Seppuku
aka: Harakiri

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/seppukuS.jpg

A dead silence followed, broken only by the hideous noise of the blood throbbing out of the inert heap before us, which but a moment before had been a brave and chivalrous man. It was horrible.
Algernon Mitford, Tales Of Old Japan

You're a samurai and you're either very depressed, very pissed off, or both. You've been pigeon-holed into choosing between obeying foolish or evil orders or abandoning your warrior ideals. Either way, you're screwed.

Time to send a message. Those gaijin may say it with flowers, but samurai say it with bowels. Their own bowels to be precise. For a true Samurai Warrior Poet, this is the only third option you can take to preserve your honor.

Seppuku is a centuries-old Japanese rite of suicide — literally, "stomach cutting". Harakiri (often misspelled as "hari-kari" or worse) is a more in-speech term for the same thing. Many people have incorrectly believed that harakiri is a more vulgar term, but it is not true. The words actually share the same kanji: "seppuku" is the on-yomi reading of those kanji, while "harakiri" is the kun-yomi reading. How and why seppuku is to be performed, what it means, and so on depends on the historical era, gender, and context. The Theme Park Version, however, is this:

After a period of meditation, the samurai walks out before a number of witnesses and sits seiza on a white sheet or platform. He'll be wearing white, a color associated with death and burial in Japan (and on which blood stands out so well). A special knife is set before him, and a stern-looking dude stands behind him with a raised sword. The samurai says whatever the drama necessitates, then rams the knife deep into his abdomen, curving up into his chest cavity, and slowly pulls it from left to right. The stern-looking dude is a kaishakunin, or "second"; he is expected to be a sport and cut off the samurai's head before he loses his composure (after all, it's just bad suicide etiquette to show pain while you're disemboweling yourself). How soon this happens depends on the kaishakunin's respect for the samurai in question; too early, and he shows contempt by not giving the samurai a chance to show his honor, but too late, and he forces the samurai to endure the entire ritual.

Contrary to popular belief, the kaishakunin isn't actually supposed to decapitate a person during seppuku; doing so often led to the severed head bouncing off the samurai's body in a very undignified fashion, which defeats the whole purpose of seppuku (and also causes huge cleanup issues, because corpses were considered unclean and any bit of ground the head touched would have to be dug up and replaced). Instead, a proper kaishakunin cut is to leave the head attached to the body by a bit of skin and neck muscle (à la "Nearly Headless Nick"). The difficulty of making this cut — and the importance of doing it correctly the first time — meant that being a kaishakunin was a huge responsibility.

There was a different process for women called jigainote , as disembowelment is considered unladylike. A suicidal woman sits seiza with her legs tied up, so that they won't fall open scandalously after she died, and then she slices her jugular vein with a knife. It's a variant of the common trope of a woman facing invasion or military defeat killing herself to avoid being a prisoner or war or a spoil of war.

Another similar practice is kanshi, an act of seppuku by a retainer to protest an act by his lord, whom it would otherwise be dishonorable to challenge or contradict. A variant known as kagebara is a common dramatic device in Japanese theater. A character comes on stage, tells a lord why he sucks, and then opens his robe to reveal that he's already slit his belly and "punished" himself for his treasonous act.

And seppuku still happens in modern Japan, although it's not as common as it once was. Japan is known to have a much more permissive attitude to suicide than other developed countries (ranking ninth in World Health Organization rankings — for comparison, the U.S. is 45th and the U.K. is 60th), and some of that can be traced to rituals like seppuku. Disgraced officials, politicians, and other authority figures might kill themselves as an apology for screwing up, albeit usually not according to ritual. Celebrities occasionally do this as well, and dedicated fans will often follow suit when this happens.

For the Wiki's purposes, seppuku covers a broad range of ritualized suicides from Japan (and East Asia in general), where a character makes a big deal about how, why, and when they kill themselves. The Western equivalent ritualised suicide tropes include Leave Behind a Pistol and Bath Suicide.

