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Ear Ache
Sometimes it's the only way to deal with a writer.
This trope describes damage or painful actions done to the ears:

  • Someone's ear is cut clean off
  • Someone's ear is otherwise sliced
  • Someone's ear is pulled, yanked, or twisted
  • Someone's ear is bitten (and sometimes torn off)
  • Someone's ear has something sharp stuck into it
  • Someone's eardrums burst
  • Something like a virus/parasite forces itself into someone's ear (do not confuse with Ear Worm)

Compare Eye Scream, for similar nasty things happening to a character's eyes, or Fingore and Agony of the Feet, when the targets are the fingers and toes.

See also Shell-Shock Silence, and its aversion Steel Eardrums.


Examples

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Meruem is annoyed his opponent continued a game they were playing, despite it being obvious he had won it many turns ago. When the other played stammers too much in fear and is unable to answer, Meruem jabs at him with his needle tipped tail and rips his ear off, then kills him when the man tries to run away.
  • In Peacemaker Kurogane, Yoshida cuts Tetsunosuke's ear during their battle. It's later shown bandaged.
  • Pokémon
    • A running gag in the anime was that Misty would yank on Brock's ear whenever he hit on a girl, which was often. When she made a reappearance in Hoenn and went through the routine again, Max quickly picked up on it.
    • Ash himself gets pulled on the ear by Shaymin in the movie Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: After Kenshin disables Enishi's sense of balance with a supersonic attack, Enishi decides to reduce the effect by pulling out his own eardrum. Ouch.
  • Eyeshield 21: Yamabushi does this to Ikkyu when he's being tactless.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi does this to Mikuru, though it was more like foreplay than injury.
  • After her husband dies in Uzumaki, Shuichi's mother develops a phobia of spirals, because she always sees her husband in them. When she finds out that there's a spiral in the ear (the cochlea), she drives a pair of scissors through her ears to get them out.
  • At the very beginning of Arashi No Yoru Ni, a wolf actually gets his ear bitten off by an angry mother sheep while protecting her lamb from him and the rest of his pack before they finally kill the mother sheep, who before her death tells said lamb, Mei, to run away for his own safety.
  • Saint Seiya
    • In the first episode, Seiya actually does this to Cassios, cutting off his left ear during their first fight.
    • Siegfried applies this to himself, piercing his eardrums to not fall victim to Sorrento's Magic Music.
  • In the Fairy Tail manga, Erigor use his wind powers to slice Kageyama's ears when the latter made a mistake.
  • A Certain Magical Index
    • We have battle nuns who, in order to counter Index's spell, sticks pens into their ears to break their eardrums.
    • Later, Shizuri Mugino rams a screwdriver into Shiage Hamazura's ear. It renders his ear canal bloody, but fortunately didn't go in deep enough to break his eardrum.
  • Blade of the Immortal seems to like this. Giichi got one of his ears cut off by Sousuke, and Kagehisa gets his ear sliced by Habaki.
  • In Gamaran, Zenmaru manages to chop Sasuke's ear along with some flesh around it.
  • In Pandora Hearts Retrace LXXXI, Uncle Oscar gets part of his ear shot off when he redirects the bullet that Oz (under Jack's control) aimed at him.
  • In Bleach, Mask de Masculine uses his fingers to poke out his own eardrums to render himself immune to Rose's sound-based Bankai.

