Death by Gluttony
"If I eat one more piece of pie, I'll die!
If I can't have one more piece of pie, I'll die!
So since it's all decided I must die,
I might as well have one more piece of pie.
MMM — OOOH — MY!
Chomp — Gulp — 'Bye."Big Eater is a common trope in fiction, but in real life even this behavior is not without its dark side. Forcing oneself to eat way too much in one sitting can cause one's stomach to rupture, which has very unpleasant consequences. In real life chances of survival are 50-50, but in a fictional work it's usually portrayed as being lethal. Sometimes in fiction, the person's body bursts, spilling out their stomach contents and entrails. This grossly exaggerated variation is usually Played for Laughs and by extension not always lethal. Compare Balloon Belly. May turn into a case of Death by Irony, particularly since the entire point of eating is to keep oneself alive. For an extremely unsympathetic gluttonous character this may be used as a Karmic Death as a way to have their biggest vice bite them in the ass, so to speak.
—Shel Silverstein, "Pie Problem"
As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.
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Anime and Manga
- Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist almost dies when he eats Ed, Ling and Envy, and they get out. He gets better. Then he died at his brother's gluttonous urge.
- Also Yakon from Dragon Ball Z dies when eating too much of Goku's Super Saiyan energy.
- Naruto uses his Shadow Clone Jutsu to induce this on a large snake that had eaten him.
- In a Dylan Dog story, he and other six people representing the Seven Sins are invited in a creepy mansion. The Gluttonous victim literally explodes after eating a mint candy after a gigantic meal. Justified, as Dylan put a bomb in that candy.
- According to Carl Barks, Gladstone Gander's incredible luck runs in the family - in fact, his parents died of overeating at a free picnic. Don Rosa, who usually cleaves very close to Barks' backstories, decided that they died another way, if only because that particular method of death isn't the sort of thing you could depict in a comic read by children.
- Also, one of Scrooge's ancestors, Sir Roast McDuck, "died of overeating after robbing the king's pantry".
- The Tales From the Crypt story "Telescope" has a starving man on a desert island who tries to eat a rat when it's busy eating a gull that swooped down for a fish. Shortly thereafter he's eaten by a shark. The final panel, when some fishermen catch the shark, explains the title as the head of each creature is hanging out of the mouth of the one that ate it!
- The serial killer in the Australian gorn flick Feed kills his victims via this method, except he uses his plus-size pornography business as a front. A pretty convoluted way to go about it, I dare say. It turns out that he's reliving the day he murdered his mother, who was also obese.
- Monty Pythons The Meaning Of Life: Mr Creosote REALLY shouldn't have had that last thin mint, even if it was just "wafer-thin". He survives, somehow.
- In Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror (yes, he produced another horror flick), a redneck couple is forced to live with some black war veterans in a parody of houseguest reality shows. The vets finally have enough and force-feed the wife caviar (using a vacuum cleaner), causing her stomach to burst. (The husband is dispatched by other means.)
- The Gluttony victim in Se7en is forced to eat spaghetti until he passes out, at which point the killer kicks his stomach and it bursts.
- In Spaceballs, Lone Star and Barf learn from a news broadcast that crime lord Pizza the Hutt (to whom they owe 1 million space-bucks) recently became trapped in his limousine and ate himself to death. Since he's an anthropomorphic pizza alien, make of it what you will.
- In the 1973 film La Grande Bouffe (The Great Feed) four friends eat themselves to death on purpose.
- The upwardly mobile villain of The Boxtrolls, Archibald Snatcher, is obsessed with cheese-eating as a sign of status even though he has a violent allergy that causes him to swell up and develop a nasty rash. At the film's end, he blackmails his way into Lord Portley-Rind's tasting-room and, despite already suffering from a nasty "cheese fit" after landing on a giant wheel of Brie, devours a sample of Portley-Rind's rarest cheese. After a Delayed Reaction long enough for Snatcher to feign cheese-expertise, a Distant Reaction Shot shows he messily exploded in a cloud of cheese-y mist.
- Played with in The Zombie Survival Guide. Since zombies don't digest the flesh that they eat, it will eventually force itself out the other way or, usually, burst out of their stomach. Of course they're already dead, but still.
- In the novel The Natural, Roy has an insatiable appetite that finally comes back to bite him; after devouring 6 cheeseburgers for a midnight snack, his stomach finally gives out (it's unclear what exactly happened, but it doesn't seem like it actually ruptured). He was rushed to the hospital and ended up surviving, but it severely hurt the team's chances of winning the final game.
- In Monday begins on Saturday by the Strugatsky Brothers there is "A model of a Human unsatisfied by gluttony", which eats whatever it can reach (including two tons of fish) until literally exploding into pieces.
- While the manner of Ungoliant's death in The Silmarillion is uncertain, the text suggests that, given her gluttonous nature, she probably died trying to eat herself.
Live Action TV
- Happened to a man in CSI who had a medical condition known as 'Prader Willi Syndrome' that prevented the signals his stomach sent to say it was full from reaching his brain, making him feel starving all the time even with a full stomach and caused him to literally eat himself to death.
