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Mouth Stitched Shut
The eyes cost extra.

"You'll never lie to a friend again, and you'll never kiss another man's wife."
Eric Gorman, Murders in the Zoo

A grisly sister trope to Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, in which brute-force means instead of fantastic ones are used to seal a person's lips. Sometimes this trope is applied to living characters as a tortuous way to prevent them from speaking or crying out. It's also used occasionally on corpses, often to send a message to whomever finds them that the dead victim had talked too much. Self-inflicted examples also occur, for added Squick.

Variants may use something other than string, such as wire, pins, or padlocks. Whatever the means of closure, the unfortunate subject of this trope is going to have pierced lips.

Subtrope of Facial Horror, and the inversion of Glasgow Grin. Sometimes combines with Eye Scream if multiple facial features are sealed.

Can result in a literal case of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, especially if accompanied by other horrors. Related to Bound and Gagged, particularly if the stitching process is shown.


Anime & Manga
  • Claymore: Abyss Feeders are a weapon created by the Organization to fight the Abyssal Ones. The eyes and mouths of the Abyss Feeders are sewn shut and their sense of self completely destroyed so that they would only crave for the flesh of their targets. This makes the Abyss Feeders mindless creatures that are perfect for tracking down and destroying the powerful Abyssal Ones.
  • Meramon and Wizardmon in Digimon Adventure, though they're both good guys, and nobody ever comments on their mouths (which they can still stretch open).

Comic Books
  • In Tales of the Jedi, this is done to Aleema and Satal's old tutor after Aleema transformed his tongue into some kind of hideous monster-slug.
  • The Flash foe Murmur was a mad criminal who could not stop blurting out his crimes. After a botched execution, he tore out his tongue and stitched his mouth shut to prevent himself from doing this.

Fairy Tales
  • In the French fairy tale "The Gold Dragoon", the hero must save his beloved from the Master of Night, and take her to safety without looking back at her or saying a word. Two attempts fail. The third time, the girl uses the trope (along with plugging his ears).

  • In Saw IV, one of the victims in the Mausoleum trap has his lips sewn shut, preventing him from communicating with the other victim whose eyes are similarly sealed. After he's forced to kill his panicked companion in self-defense, he manages to force his mouth open and scream through torn lips.
  • Strangeland. A madman kidnaps a girl and sews her lips shut. Years later, he kidnaps her again and does the same thing to her.
  • Billy, Winnie's zombified boyfriend from Hocus Pocus. Winnie mentioned he talked so much that she sewed his mouth shut before killing him. Once re-animated, the first thing he does of his own volition is to grab a pocketknife and cut the stitches so he can curse her out.
  • In the David Lynch-directed version of Dune, some minions of Baron Harkonnen on Giedi Prime were shown with their eyes, ears, and mouths sewn shut, in the disturbing scene where the Baron rapes a boy while pulling his heart plug. Neither this particular scene, nor the people with the stitched-shut sensory organs, appeared in the novel however.
  • The Final Girl in Exit 33 has her lips stapled gunned together.
  • In the morgue in the remake of The Crazies, the doctor has started tying people down to sew their eyes and mouth shut. The protagonist manages to cut the stitches on one man's mouth in time to be warned that the doctor is right behind him (how the stitched man saw the doctor through stitched eyelids in unanswered).
  • In The Last Starfighter, this is true of Ko-Dan mooks, who speak with a synthesized voice. Formerly true for high-ranking Ko-Dan officers, where it's readily apparent where the stitches used to be.
  • Murders in the Zoo opens with a man getting his mouth sewn shut, and being Left for Dead in the middle of a Chinese jungle. His sewn mouth is shown up close, which was quite shocking for the audiences in 1933.
  • When Earl is turned into a scarecrow in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, the process involves his eyes and mouth being stitched shut.

  • In the first novel of the Aftertime trilogy, a captive girl held by a fanatical religious cult was found with her lips sealed this way.
  • In Simon R. Green's Hawk and Fisher novel Wolf In The Fold, the Freak's mouth was kept sewn shut by his father over many decades' captivity. This wasn't fatal, because the Freak lived on absorbed life force rather than food.
  • In the Shadowhunter Chronicles series, there's an order of monks that sew their mouths shut.
  • In The Scar, it's mentioned that many of the undead who rule the city-state of High Cromlech have had this done as part of their embalming process, so their national language is based on timed facial expressions such as eye-rolling rather than spoken words.
  • In the Richard and Kahlan novel The Omen Machine, we are introduced to the Hedge Maid Jit. Before she learned to speak, her mouth was sewn shut by her mother (implied to be an Hedge Maid herself), so that the death that resides within her cannot escape. Her lips can part, but only enough to drink. When the straps are cut, the screams of the dead kill everyone who hears them... including Jit.
  • In Dead Beat, Butters asks Harry if this is an effective way to stop zombies. Harry doesn't know, and certainly doesn't want to get close enough to test the possibility.

