Son'a face-stretcher device... well, it's described elsewhere on this wiki as "being suffocated/strangled with your own face"...
Pei Hong is executed by being beaten to death in Legend Of The Black Scorpion. All the more cruel and unusual for the fact that he invented the method.
In Man of Steel, when Kryptonians attack normal human beings, you can expect a lot of deaths that come close to this, but the one that passes firmly into this trope is the poor fighter pilot who is reduced to a thick red mist by his attacker.
Another very disturbing death occurs during the D-Day invasion sequence at the beginning of the movie when the audience sees a soldier lying on the beach with his innards spilled out on the ground, screaming for his mother. Extra gut-wrenching horror points because things like that really do happen in war.
When Bryan finally catches up to the kidnapper who took his daughter in Taken, he straps him up to a homemade electric chair which is rigged to shock him whenever he flips the light switch in the room on. After he tortures his daughter's location out of him, Bryan flips the switch to on and then leaves the room as the man screams. The uncensored version took it even further by having the conductor be iron spikes driven into the kidnapper's legs.
Godzilla dispatching the Mutos in Godzilla (2014); the flying one gets impaled on a broken building, while the larger female dies when Godzilla forces her mouth open and fires his atomic breath down her throat before ripping her head off for good measure.
The Anaconda's killing method is downright horriffic; Reptiles Are Abhorrent is certainly at play here. Dying at its hands according to one expert involves being constricted by the snake's coils so hard that eventually your bones break and your veins burst. That's if you're lucky. You might also survive, only to be Eaten Alive afterwards, to be slowly digested or spit out again.
Lots of these occur in the movie adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers. Death by Bug is not pretty, and it generally involves lots of disembowelment and dismemberment. Or acid attacks. Or having one's brain sucked out.
Since the Reset Button is in full effect here, X-Men: Days of Future Past does not shy away from doling out horrible deaths to the future characters, who are guaranteed to survive for another go-around. Decapitated, ripped apart, melted; the Sentinels pull no punches.
Warpath gets his goddamn face burned off. Slowly. It's easily the most brutal Sentinel-related death.
In The Cone, by H. G. Wells, a man gets deliberately roasted to death by being thrown onto the top of a blast furnace. Don't read it if you're the slightest bit squeamish. You're welcome.
East of Eden has a character's mother get gangraped so brutally that she survives only long enough for someone to, quote, "claw (her son) from the mangled meat of his mother."
In Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, some workers are implied to have fallen into lard rendering vats and boiled into lard and their bones ground into fertilizer.
In Jon Skiftesvik's book Viltteri ja Mallu, the protagonist's father, a paperworker, dies from falling into a paper machine and getting crushed by the calander rollers. Ouch.
Almost every single death in Another. Some notable ones:
A girl slips on a flight of stairs and her umbrella impales her through her throat as she lands. Ouch.
A nurse gets caught in an elevator that plummets several stories down and crashes at the bottom of the shaft, slamming her head-first into the floor.
A high school teacher commits suicide in front of his class by violently stabbing a kitchen knife into his throat as his blood sprays across the classroom, traumatizing the unfortunate students.
A girl accidentally hangs herself after being caught in a bunch of wires, and flails and screams until her body goes limp.
A girl is impaled by numerous shards of glass as a nearby window explodes due to lightning.
One student falls down the stairs, which isn't very unusual in and of itself, except that the fall doesn't kill him immediately. Instead, it causes a cerebral hemorrhage, leading to loss of consciousness in the ocean leading to dismemberment by boat.
In the original draft of Stephen King's 'Salem's Lot, Doctor Jimmy Cody is eaten alive by a horde of rats. The book's editor convinced King that it went too far, so he replaced it with a scene in which the doctor falls into a booby trap made of butcher knives that have been driven through a table. When the book was rereleased as a "10th Anniversary Edition", he (King) made sure the original scene was restored to the story.
The 2004 TV movie has him fall onto a running table saw. Tzzzzzing!
In IT, Patrick Hockstetter receives what is quite possibly the most horrific death in the whole book. He is killed by the titular Big Bad, who has taken the form of what can only be described as giant, flying leeches who possess extremely large and extremely sharp proboscises, which proceed to completely swamp him and almost completely drain him of his blood. It's made even worse by the fact that one of them penetrates his eyelid and utterly destroys his eyeball, and another lands his his mouth and drains all the blood from his tongue. He eventually dies after fainting, being dragged away to Its lair, and then being devoured alive when he awakens. Though considering it is established beforehand Hocksetter is a completely insane sociopath who murdered his baby brother, it's pretty karmic.
The botched execution of Eduard Delacroix from The Green Mile, which happened because Percy Wetmore, the guy who insisted upon being in charge of the execution and a sadistic asshole to the core, neglected to soak a sponge in brine that was supposed to be tucked inside the electrode cap to ensure a quick death in the electric chair because he wanted to get back at Del in the cruelest way possible for laughing at him in an earlier scene. When the switch is thrown, the result is a prolonged, agonizing and exceedingly horrific death involving Del being burned alive in the chair. The volume in which this execution takes place is called "The Bad Death of Eduard Delacroix" with good reason.
The film adaptation toned this scene down from its original literary version, removing, among other things, Del's eyes popping out of their sockets (which was Truth in Television — electric chair victims had to wear a leather hood to catch them). And the scene in question, despite all toning down, still manages to be one of the most brutal and agonizing scenes for any movie that was marketed (at least in Europe) for young teens, which only showcases how utterly horrifying Delacroix's death actually was.
This scene was actually based off of the very first execution by electric chair in America where the person burned alive due to a malfunction of the chair. Stephen King said once that he got the idea from that.
In Misery, Annie murders a cop by running over his head with a riding lawn mower.
In Firestarter, Andy's "push" can accidentally set off an echo effect in the mind of the individual being "pushed," causing them to become dangerously obsessional about certain objects or concepts. When he pushes Dr. Herman Pynchot, this echo effect causes Pynchot to become enamored with his wife's new garbage disposal. He commits suicide by turning on the disposal and sticking his arm into it (while wearing his wife's underwear, to boot).
Most of the deaths in Chapter 38 of the Unabridged version of The Stand would qualify for this trope. To survive the superflu, only to die of accidental or natural causes because no one's around to help you? That is "cruel and unusual" writ large. Of particular note are:
The death of five-and-a-half-year-old Sam Tauber, who falls through a rotted well-cover while picking blackberries, breaks both his legs at the bottom and dies twenty hours later, "as much from fear and misery as from shock and hunger and dehydration."
Irma Fayette, morbidly afraid of being raped, finds a .45 pistol and some "green and mossy-looking" bullets in the attic of her home and camps out on her front porch, waiting. When a man approaches her, she points the pistol at him and fires. The gun explodes, killing her.
Judy Horton, a petty and shallow teenaged girl, who doesn't seem to mind that the world has ended (or that the superflu has taken her husband, baby boy and everyone else she knows). She accidentally locks herself into the walk-in freezer in the basement of her apartment building, and that, as they say, is that. No great loss.
And no discussion of this trope as regards The Stand can be complete without mentioning the death of The Kid, Trashcan Man's insane companion (for a short time) on his journey West. Flagg sends wolves after The Kid to take him out, but before they can, he dives into an old Austin. The wolves stay, waiting patiently. Later in the book, Stu, Larry, Glen and Ralph find his body on their journey West. The Kid's remains are half in, half out of the Austin, his hands wrapped around the neck of a dead wolf.
Flagg also crucifies people who piss him off. One victim screams in agony as he's being nailed to the cross hoisted up, since he never imagined anything could hurt that much. Of course, one hapless guy who fails Flagg discovers that this isn't the worst thing Flagg can do to people.
There were worse things than crucifixion. There were teeth.
In one of the Dune prequels, Baron Vladimir Harkonnen has his etiquette teacher drowned in raw sewage. The man had been trying to teach the Baron how to behave in polite society.
Anyone swallowed by a sandworm qualifies, as they get incinerated in its burning belly.
Deposed Archbishop Edmund Loris has Bishop Henry Istelyn hanged, drawn, and quartered in The Bishop's Heir. Some time before hand he has the man's ring finger cut off (complete with his bishop's amethyst ring) and sent to Kelson in a show of defiance, and afterwards, he sends Istelyn's head.
American Gods: A minor goddess is chased down and runover by the Kid's limousine over and over until she's small and liquid enough to be washed away in the rain.
May be Laser-Guided Karma, as all of the gods who died in that book had killed someone earlier in the novel. Goddess kills human; Kid kills goddess, Loki kills Kid, Shadow's wife kills Loki, and then dies herself of the self-inflicted wound and loss of the talisman that had brought her back from death.
In Günther Wallraff's novel Ganz Unten (The Lowest of the Low) a Turkish steelworker is reported to have fallen into a blast furnace.
In Gary Jennings's historical epic Aztec, a man has the skin of a little girl placed on his vital areas and is left to let the skin dry and thus suffocate him.
