You fought hard and you saved and earned
But all of it's going to burn
Back inside your tiny mind
You know you've rarely been so blind
Now's your time, burn your mind
You'll fall apart, you'll fall behind
You're gonna burn...
—The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, "Fire"
Being Dragged Off to Hell (or if being clever, Descending To A Lower Plane Of Existence) is a common villain fate, especially for those who previously made a Deal with the Devil
. In an inversion of Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
, they are dragged off screaming by some kind of eldritch force (generally in the form of a bunch of arms reaching out for them), leaving no body behind.
Like Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence
, it is not irreversible. See Like a Badass out of Hell
Since this is a death trope, it will include some spoilers.
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Anime & Manga
- This is the fate of pretty much any Apostle that dies in Berserk. We see two examples in the course of the manga: the Count after he refuses to sacrifice his daughter to save his life and be reborn, and Wyald after Zodd rips him in half for trying to kill Griffith before the Eclipse.
- It's also the inevitable fate of everyone who gets branded for sacrifice (no exceptions), gets killed by an apostle or was unwittingly working for one (lots of people) or is filled with hatred at the moment of their death (life in Midland is cruel, so even more candidates available). Hell is a really crowded place in this universe...at least, if you get "lucky", you have a chance to "merely" become a restless spirit that haunts the area in which it died.
- This happens to one Hollow (or specifically, the soul of the serial killer that turned into said Hollow) in Bleach. When most Hollows are killed they evaporate and go to the Soul Society, having been purified and allowed to continue in the cycle of reincarnation between the two worlds. In this guy's case the gates of Hell appeared behind him and a giant arm impaled him on a sword and dragged him through. This is what happens to any human who committed grave sins of their own free will in life, as opposed to after transformation into a Hollow.
- In the fourth movie, this happens to Ichigo's younger sister Yuzu. Ichigo and some of his friends have to literally go to Hell to rescue her.
- At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, Father, the Big Bad is dragged screaming into the Gate of Truth and receives an Ironic Hell. By extension, this is the fate of any alchemist who attempts to resurrect the dead, although after being taken, they are sent back alive (minus an organ or limb).
- If you consider the "In Memorium" omakes to be canon, then Shou Tucker's fate is ultimately this (since we see Nina and Alexander in Heaven, while he's being engulfed by flames below). Given that no other villain save Father receives such a fate, this says a lot about Tucker.
- This happens to Shiva in Saint Beast: Seijuu Kourin Hen.
- In Part 4 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, there is an alley in the town of Morioh inhabited by the ghost of Reimi Sugimoto, victim of serial killer Yoshikage Kira. The only way to proceed safely through the alley is to turn after walking twenty feet, and to not look back: otherwise, the hands of a hundred ghosts will drag you to hell in pieces. Koichi was barely saved by Rohan wiping his memory of looking behind. Yoshikage Kira is not so lucky and this is how he's ultimately defeated.
- This is essentially the premise of Hell Girl. By entering into a contract with Enma Ai, those who use Hell Correspondence can have those who have grievously wronged them (or as evidenced in later arcs, just pissed them off) sent to Hell, with the price being their own damnation upon death.
- Losing a Bakugan Brawl when a Doom Card is in play automatically results in being sucked into the Doom Dimension for the unlucky Bakugan that loses, which is pretty much the Bakugan Hell. Thankfully, the Brawlers win a bet that allows all the Bakugan sent there to be set free after being sent there themselves. According to Word of God, this happened to Naga when he was defeated, though we don't see it.
- The Gehenna Gate in Blue Exorcist contains a bunch of figures and resembles a ball pit. Should anyone go into the gate, the figures latch on and drag them down; a fate the protagonist narrowly avoids.
- This happed to all the Dark Signers in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds after losing to the Signers, even the ones who didn't deserve it, although it was a subversion in that there was no screaming or flashy display involved; they simply turned to dust. Fortunately, all of them except the two Godwin brothers were revived later, given another chance by the Crimson Dragon.