Live-Action Television
  • Part of the M.O. of John Myers, aka The Silencer, on Criminal Minds.
  • In the first episode of Millennium, Frank rescues a man who has been buried alive with his eyes and mouth sewn shut.
  • Millennium was made by the same people as The X-Files, on which an entire faction of alien invaders were humanoids with their mouths and eyes (and presumably all other orifices) sewn shut to prevent contamination with the Black Oil.
  • The Masters Of Horror episode "Pelts" features a seamstress who feels compelled to sew her mouth, nose and eyes shut until she suffocates. (Involves vengeful raccoon spirits.)
  • In a variant, one contestant on Face/Off had to build a foundation-challenge makeup around a set of prosthetic teeth that were wired together.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Dark Willow uses magic to stitch Warren's mouth shut so he can't scream while he's Flayed Alive.

  • "Two missionaries come with conversion kits / You'll be the one sewing cotton through their lips" (Factor 41, Sleeper).

  • Loki of the Norse Mythology had lost a bet with the dwarves. The original bet called for them to cut Loki's head off if he lost- however, he told them that to cut off his head meant they would have to cut his neck as well. He reminded them that his neck was not part of the bargain, so they couldn't cut it without breaking their agreement. They debated on this without reaching a conclusion, so Loki got to keep his head. Angered by this, the dwarves sewed his lips shut instead.

Tabletop Games
  • In the box set Return to the Tomb of Horrors, an important NPC is found hanging on a hook with his mouth and eyes sewn shut.

  • Variation: In The Magic Flute, Papageno is punished by having a padlock placed on his mouth. This prevents him from speaking, but it does not prevent him from humming.

Video Games
  • In the third Last Half Of Darkness game, Tia's ghost sometimes manifests with her lips sewn together. It's implied that Marcos actually did this to her before she died.
  • Twisted Metal Black has Frank "No-Face" McCutcheon, who was once a boxer until one bad match that broke his face. When he visits a surgeon to fix his face, the doctor, who actually bet on him to win that particular match that he lost, decides to cut his tongue and eyes out and sew his lips and eyelids closed in Disproportionate Retribution. Needless to say that when he woke up, he was incredibly pissed.
  • The Saarebas (Qunari mages) in the Dragon Age series often have their lips stitched together to prevent them from reciting spells.
  • In the opening level of Planescape: Torment the zombies operating the Sigil mortuary all have their mouths stitched shut for some reason. The Nameless One can get one of the few live mortuary workers to disguise him as a zombie, including mouth-stitching.
  • Skullgirls: The character Squigly, last of a long line of opera singers, used to be an undead minion of the Skullgirl and has her mouth sewn shut. In her story mode it's revealed that this was done by Lorenzo Medici as a symbolic threat to her family—he can take away her voice, the most precious thing to her, and he can do similar deeds to those that oppose him.
  • The Mudokons in Oddworld have their mouths (and sometimes their eyes) sewn shut. The Glukkons aren't particularly big on employee input.
  • In Borderlands 2, one of Gaige the Mecromancer's alternative heads has her wearing a creepy bunny mask with her mouth stitched shut.
  • The Boom Boo ghosts in Sonic Adventure 2 each have a number of 4 stitches on their mouth, in which if you hit them once, they will reveal a scary Slasher Smile which the stitches had concealed. Likewise for their smaller form in which it will Jump Scare a character if they get close to it.
  • In the video-game version of The Warriors, the graffiti tag for the Hi-Hats gang is a skull in a top hat with its Mouth Stitched Shut. This is appropriate, since the Hi-Hats wear pale makeup and top hats and usually don't speak.
  • Featured on Death Prophet's Silence skill in Dota 2.
  • Voldo of the Soul Series , whose master Vercii did this to him so that he would not reveal any secrets about the money pit he was guarding.


Western Animation
  • In Cat City, the cats seal Grabowski's lips with an actual lock. Ouch.
  • In South Park's "Imaginationland" storyline, when Kyle refused to make good on his agreement to suck Cartman's balls, Cartman started having dreams in which Kyle's mouth was sewn shut, denying him his chance to humiliate Kyle.

Franchise / Multiple
  • Stitched: Not only the mouth, but also the eyes, nostrils, and any other orifice you can think of.

Real Life
  • A common practice in the mortuary trade, to prevent cadavers' lips from shrinking or curling apart from one another as they dry out.
  • Some versions of the process used by Amazon tribes to create shrunken heads involve sewing the mouth shut. Others use wooden pins instead of string.
  • Used in some methods of taxidermy, assuming the mouth is being depicted as closed.
  • One of the more unusual body-piercing techniques places one or more wire loops through the upper and lower lip. Unlike most examples above, they're easily removed at mealtimes, and are usually too loose to impair speech.
  • Occasionally self-inflicted by political protesters, to graphically express their assertion that their views are being silenced.
  • People who break their jaws sometimes have to have them wired shut, and it is a lot like this, albeit only on the teeth, not the lips.

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