     Comic Books 
  • Secret Six: Scandal Savage bites off an enemy's ear in battle; when the enemy cries out for its return, Scandal nonchalantly replies, "Sorry, I've swallowed it."
  • During the Reads arc of Cerebus the Aardvark, Cerebus gets his right ear mostly cut off during a swordfight.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Mr. Blonde cuts off the captive policeman's ear with a razor in Reservoir Dogs. While singing and dancing to "Stuck in the Middle with You". And then he starts singing into it.
  • In the film Ever After, Rodmilla grabs Danielle hard by the ear and throws her into a chair when angry with her.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the mind-control parasites enter Chekov's and Terrell's heads through their ears.
  • Ghostbusters. As the heroes are looking at the ghost in the library and wondering what to do:
    Peter Venkman: Could you come over here and talk with me for a second, please? (grabs Ray Stantz by the ear and pulls him over)
  • In Cabin Fever, Fenster, a Hillbilly Henchman, dies when a screwdriver is jammed in his ear.
  • In Face/Off, Agent Loomis's left ear is partially sheared off by a bullet during the hangar gunfight between the FBI and Castor Troy. Later, when Sean Archer visits the Walsh Institute about a proposed undercover mission where he takes Castor's face, Dr. Malcolm Walsh demonstrates the Institute's capabilities by showing them using laser surgery to rebuild Loomis's left ear.
  • In Blue Velvet, the plot is set off by the protagonist finding a severed ear.
  • The Big Red One (deleted scene). The Goums (French native cavalry) cut off the ears of the German soldiers they've killed and swop them for American cigarettes. The Sarge tells him men to stop this trade because the Goums are cutting ears off dead American soldiers as well.
  • Subverted in Don't be Afraid of the Dark, but only because the unsuspecting father stops listening at the grate and turns away before the evil faeries can shove a sharpened piece of wire into his ear.
  • In the movie Last Man Standing, one of the two crime bosses, Strozzi, does this to his girlfriend, Lucy Kolinski, after he learns of her affair with the protagonist. It's implied that this is when Smith decides that both of the gangs he's dealing with are better off dead.
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street
    • In Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Carlos gets a giant cotton swab shoved into his ear, and then has to wear a killer hearing aid.
    • Happens to Freddy in Freddy vs. Jason when Lori grabs him by the ear and accidentally brings it to the real world.
  • Walter in The Big Lebowski bites off a nihilist's ear and spits it high in the air.
  • One of the villains in Slashers is killed by being stabbed in the ear with a wooden stake.
  • The first victim from Scream 2 gets stabbed in the ear through a bathroom stall.
  • Scary Movie parodies that by having a character getting his head trespassed near a glory hole. he still appears intact at the end of the movie, just with a bandage over one ear.
  • In Pineapple Express, Dale has part of his ear shot off by Matheson.
  • In Cradle 2 the Grave, Jet Li's character rips an MMA fighter's earring off.
  • In Who Am I?, Jackie Chan's character grabs one of the Co-Dragons by the earring, and keeps twisting it around and around. This causes such crippling pain that the guy surrenders afterward.
  • Villain Protagonist Porter from Payback is a Combat Pragmatist who loves using tactics like ripping out piercings. Early in the film he rips out a bodyguard's earring when the bodyguard won't let him see the guard's boss, the guy spends the rest of the movie walking around with his entire ear covered in bandages.
  • At the beginning of Scanner Cop II, Sam Staziak causes a hostage taker's ear to melt off by scanning through his earpiece.
  • In The World Is Not Enough, Elektra King reveals to James Bond that during her kidnapping they cut off part of her ear. She actually did it herself and is now in league with the kidnapper.