Finally, as this is a Death Trope, beware of unmarked spoilers.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Love Hina, at one point Motoko offers to help with the ritualized suicides of the Ronin who have not managed to get into Tokyo University. And after a failed attempt at femininity, she misinterprets one of Keitaro's comments as suggesting that she kill herself, and she asks Su to be her second. Thankfully she soon reverts to her normal self.
  • Ranma's mother Nodoka in Ranma ½ is charged with carrying around the sword to be used by her as the kaishakunin should her son or husband disgrace themselves. Luckily for them, she's not very good with the sword. Unluckily for them, she's dead serious about her duty. What pushes this into Honor Before Reason territory (and would push Nodoka into Abusive Parents territory in any series that took itself more seriously) is that the contract she is so dedicated to following literally consists of a verbal vow from Genma that "I will make Ranma a man among men", and a written contract consisting of "I will commit seppuku", signed with Genma's thumb-print and baby-Ranma's handprint.
    • In the end, she accepts Ranma's female side (and it's implied that she forgives the whole "Ranko" deception) on the grounds that, regardless of what Ranma looks like, he's a man through and through. Unmanly behavior can still make her reach for her sword, though...
  • Lone Wolf and Cub's Ogami Itto was the head kaishakunin of the Shogun before they killed his wife and he became a Ronin, and in the story several characters are threatened with (and commit) Seppuku should they fail to capture Itto and Daigoro.
  • Kumadori of One Piece would frequently claim responsibility for failures that weren't his fault in the first place, and proceed to attempt seppuku — only to always subconsciously harden his body and thus survive.
    Kumadori: I...I'm still alive!
    Jabura: And that's not good news!
  • Black Lagoon:
    • In the anime, during the flashback segments of the submarine arc, it is revealed the Japanese army officer aboard the ship committed Seppuku rather than die of asphyxiation when it was obvious the submarine would never be able to surface again. (There was no mention of any Japanese officer in the manga.)
    • Yukio Washimine gives herself a Impromptu Tracheotomy with Ginji's katana after Revy kills him in the final episode. It counts as seppuku as not only she does it right after the death of her only remaining supporter, but it follows the traditional suicide rite for women: piercing her own throat. Only Yukio, for obvious reasons, does it with a katana instead of a dagger.
  • This is a common threat from Hijikata of Gintama.
  • Hatsu and Koon bicker about the others culture in Tower of God, Koon asks if Hatsu's people still perform Halbok, the Korean equivalent to seppuku. Whereas Koon thinks it is a barbaric, idiotic rite, Hatsu believes it is one of the manliest things one can do. He then proceeds to call Koon a sissy for wearing ear-rings.
  • In The Five Star Stories, Blreno, wracked with guilt over losing both the war against Colus and his entire battalion attempts Seppuku during an audience with his king, only for the king to knock the sword from his hand. Turns out the king is just glad he made it back alive and wants him to keep fighting to learn from his mistakes so he can improve, rather than kill himself over them.
  • In Utawarerumono the heroes surround and overwhelm a cruel lord's castle. The lord's general, Benawi, realizes that they have lost and he urges his master to "die with honor" and offers to assisst him. The lord doesn't dare, so Benawi kills him himself. Then he unceremoniously tries to cut off his own head. The hero stops him and he asks if he should live in shame. Next scene he's feasting happily with the victorious army.
  • Likely due to changing social mores and Japan's ludicrous suicide rate, it's becoming increasingly common in various Japanese media to deconstruct this. The Twilight Samurai (Tasogare Seibei in Japan) features a samurai ordered to kill himself when his master is dishonored; he refuses, and is given a death sentence to be carried out by the title character. Seibei does not particularly hold it against the man that he refuses to kill himself: he simply has been ordered to do something, and he has children and an ailing mother to care for.
  • Likewise, Kenshin Himura of Rurouni Kenshin fame has said outright that he began his life as a wanderer as an alternative to suicide, and encourages others to follow his path of atonement. His reasoning is simply that killing himself helps no one and he can do much more good alive. A similar Aesop pops up in Tales of Symphonia: all life has value, and death solves nothing.
  • Early in Nurarihyon no Mago, Gyuuki tries to do this after revealing why he plotted to kill Rikuo, in order to preserve the honor of the Nura clan. However, Rikuo (in his Nurarihyon form) stops him by breaking the blade off his sword, understanding his reasons for doing so.
  • In Naruto Kakashi's father Sakumo commits seppuku, having failed a mission as a result of going to save his friends, and being ostracized for his failure, even by those he saved. The act is not witnessed, but a young Kakashi finds his father's body after the deed is done.
    • In a filler episode, Koumei is ordered to commit seppuku as the sentence for being behind the cursed warrior incidents despite being innocent. Later in the arc, in a flashback Toki, seeing her brother dying, contemplates committing seppuku, but his spirit inspires her to keep on living. The whole arc was in fact full of this - when Shishima is unable to convince the Hokage to accept his mission, he pulls out a knife and stabs himself in the... moneybags? They were tied to his stomach, and the reactions of Tsunade and Shizune are truly priceless.
  • Kiku Honda aka the Moe Anthropomorphism of Japan tries to kill himself through seppuku in the second strip of Axis Powers Hetalia, thinking it's the standard way to reply when captured. He's shocked when his partners, Germany and Italy, react differently.
  • In Urusei Yatsura, There are a couple of manga chapters/TV episodes that end with Shuutaro Mendou threatening to commit suicide out of shame, though he never follows through for various reasons (mostly concerning a cloud of girls who physically restrain him from doing so).
  • In Get Backers, three different characters attempt suicide during the IL arc, but Juubei's the one everyone compares to a samurai. He tries to kill his best friend and "lord," Kazuki, and, when he loses that fight, begs Kazuki to kill him. When Kazuki refuses, he tries to do it himself and tells Kazuki he always intended to kill himself, win or lose, as atonement.
  • Then there is Kai Suwabara from Yakitate!! Japan, who wanted to commit seppuku because of his inability to win against Azuma, after several tries. He is only stopped because his girlfriend says that she is pregnant and it would bring greater shame to leave her as an alone mother. She isn't. They have, after all, just hugged eachother.
  • Seppuku is referenced, quite appropriately, in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de's first OAV and the TV series, where certain characters wonder whether Minamoto no Yorihisa might do this to himself in case he fails to protect the Miko.
  • In Harakiri, a one-shot by Shintaro Kago, is about girls performing seppuku, although it's more of a form of self-mutilation than anything.
  • Invoked in K: Stray Dog Story. After his master dies, Kuroh, a somewhat anachronistic modern samurai, tells the old woman next door about his plan to retrieve his late master's sword and use it to fulfill his late master's dying wish. The old woman asks what he will do if he doesn't manage to make it happen, and he says he will commit harakiri. The old woman just smiles and says, "I don't think that's what the Ichigen Miwa I knew would want you to do."
  • The cause of Japanese Prime Minister Genbu Kururugi's death, after he fails to stop the invasion of Britannia. Officially, anyway. Actually, he was stabbed to death by his pre-teen son Suzaku, in the middle of a heated discussion where the kid tried to dissuade his dad from destroying Japan itself by leading a last desperate attack on the enemy.
    • Invoked by a racist commander in Code Geass: Akito the Exiled, who justifies sending Japanese soldiers on suicide missions because "Elevens love to kill themselves".
  • Valvrave the Liberator, by the same writer as Geass, has the titular Humongous Mecha's special weapon - the harakiri blade. The robot plunges its sword through it's midsection and withdraws it with a force powerful enough to take out a fleet of battleships. It sounds just plain ridiculous, until you realize that these are the secret hidden weapons that save JIOR, which is really just Japan under a different name... and it might just be Crossing the Line Twice into a critique of the whole cultural-suicide-fixation thing. JIOR was also developing them in secret, while telling the rest of the world they were completely pacifist and neutral.
  • The hentai manga Graduation and Beheading Ceremony features something similar, only the kids in question die by ripping each other's hearts out (having been trained for whatever reason to look forward to their impending deaths). That death is but one of many, and it is not the most memorable.
    • And in Applicant for Death by the same artist, a girl commits seppuku while having sex with her brother's decapitated corpse while his head watches.
  • The Legend of Koizumi: When Shinzo Abe fails in an attempt to pass the missing Koizumi's son Kotaro off as his father in a mahjong match with Vladimir Putin, he commits seppuku in front of his maid.
  • Performed at the beginning of the first issue of Mai-Chan's Daily Life as an exhibition piece. Since the main character has a Healing Factor, she survives the experience, but earns the mockery and abuse of her handler for failing to complete the ritual and chop off her own head before fainting from blood loss, setting the tone for one hell of a sadistic series.
  • In Fist of the North Star, Ryuga commits kagebara before his battle with Kenshiro. Knowing defeat was inevitable especially against the adopted younger brother of Toki (who he had killed only days earlier), Ryuga felt it was better to Face Death with Dignity.
  • In the Lupin III (Red Jacket) episode "Kooky Kabuki", Goemon betrays Lupin to help a woman, is in turn betrayed himself, and decides seppuku is the only way he can make amends, with Lupin himself doing the beheading part. Lupin can't bear to behead his friend, so he instead punches him, leading to a fist fight and a reconciliation.
  • In Blade of the Immortal, Kensui commits sepukku after being ordered to betray Anotsu, who acts as his second. Later Hisoka follows by cutting her throat.
    • Hibaki is given a month before he is obligated to commit seppuku after failing to prevent an attack on the castle. He uses it to hunt down the remaining Itto-ryu. During this time, his wife and son kill themselves so they won't be used as hostages.
  • Boys Love Genre Show Within a Show Winter Cicada ends with Akizuki committing seppuku and Kusaka doing the same after finding his body.
  • In episode 4 of Samurai Champloo, a noble Yakuza leader does this as an act of defiance/taking a third option between his son being killed and losing his territory. At the end of the episode, one of his former lieutenants who had joined his unpleasant rival redeems himself by committing Suicide by Mugen.
  • In Ooku The Inner Chambers, a number of retainers follow Shogun Iemitsu into death. The 47 Ronin also make an appearance later.
  • Parodied in Codename: Sailor V: Sailor V, pissed at the Monster of the Week, sentences him to this, and then cuts him in two, with Artemis pointing out it's not how it's done.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn features a Humongous Mecha doing this with the barrel of a sniper rifle. In context he was trying to pierce the reactor and blow up the enemies who were surrounding him, but the pose he does it in is meant to be evocative of seppuku.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Mizoguchi with his Samurai deck has a card called "Resolve of the Lord and Retainer". The illustration has a man about to commit seppuku, and it inflicts damage to both players by making a blade appear in their hands with which they stab themselves.
  • In the anime adaptation of Death Note, Mikami gives himself an Impromptu Tracheotomy with a pen after Light Yagami reveals his true nature, the former losing faith after the latter's spectacular breakdown.
  • Attempted by Ira Gamagoori in Kill la Kill, after he loses to Ryuko. Satsuki, however, stops him.
  • In Kämpfer, there's a line of very creepy-looking stuffed animals that look like they committed seppuku, with their intestines sticking out and all; two of their names translate to Suicide Tiger and Suicide Black Rabbit. One of the girls in Natsuru's Unwanted Harem has a room full of them, and Natsuru once has to spend the night there...
  • In Bleach, Giselle Gewelle uses her powers to force a bunch of guys to kill themselves like this.
    Giselle: "Okay, everyone! Seppuku ~"
  • In the X/1999 TV series, Hinoto performs jigai in the Dream Scape to kill both herself and her Dark Self. As a bonus, Hinoto's body appears mortally wounded in the Real World - quite the feat, considering she's crippled, deaf and blind in here.
  • Mimori Togo from Yuki Yuna Is a Hero attempted to pull jigai but failed because her Fairy Companion got in the way. She tried suicide in other manners but her fairy always prevented her. When she reveals the Awful Truth to two of her friends, she does it by attempting jigai again.
  • In a Detective Conan case, a female culprit grabs a katana that belongs to her husband and victim and points it at her neck as if she's about to commit jigai with it. Then she changes her mind and starts to madly swing it around, but another woman who is a kendo expert manages to stop her. Using only a paper fan. Then, she gives the culprit a "The Reason You Suck" Speech and disuades her from trying to kill herself again. The second woman is Shizuka Hattori (nèe Ikenami), Heiji's Almighty Mom.
  • In Basilisk, the deaths of the Star-Crossed Lovers Oboro and Gennosuke don't follow the rituals ( she stabs herself in the chest and he later does the same) but count as this since Oboro killed 'self to not have to kill Gennosuke in a fixed duel and to free herself from Lady Ofuku's plans and Gennosuke commited suicide after Oboro's death, having lost literally everything in this Crapsack World despite being the Sole Survivor.
  • The hilariously infamous "POTATO-DONO!" scene from Dai Mahou Touge is a rather... epic parody of this. "Potato-dono" (Mr. Potato) speaks like an old-school samurai, is seen sitting in seiza in front of a peeler in a way that mirrors a samurai preparing to go through seppuku (white blanket included!), peels himself rather epically to encourage the other talking veggies and ultimately is thrown into the curry pot by a carrot (as a sort-of kaishakunin). He even gets to Go Out with a Smile as he falls, saluting his fellow vegetables before "dying".
  • Seppuku is referenced in Drifters. Shimazu Toyohisa convinces a group of Orte soldiers to surrender after he has their backs to the wall. Although Toyohisa promised to spare the surrendering soldiers, he intended for the Orte commander to commit seppuku with himself acting as his kaishakunin. Being from the Sengoku era, Toyohisa offered this so that the commander and his forces would keep their honor after the defeat, but the soldier was horrified that Toyohisa would demand such a barbaric thing from him. Shimazu decides then that the Orte are honorless and simply slaughters all of them.
  • In Medaka Box, Zenkichi has to turn down his classmate Emukae's long-standing Love Confession and chooses to do so in possibly the most manly and over-the-top fashion ever: to repay the emotional pain she's suffered from his indecision, he inflicts equal physical pain upon himself by committing seppuku right then and there, all while reassuring her that she's a wonderful person who deserves all the love in the world, but he can't be the one to give it because already in love with Medaka. However, he doesn't die because their teammate Kumagawa can "heal" him by erasing the injuries from existence.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of the Tintin story The Blue Lotus, it's stated that Big Bad Mitsuhirato committed hara-kiri (as it was usually known in the West at the time).
  • Parodied in the Latin-American comic strip of The '70s Mafalda:
    Manolito: I heard that the Japanese slice their bellies open and FWOOOSH [makes a gesture on his stomach] they commit Ikebana!
    Mafalda: What the Hell, that's hara-kiri! Ikebana has to do with flowers! (leaves)
    Manolito: That's their wake, you MORON!
    • Later when Felipe confirms the act is indeed named hara-kiri, Manolito says that having to admit that he was wrong is "pride's hara-kiri".
  • Appears regularly in Usagi Yojimbo, since the series is based on historical Japan.
    • A unique case is Usagi finding a town haunted by the ghost of a general who was killed before he could complete the ceremony. Usagi waits for the ghost to make his nightly arrival, respectfully saying they both served the same lord and "I would be honored to be your second." As the ghost makes the belly cuts, Usagi uses his sword (blessed in holy water) to "behead" the spirit and finally let the general be at peace.
  • In an issue of Daredevil (set just before Shadowland), DD is the head of The Hand, a cult of ninjas. One of his lieutenants is getting too ambitious and would rather be the head, so some of DD's other lieutenants kill him, and later claim he committed suppuku since he failed to become leader of The Hand.
  • This is an important plotpoint in Ronin.
  • In the very first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the four heroes offer Shredder the chance to commit Seppuku so that he may die with honor. (In most versions of the Turtles' continuity, the term bushido is used liberally and is a code that can be followed by Ninja as well as Samurai.) Instead Shredder opts to blow them all up with a grenade.
  • In one Calvin and Hobbes strip, Calvin asks Hobbes if this would be the appropriate response to breaking his father's prized binoculars, or if running away from home would be sufficient. Hobbes suggests both.
  • In Noob, most of comic 9 consists of a battle in which each side's commander is randomly chosen among participants. The randomly chosen commander for the Empire is Manipulative Bitch and Dirty Coward Gaea, whose strategy inevitably includes We Have Reserves. At the end of the battle, the protagonists decide to participate in another battle and Omega Zell, who hates Gaea, comments that there's no way the next commander of their side can be any worse than her. Cut to the last panel of the comic showing the Empire commander being chosen for the next battle: it's Sparadrap, everyone's favorite Stupid Good Kindhearted Simpleton and Omega Zell is seen in the background pointing a dagger towards his own stomach.
  • In "Vow of the Samurai" in Jonah Hex #39 (original series), a samurai commits hara-kiri after he discovers that his daughter has had a child with an outlaw. He forces Jonah to fulfill an oath he made earlier by acting as kaishakunin and cutting his head off.