In Eumenides in the Fourth-Floor Lavatory by Orson Scott Card, the Asshole Victim protagonist becomes forever plagued by monstrous, grotesquely-deformed infants whose sucker-like suction cup appendages rip off his skin when they make contact with it, as well as cause pus-filled sores to appear. And only HE can hear... and see... and experience these things, causing everyone else to believe him to be insane.
Card can be fond of this trope; it's probably best illustrated in his short story "A Thousand Deaths" in which a repressive government uses cloning and brain-taping technology to torture a dissident to death over and over and over again, in increasingly gruesome and detailed manners — and each time make his newly decanted self, fresh from the trauma of dying, clean up the bits of his body. This story actually inverts the trope however, because the protagonist eventually gets used to dying horribly, so the torture no longer works.
Matthew Reilly seems to like these. We've got shredded to bits by a fragmentation grenade, eaten by killer whales, roasted alive when the sparks from some Mooks' guns ignite flammable gasses in the air, hung upside-down in a pool full of killer whales and eaten, poisoned by sea snake venom and getting lockjaw, freezing after getting soaked in liquid nitrogen, crushed in a depressurizing diving bell, stabbed in the back by your own squad mate, getting drilled through the head, and being mauled alive by mutant elephant seals. And that's just in his second book.
His first book contains being thrown through a book case then being ripped in half, getting mauled alive by wolf-like aliens, burning to death, being electrocuted, being telefraged and, being crushed under a descending elevator.
In Scarecrow, in addition to the more mundane exploding planes and multiple bullet holes, there's being burned alive by a fighter jet's afterburner, multiple decapitations using various methods like guillotine and machetes, the burning oil trap, microwave beams causing a person to explode, being eaten by shark, and having a hole burned through the mouth.
Christina's death (from before the story started) from Haunted 1988. She set the house on fire, killing everybody who was trapped inside, accidentally got herself set on fire, she jumped into the pond to stop the flames and drowned.
The worms from David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr series eat their victims alive, and their mouths are built to inflict about as much pain as possible while they're doing it. But here's the bad part: the worms aren't the worst thing that can kill you in this story...
Franz Kafka's In the Penal Colony features an execution machine that gets examined in such meticulous detail that what it actually does seems ten times as horrifying.
In one of the Vorkosigan Saga books, Miles is investigating the mysterious death of a soldier found stuffed in a drainage pipe. Turns out the soldier had been hiding contraband (homemade cupcakes) and went to save them when the rain started, got lost in the dark, panicked, and managed to wedge himself in the drain pipe so that he suffocated.
This trope is strong in A Very Offensive Weapon, a take-off of heroic fantasy by David Drake. The hired retainers are Genre Savvy and know there's no chance of surviving the heroic quest they're on. So they strive to die heroically, regaling each other with tales of legendary deaths.
"Say, did you notice the way the Old Man threw his arms and legs wide as he fell forward? He was making sure that he'd be smashed absolutely flat. Now, that's craftsmanship if I ever saw it."
In Polystom, a servant convicted of murdering an aristocrat is executed using the "skin frame": after fattening him up to loosen the entire skin, the skin around his ankles is cut and pinned to the lower part of the frame and he must hold the upper part of the frame until his arms give way with fatigue.
Gruesome deaths are par for the course in The Dresden Files, starting with the very first book, where Harry is called to the scene of a crime where the victims' hearts have exploded out of their chests. Harry reacts, quite sensibly, by being violently sick.
It doesn't actually happen, but in the short story "Love Hurts", a Red Court vampire describes to Harry the death her Court has planned for him. It involves a cage lined with sharp objects, the bottom of which is a closed bowl to collect his waste, spears in a rack underneath so anyone who feels like it can prod him with them, and eventual disembowelment and flaying to be turned into a chair in the Red Temple.
Harry himself inflicts a few of these over the course of the series, mostly as a result of using fire magic to burn monsters alive. In one memorable instance, he ignited the fat beneath a ghoul's skin. Shortly after that, in what would have been possibly the nastiest death in the books if it hadn't been narrowly avoided, Harry buried a ghoul up to its neck, glassed the sand around it with fire, melting its face off, and then used a trail of orange juice to draw a nest of fire ants to it. Fortunately, he relented and executed the ghoul with his pistol.
In the first book of the Gentleman Bastard Sequence, The Lies of Locke Lamora, a mob leader tries to have Locke drowned in a barrel of horse urine.
There are many of these in the first book alone. For instance, Capa Barsavi knows that someone's killing the leaders of the gangs under his watch, and so keeps bringing the survivors of said gangs in for "questioning." When he's done with them, he either throws them to the sharks or lets his Torture Technician go to town. One such death involves taking a leather bag, filling it with broken glass, slipping it over the poor bastard's head, and kneading.
An even worse death is described in the sequel, Red Seas Under Red Skies. An assassination attempt on crime boss Requin left Requin's lover, Selendri, horribly disfigured on her left side. When Requin caught the assassin, he dipped his left side in cement, let it harden, then left him like that, forcing water down his throat to keep him going as long as possible, while the trapped side rotted and became gangrenous...
Author Carl Hiaasen deals out several over-the-top deaths to his characters, particularly the villains. To name just two, in Strip Tease, the sleazy ex-husband of the main character falls into a drug-induced sleep in a vat of sugarcane — which is then fed through a processing plant. In Native Toungue, a hitman falls into a tank at a "Sea World"-like attraction, and simultaneously drowns and is humped to death by the undersexed Orca whale that lives in the tank.
In A Song of Ice and Fire, Viserys Targaryen weds his sister to a Khal Drogo in the hopes of using Drogo's army to conquer the Seven Kingdoms. Eventually he pisses Drogo off enough that Drogo crowns him. With molten gold.
Also Joffrey, who dies by slowly choking to death and clawing out his throat at his own wedding.
In the "embarrassing" mode of things, we have Lord Tywin Lannister who is shot in the bowels, and ends his life with a stunning aversion of Nobody Poops.
Then we have the Bolton's preferred execution method (Flaying Alive), what the Mereenese Grand Masters did to the slave children (nailing them alive to posts with their entrails hanging out), what Dany did to said Grand Masters (the same), a bunch of dragonfire-related incidents (most notably Quentyn), Joffrey, the sacrifices presented to R'hllor...
The spear in question was delivered by Oberyn Martell, who dueled with Clegane with the intent to kill him out of the fervant belief that the Mountain had murdered his sister and her children years ago on Lord Tywin Lannister's orders. After Oberyn delivered the lethal blow with his spear, Clegane confessed to raping and murdering Elia Martell, and her infant son... while gouging Oberyn's eyes with one hand and pulverizing his entire skull with the other. This he did in front of half of Westeros' nobility.
Possibly the worst deaths in the series (though admittedly there is a lot of competition) are the deaths of Rickard and Brandon Stark in the backstory, for both physical and psychological torture. Rickard was roasted alive while his son Brandon watched. Brandon had a noose around his neck and his sword was placed just out of reach, causing him to strangle himself while trying to save his father.
Robb Stark breaks his vow from the first novel to marry a Frey girl, and instead marries Jeyne Westerling. Angry at the slight and having made plans with the Lannisters, Walder Frey invites another marriage pact between Catelyn's brother Edmure Tully and his daughter Roslin Frey. At this wedding, the Freys break the time-honored and sacred guest right (a guest cannot be harmed after they have received food and drink at a host's table) and slaughter most of the northmen including Catelyn and Robb. Robb's head is removed, as is the head of his direwolf Grey Wind, and Grey Wind's head is sewn onto Robb's body as a mockery. This wedding is known from then on in the series as The Red Wedding.
The first High Septon (the obese one) was dragged from his litter and torn apart by an angry mob. Tyrion thinks that they resented the septon for being too fat to walk while they went hungry.
Kevan Lannister gets a crossbow bolt to the chest and is stabbed to death by a bunch of children.
Possibly the most horrifying death in the series is that of Vargo Hoat. He gets captured by Gregor Clegane, who proceeds to cut off each of his body parts, cauterize the wound and FEED them to him until he runs out of body.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, by Haruki Murakami, illustrates, in horrific detail, just how terrifying it would be to watch someone getting skinned alive.
Warrior Cats has Tigerstar, who gets ripped open, causing him to scream in fits of agony as he bleeds to death nine consecutive times. Other deaths include being run over by a car, getting killed (and presumably eaten) by an Ax-Crazy mountain lion, and being stabbed in the throat with a wooden spike and gushing blood everywhere. And this is a series marketed for children.
Plus there was the incident with one cat getting killed by dogs.
Ripped to shreds by dogs. SHREDS.
Snowkit- a deaf kitten snatched out of the camp and eaten by a hawk.
Several cats die by giving birth; the descriptions generally involve enough blood to give the reader nightmares.
Honeyfern is bitten by an adder and dies screaming as its poison slowly kills her.
Fallen Leaves was trapped in a pitch-black tunnel that was being flooded. He drowned while trying to desperately get out.
Firestar's final death is pretty brutal. He gets squished by a flaming tree.
At one point in the war story The Things They Carried, the protagonists pitch their tents in a field they later find out is fertilized with the excrement of the entire nearby town. When they're attacked in the middle of the night, the explosions stir up the ground, and a major character drowns in shit. Proving that life is shittier than fiction, the book's Based on a True Story, and the death was apparently a real incident (though this is definitelyquestionable).