    Literature 
  • Peter does this to a Roman soldier in The Bible when they try to take Jesus away. Jesus heals the guy.
  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks enter your head via the ear canal, secreting a painkiller so it doesn't hurt.
    • In a later book, after the sixth Animorph, David, turns traitor there's this little gem from Rachel:
      I grabbed his head with one arm and jammed the fork against his ear. I fought a nauseating urge to twist the fork, to make him scream in pain.
  • In one of the Harry Potter books, Snape does this to George. The required "I lost an ear" humor happens the moment the victim awakes.
  • In the book Savage Sam, the sequel to Old Yeller, little Arliss bites off the ear of an Indian who kidnapped him. And swallows it (accidentally).
    Arliss: You reckon I'm part Injun now?
  • In one of the Wayside School books, one of the kids tells a story of a hippie who got his ear cut off by a barber.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, Snuff practically rips the vicar's ear off after he abuses Graymalkin. Snuff himself has scars on one ear from a past encounter with (implied) a voodoo-animated zombie.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: When Vargo Hoat tries to rape Brienne, she bites off his ear. The wound becomes infected and drives him mad. In general, the ear is a common victim of various fights that break out through the series.
  • In the Stephen King novella The Body (source material for the film Stand by Me), Teddy Duchamp has nasty scars where his abusive father held his ears to a burning stove.
  • Sherlock Holmes: "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" sounds like a fairly innocuous story (not nearly as ominous as "The Devil's Foot" or The Valley of Fear, for example), until you discover that the titular box contained a couple of severed ears.
  • James Bond
    • In Colonel Sun, the eponymous Torture Technician starts Bond's evening of pain by prodding his ear canals with a metal spike.
    • Chagrin in Devil May Care, when he was still working for Viet Minh, popped the eardrums of kids who listened to French priests back in Indo-China by slamming chopsticks into their ears, permanently deafening some of them in the process. Bond almost becomes a recipient of this procedure.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One Amanda Show skit featured a boy's ear accidentally being cut off while he was getting his hair cut. The barber then puts it into a barrel full of the ears of past customers that were accidentally cut off.
  • Firefly: In the episode "War Stories," Adelai Niska cuts off Mal's ear after Zoe rescues Wash, because the ransom she paid was "too much for just one man."
  • In Battlestar Galactica, Cally bites off part of an attempted rapist's ear.
    • Gaius Baltar is tortured at one point by a device inserted into his ear.
  • Hyde's first outing in Jekyll results in the prolonged beating of a man who'd humiliated Jackman earlier that day — biting off one of ears as a finishing move. For added horror, Jackman wakes up the next morning to find the severed ear in his pocket.
  • The saga of Moe's ear in Brotherhood. Granted, he really had it coming.
  • In Friends, Phoebe stops a Cat Fight between Rachel and Monica by grabbing them by their ears.
  • In Castle, Detective Beckett has a tendency to yank Castle's ear when he irritates her by listening in on conversations, getting close to her, and generally annoying her. Which is often.
  • In Wild Boys, 'Mad Dog' Morgan claimed he got his nickname because he once bit a man's ear off in a fight. later in the episode, he actually does a bite a man's ear off, indicating that this may be a regular thing for him.
  • In the first series of Luther, Alice Morgan does this to Luther's wife, Zoe.
  • In an early episode of The Cosby Show, Theo rebelliously gets his ear pierced. As he had it done by a non-professional, his ear gets painfully infected.
  • Mike from Breaking Bad gets the tip of his ear shot off when hiding inside a meth truck that a rival cartel attacked with a spray of bullets.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney pierces his own ear as part of a bet. Throughout the episode it becomes more and more infected, until he moans in agony that "it hurts so much I can hear it! I can hear my own ear!"
  • The brother of the victim in the "Danny gets locked in the rich guy's panic room" episode of CSI NY got his ear cut off, it was later sent to his brother, who kept it in a jar.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt episode "For Cryin' Out Loud", the bad guy tries to silence his conscience (voiced by Sam Kinison) by using cotton swabs to clear out his ears, but pushes them in too deep and destroys his ear drums. To add insult to injury, he becomes totally deaf, but can still hear the voice.
  • In Salem, John Alden shoots off part of the magistrate's left ear before he and Isaac escape from having witnessed the witches performing a ritual.
  • In Hannibal at the end of the first season, Will Graham vomits up a severed ear. Due to his increasing mental instability, it's not immediately clear to the viewers whether this is real or a hallucination. It turns out the ear belongs to Abigail, who had recently gone missing, and it kicks off The Reveal that Hannibal has been gradually planting evidence to frame Will as the serial killer.

    Music 
  • This was one of the injuries sustained by the protagonist of Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue" during the big fight with his father.
  • This is on the cover for the Butthole Surfers album Electriclarryland, complete with blood.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Mick Foley had lost part of his ear during a wrestling match with Vader. The ropes were wound too tight already, so when Vader tied Foley up in the ropes and his ear was part of that? You can figure out the rest.