    Fan Fiction 
  • An InuYasha one-shot, Sisters, Forever, states that Kikyo's father, blaming himself for her mother's death, left a young Kaede in Kikyo's care before committing seppuku.
  • In System Restore, Kuzuryu tries this for reasons similar to the Super Dangan Ronpa 2 example below, but in this fic, he fails because his hands are badly burned from a failed attempt to save Pekoyama's life.
  • In a flashback in Episode 74 of Sonic X: Dark Chaos, Cosmo's mother Hertia committed seppeku with a plasma knife after Maledict devolved her to her original form. It's actually a case of Better to Die than Be Killed - Maledict explicitly gave her the choice between suicide or a Fate Worse than Death. And in an interesting case of Shown Their Work, Maledict ends her suffering by decapitating her as well.
  • Discussed (semi-jokingly) by Shinji in Doing It Right This Time, as he is rather sore about being essentially press-ganged into being Kaworu's kaishakunin, and avows that if they end up going through the whole "I Cannot Self-Terminate" thing again this time around he's going to make him observe the proper ceremonies first.
  • Parodied in the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal. The Prospectus issued as a guide to prospective parents and students of the Assassins' guild School devotes a proud chapter to its brand-new Agatean Studies Department. Set texts are issued to students explaining the purpose and philosophy underlying seppuko. however, titles like Today is a Good Day for Somebody Else to Commit Seppuko suggest the particular slant the assassins put on the practice. Assisted seppuko for others, most certainly...

    Film 
  • 13 Assassins has a few instances of seppuku, including one which kicks off the whole plot.
  • Airplane!: Played for Laughs (as is pretty much everything else in the film) when a Japanese general does this rather than listen to another one of Ted's stories.
  • Harakiri (1962) is a black and white Jidai Geki and massive Take That! to the seppuku ritual and its portrayal in fiction. In it, ronin request permission of daimyo (local magistrates) to kill themselves and be buried on their property, hoping to be turned away and given sympathy money; one young samurai is called on the bluff and forced to complete the ritual — with a blunt stick of bamboo. Bloody, poetic justice is enacted by the young samurai's father-in-law, who realised his son-in-law had already sold his swords to pay for medicine for his sick wife and child. The entire movie revolves around the father's revenge, although at the end he shows his honour by cutting his belly just before his enemies gun him down. It is an EXTREMELY good movie.
  • In Harold and Maude, this is how Harold stages one of his elaborate fake suicides. Amusingly, instead of scaring off his would-be date, as intended, she recognizes it as a performance and joins in.
  • In The House Where Evil Dwells, an American couple and their best friend are possessed by the spirit of three Japanese people who haunt the house the couple moved into when the man was transferred to Japan. Due to the possession, the two guys eventually fight due to the wife and friend's affair, the man killing the friend, then his wife, then he commits seppuku. Then the spirits get up and leave the bodies lying on the floor.
  • In the film version of The Hunger Games, Seneca, having been in charge of the Games and allowing two winners, is lead to a room, with a bowl of the poisonous nightshade berries that Katniss used to save herself and Peeta.
  • The Last Samurai
    • General Hasegawa, a member of the samurai class who leads the modernized army against the rebels, commits seppuku after his forces lose the battle. Katsumoto, the opposing leader and one of his old friends, serves as kaishakunin and later remarks he was "honored to cut off his head". Algren, who sees it from the back, misses the stomach-cutting, and thus thinks it was just Katsumoto murdering an unarmed man.
      • Worth noting: while the movie did a pretty good job with most of its research, this seppuku would have been considered exceptionally sloppy in real life. Katsumoto screams right before delivering the kaishaku cut (a big no-no in what is supposed to be a calm and dignified ritual) and makes the mistake of cutting all the way through Hasegawa's neck, which would have been extraordinarily disrespectful and/or a display of very shoddy swordsmanship.
    • Later, Algren helps the defeated Katsumoto kill himself after the samurai are horribly slaughtered in a charge against a number of Gatling guns. This is in the understanding that he is taking his own life after his service to his Emperor is complete, the samurai rebellion crushed, which, really, Katsumoto knew was going to happen anyway. His sacrifice succeeds: the Emperor finally pushes back against the Westernization of Japan.
    • This is mentioned after Katsumoto is attacked by assassins during a theater performance, when Algren suspects the Emperor. Katsumoto rejects the idea, saying that if the Emperor wants his life, all he has to do is ask.
    • When Katsumoto is arrested in the capital, he is seen meditating in his chambers after a meal. Behind him, one of Omura's henchmen quietly enters, drawing a tanto from his clothes as though he was going to kill Katsumoto. He draws close... then simply places the knife on Katsumoto's plate and mutters "Save us the trouble."
  • Letters from Iwo Jima contains a lot of this, including various suicides by grenade.
  • In Liar Liar, Fletcher stabs himself in the gut with his phone after he accidentally hung up on a judge.
  • Yukio Mishima had an obsession with this as shown in Mishima A Life In Four Chapters.
  • Ran includes several instances of seppuku, but perhaps the most significant is the one that Lord Hidetora never commits. He can't, because his sword is broken and he is unable find another blade to do it with. Instead he goes insane inside his burning castle.
  • Seppuku and the legend of The 47 Ronin are spoken about in the (distinctly non-Japanese film) Ronin.
  • Played for laughs in Scary Movie 4: The Japanese UN delegate runs himself through after the President accidentally uses an alien weapon to remove his clothes.
  • In Serenity, the Operative references both seppuku and Roman generals falling on their swords when talking with a scientist who has screwed up hardcore. When said scientist doesn't take the hint, the Operative forcefully helps him out with regaining his lost honor.
  • In Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky an evil minion commits seppuku and then tries to strangle the hero with his intestines. The rest of the movie has the same Gorn vibe.
    • It becomes absolutely hilarious when the assistant warden in the dub shouts:
      "Alright, you got a lotta guts Oscar!!"
  • Tokyo Gore Police has a spoof PSA decrying the practice, filmed in the usual surreal Japanese advertisement fashion. In it, a disgraced businessman is egged on into Hara-Kiri, by both his boss and a man covered in blue spots. He commits it, and is then shown with his intestines pouring out (a deliberate Special Effect Failure), before reminding us that it's actually suicide.
  • In The Wolverine some Japanese military leaders in charge of the POW camp that Wolverine himself is being held in preferred to die with honor through this rather than in the atomic explosion that was coming.
  • In Machete, when Machete mortally wounds Torrez, Torrez scornfully finishes himself off this way, to deny Machete the glory of killing him. Torrez has to pause, saying it hurts more than he thought it would, before pulling the blade all the way through.
  • In Showdown in Little Tokyo, the Damsel in Distress Minako attempts to commit this after the Big Bad is strongly implied to have raped her.
  • Kinjite: Forbidden Subjects ends on a dark note because the little Japanese girl that Charles Bronson's character had saved from child prostitution uses this method of expiating her shame at having been raped.
  • Obviously, this takes place in 47 Ronin (a very, very fictionalised version of the story). Kai, the half-Mighty Whitey protagonist, goes through it with the ronin themselves.
  • Ditto The 47 Ronin, the 1941 Japanese version of the story. Asano is forced to commit seppuku at the beginning of the story. The 47 ronin are forced to commit it at the end, after finally getting revenge for their master and killing Lord Kira.
  • After the remaining villain Yamashita is defeated in a duel in Samurai Cop, he performs a seppuku in accordance with his samurai code.
  • Done by the Japanese commanders at Okinawa at the end of Hacksaw Ridge to demonstrate that the Japanese have finally lost the battle and aren't about to commit another suicidal charge against the Americans.