The death of Annalina Aldurren in the final book of the Sword of Truth series is particularly cruel. The actual death is fairly quick (you don't live very long when someone blasts a foot-wide hole in your chest), but the killers then disintegrate her body, not just to cover their tracks, but explicitly stating that they're doing it so nobody will ever know what happened to her.
In the first book, we have the death of Demmin Nass, The Dragon, pedophile, child murderer, and all around bastard. After taunting Kahlan about how Richard was dead and he was going to let his men rape her to death while her friends are forced to watch, she goes into a Tranquil FuryUnstoppable Rage and confesses him, then chops off his testicles and feeds them to him before embedding an axe in his head.
And in the backstory, Zedd's wife's death qualifies. Not only is she beaten, raped, and left for dead by a squad of D'Haran soldiers, but she's left for Zedd to find. Zedd, being a Wizard of the First Order, naturally attempts to heal his wife...only to find doing so sets off a trap spell designed to kill her painfully in response to any magical healing.
The short story "Dark Red Mind" has a scene where, after finding out that the Colonel was in on the villain's plan the whole time, the three lead superhumans kill him in a truly nightmarish way. The Colonel gets in his car, turns the key in the ignition, and looks into the rear-view mirror to find Justin and Bethany sitting in the backseat. Just before he can get out, Justin uses his telekinesis to forcibly buckle the Colonel's seatbelt as tight as he can, making sure he can't get out. But that's not enough. Bethany uses her phasing powers on his hands without even touching him, making sure he won't even have a physical chance to escape. Then, the third superhuman, Kaitlyn, with the ability to cut through things with her mind, slams her hands on the hood of the car. The Colonel begs for mercy, and Justin, with his only line in the story, simply replies, "Sorry, man. None left for you." Then Kaitlyn uses her power to cut through his neck as slowly as possible until she finally cuts all the way through.
Pick a tale by The Brothers Grimm: odds are good there'll be a gruesome death - you've got dancing to death in red-hot iron shoes, ripping yourself in twain pulling your foot out of the floor... and Herr Korbes had a pretty bad day.
Magic: The Gathering's tie-in novels feature a heavy dose of this. The Kamigawa trilogy was probably the high point: a minor god is devoured by disembodied mouths, a monk is drowned by a water mage while restrained, a telepath gets being frozen to death sent to her via telepathy, an immortal king is turned to stone and shattered, breaking his mind and his sight into thousands of tiny bits... Choryu, the water mage, suffers a fate almost beyond comprehension: he is bound with life-sustaining spells, burned beyond recognition, cursed a thousand different ways, has poison soaked into every inch of his flesh, and is slowly fed his own limbs. His actual death is a Mercy Kill, making this an inversion.
In the Domination series by S.M. Stirling the stock punishment for any dissent is to be staked. The victim slowly dies, but if they tire and relax they'll just fall onto the stake more. It takes some skill to make the stake just the right length so as not to kill the victim too soon.
In Without Remorse, John Clark tortures and kills a drug dealer by jamming him into a decompression chamber and giving him the bends.
And it goes on for a chapter. With all the detail and exhaustive research that Tom Clancy is famous for.
Richard K. Morgan's fantasy novel The Steel Remains has one society sentence various people to death by gradual, mechanically-assisted impalement. This happens to a childhood friend of the main character. Later, due to a journey through possible alternate worlds/lives, the central character himself lives through such an experience. The description is... memorable, and not in a good way.
More to the point, in his other novel series, the Takeshi Kovacs novel Broken Angels has a description of a torture device used on soldiers deemed fit for the brutal punishment. Essentially a modified autopsy machine, the device in question flays the skin, flenses bone, breaks teeth and probes the exposed nerves, boils the eyes, disects and removes organs, and finally decapitates the body. Whilst the criminal is alive. Sufficient to say, when Kovacs blows up the team-mate subjected to the toture, it is nothing less than a mercy kill.
ghostgirl - She chokes on a friggin gummy bear while distracted by the guy she likes.
In his short story "Patriotism", writer Yukio Mishima describes the act of seppuku in excruciating detail, to the point of causing physical discomfort in some readers. Mishima-san would later make himself a Real Life example of the practice.
The short story "Jericho" has the titular hero exiled by his own people, captured by humans, beaten, whipped, and eventually castrated and skinned alive.
Failing to bind an Andat in The Long Price Quartet can have some pretty horrific consequences. For example, having your veins fill up with crushed glass. Or growing twisted mouths all over your body that vomit up you blood. Or slowly filling up with seaweed and black ice until your stomach ruptures.
In Douglas Coupland's Hey Nostradamus!, which is based on the Columbine massacre, one character ends up being trapped under a table by a group of angry teens. The students jump up and down on the table, and Coupland has the narrator describing how as the students are jumping on the table, the gap between the table and the floor is getting smaller and smaller, until the table is practically touching the floor. OK, the person under the table was part of a group who had shot several students dead for no real reason, but it's still pretty nasty.
Too many to count in Gone, but EZ being eaten alive by mutated worms certainly comes to mind. And anyone who Drake kills. And the kids eaten by coyotes during the Thanksgiving Battle. And the kids who get thrown through a wall by Caine. And Panda's suicide, particularly because of what happened afterwards.
Taken Upto Eleven in the fourth book, where the two main problems in the FAYZ are a hacking cough that causes kids to choke up pieces of lung, and a cockroach-esque parasite that eats you alive before hatching from your body. Nausea Fuel indeed.
Two words Howard. Bassem.
Every single freaking death in Light. Poor Brianna.
"The Cocoons" by Thomas Ligotti has psychiatric patients being eaten from the inside out by giant Lovecraftian arthropods after the "pills" they were given have hatched. While this never actually occurs "on-stage", the narrator watches some very educational home videos of his doctor's work...
In the Larry Niven short story "Wait It Out", the first astronaut to set foot on Pluto gets trapped there and commits suicide by leaving his spacecraft without his spacesuit. Freezing to death is a horrific way to go, but what makes this story qualify for this trope is the fact that the astronaut froze in such a way that, when he's in direct sunlight, his brain "turns back on", making him conscious of the fact that a) he's a Human Popsicle and b) he's likely to stay that way until the sun explodes or until help arrives. Even while his mind is switched on, his time perception is altered, and he has blissful oblivion after sundown - so he hopes he can "Wait It Out", hence the title. Someone's sure to come back to Pluto someday, and who knows what Earth science may be able to accomplish by then?
In the David Eddings novel Regina's Song, Twinkie, the Seattle Slasher, killed her victims by stabbing them with a syringe of curare to paralyze them, and then slowly carved them to pieces with a linoleum knife. While singing. When she finally tracked down the man who killed her sister, she slices him with the knife about eighty times. The coroner wasn't sure of the exact count, as some of the cuts were very close together - especially around the groin. He was still alive when she cut his throat at the end.
In the book They ThirstThe Renfield falls into a Snake Pit with rattlesnakes inside after the Intrepid Reporter fights him off. He soon realizes that being The Renfield doesn't save one from death by rattlesnake bite. He was evil, but the way his death is described is borderline horror.
Tame compared to some of those listed here, but several characters in Darkness Visible are killed by mishaps with collapsing Reality Thresholds. The guy who gets his head cut off gets off lightly, compared to the one who gets cut in half. Even worse is the one who loses a couple of limbs and bleeds out under Lewis's hands whilst screaming in agony.
Patrick Bateman's victims in American Psycho definitely go through this trope, at the end you're left wondering whether Patrick really did commit all those murders or if they were all in his head, but still...
In The Pale King, Chris Fogle's father gets his arm stuck in a closing subway door, and is dragged the length of the station and beyond. The authorities find pieces of him roughly 65 yards away from the platform, at which point the train was traveling over 50 miles an hour.
In The Hunger Games, many of the deaths in the arena are especially cruel. And some of the ones in Mockingjay are so gory that many can't imagine how the movie could be made without earning an R-rating.
The last chapter of Zola's Nana focuses on other characters as they visit the title character's deathbed. The cheerful prostitute, who single-handedly ruined the fortunes of some of the richest men in France through sheer profligacy, dies horribly disfigured by smallpox.
Given The Monk is a Gothic novel, they have to make it extreme, but it's a bad death even for a woman as heartless as the prioress. She gets ripped to shreds by an angry mob.
Grenouille, the protagonist in Perfume The Story Of A Murderer, has murdered twenty-five beautiful virgins to create the most glorious, irresistible perfume in the world. For his crimes he is supposed to have his ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders shattered and then be hung up to die, but he escapes this fate: in the end, he pours the perfume over himself and is torn to pieces and devoured by an adoring mob. The author makes it clear just how hard it is to tear a living human being into pieces, too.
In "The Quest for Blank Claveringi", a short story by Patricia Highsmith, the protagonist is stranded on an island populated by INTELLIGENT man-eating snails the size of Buicks. Suffice it to say this does not end well.