- In the original "Yu-Gi-Oh!" anime, Yami Bakura does this to Bonz, Sid, and Zygor. After Bonz loses a Shadow Duel in which the loser would die, Bonz is dragged into the ground by an unknown force, along with Sid and Zygor, into the Shadow Realm (Yu-Gi-Oh!'s equivalent of Hell). The original scene from the manga had Bakura simply kill Bonz, which was a bit more gruesome, although not as severe.
- Rare heroic example in Hell Teacher Nube: This is what happened to Minako-sensei after she pulled an Heroic Sacrifice for a young Nube. Years later, when Nube finds out about this, he's forced to fuse both her soul and the demon that killed her (Baki) inside one of his hands.
- In InuYasha, whenever the eyes the Soul Piper spirit are fully open, it drags the spirits of children into hell. This was almost the fate of Mayu, the spirit of a little girl who died in a fire.
- Depending on your interpretation, this may be the final fate of the eponymous Cerebus the Aardvark, as he's dragged into "the light", screaming out to God to save him. Given Dave Sim's....peculiar...religious views and how they influenced the latter third of the comic, this certainly seems to fit the trope, but Sim threw a monkey wrench into things by saying in his notes for the last issue that Cerebus may have actually been going to Heaven and was just panicking needlessly at the last second.
- Anton Arcane's most despicable act in Swamp Thing is condemning his own niece Abby, who didn't even come close to deserving it, to this horrible fate.
- The villains in the Tintin story The Broken Ear are dragged off to hell after drowning. Notable for being the only depiciton of a bad afterlife in the entire series.
- The final fate of Palpatine in Dark Empire. Having cheated death by Body Surfing, he is finally defeated when the Force Ghost of a Jedi grabs his spirit and departs for the afterlife.
- A more mundane variant in B.P.R.D. in that there's no dimensional transfer, but after Katha-Hem is destroyed Pope is dragged off by the frogs, servants of the Ogdru-Hem. When he's next seen he no longer has any desire but to serve them, and may no longer be human.
- In the Stanley and His Monster revival mini-series, the Monster got dragged down to Hell... by an angel. Naturally, Stanley (an ordinary 5-year-old boy) goes to get his best friend back.
- Judge Dredd: At the end of "The Wilderness Days", arch-villain Judge Death is thrown into Hell by an ascended man who pursued him for weeks to get justice for his dead family. The angel opens a portal to Hell and Death is dragged off by the souls of the billions of people he had murdered.
- Gargamel gets dragged off to hell by Beelzebub to fulfill his end of the Deal with the Devil in The Smurfs comic book story "Sagratamabarb".
Films — Animated
Films — Live-Action
- Pretty much the norm in the traditional Faust legend and any Deal with the Devil story in which a) the human doesn't win, or repent in time, and b) doesn't just go to Hell after death.
- In the Dragon Knight series, this happened to the evil magickian Malvinne after one of his deathtraps encroached on the Kingdom of the Dead (which in this setting is an actual place).
- In "The Friar's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales, an evil Summoner gets dragged off by a friendly demon.
- This is the ultimate fate of the title character in HP Lovecraft's Herbert West, Reanimator.
- In The Eyes of Kid Midas, the protagonist Kevin casually tells Bertram, the school bully, to go to Hell. Since Kevin is wearing a pair of Reality Warping sunglasses, the ground opens up beneath Bertram and swallows him. Uh...whoops.
- In the second Black London book, Demon Bound, it's what's supposed to happen, but Jack Winter just sort of willingly goes along to hell after lots of having tried to get out of it already because his Deal with the Devil deadline is up.
- In The Hollows series, if a demon escapes from a summoning circle, it can do whatever it wants to you, up to and including taking you to the demonic underworld.