    Literature 
  • In The Manchurian Candidate, the death of Raymond has undertones of this. After breaking out of his mind control at the last minute and shooting the Soviet conspirators, he explains himself to his commanding officer before shooting himself in the head. Said officer, Marco, actually orders him to committ suicide rather than go on trial for the murders he did not willingly commit.
  • A similar ritual is observed in Tsurannuanni, the Oriental Fantasy Counterpart Culture in The Riftwar Cycle. For example, in Daughter of the Empire, Papewaio asks permission to fall on his sword for entering the family's sacred grove (the alternative being a decidedly less honorable hanging).
  • Several characters in Jessica Amanda Salmonson's Tomoe Gozen Saga, including the title character's husband.
  • In Alyzon Whitestarr by Isobelle Carmody, Alyzon researches seppuku as part of an assignment.
  • As seen in a textbook example of the act in the novel Warrior: Coupe (and occasionally brought up in later ones), the tradition is alive and well in the 31st century in the Draconis Combine of the BattleTech universe.
    • A stronger dramatic example would be in the novel Wolves On The Border, with the seppuku at the end an inevitable consequence of an act of kindness at the very beginning. Notable for deviating from the absolute tradition of the act (the second does not have a sword, using a more modern weapon) as well as effectively causing an entire war unto itself, with repercussions all the way into the novel Wolf Pack and beyond.
    • This happens again in Wolf Pack, except that it's happening to the Coordinator of the Draconis Combine, who put himself into a situation which would have weakened his nation and the entire Inner Sphere no matter how it ended...unless he died before this no-win scenario played out.
    • A woman's version of the event, as described above, is set up in Grave Covenant, broadcast live across the entire capital planet of the Draconis Combine. Unusual in that she is given a second, in the person of the man who saved her life from assassins. While it's stated the broadcast is more for political show than an actual instance of the act (the woman involved was never meant to take her own life), the people involved go from playing their parts to living them, and are interrupted very dramatically before the act can take place.
  • As anyone would expect, seppuku is a Very Serious Business Indeed in Shogun:
    • Early in the novel, at the end of a battle a small group of samurai found themselves surrounded by the victors, and having no chance to escape or even cause meaningful damage. Thus, they quickly paired off and began performing a hasty form of seppuku, with the survivors then pairing off until only one remained. At that point, one of the victorious samurai stepped forward and helped the last maintain his honor. The victors treated this with full respect and the bodies were treated with full honor for their act.
    • John "Anjin" Blackthorne's attempt at seppuku is a life-changing event that wins him the respect of the other samurai, specially since he did it to save a whole village from mass execution and to prove a point to said samurai.
    • Now Hatamoto (a trusted advisor) and head of a household, Blackthorne catches and guts a pheasant, intending to have a Western-style feast and leaving it out to ripen. Trouble is, with events unfolding with Toranaga, Omi, Mariko and Yabu, he forgets all about it and it starts to rot and attract flies - a cardinal sin in Japan as it upsets the village's harmony. As Blackthorne has given orders no-one touch it bar him, one old gardener volunteers to dispose of it, knowing full well he must then commit seppuku for disobeying Blackthorne's instructions. Blackthorne is aghast and wracked with guilt and rage when he finds out, but Toranaga makes clear that not only was the old gardener in immense pain from arthritis and proud to serve Blackthorne to the point of death, he even dispatched one of his own samurai to make the death as swift and honourable as possible.
    • Toranaga's entire Batman Gambit in Osaka hangs or falls on Mariko's seppuku. Mariko ultimately goes through, openly stating that her death shall be seen as seppuku before throwing herself in a fire, so Toranaga wins.
    • Towards the end, Yabu has his treachery revealed at a time when he has also ceased to be useful, and is ordered to do this by Toranaga. For all his many faults, everyone who attended the suicide said his was the most dignified and graceful they had ever seen.
  • Tales of the Otori: A fantasy set in a world based on Sengoku period Japan, also plays this as Serious Business.
  • In the Michael Crichton thriller Rising Sun, the amoral Japanese executive who was behind all the murder and cover ups of the story asks for a moment alone to collect himself after indisputable evidence of his guilt is presented. When he is left alone, he jumps off the very tall balcony he's on and into wet cement, killing himself. Interestingly, the protagonists (who are LA police officers) knew exactly what he was about to do, and let him do it on purpose (the evidence they had likely wouldn't have held up in trial, due to experimental techniques).
  • Quidditch Through the Ages, a defictionalized Harry Potter book, has a non-fatal version: Apparently Japanese Quidditch players tend to destroy their brooms should they lose a match. Costly, yes, but not fatal. The international Quidditch community considers it a waste of good wood.
  • The Corrupt Corporate Executive who instigated a war between the United States and Japan in Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor, when captured, asks for a few moments alone to prepare himself for capture. His request is refused, however, and the general capturing even says that he is not allowed to have that particular escape.
  • In The Bible, King Saul fell on his sword to avoid being captured by the Philistines.
  • In the Fighting Fantasy gamebook Sword of the Samurai, where the Player Character is — what else? — a Samurai — you do this automatically if your Honor Score drops to 0 (which means, naturally, you lose).
  • Atrocity Week by Andrew McCoy. The wife of a Japanese businessman kills herself in the jigai manner after being raped by a guerrilla raiding party. No one tries to stop her, figuring she'll just do it later when they're not around.
  • A Culture Clash example occurs in Temeraire. Lawrence is facing execution in Japan for trespassing; however, his host offers to let him commit Seppuku in order to preserve his honor (and the host's honor). Lawrence is aghast at the suggestion since as a devout Christian and an Officer and a Gentleman he regards suicide as a cowardly act and (more importantly) a mortal sin.
  • In Interesting Times, the Agatean Empire's equivalent to Cut-Me-Own-Throat Dibbler is named Disembowel-Myself-Honorably Dhibala in reference to this. Nobody actually performs seppuku in the book, though, the more common method of suicide being telling Cohen the Barbarian you would rather die than betray your Emperor.
  • The main villain of the James Bond novel The Man with the Red Tattoo has dedicated himself to follow the old Samurai ethics, and in the climax, he follows his failure to defeat Bond in a duel with seppuku.
  • In the Choose Your Own Adventure book Secret of the Ninja, The Protagonist and their best friend Danai pull Time Travel to evade a powerful curse. One of the paths leads them to meet the samurai Sashami, who's about to abandon a village he was ordered to protect since he knows it's a hopeless mission. Choosing to run away with him will lead to the three being caught by a local lord who will give them a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, force the time travelers to become his servants, and order Sashami to commit seppuku as punishment. note 
  • Kris Longknife has a close variant: the Iteeche are a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to ancient Japan, and people who rebel against or are perceived to have embarrassed the empire are usually required to "make a most sincere apology to the Emperor" by drinking a poison that causes an extremely painful death.