In The Parasite War, one of the rebels is grabbed by the giant "Neonate", or monstrous alien baby. It rips off first one arm, then the other, then rips him in half.
In Weavers of Saramyr, the fate of one would-be Blood Emperor is to be set on fire, fall off a tower, and be pecked apart by pissed off crows.
In Unwind, we have Roland. Oh my God, Roland. He was being unwound (systematically taken apart, organ by organ) while conscious...]] The few details aren't very gory, but that leaves what exactly they're doing to him to your imagination.
An off-screen death in Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil: Josiah Byrd imprisoned his daughter in an attic room after she fell in love, maintained contact with the forbidden suitor, and became pregnant. Her father allowed her to die of birth complications, and the nurse had to smuggle out the infant girl to keep him from killing her as well. Lori senses the ghost leaves her when she and her companions find the room; apparently the experience was so traumatic the ghost can't or won't return to the room.
The Edge Chronicles, by Paul Stewart & Chris Riddell, take much glee in giving their characters the most inventive and horrific deaths imaginable. It's like Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket had a party and got Bosch to provide the illustrations.
Threatened at one point in Garth Nix's Old Kingdom series: "As for you, Private, if you mention a word of this to anyone, I'll feed you to the cat thing here." The "cat thing" is Mogget, a very ancient magic... thing, who would likely make the eating painful and lasting.
Algos the Skintaker suffers the dog biting back in a particularly embarrassing fashion - paralyzed by rubble, this superhuman champion of the Dark Gods has his throat cut. By a slave. With a piece of rebar. Worse, Space Marines have special genetic enhancements that prevent blood clotting, so this incredibly humiliating end for a Proud Warrior Race Guy takes quite some time.
Warsmith Andraaz suffers possibly the nastiest, and most drawn-out, end of the lot, coupled with a Humiliation Conga. After engaging the Ork Warboss in close combat, he has his Powered Armor shut down, immobilizing him. It is then spit open, and he is pulled out of it piece by piece, all whilst the Orks laugh at him for giving a poor fight.
In the Discworld series these don't tend to happen on page, but Vetinari mentions one of his predecessors used to have people pulled apart by wild tortoises. It was not a quick death.
Although none of them happen onscreen, horrible tortures and cruel deaths keep being mentioned in Interesting Times, too, not least by the Emperor himself, who thinks it's fun.
And in Small Gods, Brutha is handcuffed to a big iron tortoise and almost roasted alive.
Discussed in Sergey Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium. The protagonist is a professional bodyguard hired by one of the most powerful men in The Empire to safely deliver his son to a remote planet. Should he succeed, the man, who is the owner of the aTan Corporation that specializes in resurrection technology, will grant him unlimited resurrections (i.e. eternal life). Should he fail, he will also grant him unlimied resurrections... only to be tortured and killed in the most painful and unusual ways possible. In fact, the man says he will hire the best torturers and writers to think of new tortures to that end. When the protagonist talk to the man's son, the boy reveals that this is not an idle threat and that a number of former bodyguards are already getting the "eternal torture" end of the deal.
In Iain M Bank's Use of Weapons the bad guy has his sister made into a chair. Her bones make the frame, and her skin is the cushion. Fortunately, we never see this happening on the page. It is truly one of the most shocking moments of the book.
There's quite a few in The Power of Five, but Raven's Gate takes the cake. The thug in the beginning, Ms. Deverill's acid bath, being crushed in the hand of your god... Yeah.
Elfangor's death in Animorphs. In one prequel novel Visser Three promised Elfangor that he would make Elfangor's death very personal. He kept his word. Visser Three transformed into a huge monster and ate Elfangor alive. The Animorphs hear Elfangor's psychic death cries and watch as pieces of Elfangor's flesh fall to the ground and are eaten by hungry Taxxon-Controllers.
In The Drowned Cities soldier boy Soa is set on fire and then eaten alive by coywolv. Not a good way to go.
In In Death Ground and The Shiva Option both by David Weber and Steve White, humans and their allies are engaged in a Bug War against the Arachnids. The Arachnids like to eat populations they conquer alive. For added horror, they tend to prefer children and will also raise sentients on ranches the way humans raise cattle and pigs. Humanity's reaction to this behavior is quitesevere.
1634: The Baltic War: One subplot surrounds Eddie Cantrell's captivity in Denmark, where he is forced to help the Danes develop diving technology. Unfortunately, they forgot to install a safety valve on their old-fashioned diving suit. After the pump fails and the diver (who was a condemned criminal) is crushed by the water pressure, the king plans to use it as a method of execution for treason and similar crimes. Anyone who has seen the Mythbusters episode with the Meatman knows why this is here.
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...
The Big One: The Great Los Angeles Earthquake: Like most natural disaster movies, many people die from falling debris, are crushed when tall buildings collapse and so forth, with some dying after several days of being trapped in rubble. Fitting the trope are a couple of examples:
Office of Emergency Management executive director Chad Spaulding (Joe Spano), who – while trying to escape the U.S. Geological Service safety bunker beneath city hall – is trapped when the safety doors seal shut, the sprinklers go off and the wiring shorts out; he is electrocuted, after which his body is crushed beneath tons of office furniture, which come crashing down as the ceiling collapses.
Main protagonist Claire Winslow's mother, Anita Parker (Bonnie Bartlett), who is within the grasp of being rescued from a disabled elevator car when another aftershock snaps the cables. The car goes crashing to the bottom of the shaft – presumably far below, and is presumably killed. Trope-making in that Anita was within a few inches of being saved, only to plunge to her death, and likely not suffer her fatal injuries, much less lose consciousness, until crashing at the very bottom of the shaft.
In Teen Wolf, it is a hunter policy to cut defeated werewolves in half so that they can't heal their injuries.
In the The Vampire Diaries Anna gets tortured by a sonic ear-bleeder device, injected with poison, and is lying on the floor feebly begging for her life when she is staked and burned.
In the episode "Villains", Willow, who has snapped as a result of Tara being killed, deals with Warren Meers, the guy who killed her, by crucifying him, sewing his lips together, using magic to slowly force a bullet (one which Warren had himself used to shoot Buffy) into his chest, and finally flaying and burning him alive. The utter cruelty of it all would cement Willow's status as the season's new Big Bad.
In the Eighth Season comics, he got better. Well, less dead.
Until the spell collapsed and he fell apart. At least the incineration (revealed to be timely teleportation) didn't leave such a mess.
Principal Flutie was literally eaten alive by some troublemakers.
Fred in Angel. Illyria liquefied her organs and turned her into a shell.
The Reavers are known to rape people to death, eat their flesh and sew their skins to their clothing. And if their victims are very, very lucky, they'll do it In That Order. Now, think about what this might mean for those who are less than lucky...
The Hands of Blue are Those Two Bad Guys who ominously pursue the Tam siblings. What they did to the Feds who only talked to the Tams in the episode "Ariel" definitely fits the trope. They use a weird ultra-sonic weapon that causes bleeding out through every orifice in your body. This is not a pleasant way to die.
Helen on Spooks was killed by first having her arm thrust into a deep fryer, after which her head was pushed into the hot grease. And then she was shot... an act which might qualify as a mercy killing. All of this happened on screen.
The Tudors, the producers seems to take pleasure in showing the all myriad ways that Renaissance England had for torturing and killing people. Needless to say, extremelyTruth in Television. One example will suffice, from the judge handing down a sentence of death: that the accused be "drawn on a hurdle through the city of London to Tyburn. There to be hanged, till you are half dead. After that cut down yet alive, your bowels out of your body and burned before you, your privy parts cut off, your head cut off, your body to be divided in four parts and your head and your body to be set at such places as the King shall assign."
Spike TV's 1000 Ways To Die is all about this trope. It doesn't shy away from including graphic images of being wrapped in freshly-killed animal skins and left to be pecked to death by vultures, to being asphyxiated by cocoa powder, to jumping from a cliff into a lake and hitting the water at an angle that causes water to rush into the rectum, rupturing the large intestine. Really the folks who play the victims don't die for real, it's just pretend.
Farscape occasionally utilized its immense prosthetic budget to come up with graphic depictions of these. The one that comes most readily to mind was the rather horrible fate of a childhood friend of Aeryn's, who was going to shoot her while the ship around them was being destroyed... only for a nearby pipe to burst and sear the skin off her face, after which she shambled around for a few seconds before dying. Not for the squeamish.◊
Stargate SG-1. The Goa'uld Marduk was so evil that his own priests conspired to kill him... by sticking him in a Sarcophagus with a nasty creature with poisonous saliva and lots of little sharp teeth. Did we mention that the Sarcophagus is capable of resurrecting the recently dead and would do its best to keep Marduk alive for a very long time (as in, centuries)?
The majority of the deaths in Supernatural. One of the most noticeable early examples is in the episode "Nightmare", where a man is decapitated by a window slamming shut.
A few other episodes with notably gross and unsettling deaths include "Malleus Maleficarum" (teeth fall out, chokes on blood), "Red Sky At Morning" (brutal bathtub drowning), "Bugs" (beetles burrow into brain), "The Magnificent Seven", and "Crossroad Blues," "Time Is On My Side," and "No Rest For The Wicked," all three for hellhounds ripping people apart, though "Time Is On My Side " also features a gross old man surgically removing the heart from his still-breathing victim. Classy. And then Season 5 happened, with two lovers eating each other to death in "My Bloody Valentine".