- In Wolfie by Theodore Cogswell, this is what Dr. Arsoldi's colleague will do to him if ever a murder goes awry.
- Sandman Slim deals with a sorcerer who had this happen to him when he was betrayed by his cabal. The first book opens just as he gets out.
- This is the fate The Hunter in the Coldfire Trilogy is trying to avoid.
- The fate of both Nicolae Carpathia and Leon Fortunato as they both are pushed by Michael the archangel into the Lake Of Fire in the Left Behind book Glorious Appearing.
- Galaxy of Fear: Army of Terror has the spectral Kivan wraiths haul off the one responsible for killing them all and turning their world into a Ghost Planet.
- In Apt Pupil, this is implied to happen to Dussander as he dies.
- The Voyage of St. Brendan: When St. Brendan and his monks sail past a volcano, a sinful monk is seized by invisible demons and dragged through the crater into Hell.
- In The Divine Comedy, the sinners in the next-to-last round of the last circle of Hell, who betrayed their guests, get sent there instantly, while a demon possesses the sinner's body on Earth.
Live Action TV
- At various points during the second series of Being Human, the forces of purgatory repeatedly try to drag Annie (not a villain) into the afterlife. They succeed in the finale.
- In the 1970s British Time Travel show Timeslip the villain is dragged screaming through a time portal at the end. Whatever's on the other side will probably be pretty hellish for him.
- Almost happens to Spike on Angel, but avoided by turning Pavayne, the ghost trying to do so, into a human.
- In Supernatural, this is the fate of all who make a Deal with the Devil. Hellhounds come for them, rip them apart and drag their souls to hell.
- Katherine Pierce, from The Vampire Diaries, after having evaded death countless times throughout the series, including when her real body died (after which she hitched a ride in Elena's and took over), Katherine is finally dead (which, despite her becoming something of an Ensemble Darkhorse early on in the show, is a relief at this point given how one-note her character had become), and after dropping a revelation on Bonnie, is actually ready to go to the other side. She touches Bonnie, and then... nothing happens. Until a great gust of wind comes from nowhere, and something grabs Katherine by the ankles and yanks her, screaming and clawing at the floor, into a nameless black abyss. The kicker? Her spirit was in a Church when this happens.
- A common plot device in any RPG with a fantastic bent. Some Dungeons & Dragons modules have this befalling the Big Bad of the story, half the time due to a botched attempt to summon something from the Lower Planes or the Far Realm or some other place of big bad nastiness.
- In 4E, several Warlock powers (such as the epic-level Hurl Through Hell) have this effect. It's (usually) not final for the unfortunate target. But even a drop-by to a local Cthulhu might be unhealthy to the mind. (In game terms, Hurl Through Hell does 10 to 70 points of damage to the victim - usually enough to kill him, but if it doesn't, he is returned to the mortal world, likely scared, but alive. The Warlock casting the spell can use a minor action to delay the victim's return for one combat round, but no more than three times, and using a minor action isn't always easy; it depends on a lot of factors.)
- An Epic Level Spell mentioned in the Epic Level Handbook called Damnation is far more powerful. This not only sends the victim to Hell, it prevents him from trying to leave for twenty hours (convincing him that he is dead and has been sent to Hell as punishment for a life of sin). Even if he survives by the time the twenty hours expire, he has to find a way to escape on his own. (Naturally, being an Epic Level Spell, this isn't easy to learn, much less cast. It has a Spellcraft DC of 97 which means, as far as Epic Spells go, seriously difficult to learn.)
- There is an incredibly rare and powerful magical item (considered a minor artifact in most editions) called a Talisman of Pure Good which can inflict this fate upon an evil divine spellcaster. However, only the purest and most faithful of good divine spellcasters can actually use it. There is also a Talisman of Ultimate Evil, a device that does the opposite. (Both these devices can only be used a limited number of times, and if one appears in a module, it usually has two charges - at most - remaining.)