    Live Action TV 
  • A (supposedly) Ripped from the Headlines case from 1000 Ways to Die features a Japanese rock star who, after causing the death of his group's lead singer onstage (also featured earlier) and then thinking of himself as a total disgrace for the music industry, kills himself through seppuku. He slits his belly open with a knife, and then one of his bandmates (acting as his kaishakunnin) decapitates him. The case itself is called "Bull-Shido", a Punny Name based on bushido and "bullshit".
  • In one skit on Comedy Inc, a Japanese man is playing golf and misses a visibly easy shot. He then proceeds to break his golf bat and uses it to commit seppuku. His two white opponents watch him with complete composure; once he’s dead, one of them says, ‘Well, there goes the deal.’
  • Game of Thrones: Jorah's greyscale becomes bad enough for the maesters to plan to send him to die with the stone man. Because he's a knight, however, they give him a sword and suggest that he do with it as he will.
  • Done in a Flashback in Highlander: The Series, when Duncan washes up on a Japanese island after his ship sinks in a storm. During that time, all gaijin were supposed to be killed on sight by order of the Emperor, but a local lord takes him in instead, even teaching him some Japanese ways. When the Emperor finds out, he lets the lord know his displeasure. The lord then asks Duncan to help him commit seppuku, who is, at first, reluctant, but then agrees to do the honor of chopping the head. He gets to keep the sword too, which is what he uses throughout the show.
  • On How I Met Your Mother Barney mimes committing suicide several times when he feels Ted and Robin are being too lovey-dovey with each other; at one point this includes miming seppuku.
  • In the TV adaptation of The Man in the High Castle, seppuku is still used in Imperial Japan and its territories in the former US. An Imperial Guard officer is seen committing public seppuku after the crown prince's attempted assassination, and Kido is expected to do so if he can't find the would-be assassin.
  • Mentioned in Mystery Science Theater 3000 occasionally by Tom Servo, although he was asking for help due to having nonfunctional arms. (This was, of course, a reaction to the movie that week being particularly bad.)
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Back to Reality", one of the Despair Squid's victims kills himself in this manner.
    • In the Series 10 episode The Beginning a simulant who has failed the boss thinks he's being told to do this and does. Then the exasperated boss explains he was actually only asking him to clean his sword.
  • One episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation had Worf getting crippled from the waist down by a falling crate. Since he's a Klingon, he feels that the only honorable thing for him to do would be to commit ritual suicide, and asks Riker to be his second. Everyone aboard objects strenuously, and Worf is nearly convinced that life is still worth living — Until a rogue surgeon offers him a possibly deadly operation, which he almost instantly takes them up on, and it works perfectly.
    • Technically, Worf was almost convinced to live when Riker found out that, according to Klingon tradition, Worf's second was supposed to be his six-year-old son Alexander. Also, the operation is actually botched; Worf only survives because Klingons are Made of Iron, and he hadn't quite hurt himself badly enough for his backup spinal cord to kick in.
    • Worf also attempts this in "Night Terrors", when the Enterprise is stuck in a Tyken's Rift and the crew are faced with the prospect of being slowly driven insane by a lack of REM sleep. Troi manages to stop him just before he goes through with it.
    • Worf's brother, Kurn asks that Worf assist him in performing this ritual after Worf dishonors his family in Deep Space Nine. Dax realizes Worf's intent and tries to stop it, just a moment too late. Odo claims that Worf could be charged with murder if Kurn doesn't survive.
    • Also from DS9, the Jem'Hadar are a species born and bred to serve the Founders, a race of God Guise shapeshifters. The Jem'Hadar were programmed from birth to revere their masters, and would commit suicide en masse if a Founder died on their watch. ("The Ship)
  • In the WW2 period drama Tenko the Japanese internment camp guard Sato commits seppuku rather than acknowledge the allied victory. It's a strangely chilling, yet dignified, scene.
  • An American admiral stationed in Japan commits suicide in the JAG episode "Innocence" for what he perceived to be a failure on his part. The characters can't help but comment on how Japanese it all was.
  • In the Japanese series Oshin, one of the many pains that Shin "Oshin" Tanekura goes through is her husband Ryuuzou's suicide around the end of World War II. It counts at this because he does so out of grief after the death of his and Oshin's eldest son Yuu in the war and the definitive ruin of his government-sponsored business, so he feels that he has failed to his wife in an absolutely unforgivable way.
  • On Good Eats, after having been called out for giving Alton erroneous information, the owner of the simulated Asian market attempts this. Alton stops him.
    • Alton himself does this while dressed as a sunflower, in order to explain the concept of plant starch.
  • In M*A*S*H, the episode "Goodbye, Cruel World" featured a guilt-ridden Asian-American soldier who, despite being sent home a war hero, kept trying to commit suicide. In the words of the psychiatrist, Major Freedman, he had to kill Asians "to be a good American," but then had to kill himself "to be a good Asian."
  • In the Haven episode "Burned", a man named Lance kills himself this way when Ginger tells him, "I hate your guts!"
  • Good News Week: Paul McDermott on the subject of the Japanese Prime Minister's resignation:
    "I think the resignation took a lot of guts... but not as much guts as a traditional Japanese resignation!"
  • Mentioned in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow, when the team accidentally ends up in Edo-period Japan. An old man named Ichiro explains that his son Oda used to be a great samurai. Unfortunately, his popularity among the troops made the Shogun jealous, so he ordered Oda to take his own life. Being a loyal samurai, Oda obliged. The Shogun even went on to demand that Ichiro destroy Oda's sword, which Ichiro forged himself, but Ichiro hid the weapon instead.

    Manhua 
  • In the Chinese manhua, Ravages Of Time (an adaptation of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms), the idea of a ritualized suicide to redeem yourself is mocked by several characters. The ultimate example would be, Lu Bu, once he was defeated by Cao Cao and was about to be executed. He was even willing to bow and beg for his life at random spectators; Cao Cao respected him, for that since it take more courage to live than to die. The only reason it didn't work was because Liu Bei pointed out his Chronic Back Stabbing Disorder to Cao Cao.

    Mythology 
  • Minamoto no Yoshitsune committed seppuku to avoid the disgrace of capture or falling to an unworthy foe. His vastly outnumbered followers, because of their dedication, were able to hold off the Zerg Rush of his brother's soldiers, who were inferior not in training but in dedication, and buy him the time for this. (Although Yoshitsune is a historical figure, the accounts of his death are mostly legendary.)
    Tabletop Games 
  • In BattleTech, the Draconis Combine brings back Seppuku, particularly among its mechwarriors. The "Total Warfare" rulebook contains a passage about a Draconis Commander who very nearly commits suicide after successfully withdrawing his forces from a Lyran blitzkrieg. The crime is having withdrawn without permission. The reprieve is that the attack was part of a larger conflict, and the Combine would need every commander and Mechwarrior it had.
  • The german Boardgame "Bushido: Der Weg des Kriegers" has this as an option. Every turn the title of daimyo changes to the next player in turn order. First order of the day is to appoint someone of the other players as general, someone as advisor and someone as buke (Read: Target). The generals job is to attack a region owned by the buke player with the current daimyos forces. The buke tries it's best to defend. The side that wins gains honor (points) for doing so. If your general loses the battle though, the advisor can suggest several punishments for the insubordinate samurai, based on handcards. One of those options is seppuku, which can be a HUGE loss in points. This can lead to doomed missions, where the dishonorable daimyo sends the general on an unwinnable mission, with the intent to take out his point lead.
  • Legend of the Five Rings, set in a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to medieval Japan, naturally has seppuku as a plot element, and several cards and even basic game mechanics in the Collectible Card Game revolve around it. It also reinforced the idea that in most cases, seppuku was more to cleanse the family/clan/empire's honor rather than the one who was committing seppuku.
    • The most notable character to commit seppuku within the storyline was Emperor Toturi I, who did so to purify his soul of the Lying Darkness' corruption.
    • Prior he acted as kaishakunin to Matsu Tsuku, who had succeeded him as daimyo of the Lion Clan, only to see the consequences of choosing loyalty to the (corrupted) Emperor rather than to the Empire itself. This allowed the Lion Clan to honorably reverse its stance and join in the overthrow of said Emperor.
  • In Ninja Burger, a ninja who loses all honor has to apologize to his ancestors. "This requires you to go to visit them, and unfortunately it will not be possible for you to come back." (The unfortunate player discards all cards and has to start with a new character.)
  • The Tau of Warhammer 40,000 have something like this. It's called "Malk'la", and is occasionally demanded by Ethereals as a punishment for a high-ranking Tau who has seriously breached conduct or otherwise failed the empire in a spectacular fashion. The ritual is not described, but it is said that all who see it are permanently scarred.
  • The Sotoha in Vampire: The Requiem are a vampire Bloodline founded by a 16th-century Japanese nobleman based on the code of Bushido. Public seppuku in protest against a Sotoha Lord's conduct is the only way for a vassal to sever their My Master, Right or Wrong obligations and free them from service — though, being a vampire, it only leaves them comatose for a while. In the most extreme case, a vassal can condemn themself to Final Death to release all of their Lord's other subjects from their oaths of loyalty.