Just go to IMDB and pick a random episode. Chances are high that there's gonna be at least one ridiculously gory death. More recent ones are a man with the edge of a convertible's windshield jammed six inches into his face; another one where a ghost fired a nail gun at a victim and hung him up there like his eye sockets were coat hooks; a character who ate himself, a girl who literally scratched her brains out, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on.
Argentinian miniseries Epitafios is filled with these.
Happens to Captain Jack of Doctor Who and Torchwood a lot since Immortal Life Is Cheap. A few examples include being buried alive by his brother to suffocate and come back to life repeatedly for 2000 years, being blown up and very painfully regenerating from the few remaining bits, and being encased alive in concrete. Good Thing You Can Heal, indeed.
The third season has the world governments incinerating people. The problem? Everyone is immortal and, as far as anyone knows, can still feel pain even as a charred corpse.
Early Star Trek: The Next Generation had phasers that could set people on fire, some indeterminate energy weapons that stripped away the skin and flesh before disintegrating the skeleton while the faces of those who were so killed stood frozen with horrified expressions, and a two-episode character's head exploding with a good deal of gore and an alien puppet thing where his chest internals ought to have been once his ribcage is opened up.
In the episode "The Most Toys" Data's kidnapper owns a Varon-T disruptor, a weapon banned in Federation space because it tears the body apart from the inside out, resulting in a slow and excruciating death.
The first episode of Frasier has Roz tell the story of Lupe Velez, who wanted a lavish suicide and instead as she was trying to overdose she stumbled into the bathroom and goes head first into the toilet.
In "Death Watch" (third season), Commander Holbarth, the murderer of Harm's academy classmate in "Skeleton Crew", fell into the water and was crushed to death between the hull of a destroyer and the dock.
Also from Doctor Who, the Daleks' energy weapons. Word of God says that they set it at one notch just below what's required to kill their targets, so that instead of instantly dying, their victims nervous systems are burned out... which they can feel before they die.
Although it's never shown, the fate of a human who comes into contact with the blood of a Horror in GARO is one of these: 100 days after exposure, your muscles break down inside your body, your body emits a foul odor, and you suffer excruciating pain from which there is no respite. Also, anyone who is exposed to the blood of a Horror will be seen as a particularly delicious target by other Horrors, which can be a bit of a problem for anyone who doesn't happen to be associated with any Makai Knights.
Another Star Trek example, this time Star Trek: Enterprise: Although it is never shown onscreen and is simply mentioned, what happened to the crew of a Klingon ship entering the Delphic Expanse could qualify. Although not necessarily involving death at first, it is stated by Ambassador Soval that that particular Klingon crew was "anatomically inverted, their organs splayed open, and they were still alive, but they no doubt died shortly after, and it almost certainly was very unpleasant.
In Series/CSI in Las Vegas, there was a rapist who joined a cooking show with a friend of his (another rapist). The show's producer was the rape victim's vengeful sister, who proceeded to stab the man multiple times with his own knife, before dismembering parts of the man and using those parts as cooking materials for a "mystery meat" challenge. His friend was murdered by the producer as well, albeit in a less violent manner - death by asphyxiation from an allergy to almonds.
In the episode "Where There's Smoke" of CSI NY, the killer trapped his former foster mother in an elevator and started a fire right next to it, essentially cooking her to death.
Eugene Victor Tooms is a genetic mutant who kills people by ripping off their livers by bare hands while they're conscious. Even hard-boiled policemen and tough FBI agents are freaked out by these murders.
"Darkness Falls": People get killed by swarming bugs who web them up and suck all the liquids in human body while the victims are still conscious.
"The Walk": Subverted, One victim tried to commit a horrible suicide — he tried to drown himself in a boiling water, but he survived it despite all odds. The asshole of the week wouldn't let him die because he wants him to suffer.
"2Shy": Incanto needed human fat to sustain his biological needs. Lauren and about fifty other women thought they were going to kiss with a potential love interest. Instead, Virgil Incanto filled their mouth with a yellow jelly-like substance which dissolved the fat that he sucked. The victims' body then turned into slime-like substance and after that melted into liquid. One Detective who investigated the case died this way as well.
In "Sanguinarium", people get killed in gruesome ways. One lady is killed while they perform a liposuction on her and fat being sucked through a tube turns into blood. Other lady got inserted hundreds of straight pins into her stomach; she threw them up and died of blood loss. The last was saved at the last moment, but the demonic doctor got surgical instruments inside of her!
In "Kitsunegari", a man died from ingesting blue paint. He was forced to do it against his will by a Psychic-Assisted Suicide. Said Psychic was his vengeful and manipulative wife.
Laura Moser of Dexter was killed with an electric chain-saw in front of her two little children. Poor woman.
Grimm: How spinnetods kill their victims. See "spiders" in the Real Life folder.
Ser Rodrik ends up beings beheaded by Theon, but Theon botches it so it takes three swings and a kick to get his head off.
Ros gets hung from her wrists to the end of a bed and used as target practice by Joffrey, with arrows protruding from her breast and her crotch, among other places.
Talisa gets stabbed repeatedly in the womb, while pregnant.
The book's death for Oberyn Martell is bad enough—having thought he won the fight against Gregor Clegane, he gets caught off guard and has his face punched in and his brains, teeth, and eyes bashed out. The show actually manages to make this infinitely worse by actually showing Oberyn having his eyes slowly gouged out while his head is being crushed by Clegane's bare hands. He literally dies screaming in slow, horrific agony before it's interrupted by a sudden jerk from Clegane, a simultaneous eruption of blood from between his hands, and Ellaria shrieking at the sight.
Kahl Drogo pulls this off more than once, all of them for slights against his wife. The most memorable one is when he rips a man's tongue out through his neck.
Death Metal is flooded with this trope. Done by the most evil people on innocents.
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.
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:
WarhammerFantasy, 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 othersdon't.
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.
Super Meat Boy has a vast variety of deaths, including buzz saws, floating teeth monsters, salt, saws, maggots, lasers, demonic floating teeth monsters that split, and saws. And yet, special mention should be made for Dr. Fetus' death. After coming out of his suit, he is curb stomped over and over by Bandage Girl until he is nothing but a puddle. He deserved it.
Walter Sullivan in Silent Hill 4 slits his own throat with a sharpened, prison-issue spoon.
The deaths of many of his victims, e.g. Jasper being burned alive, Richard being slowly electrocuted, Andrew being impaled and drowned.
Countless children in the Water Prison starved to death when the cell doors jammed shut.
In the expansion, you can inflict this to numerous people by sucking their souls out and eating them.
Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain gives you several lovely options for inflicting deaths like these on your enemies (or even random villagers), with "suck the blood out of their wounds from 10 feet away" being the most mundane. Other highlights include instantly flaying their flesh from their bones, and crushing their bodies into the size of a marble.
Oh, let's not stop there! Soul Reaver 1 gave us the horror that was Melchiah's "Death by spinny blades of doom descend on you from the ceiling."
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.
No More Heroes features - in cutscenes - disembowelment, vertical bisection, suicide by grenade-in-mouth, another vertical bisection followed by being blown up, an Eye Scream followed by another vertical bisection performed by a huge buzzsaw, being TRISECTED, and a fist shoved through somebody's sternum (but Travis survives that last one) along with the usual beheadings and impalement. There's also Cranberry Chocolate Sundae, a Limit Break based on the concept of killing as many Mooks this way as possible.
And the sequel has - decapitation, horizontal evisceration, head explosion, being chopped to pieces, arms being chopped off followed by decapitation, then having the still living head being sliced to bits, another decapitation with the same result, being stabbed through the head, the having the blade grind into the skull, machine gunned, disembowelment, suffocation, and finally being sliced in half from diving at Travis.
To go into detail, while you can inflict some very esoteric deaths on normal enemies (catapulting to the moon or hitting their head off with a golf club, for instance), here's how Jack takes care of the bosses.
* Little Eddie': Savagely thrashed with his own Epic Flail, which is then used to completely crush his head. * Jude the Dude: Shot repeatedly until literally nothing of him was left. A removed version had Jack shove his guns up his ass before shooting him into the sky. * Von Twirlenkiller: Punched to death with one of his own arms. * Rinrin: Eaten by a large animatronic statue. * Shogun: Impaled through the crotch by a spiked roof fixture. (Alternatively, bisected by his own dual chainsaw) * Yokozuna: Used for fireworks. * The Shamans: Chained to Jack's bike and dragged along the ground. * Frank: Killed by his own hand cranked electric chair. * Elise: Spanked to death. * Kojack: Exploded by his own bike. * The Masters: One is impaled by Jack and forced to use his powers to toss the other around, then they're thrown together and kind of explode. * Martin: Also exploded. * The Black Baron: Used for Man Darts.
In Space Quest III, getting shot by the pirates will trap you in a solid block of green jello. For not heeding your janitorial duties, death by suffocation is just desserts.
