Willow: The coroner's office said she was missing an ear. So I'm thinking, maybe we're looking for a witch. There's some great spells that work much better with an ear in the mix.
Buffy: That's one fun little hobby you've got there, Will.
Willow: Or maybe an ear-harvesting demon that—it's, like, building another demon completely out of ears. Or... Ooh! Thought! We're just assuming someone else cut off the ear. What if it was self-inflicted, like van Gogh?
Buffy: So... she brutally stabs herself, dumped the body, then cut off her own ear?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)
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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 player 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.
- 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 occasionally bites on Mikuru's ear, though it's 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 goat while protecting her kid from him and the rest of his pack before they finally kill the mother goat, who before her death tells said kid, 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.
- A flashback in Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin shows that the old hunter Gohei gained his signature scars and missing ear when Akakabuto, his bear nemesis, swiped the left side of his face with its claws.
- At the beginning of Fushigi Yuugi Byakko Ibun, the mysterious traveler Nirusha helps a young girl named Reipin fight off a rampaging tiger who used to be her evil older brother. He loses one of his ears in the fight, but he just uses a Paper Talisman on the still bleeding stump. At the end of the chapter, Reipin (now named Neiran) keeps the ear as one of her two Tragic Keepsakes.
- When Taizo Kuzuki from The Voynich Hotel is captured by yakuza from the group that he escaped from, one of the many Cold Blooded Tortures he's put through is getting one of his ears amputated. His Violently Protective Girlfriend, Elena, not only bloodily kills their enemies but also reattaches almost all his missing body parts back, his ear included.
- As a grade schooler, The Bully Shouya from A Silent Voice tore off Shouko's hearing aid.
- 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 sword-fight.
- Aisha from The Losers used to collect them from dead Soviet soldiers while she was growing up in Afghanistan as a Child Soldier. She had three-dozen at one point... until a wild dog ate them all. But then she ate the dog, so that evens things out...
Films — Animation
- During the scene with the frog hunters in The Princess and the Frog, Darnell accidentally smacks his Pa in the ears while trying to get Naveen and Tiana.
- In Brave, The High Queen Elinor breaks up a fight by simply Strolling Through the Chaos and dragging the instigators (her husband and the three clan lords) out by their ears.
Films — Live-Action
- One of the earliest cinema examples of ear-cutting is probably the original Django, where some outlaws slice off a man's ear and make him eat it. That scene got the movie (which is otherwise no more violent than the average Spaghetti Western) banned in several countries. It's probably the most sadistic scene in the entire Western genre. It makes the violence in Sergio Leone's movies look tame.
- 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 (1984). 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
- 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.
- In Collateral Damage, Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), while prisoner and trying to escape the FARC terrorists, bites one of his captors. Then he spits out the ear.
- During the final battle in The Kingdom (2007), Janet Mayes bites the ear off a Giant Mook terrorist who is constantly throwing her around. During filming, Jennifer Garner accidentally did bite hard on the man's ear.
- When the killer in Blood Hook tries to catch yet another victim with his fishing rod, his throw misses and he rips the guy's left ear off instead.
- In A Fairly Odd Summer, Timmy Turner tries to listen to a seashell, but it has a hermit crab inside which pinches his ear.
- Billy Madison gets this from Veronica pulling by his ear out of the classroom scolding him for mocking a classmate who can barely read. Billy insists that he's deaf from ear abuse and having the hots of her.
- In Windtalkers, Nicolas Cage's character has a badly shaped left ear from a grenade explosion when holding the lines during the beginning of the film. He continues fighting while taking painkillers instead of taking medical leave.
- In The Magnificent Seven (2016), Faraday shoots off Earl's ear to teach him a lesson.
- In John Wick, Viggo references that time John killed three men with a pencil. We finally see John do it on camera in John Wick: Chapter 2, by ramming it lead-end first into the victim's ear.
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant repeatedly grabs Roger Rabbit by his long ears and swings him around.
- Junior of Problem Child gets dragged out of the cafeteria by his ear after his salisbury steak (which he'd thrown up to the ceiling to keep from eating) lands on the face of a nun. This gets the nuns to petition Mr. Peabody for getting rid of him.
Junior: OWWW! Hey, lady, hands off the merchandise! I've gotta hear out of that thing! OWWW!
- Peter does this to a Roman soldier's servant with a sword in The Bible when they try to take Jesus away. Jesus heals the guy.
- 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.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Filch, upon spotting Malfoy being out in the Hogwarts corridor in the nighttime without invitation to Slughorn's party, drags him by the ear to meet Slughorn. To Filch's disappointment, Slughorn lets Malfoy stay without applying any disciplinary actions on the latter.
- In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, 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.
- After Bond crashes his car in the Young Bond novel Double or Die, Wolfgang Smith checks the burning wreck to see if he's in it. The heat from the fire then sends a spark plug flying out of it, tearing Wolfgang's right ear off.
- In Going Postal, Moist passes by some fighters preparing for a bar-room brawl in the Mended Drum, one of whom recommends clapping a dwarf on the ears to stun them.
- Revanche Cycle: Felix's exceptionally unwise decision to challenge the mayor of Winter's Reach to a duel ends with her sawing his left ear off. Adding insult to injury, she tosses it to the audience as a souvenir.
- Fault Line: Kip tries to grab Becky during an argument, but he instead ripped out one of her earrings out.
- One of Sully's ears gets blown off with a gun in Firstborn when he is mistaken for his brother Blue Boy.
- Early into Annie on My Mind, a girl named Sally decides to give cheap ear piercings in the girl's bathroom. She tried to be hygienic but still gave multiple girls infections. This caused both her and the student president Liza to get in trouble. Sally later becomes quite repentant.