    Opera 
  • Cio-Cio-San in the tear-jerking finale of the opera Madame Butterfly. She commits jigai by cutting her throat with the ceremonial dagger presented to her father by the Mikado, bearing the inscription: "To die with honor when one can no longer live with honor."
  • In The Mikado, Nanki-Poo threatens to perform "the Happy Despatch" with a dagger if Ko-Ko tries to prevent him from hanging himself.

    Video Games 
  • Spoofed in Disgaea 2. Yukimaru threatens impromptu seppuku upon losing to the main characters in the Inevitable Tournament. After several seconds of the ninja standing there with herself at knife-point, Taro and Hanako point out that she's obviously expecting someone to talk her out of it for dramatic effect. Adell begrudgingly obliges, accidentally charming the pants off of her in the process.
    • This takes special note because Yukimaru is supposed to be a ninja, and Adell's suggestion for how she could carry out her assault on Zenon is, ironically, what a real ninja would do; work their way into any group that bests her to ensure that they get close to their mark. Yukimaru shows that she has learned from this by talking Fubuki out of his own seppuku attempt later on.
  • The dwarves in Dragon Age have their own variation of this. When faced with either exile to the surface or a lonely death in the Deep Roads, many criminals in Orzammar decide to instead join the Legion of the Dead as a way to regain their lost honour. After a ceremony where they are declared to be already dead, they descend into the furthest reaches of the Deep Roads to hold back the Darkspawn horde for the rest of their natural lives, or until they fall in battle.
    • Female Grey Wardens are also given the option to do a variation on this when they get their Calling and the Darkspawn taint starts to overpower them, with the other choice for both female and male Grey Wardens is to go out taking out as many Darkspawn as they can. The reason is that female Grey Wardens are at risk for becoming Broodmothers for the Darkspawn, a Fate Worse than Death that horribly mutates them.
  • This is the only thing you can do with the Godsbane of Dragon's Dogma. You'll need it to guide yourself to a true freedom once you're stuck in the void beyond the Rift.
  • Evil sports fanatic Harakiri Seppukumaru from the Ganbare Goemon series considers seppuku to be the ultimate extreme sport, making various failed attempts to commit the ritual after being thwarted by the heroes. He manages to go through with it in the anime adaptation, but... the knife turns out to be retractable.
    • Additionally, it's revealed in Ganbare Goemon 4 that if Seppukumaru succeeds, it will cause the powerful bomb inside his body to explode (which would obviously be a very bad thing). He was imprisoned on Planet Impact by his own henchmen before the heroes came along and accidentally freed him by removing the barriers surrounding the planet. But why seppuku, of all things? Because he wanted to try something new. Seriously.
  • Mortal Kombat: Deception has the "Hara-Kiri" as a companion to the Fatality. During the typical "FINISH HIM/HER!" moment where the winner can perform a Fatality, the loser can input a special button combination and do a Hara-Kiri instead, essentially committing suicide in various ways before the opponent can finish them off. (The most common methods involve doing... all kinds of unpleasant thing to the character's own head. Beheading is just the beginning.)
    • Of the above, however, Kenshi Takeda is the only character who actually performs a seppuku.(Though he only goes through the first cut and has no kaishakunnin, obviously.) It makes sense: Kenshi likely comes closer to fitting the description of a Samurai more than any other character in the franchise does.
      • In Mortal Kombat X, Hanzo aka Scorpion seriously considers this in his Arcade ending when he realises how his desire for revenge on Quan Chi nearly caused Shinnok's victory, as well as condemning Liu Kang and the others to an eternity as revenants. Dark Raiden stops him, then pinishes him by making him the guardian of the Jinsei instead.
  • In the backstory prior to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Kazuhira Miller completely flips the idea of an honorable death the bird when, upon being soundly defeated by Big Boss, he asks him to be his kaishakunin. Except this was actually a ploy to get Big Boss to walk close enough for Kaz to blow both of them up with a grenade. It doesn't work, but needless to say, the fact that Kaz was willing to kick honor to the curb just to go out in a blaze of glory really makes an impression on Snake.
  • Soulcalibur IV modeled Yoshimitsu's Critical Finish attack after seppuku, with Yoshi playing the role of the kaishakunin.
    • Additionally, several of his unblockable attacks come in the form of stabbing himself in the stomach. One is done from a stance where he would have his back turned to his enemy, and thus would be able to hit his opponent with the sword coming out of the other side. Another is done from the typical sitting stance one would associate with seppuku, but can be followed up with him ripping his sword out of him and delivering a quick unblockable attack to his opponent. Needless to say, Yoshimitsu is one of the few characters with ways to heal himself, if only because he's also one of the few characters that can do so much damage to themselves.
    • And his Tekken-entering descendant Yoshimitsu continues the tradition with the standing suicide (which can be followed up by spinning like a spinning blade at your opponent—hits do 2 damage to both of you, while the actual stab does 60 to whoever's hit—especially you), and the Turning Suicide (dash in, turn, gut yourself for 100 points of damage)..and the Double Stab (after taking the earlier 100, take another—and you have 140 hit points to play with, at most).
  • In the old Commodore 64 game of Usagi Yojimbo, if the eponymous ronin's honor got below a certain point, he would commit suicide right there.
  • Done in Tales of Vesperia with Don Whitehorse, leader of the guild Altosk, after learning some bad information given to his grandson, Harry, resulted in the death of the Duce of Pallestralle and longtime friend and ally, Belius. The Cool Old Guy commits seppuku to balance things out and prevent a war between the two guilds. Yuri himself volunteers to be his kaishakunin.
  • In the original Tenchu, one of the missions involves executing a corrupt minister, but if the player is using the Rikimaru character, he will plead in a cinematic with the minister to take the honourable route and perform seppuku, which he will and Rikimaru will assist by decapitating him. If the player chooses the Ayame character however, she will insult and agitate the minister until he lashes out, resulting in a boss battle.
  • Occasionally crops up in games of Team Fortress 2 thanks to the Soldier's new suicide taunt: When a round ends, the losing team loses their weapons, granting free kills to any nearby winners. However, they can still taunt. Any Soldiers who had the Equalizer out at the time are liable to kill themselves to avoid adding another point to the opposing team, and occasionally manage to add a point to their own in the bargain (since taunt kills are always fatal when they connect).
  • Due to the high number of Mythology Gags present, Fist Of The North Star: Twin Blue Stars Of Judgment has the character Shin able to perform a self-inflicted Fatal KO, as a nod to the series on him opting to commit suicide rather than die by protagonist Kenshiro's techniques.
  • In Boppin', player 1 would commit seppuku every time he lost a life, and player 2 would shot himself in the mouth. It's all an anvilicious commentary about violence in video games... No, really.
  • In Shadow Warrior (1997), the mutant ninja enemies sometimes point an uzi to their heads. The manual states that enemies will commit seppuku if "dishonored."
  • Sword Of The Samurai had this as an option if the player character was ever caught doing something horribly dishonorable, like attempting to assassinate a rival or plant false evidence against them. It would remove the stain on the PC's family's honor, giving the PC's son (and next PC) a better chance. The player is free to ignore the order, but this causes instant defeat as the player's entire family is eradicated.
  • In Gundam Extreme Vs., the Susanoo has a seppuku move much like Yoshimitsu's (above), where the machine turns around and stabs itself with its swords. It does big damage if an enemy is right behind, but whether or not it connects the Susanoo takes damage. Despite the fact that its pilot is American, he's also a huge Japanese culture Otaku, justifying the existence of this move.
  • Seppuku is treated as a fact of life in Hakuouki, given that it's a Visual Novel about The Shinsengumi. Harada Sanosuke has a scar across his abdomen from a failed attempt at it, and following the Choshu assault on the Imperial Palace, Hijikata takes a number of men in pursuit of the escaping leaders of the rebellion specifically with the intention of arresting them before they commit seppuku. And when the main characters learn that Kondou was beheaded rather than being allowed to commit seppuku, they're deeply distressed over it.
  • In the first Samurai Shodown game, after failing to rescue his son Shinzo (whom Amakusa performed a Grand Theft Me on), Hanzo gets ready to commit seppuku. A group of ninja trainees stop him and then beg him to become their sensei.
  • In The Last Ninja, some guards will perform seppuku on the spot if you run past them.
  • Samurai in Battle Realms commit seppuku as their death animation, meaning they essentially kill themselves rather than be defeated when they run out of HP (they still count as the enemy's kill). This lengthy death animation serves to warn the opponent of the samurai's death, as they unleash area-of-effect damage when they die as their unconquered spirits lash back at their aggressors on their way to the afterlife.
  • In Fallout 3's expansion pack Operation Anchorage, General Jingwei can be convinced to fall on his sword with a high Speech skill, bypassing a rather long boss fight. A possible in universe research failure as Jingwei is Chinese.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, Arcade Gannon does this with a scalpel in the ending if you sell him to the Legion as a slave and Caesar survives. As Gannon is himself classically trained, he's probably doing it as a direct homage to Cato (mentioned in Real Life below) and for the same reasons.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Admiral Otomo turns out to be a Japanese Nationalist, and the plot of the game mostly centers around his attempt to make Japan an Imperial power again. So it is no surprise that when his plans go up in smoke, he attempts to commit seppuku. Sam manages to save his life (and shows quite a bit of respect towards the ritual while doing so, for that matter).
  • In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Fuyuhiko "Ultimate Yakuza" Kuzuryu attempts this in chapter three, when trying to make amends for his behavior in the previous trial. His classmates are horrified and drag him to the hospital, where his wounds are seen to.
  • In Dead Rising 2, in the Dual Boss battle against Amber and Crystal Bailey, once you kill one of them, the other will curse you and then run herself through with a katana to join her sister in death.
  • A tanto appears in Nioh as the game's answer to the Darksign or Hunter's Mark; that is to say, an item that will warp the player back to the last shrine checkpoint they visited at the cost of all the Amrita they're holding. Not something the player would use all that often, but handy on the off-chance they get hopelessly lost or stuck in the scenery.
  • In Total War: Shogun 2, the leaders of defeated clans perform seppuku in the cinematic scenes.
  • In Dark Souls II, if the player defeats Sir Alonne under a set amount of time and without taking any damage, a short cutscene will play where Alonne stabs himself in the gut rather than simply falling over dead without a cutscene like normal. However, it's not clear if he did so out of shame at getting so thoroughly beaten, or if his Evil Weapon compelled him to do it to satisfy its hunger for blood, since it wasn't able to have any of yours.
  • In Fire Emblem Fates, Ryoma chooses to stab himself to death after his fight with the Avatar in the Conquest route. It counts as seppuku, nevermind the lack of kaishakunninnote  and rituals, because Ryoma (a samurai who comes from the land of Hoshido which is modeled after Medieval Japan) not only stabs himself through the stomach while sitting in the seiza position, but does so to keep the Avatar from having to make the choice of killing him with his/her own hands, and possibly getting killed by Garon for refusing. His Famous Last Words even lampshade the trope, as he claims that he will die to preserve his samurai honor. In fact, even the name of the cutscene is "Samurai's Duty".
    Ryoma: I cannot fall into the hands of an enemy. So I... fulfill a samurai's... final duty! I'm counting on you...
  • In Age of Empires II, the death animation of the samurai units is to stab themselves with their swords.
  • Warcraft III. when the Night Elf Demon Hunter hero is killed he kneels and stabs himself with his blade.
  • In XCOM 2's War Of The Chosen Expansion Pack, the Chosen Assassin will wish you luck in overthrowing her masters and then commit seppuku upon defeat.
  • In Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, seppuku isn't really treated until Hijikata and Okita from The Shinsengumi join the cast:
    • Mentioned for laughs in the That's what I call Summer even, as Hijikata tells Asagi "disembowel yourself!" when the other man teases him too much. His profile has the trope as one of his "likes" (according to his companion Okita) and mentions that he's a skillful kaishakunnin (again, according to Okita). This phrase sums all up:
    Okita: "Just so you know, Toshi's hobby is ritual suicide, so be careful, Saori."
    • According to Hijikata himself in his own route, the Shinsengumi has a set of very strict rules. If a member of the group breaks them, he is to commit seppuku on the spot.
    • Taken to Overly Long Gag levels in a winter-themed event. Hijikata is so grumpy and angry due to the intense cold in Nagasaki that he threatens near everyone that he talks to with forcing them into commiting seppuku, so Okita and Saori have to repeteadly talk him out of it.
  • In Tekken 2 the character Yoshimitsu can do this as an attack. The attack in question will not kill the user, but hurts them in exchange for doing a lot more damage, somehow.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Keiji Tanaka's death in Survival of the Fittest was basically seppuku. Oddly, Lenny Priestly, the one who fatally wounded him to begin with, acted as his second.
    • Shinya Motomura also committed seppuku in V1. However, he did not have a second.
  • In the Flash cartoon The Ultimate Showdown by Lemon Demon, Mr. Rogers commits seppuku after being the final pop culture icon left alive.
  • Parodied in Real Ultimate Power, where seppuku consists of bending a lubricated Frisbee in half and swallowing it after "getting really super pissed".