The endodroid in Space Quest VI will eagerly tear all of Roger's internal organs out of his body.
Mortal Kombat and every other fighting game with fatalities in it exist by this trope. Even characters that are supposed to be the good guys show remarkable cruelty.
In Gears of War 2, rookie Benjamin Carmine (along with the rest of his squad) are swallowed, helicopter and all, by a gigantic riftworm. The rest of the squad survives. Carmine falls victim to what can only be described as "digestion parasites" and is half-melted/eaten alive.
Most of the multiplayer executions count as well: Being chainsawed into pieces (sometimes by more than one person at at time), being curb-stomped, and being roasted with a flamethrower are just some of the ways to take out a downed enemy.
Anyone killed by Alma in FEAR. Doug Holiday, and later Jin Sun-Kwon are mangled and thrown around like Garry's Mod puppets by invisible monsters. Half of The Squad in FEAR 2 endure a similar rag-doll treatment before being shredded by black spectral tentacles. The Delta Force escorts get off lightly - Alma just liquefies the flesh off their bones.
Obok has now gone from a Memetic Badass to an Unperson thanks to one particularly cruel death inflicted on an elven child: He made her fight to the death against another child, and when she "won" he proceeded to rape her until she bled to death.Note His player modified the game files to give them the anatomy needed for the rape. So horrified were the readers that this story played a huge part in the deletion of a thread dedicated to cruel and (debatably) funny things the players did.
The fate of those taken by the Collectors in Mass Effect 2: being rendered down into goo by nanites while conscious and screaming and leaving bloody smears as you scrabble at the glass of your pod. Lovely.
Some of the abilities at Shepard and crew's disposal are surprisingly brutal, particularly the biotic ones. Warp is implied to rip the target apart on a molecular level.
Special note goes to how Kratos deals with Helios in III, viscerally tearing off his head with his bare hands right square in front of the camera as an interactive QTE. Not even Mortal Kombat goes to such detail of showing how brutal it is to remove someone's head with one's hands.
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 one of Madou Souhei Kleinhasa's bad endings, Roze ends up being raped to death. Or So I Heard.
BloodRayne allows the player to do a variety of these frequently — Carnage kills begin with a chained harpoon catch and end in a fling into one or more impaling objects (or electrocution, fire, or industrial meat grinders.) In one kick move, Rayne jumps onto an opponent's shoulders, catching the neck between her feet, then flips forward to stomp the head into the ground. But the most splatteriffic is when she lifts an enemy by one impaling blade, spins them in the air with a flick of the other then lets the edge of it hack off all limbs and head before throwing the pruned torso away.
Shove them into a cookie-cutting machine and watch the slicers go crazy with your victim's body...
The old vector graphics game, Another World, is practically made out of this trope. Not only does everything on the planet want to kill him, it wants to kill him in the most gruesome way possible. Roll the clip!
An early level in Rise of the Triad starts with a glass wall and a group of enemy soldiers in a wide hallway on the other side of it. The game kindly warns you of the danger of this hallway (posts lined with rapidly spinning blades, moving along interlaced tracks in the floor) by pureeing the hapless guards between the two converging rows of spinblades while you watch from your safe position on the other side of the (now-bloodied) window. See it here. Yes, that is a flying eyeball.
Golden Sun: Dark Dawn has Volecheck planning to execute two prisoners by boiling them alive... as a public execution at the full moon festival. One of the condemned is a little girl. Even some of the city folk actually look forward to this event. Luckily, your party manages to prevent this from happening.
Dead Space. The death scenes are certainly enough to qualify, in Dead Space 2 they just get worse. Poor Isaac...
In Syphon Filter, if you hold the taser on someone for too long, they burn to death, often screaming.
Ao Oni: Most versions have some variation of this, including head-chomp, being used as an exercise mat and being swallowed whole implied, via Version 6.23's ending). Also, South Park-mode has particularly brutal death scenes.
The first game in the series is quite mundane with its death scenes, but one that stands out is what happens if you fail to pick up the ham before getting locked in the shed; Simon Barrows will eat Jennifer instead. Also, some people theorize that the reason no blood is seen on Laura (as well as her face being hidden) in her shower death scene is because she was scalded to death with hot water (the 10-page manga changes this to her being stabbed while hung in the shower).
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.
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.
Some of the deaths in Brain Dead 13 may vary, from being torn apart vertically at the eyes by Fritz, to getting your own skull knocked off of your head.
In Muv-Luv Alternative, there's the infamous CHOMP scene where Marimo has her head bitten in half by a Soldier-class BETA. It's notable for being extremely disturbing to the player. But that's not all for that particular death... Takeru proceeds to run away to the world of "Extra", where Marimo is still alive... until she's promptly killed by having her head shoved into a meat grinder.
Of course, considering Kill 'em All, Marimo's death is far from the only case of this trope showing up, it's just the most well known.
Max Payne 3: The Cracha Preto horribly murder Marcelo by necklacing for no real reason, when a gun or knife would have sufficed. Victims of necklacing executions can live for over fifteen minutes after ignition.
Prototype has several of these, but notable in the sequel is the Tendril power. The primary attack attaches tendrils to the victim's legs and arms, which attach to the nearest wall or ceiling. They then pull, tearing the victim into two or three. The tendrils and the body stays where they are, meaning that you can have a room full of grisly limbs and black tentacles hanging around everywhere. No puppet jokes, please.
Any of the death cutscenes in The Last of Us. The runners, stalkers and clickers tear out Joel/Ellie's jugular with their teeth, and the bloaters grab Joel by the head and pull his jaw apart with their hands.
In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, a hapless monkey is accused of kidnapping the Deku Princess. Her father tortures him for a confession by repeatedly dipping him into a pot of boiling water. Each time Link visits him the monkey gets dipped again. Do this too many times and the monkey is boiled to death.
Appears frequently in BioShock; for example, a Big Daddy can kill you by running you through with a giant drill. The plasmids that the player character uses can do this as well, such as sending killer bees at your enemies with the Swarm plasmid, burning them alive with the Incinerate plasmid, or shooting electricity at them when they are standing in water with the Electricity plasmid.
One of the most disturbing deaths is that of Andrew Ryan. After just finding out you've been mind-controlled the entire game and the guy who has been trying to kill you this whole time is your father, he asks you oh so kindly if you would assist in Ryan's suicide. You could technically have just whipped out your revolver and put a bullet in his brain to make it more humane, but nope, he decides to have you beat his face in with a golfclub, and doesn't even go down until three more brutal whacks to the cranium, while his face becomes more horrifyingly mangled and distorted, as he lets out a few more disturbingly garbled screams for you to obey. Top it off with part of the golfclub breaking off and lodging into his cranium with a final spurt of blood.
In Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance gives you Blade Mode will allows you to slice your opponents to ribbons. The main purpose of this is to slice them open so you can rip out their spine.''
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.
Injustice: Gods Among Us has Regime!Shazam's death. To clarify: Regime!Superman starts off by choking him. When Regime!Shazam attempts to counter by summoning his magic lightning with "Shazam!", Regime!Superman cuts him off by freezing his mouth and throat shut. Then Regime!Superman uses his heat vision to roast through Regime!Shazam's skull to the other side.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has an off-screen example from the Great War between the Empire and the Aldmeri Dominion. When the Empire crushed the Dominion at the Battle of the Red Ring, Emperor Titus Mede II captured the Aldmeri general, hung him from the top of the White-Gold Tower, and kept him alive for thirty-three days. On the thirty-fourth day, he finally expired and was carried away by a winged daedra. Given that this general was responsible for the sack of the Imperial City and related atrocities... He kind of deserved it.
Subverted in Professor Layton Vs Ace Attorney: Any young girl accused of witchcraft is sealed in a steel cage that looks disturbingly similar to an Iron Maiden, then the cage is lowered into a pit of flames. Just to drive the cruelty of it home, all three times this happens on-screen are FMVs, which means you see and hear their terrified begging for help until the cage closing in cuts them off. Luckily for the victims, the fire is an illusion, and the accused can leave the cage through a trap door and are carted off to a forest outside of town.
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. Sean is killed by firing squad. But that's small potatoes compared to the last two. 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. Just... damn, Chris.
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.
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.
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.
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 Discworldelves.
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 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 PyrrhicTina 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.
Family Guy: A large number of deaths happen this way, in ways that are virtually indescribable.
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 safe on the day two crooks use nitroglycerin to blow open the safe and rob it of its contents. "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.
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.
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.
A famous if possibly apocrypha story holds that in 1218, Inalchuq, governor of the Central Asian city of Otrar for the Khwarezmian Empire, arrested a trade caravan from some upstart nomad empire to Khwarezm's east. Unfortunately for Inalchuq and Khwarezm, this caravan came from the Mongols; the leader of the empire was a fellow calling himself Genghis Khan, and he did not take kindly to breaches of Sacred Hospitality. The Mongols, of course, proceeded to conquer Khwarezm (and much else), and as for Inalchuq? He had molten silver poured down his ears and throat.