- 1000 Ways To Die has a bulimic model die this way in one episode.
- Another episode had a imprisoned terrorist who starved himself so he would be thin enough to slip through the bars. He then pigged out at a celebratory feast and died of refeeding syndrome (see Real Life below).
- In the finale of the Spanish soap Saramandai, Dona Redonda (literally, "Round Woman"), a character who is constantly seen eating, finally swells up and explodes, leaving behind a rainbow-colored crater.
- Played for horror in the Supernatural season 5 episode "My Bloody Valentine". The Horseman Famine compels a town full of people to eat and drink themselves to death in truly horrific ways. A young couple eat each other to death while having sex. One man binges on Twinkies until he can't swallow anymore, at which point he starts shoving them down his throat with a toilet brush. Another man wants fries so badly he shoves his hands and then his face into a fryer where the fries are still cooking. Even Castiel, an angel who doesn't feel hunger, is compelled by Famine's presence to devour raw meat off the floor. Eventually Famine itself is defeated the same way: When he fails to tempt Sam with the blood of several demons, Famine eats the demons himself. Sam then exorcises the demons, ripping them right out of Famine's guts.
- In the "Reichenbach Fall", the season two finale of Sherlock, children are forced to eat mercury laced candies or starve.
- Mythbusters investigated an Urban Legend about this happening when one eats Pop Rocks and Cola, by feeding them into a pig's stomach mounted onto a model human skeleton. Normal quantities had no appreciable effect. Larger quantities produced a lot of gas (which would result in bloating and discomfort), but since the gas has... avenues of escape, no explosions. The only way to have this happen from Pop Rocks and Cola? If the stomach is clamped up at both the esophageal and duodenal end...which normally doesn't happen in Real Life. So, at least this variation is busted.
- This is one of the many deaths suffered by Sambo in the schoolyard song "More Work for the Undertaker":
Sambo had an uncle, an uncle very rich
One day he said to Sambo "I'll give you two and six"
Sambo feeling thirsty, went in to a shop
Ten lemonades and ten ginger beers, and then he went off pop.
- This is inverted in Vitalic's "Stamina." Customers of a new weight loss drug are found dead while exercising; the lead detective of the case tries some himself, and soon finds himself hallucinating junk food: the same fate which killed the victims (One woman died reaching out for jelly beans while on a stationary bike; another man saw Twinkies and plunged to his death). The detective resists temptation, then gets into a fistfight with a malevolent burger man.
- Ironically averted in the Vocaloid song "Evil Food Eater Conchita". The titular Conchita constantly indulges in rather... unique banquets (which include such delicacies as her chef, her servant, her maid, and all of the people in her mansion), and yet throughout the PV, she's never seen to have gained any weight or experienced other adverse side effects of overeating. What does kill her as a result of her gluttony is, after she's eaten everything and everyone in her mansion, her compulsion to eat herself.
- In The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, Jack dies eating all he can eat and then some more. The chorus then praises him for having died fearlessly and with a smile on his face.
- Blood worms in World of Warcraft feed on blood until they explode, healing people nearby in what is undoubtedly the game's most Squicktastic healing mechanism.
- Darlene Fleischermacher, one of the seven psychopaths in Dead Rising 3, epitomizes the sin of Gluttony. She is an optional enemy, challenged only because she is defending an all-you-can-eat restaurant to the death. However, this proves to be Darlene's undoing when her motorized scooter tips backwards, pinning her beneath the handlebars. Her irritable belly, already engorged to impossible size, rebels from being shook up, and the scooter prevents her from freeing herself. She ends up choking to death on her own vomit.
- In the HD version of Ghostbusters game the first ghost you fight committed suicide this way.
- In NetHack, eating anything, no matter how insubstantial, when satiated carries the risk of choking to death over your food. Just for Pun, polymorphing into a metallivorous creature and gorging on too much gold makes the cause of death "eating too rich a meal."
- Mr. Luggs from Luigi's Mansion ate himself to death and continues to eat more even as a ghost.
- Melvin Underbelly from Overlord. Not so much at first, but in the expansion, you find in trapped in an Ironic Hell where he's given food until he explodes and can't control himself to stop, only to be revived over and over again. Using Melvin as a walking time bomb is crucial to the puzzles in said abyss.
- In the Atari 2600 game Mangia, one way to lose the game is to eat so much your stomach explodes. This is quite easy to do, what with your mother relentlessly serving more food to you.
- One of the enemies in Insaniquarium is immune to shooting. The only way to kill him is to feed him until he explodes.
- One of the ways to die in Fatal Labyrinth is to eat too much. There's a food counter on the screen, and you really need to stop picking up food if it's high enough, because if it goes over 99, it's Game Over. If it only goes over 80, you only get much slower, and can save yourself by walking until the counter goes below 80 again, but you never know how much food is on the ground until you actually pick it up. If your counter is relatively high already, and decide to pick up some more food just in case, you might get unlucky enough to skip the "overweight" part and kick the bucket right then and there.
- Never overeat in The Dungeon Of Doom. Really, don't.
"Too much!!! Your stomach explodes!!"