    Western Animation 
  • In Beast Wars, Dinobot once attempted seppuku but backed out at the last minute, allowing him to go on to his Heroic Sacrifice. While suicide was never overtly mentioned (this is a kid's show, after all), kneeling while holding your sword upside down towards your body and trembling in intense concentration is a bit hard to interpret any other way.
  • In Code Monkeys, after Gameavision breaks Protendo's one-day efficiency record, every Protendo employee still on the Gameavision premises simply pulls out a katana and rams it into their stomach, 22 in all. This also puts the final nail in the coffin of Mr. Larrity's plan to sell Gameavision off so the company can be liquidated.
  • Parodied in a Dexter's Laboratory episode where Dee Dee's paper route is beset by vandals dressed as ninjas. After she beats them in a paper-delivering competition (final score: 1 to 0), the other ninja give the one who lost the competition a rolled-up newspaper; he smacks himself in the face with it and collapses.
  • On Drawn Together, Ling-Ling commits Seppuku upon losing a game of Not-It to impregnate Toot.
  • In Family Guy when Brian and Stewie enter the universe when Japan conquered the world, Meg, being the Butt-Monkey in every universe she's in, commits seppuku when Peter told her of being ugly and dishonorable.
  • Parodied at the end of the Popeye Wartime Cartoon, "You're a Sap, Mr. Jap" when the last remaining Japanese officer commits suicide by drinking gasoline and swallowing fire crackers.
  • South Park, in typical fashion, played with this rather irreverently when the Japanese Mr. Takayama moves to town and opens a restaurant next to City Wok (owned by the angry and stereotypically Chinese Mr. Lu Kim), sparking a rivalry. Lu Kim builds a "Tower of Peace", planning to lure his rival to the top and push him off, assuming he will get away with it because "Japanese people [are] always killing themselves". When he reveals this plan to Takayama while struggling atop the tower, Takayama angrily refuses to be associated with such a stereotype and overpowers him. However, when it is revealed that Lu Kim is actually one of several "split personalities" of a white man, Takayama realizes he has been duped and throws himself off the tower in shame.
    • In another episode, after Butters is sold off to Paris Hilton to be her pet, he finds out that her previous pets have all commited sucide over not standing her any longer in increasingly ridiculous ways, ending with Cuddles, a spaniel who commited ritual sepukku, white clothes and japanese characters hanging from the walls included.
  • In an episode of Futurama, Zoidberg is ridden with guilt after he breaks Professor Farnsworth's bottled ship and blames Fry (and he's forced to pay the exhorbitant price of ten dollars to replace it). Ashamed, he confesses the whole thing and, since he won't be able to pay Fry back, he attempts to kill himself by stabbing his chest with a katana but he just ends up bending it on his hard exoskeleton. The owner of the sword angrily tells him how much that sword was worth. Zoidberg yells that Fry did it and runs away.
  • In the French series Clémentine, the titular protagonist travels to Medieval Japan and befriends Momotarou and his companions. During this adventure, a samurai commits seppuku on-screen.
  • In the fifth Season of Samurai Jack, while hiding from Daughters of Aku, Jack begins to argue with his own subconscious over whether or not he should simply kill himself while he still has his dignity, as his situation seems totally hopeless. He almost goes through with it in Episode 6, but Ashi talks him down and is able to renew his Heroic Spirit.