Manius Aquillius of Rome was killed by having molten gold poured down his throat. (Counts as a Karmic Death since the Romans had systematically destroyed and milked Pontus and the surrounding area in their pursuit of money.)
Some stories claim the Aztecs poured molten gold down Spanish throats after Montezuma was killed. Doesn't help that Cortez told the Aztecs they wanted the gold because they had a disease that only gold could cure.
This is relatively mundane compared to their... creative methods of Human Sacrifice. Besides the famous "priests rip out lots and lots of peoples' hearts on top of a pyramid"note the festival of the warrior god Huitzilopochtli was the biggest example of this, and the similarly mundane burning to deathnote Xiuhtecuhtli, the god of fire, they had ceremonies involving flaying alive and priests wearing the victim's skinnote Xipe Totec and Chicomecoatl, the god and goddess of corn and death by Hopeless Boss Fightnote Tezcatlipoca, the god of darkness, chaos, slaves, and rulership, among other things. An honorable mention should also go to the festival of the rain god Tlaloc; while his sacrifices were "only" immolated, he required that they be a) children and b) crying.
The Roman emperor Valerian I was captured at the Battle of Edessa by the Persian King Shapur I. At first, Shapur merely used Valerian as a human footstool. However, when Shapur grew tired of this game, he had Valerian flayed alive, then stuffed his skin with dung and straw and had it put on display in one of the larger temples in his capital.
King Edward II of England was assassinated by way of first being crushed between two heavy mattresses and then having a red-hot branding iron shoved as far up the King's rectal passage as it could be pushed. The person who arranged this murder? Edward's wife, Isabella. It's generally seen as a particularly cruel Take That since Edward was notorious for his passion for a male courtier. The courtier in question, Hugh Despenser the Younger, was eventually drawn and quartered.
George, Duke of Clarence, brother of King Edward IV of England, was drowned in a large barrel of malmsey (a sweet wine) in 1478.
Often used in games of "Would You Rather..." where you have to answer hypothetical questions such as "Would you rather be eaten by rats or drown in urine?" usually with a debate of the contrasting options and why one would be preferable to the other. The game doesn't exclusively use horrible ways to die but it's a common one, along with unappealing but non-deadly fates, disgusting things to eat/do and unattractive people to have sex with.
Famed astronomer Tycho Brahe supposedly died after becoming unable to urinate.
Vlad the Impaler caused a lot of these, as his name would indicate. His favorite punishment for any and all crimes in his kingdom was impalement. If done "correctly" it can take an impaled victim up to three days to die of a superinfection due to the stake tearing the intestinal wall and letting all the bacteria into the rest of the body. There's a reason he's considered the inspiration for Dracula.
Not all crimes. Women who had pre-marital sex (a rather serious crime in those days) were flayed alive, publically, according to some stories about him. And there were numerous other stories about other incredibly cruel - yet creative - ways he tortured people to death. (There was one famous story about how he was insulted by Turkish ambassadors who refused to remove their turbans in his presence. When they claimed it was tradition for them never to do so, he responded by having a servant nail the turbans to their heads. The story doesn't say whether or not they survived.)
And the method he used to impale people was pretty gruesome. He'd use a pole with a ball on one end and a spike on the other, and stick it through people's... well, let's just say it's pretty gross.
The medieval and early modern English punishment of hanging, drawing, and quartering was, more or less, this. Reserved for commoner men who had committed high treason (female commoners were simply burned at the stake for reasons of public decency and nobles of both sexes were beheaded), hanging, drawing, and quartering was more or less Exactly What It Says on the Tin...with a few additions.
The condemned's arms and legs were then harnessed to several horses, which would proceed to pull in opposite directions. The objective here was to literally have his limbs ripped off by the horses, although if it was taking too long—and it could take hours—the executioner might help the horses along with an ax.
Finally, the condemned's torso would be burned at the stake. Note that the last person to receive this punishment (Robert-François Damiens, who had attempted to kill Louis XV in 1757) was still alive when the burning started. (His last words, by the way? After waking up and before the pincers he said, "La journée sera rude"—"The day will be hard". Will it ever...)
No wonder that when Revolution came, the new government abolished all the forms of execution from the Ancien Régime and replaced them with the guillotine.
Ancient Romans frowned on patricide. After a good scourging, they would tie the accused in a burlap sack with a dog, a rooster, a monkey and a snake, then throw the whole sack into a river.
A Colombian necktie is a form of gangland execution used by mobsters and drug lords when they want to scare someone the victim is associated with. (As the name suggests, the first known use of it was in Colombia, the victim being civil war leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Ayala in 1948). The victim’s throat is cut vertically, and then the killer pulls his tongue out through the wound, leaving him to bleed to death. (It’s pretty gruesome, and as you might expect, leaves an unsubtle message to whoever finds the body.)
Ancient Greece had three timelessly great dramatists, all of whom died in memorable ways. Euripides was torn to pieces by a pack of dogs; Sophocles choked on a grape, and Aeschylus was killed by a tortoise. (Specifically, by a tortoise that was dropped on his head by an eagle who, apparently, mistook his bald spot for a rock.)
This was the whole purpose of crucifixion. Not only did the Romans have to invent a whole new word to describe the pain of having nails driven through one's medial nerves ("excruciating" comes from ex crucia, "out of the cross"), but the victims were put up on display for everyone naked while they suffocated to death, probably crying in agony and pleading for their lives. On top of everything else, the victims were viciously scourged with studded whips just beforehand. The Romans themselves considered crucifixion so terrible that it was illegal for citizens to be crucified.
Interestingly, crucifixion is still today theoretically available in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Sudan. However, of these countries, only Saudi Arabia is recorded to have ever actually applied the punishment, and usually as a method of displaying the dead body of the criminal (e.g. an armed robber put up on a cross after being beheaded). The others prefer hanging for most executions; Saudi Arabia for its part usually prefers beheading with a sharp sword.
While death by hanging may be bad enough, there was a time when it was much worse. Hanging someone by the gallows in history (see: Haman from The Bible) involved chopping down a tree and shaving (most) of the branches off so it resembled a huge spike. They then sharpened the end of the top and ran the condemned through. To top it off, they then hoisted the entire tree on it's end so that the victim was all the way at the top where he eventually slid down the tree. Sorta like this at 1:50. With a tree trunk.
In ancient China during dynastic times, one of the most cruel and unusual ways to die was "Death By A Thousand Cuts", or lingchi. There are variations, but one familiar example is the victim would be immobilized and the executioner would start cutting his skin off, bit by bit, making sure the victim is conscious and, more importantly, alive during this whole time (so no cheating by cutting the arteries and letting him bleed out). Skill is rewarded for keeping the victim alive as long as possible. The longest execution in this way on record was on an evil eunuch, while allegedly took 3 days and 3,357 cuts.
That said, for the most part, the families of people sentenced to this punishment tended to pay of the executioner to end it quick, with much of the slicing done postmortem.
The Assyrians used them as a tool of war and diplomacy. The reliefs of the palace of Assurnasirpal II about the fate of rebels (decapitations, flaying, mutilations and all that kind of cute stuff) were probably made to scare enemy ambassadors.
The Vikings may have performed the "Blood Eagle" or "Butterfly Cut" - cracking the victim's ribs from the back and pulling out his lungs, and spreading them out like wings behind him. ** There is some question as to whether or not the procedure was ever actually performed, or is even possible.
This was also the punishment of choice for Mongol princes who rebelled against the Great Khan (and lost), such as Ariq Boke, since the blood kin of Genghis Khan were considered holy.
There is a likely apocryphal tale of an assassin who attempted to kill a Dutch royal in the 1700s. He was stuffed into a barrel along with hundreds of rusty nails, then repeatedly rolled down the steepest hill to be found. Not a pleasant way to go.
Pierre Mulele. Mobuto (dictator of Zaire at the time) tricked him into returning to Zaire and had him tortured to death: his eyes gouged, genitals ripped off and his limbs cut off one at a time all while he was alive.
The Cheka in the early days of Soviet Russia:
Victims were reportedly skinned alive, scalped, "crowned" with barbed wire, impaled, crucified, hanged, stoned to death, tied to planks and pushed slowly into furnaces or tanks of boiling water, and rolled around naked in internally nail-studded barrels. Chekists reportedly poured water on naked prisoners in the winter-bound streets until they became living ice statues. Others reportedly beheaded their victims by twisting their necks until their heads could be torn off. The Chinese Cheka detachments stationed in Kiev reportedly would attach an iron tube to the torso of a bound victim and insert a rat into the other end which was then closed off with wire netting. The tube was then held over a flame until the rat began gnawing through the victim's guts in an effort to escape. Anton Denikin's investigation discovered corpses whose lungs, throats, and mouths had been packed with earth.
The Whites (and other sides, like Anarchists or simply local bandits who proliferated in the lawless atmosphere of the times) were hardly better. The reports of both sides atrocities read like a record of some sort of a cruelty contest. One has to take into an account that both were heavily Unreliable Narrators with a lot of incentive to demonize the other side...
Elizabeth Bathory was punished for her crimes by being sealed in her room, with only a small window in the wall that used to be her doorway from which a guard would give her her meals. She actually lived like this for a few years before finally dying.