- The way Wart, the final boss of Super Mario Bros. 2 is killed by stuffing him with vegetables supplied by the machine in the center of the room.
- The Simpsons: This happens to Homer Simpson a few times during the Treehouse of Horror episodes.
Demon: I don't get it. James Coco went mad after fifteen minutes!
- One Treehouse of Horror episode has a pair of vampires suck on Homer's blood, but they suck up more than they can handle and die not just from having too much blood, but sucking up all the fat and bad cholesterol that Homer had.
- Another one, however, has Homer in Hell, forced to eat all the donuts in the world as a sort of ironic punishment. Not only does he eat them all, but he still wants more afterwards!
- Futurama: This also happens to Bender in one of the Anthology of Interest episodes when Prof. Farnsworth makes him human, and one week later he finally eats himself to death.
- A variation is also seen in one of the oldest Woody Woodpecker shorts, after he ingests a rather strong drink. Somehow it also propels him upwards like a rocket...
- Implied in the 1951 Chuck Jones Looney Tune Chow Hound: "THIS time, we didn't forget the gravy!"
- Happens in one episode of Slimer And The Real Ghostbusters, when two talking animal dogs eat a bunch of Slimer's dehydrated food pills. It turned out they were very spicy and then ran to drink from a river, making them inflate very quickly until they exploded. Naturally, in the very next take, they were perfectly fine.
- In the early Warner Bros. . cartoon Pigs Is Pigs, a young pig explodes from voluntary overeating, but it's All Just a Dream. When he wakes up, he goes right back to massive eating.
- An episode of The Angry Beavers features a fictional horror film about two alien Viking women who can't stop eating radioactive lava. Eventually, the Viking women eat so much lava that they explode. When Norbert and Daggett eat too much food while watching it, they just get huge stomachaches.
- On Animaniacs, Wakko still looks fine (if bulbous) after his 501st meatball, but The Grim Reaper stamps "Kaput" on his forehead and walks away with him.
- Adventure Time: In "Ghost Princess" Clarence commits suicide via spray-cheese overdose and explodes.
- In one of the sketches from Robot Chicken, the Keebler elves kill the Cookie Monster by stuffing him with cookies until his stomach bursts.
- Real snakes have done it attempting to swallow large animals.
- For example, the snake that swallowed an alligator and exploded (or got ripped apart from the inside out).
- It's also possible for a snake to die by trying to eat itself. The snake will catch its tail in its mouth and not realize that that's its tail. Meaning they're literally Too Dumb to Live.
- Another Indian python inadvertently disemboweled itself on the horns of the antelope it was in the middle of swallowing.
- At least two fossils show this trope, too: one being the (in)famous "fish in a fish" specimen of Xiphactinus from Cretaceous Kansas, that had got some internal organs punctured in the process of swallowing its smaller (human-sized) relative, Gillacus, and another being a specimen of the lizardfish relative, Cimolichthys, that died when, after swallowing a giant squid, Tusoteuthis, tail-first, it suffocated on its victim's tentacles upon reaching the head.
- In Krakow, the old capital of Poland, there is a legend about a dragon who was killed that way - a cunning hero (there are several version of who it was) tricked the dragon into eating a sheep stuffed with sulfur and the heartburn caused the monster to drink from the river until it burst.
- The Cracovian legend was presumably taken from the Biblical story of Bel and the Dragon, a part of the book of Daniel still in Catholic Bibles, though not in most Protestant ones.
- Also the legend of Saint Margaret of Antioch has her being eaten by a dragon or a serpent, then bursting out alive from its stomach thanks to her prayers and her cross pendant.
- A similar legend is the Lizard of La Malena from Jaén, Spain. In one version, a giant lizard that lives in a pond and eats every person or animal that comes close to it, is tricked by a cunning man into eating a sack of gunpowder, and explodes. In another, it is tricked into eating a sheepskin full of tinder and burns to death. It is believed that the legend was inspired by a caiman skin that someone donated to a local church shortly after the conquest of the Americas.
- In British lore, the Lambton Worm was killed by a knight covering his armor in spikes before he was swallowed by it.
- Death by overeating is a leading cause of death in new goldfish that are lucky enough to get habitable tanks.
- Swedish king Adolf Fredrick died of digestion problems after having consumed a huge meal, consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring and champagne, topping it off with semlor (a Swedish pastry) for dessert.
- Large dogs that scarf down huge meals, then roll over quickly during play, can cause their overloaded stomachs to twist too far, fatally obstructing blood flow to their digestive tracts. This is known as bloat.
- Due to comparatively abundant, high-calorie food that is cheap and readily available in most developed nations, health complications from gluttony are also comparatively common, but it's a slow death that saps lifespan by inches for the most part. Stomach bursting episodes happen but are thankfully rare.
- During the Siege of Leningrad in WW2, this was a real problem. Many undernourished people (especially children) died after being rescued, because they were allowed to eat too soon after evacuation; the technical term is refeeding syndrome.
- This (mummified) baby gecko◊.
- An alligator was constantly fed live animals by a group of villagers because they believed it would bring them good luck. The poor gator grew extremely fat and eventually died from its obesity related health issues.