- Princesses Of The Pizza Parlor: Selvi's threat to Gwen, a half-elf, who has Pointy Ears, when Gwen snarked that the librarian might by afraid that Selvi, a half-orc would rip all the pages of their library books:
Selvi: I prefer ripping ears. Pointy ones make for good handholds, too.
- 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.
- Game of Thrones:
- Brienne bites off her opponent's ear during their Combat Breakdown in "The Children."
- Tormund bites the ear off Smalljon Umber.
- 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.
- Copper: In "Home Sweet Home", Eva jumps on to Buzzy Burke's back and bites a chunk out of his ear.
- Murdoch Mysteries: In "This One Goes To Eleven", three victims are murdered by having a long sharp spike (similar to a carpenter's awl) thrust into their ears. Crabtree muses on what an unpleasant way to die this would be.
- Person of Interest. In "Aletheia", Root is being tortured to gain access to the Machine. When Root says the Machine is talking to her directly, Control does a stapedectomy without anesthesia, making Root deaf in one ear and making it clear the other will follow if she doesn't cooperate.
- New Tricks: In a flashback in "Last man Standing - Part One", a young Gerry Standing is forced to watch as a London Gangster cuts the ear off a rival.
- In the Angel episode "Redefinition", Darla and Drusilla enter a demon fight club to recruit the fighters as minions. When one says he's never heard of them, Drusilla rips both of his ears off, and Darla quips, "Now you never will."
- Jessica Jones: In one flashback to Jessica's time under Kilgrave's control, Kilgrave commands her to start cutting her ear off. He makes her stop before she can finish cutting it off. In the present day, Jessica still retains the scar from that wound.
- In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Bride of Ida", Grandma Ida subjects Malcolm and Reese to the Ritual of Pain, which consists of tying strings to their ears and pulling. The boys are surprised at how painful it is.
Malcolm: I didn't think anything above my waist could be so sensitive!
- 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.
- Pippa L'Vinn sometimes holds onto an ear while performing a snap mare.
- Delirious bit Adam Pearce's ear in retaliation for Hang Men 3 stapling his mask to his skin and hanging him with a chain.
- During Tracy Taylor's defense of the WXCW and PGWA title belts against Nemesis, there were at least two calls from the audience for her to punch Nemesis's ear.
- Kyle O'Reilly suffered an injury that resulted in his ear needing regular draining, an injury Adam Cole, Gedo and Kazuchika Okada made a point to aggravate. Cole just because he hated O'Reilly, the latter two trying to win the ROH Tag Team Title belts.
- 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.
- 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".
- In a cutscene near the end of the first chapter of True Crime: Streets of L.A., Nick Kang hurls a chopstick right into a Triad thug's ear.
- The Crones in The Witcher 3 are paid tribute in the form of a severed ear, which the Whisperess keep on a necklace around her neck.
- In World of Warcraft while questing on the Borean Tundra, killing any hunter from the Nessingwary Expedition may yield one or two of their ears. Give 15 of these to the head of D.E.T.H.A. and he'll cast a temporary status buff on you.
- In the second installment of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the teacher of the video silences a dissenting student by screeching louder and louder until the student's ears begin to bleed.
- The friendly demon Buwaro in Slightly Damned is introduced with a bite taken out of one of his ears. Eventually, a flashback explains how he got it — his foster sister bit him, blaming him for the apparent death of their parental figure.
- In the last panel of a Ears for Elves page, Elon grabs and pulls Myari's ear quite hard because he's angry at her/worried about her, and has finally found where she was hiding.
- In Rusty and Co., when Madeline the Paladin tries to convince the reluctant Roxy and Presti to go save their Monster Adventurer friends, she notably grabs Roxanne's elven ear and twist hard.
- In Ménage ŕ 3, Zii pinches DiDi's ear (link SFW, but NSFW webcomic) as a form of "Be Quiet!" Nudge, while trying to convince Kiley that the both of them are lesbians.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Onni gets his ear hurt while fighting ghosts in the mage-space in Chapter 10 and his host's children accidentally cut his ear in real life due to deciding to cut his hair while he's in trance.
- Family Guy
Stewie: Yeah, so whenever you want to take me to the emergency room, just yell into the cup.
- 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.
- 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.
- Beavis and Butt-Head:
- The American Dad! episode "Every Which Way But Lose" has Steve losing an ear during a baseball play.
Roger: Steve, before the game, how many ears did you have?
- In Batman: Assault on Arkham, when a nurse takes away Harley's iPhone because Harley is supposed to be focusing, Harley responds by biting the woman's ear off.
- John Paul Getty III was kidnapped in 1973. His grandfather, then the world's richest man, American multi-billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, refused to pay his grandson's $3 million ransom. Subsequently, 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 notorious "Tiger Force" Special Operations unit was accused - among other things - of collecting "trophies" from the corpses of those they killed during the Vietnam War, including entire necklaces of ears.
- 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.
- It's pretty hard to discuss Mike Tyson without running into this trope. In his 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield, Tyson was disqualified for biting both of Holyfield's ears, first taking off a chunk of the guy's right ear and then scarring his left. Nowadays, any mention of Mike Tyson will probably elicit references to this incident.
- The old cliche of parents/teachers/other authority figures leading troublesome children around by the ear.
- A common chronic injury to the earlobes is "cauliflower ear". That's where the ears have been bruised so often that they become brittle. Continued impacts to cauliflower ears could lead them to swell and bruise rapidly, or even burst bloodily. This kind of injury is common these days in mixed martial arts; less often in boxing due to more heavily-padded gloves.
- Gallus Mag, the legendary 19th century lady bouncer at the Hole in the Wall pub in New York City (as mentioned in The Gangs of New York), was said to rip the ears off particularly troublesome customers and keep them preserved in a jar of alcohol.