There are many kinds of Body Horror
. Some are done from a Painful Transformation
, Orifice Invasion
, Chest Burster
, or something else terrible happening to a person's body.
This is when a person's body is mutilated due to deliberate intent.
Such a character has been subjected to body modification (tattooing, piercing, cutting, etc.) to a degree that goes beyond "fashionable" and straight into Squick
. The kind of body modification that would make a person look like a monster, and their onlookers wince in imagined sympathy pain.
Why a character would be subjected to such extreme modifcation is varied. They might have been an innocent who was forced into such transformation, in which case they might be The Grotesque
. Unless the pain of their modifications is such that it drives them to lash out
. Alternatively, it may be a sign that a character is Obviously Evil
, especially if they did this willingly to themselves. Evil Is Visceral
after all, and there is little more visceral than mortifying one's own flesh.
If a character has a few obvious piercings or tattoos, they are not part of this trope. This is only when those body modifications are taken to such a torturous extreme
only a twisted mind would want to inflict or recieve them.
See also Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
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Anime and Manga
- A downplayed example, Kazundo Gouda in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: Second Gig, a villain who has a horribly mangled face and strangely-shaped head due to an accident. Although the damage was not voluntary, it's explicitly pointed out that he could repair his face using the world's futuristic technology and his wealth, but makes the choice not to. He claims it helps make him more memorable.
- The New Jedi Order trilogy from the Star Wars Expanded Universe presents the Yuuzhan Vong, an extra-galactic species who revere pain as a way of life. Many of their religious ceremonies involve cutting, piercing, and scarring, that they might better experience the pain they believed their gods suffered to create the universe. Promotion ceremonies involve having their limbs and organs removed and replaced with artififically grown versions.
- Just about every vampire in the Necroscope series, especially in the "Vampire World" books. The Vamps there deliberately twist and torture their own flesh to make them as horrific as possible, it is something of competition amongst male vamps to see how can have the worst.
- Hemalurgy in the Mistborn books involves pounding metal spikes into your body. The Steel Inquisitors, who used Hemalurgy the most, had railroad-sized spikes driven through everything but their noses, including two so far into their eye sockets that the points come out the back of their heads.
- In Chasm City, Orcagna has a large square hole cut through his abdomen.
- The Blood Pact opposing Gaunt's Ghosts during the Sabbat Worlds Crusade are so named because they ritually cut their hands against the jagged edges of their patron's Power Armor to seal their loyalty to him and their solidarity as fraternal warriors. They also tend to engage in further scarification, cutting chaotic glyphs into their faces and scalps in order to demonstrate their dedication to the Ruinous Powers. Even those tend to be covered up by the iron masks they wear which are shaped into grotesque and monsterous faces.
Live Action TV
- The Reavers from Firefly. The way they scar themselves and jam random bits of metal into their flesh is the least horrible thing about them.
- In The X-Files episode "Humbug" they meet The Conundrum (played by The Enigma) at a carny show. He has a jigsaw-puzzle themed tattoo covering his whole body.
- In an episode of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye and BJ conspire to keep an officer with an unusually high body count and no regard for his men off the line by giving him symptoms of a stomach-ache. Hawkeye claims that he has appendicitis, and tries to get BJ to help him perform an appendectomy. BJ refuses but Hawkeye does it anyways. Just as he returns to the Swamp, BJ informs him of actual casualties are coming in, saying he may have treated a symptom, but the disease carries on.
- Soulblighter, The Dragon and Dragon Ascendant from Bungie's Myth: The Fallen Lords and Myth II: Soulblighter, respectively. He walks about stripped to the waist to display a long snaking scar on his torso where his heart was removed in a magical ritual that made him Nigh Invulnerable. More obviously than that, his nose and lips were cut away from his face, leaving him with a permenant rictus grin.
- The monsters in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. They were all once men, subjected to a Painful Transformation and subsequent modification, such as the removal of their jawbones and hooks and other jagged pieces of metal being shoved through their flesh to use as weapons.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2 featured the villian Darth Sion, a Sith Lord who learned to better draw on The Dark Side through his own pain. Medical scans indicate that every bone in his body has been shattered and re-knit together, and his skin is grey and leathery, with many cracks running across it as though calcified and broken. Ultimately, it is the strength in The Force he gained by doing this that is all which holds him together anymore.
- BioShock 1: the splicers are not an example, as their deformed bodies are the result of accidental mutation. However, anyone worked on by Dr. Steinman is. The mad plastic surgeon would deliberately reshape people's faces and bodies into grotesque forms to fit his insane standards of "beauty". This is a guy who found, for example, symmetry to be horrific.
- Foot binding. Fullstop. Causing painful, permanent deformity to children against their will in the interest of "beauty" is pretty much the definition of this trope.
- Female genital mutilation is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and makes even the above seem like an unwanted tattoo by comparison. Often performed with no anesthesia and instruments such as scissors, with less effort taken toward keeping things sanitary than you'd want from the guy at Starbucks who pours your coffee. It's less a medical procedure and more someone who sorta knows a thing or two about medicine cutting you up with whatever stabby implement is on hand. Hellishly painful, done from days after birth to just before puberty. Death from the procedure itself and/or its complications (to avoid Walls of Text, let's just say there are a lot of potential complications, and every last one is horrific.) is exceedingly common, and underreported. The idea is that the parts removed are 'male' and a girl is cleansed by their removal.