    Sports 
  • The Sound and the Fury — the infamous 1997 rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, which ended in Tyson's disqualification after twice biting Holyfield's ears, with the second time tearing off the upper part of it.

    Theater 
  • In Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet's father, the late king. tells Hamlet that his brother Claudius, Hamlet's uncle and the present king, usurped the throne by pouring poison in his ear while he was asleep. Doesn't make much sense from a medical perspective, but it allows Hamlet to say things like "the ear of Denmark is much abus'd".

    Video Games 
  • In a cutscene near the end of the first chapter of True Crime: Streets of LA, Nick Kang hurls a chopstick right into a Triad thug's ear.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy
    • The 150th episode has a scene with Brian trying to pierce Stewie's ear, and getting the pin lodged inside his ear canal and getting it stuck.
    • Another episode had Stewie show his parents he was missing an ear because he was walking home with a bag full of burgers and "a lot of hungry deer were walking around this time of the night". A deer bit off his ear and Stewie mentions he was able to pull the ear out of the deer's mouth and put it into a cup with some ice he got at a 7-Eleven.
    Stewie: Yeah, so whenever you want to take me to the emergency room, just yell into the cup.
    • Yet another episode had Brian cut off his own ear under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms.
  • Raven yanked on Cyborg's ear in Teen Titans once.
  • Part of Zuko's scar in Avatar: The Last Airbender is that his ear is half burnt-off and shriveled.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Guess Who's Coming To Criticize Dinner" after Homer insults a chef's cooking he attacks Homer with a meat cleaver, Homer thinks all his strikes missed only to discover he has a chunk cut off one of his ears.
    Homer: Uh, not bad. If Lasagna is Italian for pile of puke!
    Chef: I choppa you good!
    Homer Well, I hope you cut me better than you did these string beans!... Hmm, I seem to be missing part of my ear... Touché!
  • Beavis and Butt-Head:
    • In the episode "Pierced", the duo destroy each other's ears with a drill in an attempt to get them pierced.
    • Later on during the Mouse Trap montage of "The Rat", Beavis somehow manages to snap the trap onto his ear.

    Real Life 
  • John Paul Getty III was kidnapped in 1973. His grandfather, the then world's richest man, American multi-billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, refused to pay his grandson's $3 million ransom until one of the boy's ears was cut off and sent to a newspaper.
  • Probably the only universally known fact about Vincent van Gogh was that he cut off an ear. Which is kind of ironic, given he didn't. It was only the lobe, and it probably wasn't him that did the cutting.
  • A common punishment for runaway slaves in the Antebellum South was to have an ear chopped off.
  • The War of Jenkins' Ear, the Anglo-Spanish and naval part of the War of the Austrian Succession, gets its rather odd name from a very odd bit of history indeed. In 1731, Robert Jenkins was captain of the British merchantman Rebecca when Spanish coast guards intercepted and boarded it, suspecting that Jenkins was a British privateer (they had been plaguing Spanish traffic for some time at this point). Despite not finding any evidence of piracy, the Spanish cut off Jenkins's left ear as a kind of message to Britain. This incident didn't amount to much at the time, but when tensions between Great Britain and Spain increased in the late 1730s, Jenkins came out with his story once again, presenting the shrivelled ear to a committee of Parliament as evidence of Spain's misdeeds. This, with a few other similar affairs, led to the British declaration of war in 1739, and one of the most amusing casus belli of all time.
  • The punishment for counterfeiting money in Colonial America was to have your ears cropped — that is, have the fleshy bits around the "shell" sliced away (You also got branded on the temple). Ouch.
  • The old cliche of parents/teachers/other authority figures leading troublesome children around by the ear.


Animal-Eared HeadbandEar TropesEar Cleaning
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Dramatic DislocationInjury TropesEar Notch
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Combat TentaclesEvil Is VisceralFace Full of Alien Wing-Wong
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CastleImageSource/Live-Action TVChannel 4

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