- Exalted have this as the backstory of any and all Green Sun Princes. Writing the details will necessitate several gallons of Brain Bleach, but let's just say that it involves being eaten alive by demons and then having your body reconstituted with the essence of Hell.
- Warhammer has several spells that cause this effect - mostly Chaos (specifically Tzeentchian spells) but also some like the Lore of Life spell The Dwellers Below, which has the spirits of nature itself drag victims through the ground to an unknown, but definitely nasty, fate.
- The New World of Darkness book Inferno introduces Hell and its metaphysics to the setting. It's perfectly possible to open a gate to Hell... but when it pops open, everyone in the immediate vicinity has to fight not to get dragged in (and if they fail, there's no coming back). It also happens in a metaphysical sense, as everyone who looks on the mouth of Hell has to make a Morality check - not because they did anything wrong, but because they stared into the incarnation of all sin, and that can screw with even saints.
- In pretty much every version of the Don Juan story (including Molina's original, Molière's Dom Juan, and Mozart's Don Giovanni), Juan accepts an invitation from a statue of someone he murdered, the father of one of his conquests, and when the statue returns for him, a portal opens up into Hell and Juan enters.
- Drawing from the folklore about Faust, Marlowe's Doctor Faustus has this as Faustus' fate.
- Subverted in Goethe's Faust (Part Two): When Faust lies dying, Mephistopheles and his devils make ready to collect his soul. However, angels distract Mephistopheles so that Faust's soul can go to Heaven, claiming that Faust has never ceased to strive for good and thus has earned redemption.
- This was the fate of J. Wellington Wells from Gilbert and Sullivan's The Sorcerer.
- In the stage musical version of Mary Poppins, the evil Miss Andrew who replaces Mary and rules tyrannically over the children eventually gets locked into a giant birdcage by her predecessor and sent to hell. Mary got her job back.
- Parodied on Futurama when the Robot Devil drags Richard Nixon's head to Robot Hell...because they've got a poker game to get to.
- Happens to The Gentleman Ghost in one episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, after he loses control over the undead spirits he manipulated into serving him.
- In the final episode of The Legends Of Treasure Island this happens to Long John Silver, as he'd failed to keep up his end of the bargain he made with the devil following his death by lava in the first season finale.
- Grim can do this to people in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, but he saves it for people who really piss him off, like The Boogeyman, proving that, unless you're a really smart little kid, messing with Death is a very, very bad idea. He's occasionally seen doing his job of reaping people, but he says there are a large number of afterlives so it's likely not all of them are taken to Hell.
- This is Jafar's fate at the end of the Hercules / Aladdin: The Series crossover episode.
- While it seemed unlikely that this could ever happen in a cartoon like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) the ancient dragon Granamyr was able to do just that, if the "Realm of Demons", as he called it, was anything like Hell. He threatened to banish He-Man and Teela there in his first appearance, and in his second appearance, he proved this was not a bluff, as he actually did it to an evil dragon. (Long story short, Granamyr is not someone you mess with.)
- This happens twice in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode Twilight's Kingdom Part 2: first, this happens to the princesses Celestia, Luna and Cadance, who are forced into Tartarus by Tirek after having transferred their powers to Twilight Sparkle. Near the end, the Mane Six use their newly earned Super Modes to free the princesses and put Tirek there in their place.
- It is worth noting that unlike the princesses, who were sent through a portal, and unlike the first time Tirek was imprisoned when he was sent through the gate, second time around Tirek is blasted to hell.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Its Sequel Series The Legend of Korra reveals this to be true for Avatar's Admiral Zhao. Contrary to fans' beliefs, the Water Spirit didn't kill Zhao when it dragged him down into the ocean. It sent him to the Fog of Lost Souls, an almost inescapable place that traps whoever is in it and drives them insane. Zhao's spirit has been wandering the Fog for a good seventy years and has gone completely mad. It's not a literal example, but it comes close.