Cruel and unusual? Really?! Pretty mundane compared to some of the things she allegedly did to her victims: Cooking them alive, biting their throats out, locking them in spike-filled cages which were then swung about on pulley systems...To name a few of the TAME ones.
Because Elizabeth had many important relatives, her execution (which was originally suggested by King Matthias of Hungary) would generate too much negative effects amongst the nobility. So, she was, at first placed under house arrest. When the king finally visited her, and saw the extent of her evil, he had her sealed in that room for four years. As for living in a room for four years being mundane a demise compared to, say, being poked to death with red hot pokers... Well, think about it: imagine, having no human contact for four years, other than whomever it is who brings your food through a slot... No one to talk to, no one to compliment your wondrous beauty that cost you so many lives and so much of your own sanity to preserve... That is, no one to talk to other than the furniture or the piles of your own excrement.
Considering that this was a woman who was accused of bathing in the virgins' blood to preserve her youth (such that she was nicknamed the Blood Countess) and was possibly even an cannibal (well before the term and practice caught onto European society), one would think that the isolation from human contact was not only a fitting if cruel punishment, but also a necessity toward protecting any more potential victims.
Once King Olaf of Norway became a Christian in the late 10th Century, he was very enthusiastic about spreading the Gospel of the loving and merciful Prince of Peace:
One famed Viking lord, Raud, had an adder shoved down his throat when he refused to accept Christ; another, Eyvind Kinrifa, was tortured to death with a pan of glowing coals upon his belly.
The Mongols are said to have forced an Arab prince, al-Kamil, to eat his own flesh, slice by slice, until death relieved him of the task. Saddam Hussein's regime is also said to have done this to a Kuwaiti woman during the Gulf War.
Chemical weapons such as blister agents are rather ineffective at killing yet have been used in WW1 and the Iran-Iraq war. Mustard gas causes exposed skin to blister and peel off, while inhaled gas does the same to your lungs. However, despite the horrific injuries, it often took victims days to die, sometimes from drowning in the bile that gathered in their lungs.
Northern Australians like to come up with an incredibly creative range of methods of killing cane toads; being pests on the level of rabbits in Australia, this makes sense. Running them over in a car, cricket bats, golf clubs, broom handles with nails in them, air pumps, paracetamol, firecrackers, freezing, antiseptic spray, cans of deodorant with cigarette lighters, tubs of salt, gumboots, bricks, other toads... Considering how durable the things are and just how overpopulated the species is, they've certainly got plenty on which to practice.
Johnny Cash's brother apparently died several days after a particularly nasty industrial accident involving a table saw.
There was once a torture device known as a Judas Cradle, which comprised of a small pyramid on legs. You would be tied over it with your legs spread and lowered downward as the Cradle went... places.
Necklacing. Someone fills a rubber tire with a flammable liquid like petroleum, forces it around your chest and arms, then lights it on fire. It may take up to twenty minutes before the person dies. Popular in South Africa in the 1980s and 1990s and in Haiti from 1986-1990, during the transition to democracy.
The Breaking Wheel, variations of which have been used since ancient times. The victim was strapped to a wooden or metal wheel. Then the executioner broke their limbs with a large iron club until the death blow—a hard hit to the chest—was given. Most died before the death blow was given. If that wasn't bad enough, the victim was tortured beforehand or even tortured while on the wheel. Methods of torture included having your penis or nipples ripped off with a hot clamp. Variations of the breaking wheel include Saint Catherine's Wheel (being rolled over spikes), being tied to the rim and rolled down a hill or around the city square, and being roasted over a fire. Definitely unpleasant.
The Finnish version of this, called teilaus was to first break all the bones and then revolve the wheel around so that the broken bone heads would cause internal hemorrhage, the victim slowly bleeding to death. In today's colloquial Finnish, teilaus means a particularly nasty rejection, critique or review.
A person struck by a subway train, either from an accidental fall or more likely from a suicide attempt, not infrequently ends up dragged between the train and the station platform. When the train comes to a stop, the hapless victim's midsection is compressed almost flat, in most cases there being only about an inch of clearance between the train and the platform edge. Most or all of the internal organs are destroyed and all bones of the pelvis are smashed into dust. The spine is usually severed in multiple places, and quite often the victim's upper body and legs are facing in different directions. The worst part - the victim is alive and often lucid. The pressure between the train and the platform acts as a giant tourniquet, forcing blood into the upper body and keeping the victim's brain and heart functioning. The *really* worst part is that there is no hope whatsoever of survival. As soon as rescuers release the pressure, by using jacks or airbags to push the train away from the platform, the most of the victim's blood (and often the remains of his or her internal organs) will go gushing onto the tracks, with death following in seconds.
Spiders inflict this on their prey. Spiders don't just suck the liquids out. They inject the prey with acid, which dissolves the bug's insides. They then suck out the resulting goop.
Lobsters get boiled alive... but this is a merciful death compared to how you broil lobsters; tie their claws down, slit them open with a knife and then put them into the oven while they're still alive.
This is actually a misconception. Lobsters don't feel pain from heat as we do. That "screeching" that people hear from boiling lobsters is actually steam escaping from their shells. The sensations they feel during the act are more akin to what humans feel during heatstroke.
If you're still about to swear off lobster forever, a simple Mercy Kill is to put them in the freezer for five to ten minutes.
One of the methods used to hunt the now extinct Passenger Pigeon was to capture one and use it as a decoy. The method of turning the captured pigeon into a decoy was to sew its eyes shut and set it free near a pigeon nesting area. Being blind, the pigeon would flap about, drawing the attention of the nesting birds. Hunters would then capture the rest of the birds with nets, and kill them by crushing their skulls using their own hands.
In an example from the natural world, a six-foot long alligator ended up running into an invasive thirteen-foot reticulated python in the Florida Everglades. The python ended up winning the ensuing battle and swallowed the alligator whole. Sometime later, either due to swallowing a prey item that was too large, or the alligator being still alive and clawing at the python's insides in an attempt to escape, the python's abdomen burst. Both reptiles were found dead, half of the alligator still protruding out of half of the burst-open python.
Gruffydd ap Llewlyn, one of the last native Princes of Wales, was taken prisoner by the English and attempted to escape by climbing down a rope ladder made from tying bedsheets together. He fell, and was found dead in the courtyard the next day with his head essentially crammed down into his neck cavity from the impact. He was succeeded as Prince by his elder son, Llewlyn ap Gruffydd, who was betrayed to the English by his younger half-brother Dafydd ap Gruffydd. Dafydd's reward for his crimes was to be the first person in recorded history to be hung, drawn, and quartered; Llewlyn at least died in battle and didn't suffer.
Josef Stalin had people brainwashed to the point that they signed a document saying that they deserved their death sentence and then were shot.
The Brazen Bull, an ancient Greek device. The victim was placed inside a giant hollow metal bull and a fire was lit underneath it. The result was a lot like a modern oven. The device was designed to amplify the victim's screams into something like a bull's sound.
Scaphism was a particularly cruel method of execution practiced by the ancient Persians. The victim was stripped naked and placed between two hollowed-out boats or tree trunks like a casket with only his or her head, hands and feet sticking out; then force-fed enough milk and honey to result in diarrhea, as well as having honey smeared on the exposed face, hands and feet to attract insects to them before being left floating in a stagnant pond or out in the sun. The person's filth would accumulate within the container and attract more bugs to eat and breed in his or her flesh, which would become increasingly gangrenous. Death in this fashion, which often came about in a matter of days to weeks and was lingering and horrible, usually came about as a result of dehydration, starvation and septic shock.
Considering that the Persians were, generally speaking, one of the nicer empires to be ruled by (they let every community run its own business as long as they didn't rebel and paid their taxes on time, and even then, the punishment for rebellion was beheading for the rebel leaders and the punishment for tax evasion was higher taxes), one had to really piss them off to get such a punishment.
As a rule of thumb, most animals don't give a damn about how they kill their prey, which can result in some deaths being quite cruel indeed (like hawks, who prefer to drop prey from a height to splatter them). Scavengers are even worse: One of the reasons Medieval weapons were built with spiked ends were to Mercy Kill enemy soldiers, because scavengers didn't care if their prey was dead as long as it was unable to fight back, resulting in the fallen being eaten alive.
Sonderabteilung Lola, a particularly nasty branch of Les Collaborateurs in Nazi-occupied Norway, reputedly executed resistance fighters by throwing them into an empty room covered with motor oil (or some other lubricant) and broken glass.
In World War 2, the Japanese military had a research unit called Unit 731 that was notorious for inflicting horrible deaths on the Chinese civilian population. These deaths often included vivisection while still alive, weapons testing with conventional weapons, biological and chemical weapons testing, and burned to death with flame throwers.
When you try to kill a bug, but it barely survives and you don't notice. That poor fly is lying on the pavement, unable to fly or do anything other than wiggle its legs, until either someone kills it properly or it dies on its own of starvation. Luckily for bugs, they have very simple nervous systems and don't feel pain the way humans do — but try telling that to your imagination.