    Real Life 
  • Minamoto no Yorimasa, Warrior Poet, became the Trope Codifier when he committed seppuku after losing the Battle of Uji in 1180.
  • Kusunoki Masashige, Emperor Godaigo's chief general, is said to have done this after being defeated in his attempt to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate in 1336.
  • Oda Nobunaga was responsible for the seppuku of a number of rival daimyo in his lifetime, but he and his allies would end up doing it themselves:
    • Azai Nagamasa and his father Hisamasa committed seppuku in 1573 when Nobunaga laid siege to Odani Castle. Nagamasa and Nobunaga were former allies; Nagamasa was even married to Nobunaga's sister Oichi. The Azai clan held out for a long time, but ultimately Nagamasa killed himself at the siege and is said to have even killed his infant son so that the boy's uncle Nobunaga wouldn't be able to raise him.
    • Matsunaga Hisahide committed one of the most spiteful acts of seppuku in history in 1577. Nobunaga laid siege to Hisahide's castle at Shigisan; Hisahide responded by destroying his prized teapot that Nobunaga wanted as a trophy and then committing seppuku. By some accounts, he filled the teapot with gunpowder, delivered an epic rant at Nobunaga from the castle tower, and blew up the teapot — and himself with it.
    • Takeda Katsuyori, son and heir of Takeda Shingen, committed seppuku after being defeated in the Battle of Tenmokuzan in 1582, losing to the combined forces of Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. His young wife and their son also committed suicide at the same time.
    • Nobunaga himself would meet this end at the Honno-ji Incident in 1582. He was double-crossed by his general Akechi Mitsuhide, who led a coup at the Kyoto temple at dawn. Nobunaga was badly outnumbered and asked his young page Mori Ranmaru to set the temple on fire after he committed seppuku. Ranmaru is also rumored to have committed seppuku after burning the temple, although the majority says he went down fighting Akechi's soldiers. Nobunaga's body was never found.
    • Shibata Katsuie, one of Nobunaga's trusted generals, committed seppuku after the siege of Kitanosho Castle in 1583. Shibata was married to Nobunaga's sister Oichi (previously married to the aforementioned Azai Nagamasa) and supported Nobunaga's third son Oda Nobutaka to succeed Nobunaga. He tried to besiege his rival Toyotomi Hideyoshi at the Battle of Shizugatake, but his forces lost badly, and the tables turned on him at Kitanosho. He lit his castle on fire and committed seppuku. He told Oichi to run, but she refused and died alongside him in the fire. Nobutaka, for his part, was pressured into seppuku a week later.
  • Torii Mototada, a retainer of Tokugawa Ieyasu, did this after his Last Stand at the Siege of Fushimi Castle in 1600, where he led a group of 2,000 men against a 40,000-strong army. Mototada was able to stall the army for ten days and give Tokugawa time to raise his forces for the decisive Battle of Sekigahara, which would lead to the end of the Sengoku Period. His seppuku was said to be so bloody that the floorboards he bled on still have his bloodstains.
  • Gracia Hosokawa, daughter of Akechi Mitsuhide and convert to Catholicism, may or may not have committed seppuku. We know that her retainer Shousai Ogasawara killed her when her household was about to be overrun by Ishida Mitsunari, but it's uncertain whether Hosokawa asked him to kill her. Japanese sources say she did, but Jesuit sources say her husband ordered it and she just accepted it. Either way, the reasoning was the same — to let her keep her honor and not become a hostage — and Ogasawara and the rest of the household did commit seppuku and set the house on fire.
  • The story of The 47 Ronin is all about seppuku. Daimyo Asano Naganori had enough of Jerkass nobleman Kira Yoshinaka and attacked him in Edo Castle, wounding him and committing a capital crime by drawing a weapon in the castle. He committed seppuku, and his retainers were ordered by the Shogun not to seek revenge. Forty-seven of them refused and captured and killed Kira. The Shogun was thus faced with a huge Logic Bomb; they refused his order and should be dishonorably executed, but they did it to avenge their lord and show their Undying Loyalty, which was hugely valued by Japanese culture. He allowed 46 of the ronin to commit seppuku and die honorably. The Sole Survivor, a mere teenager, was allowed to inform Asano's former retainers that their revenge had been completed; the Shogun pardoned him, and he went on to become a monk.
  • Oshio Heihachiro self-immolated in 1837 after a failed revolt against the Tokugawa shogunate.
  • Harada Sanosuke, future unit captain of the Shinsengumi, once attempted seppuku when a Matsuyama retainer remarked that he was a peon who wouldn't know how. Harada tried immediately to prove him wrong — and failed. He would later adopt as his personal symbol a circle with a horizontal line, representing the scar of his failed attempt.
  • Saigo Takamori, one of the "last samurai" who led the failed Satsuma Rebellion against the Meiji government, is believed to have committed seppuku after the Rebellion's failure — or at least probably wanted to. Historians disagree on if he actually pulled it off; he was fatally injured during the battle by gunshot to the hipnote , and it's believed that his followers cut his head off thinking that's what he would have wanted and said he committed seppuku as a real samurai would. They even tried hiding his head so that it wouldn't be used as a trophy (it was found regardless).
  • In 1912, General Maresuke Nogi committed seppuku along with his wife. Nogi was a key figure in the First Sino-Japanese war responsible for the Siege of Port Arthur, but he was disgusted by how many lives were lost under his command and petitioned Emperor Meiji for permission to commit seppuku. Emperor Meiji refused permission and told him, "if you insist on killing yourself, let it be after I have departed from the world." Nogi and his wife committed seppuku shortly after the Emperor's funeral entourage left the palace.
  • During and after World War II, many Japanese generals (about 500 by some reports) and authority figures did this (or tried to do this), especially after Japan's final surrender or after a particularly decisive defeat:
    • Admiral Onishi Takijiro, who came up with the bright idea of kamikaze planes, not only committed seppuku but also refused to use a kaishakunin. It took him some 15 hours of agony to die. He left a suicide note in which he apologized to the 4000 pilots whom he sent to their deaths.
    • Admiral Matome Ugaki tried to do this by means of a "last mission" where he would crash his plane and commit suicide. He removed his rank insignia from his uniform and posed for pictures before his final flight. However, his plane was shot down by American anti-aircraft fire before he got a chance to do his kamikaze attack.
    • General Korechika Anami was one of the high officials who opposed the surrender. He signed it, but he committed seppuku the next morning, before Emperor Hirohito was to announce it (as portrayed in the documentary Hiroshima). He left a suicide note reading, "My death is my apology for my great crime" — what he meant by that remains open to interpretation.
    • Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, one of the men responsible for the Pearl Harbor attack and the Battle of Midway, shot himself in the head as the Japanese were routed at the Battle of Saipan. Over 5000 Japanese soldiers — and some 10,000 Japanese civilians — committed ritual suicide during that battle rather than let the Americans capture them.note 
    • General Mitsuru Ushijima committed seppuku at the end of the Battle of Okinawa in 1945, a decisive defeat for the Japanese. His chief of staff, Colonel Hiromichi Yahara, wanted to do it too, but Ushijima forbade him from doing so, telling him, "If you die there will be no one left who knows the truth about the Battle of Okinawa. Bear the temporary shame, but endure it. This is an order from your army commander." Yahara was captured by the Americans, wrote a book about the battle, and lived until 1981.
    • Many Japanese civilians in Sakhalin, the Kuril Islands, and Manchuria committed seppuku as the Soviets advanced. In particular, nine women in Sakhalin who handled a telegraph station killed themselves when they learned of the island's fall to Russian troops. A statue is dedicated to them in Wakkanai, in the far north of Hokkaido.
    • Seigo Nakano, hard-right Japanese political leader and founder of the ultra-nationalist group Touhoukai, committed seppuku in 1943 after losing his power struggle with Hideki Tojo. Nakano argued that Japanese expansionism would cause unnecessary sacrifices for the country; Tojo put him under house arrest and banned him from talking to the media. Nakano committed seppuku in protest.
    • War Minister General Shizuichi Tanaka was instrumental in quelling the Kyujo incident, an attempted coup by the War Ministry to prevent Emperor Hirohito from signing the instrument of surrender. Tanaka didn't support the surrender, either; he just couldn't join a coup against the Emperor himself, so he Took a Third Option and committed seppuku. He also blamed himself for failing to protect Tokyo from the Allied bombing and chose to die in atonement for that. He shot himself nine days after foiling the coup, specifically forbidding his subordinates from killing themselves, saying that he would commit suicide on their behalf.
    • Prime Minister Fumimaro Konoe, Hideki Tojo's immediate predecessor, had resigned his position in 1941 in protest of the war. He survived the end of the war but refused to collaborate with the Americans in "Operation Blacklist", a plan to exonerate Hirohito and the Imperial family of criminal responsibility. This caused the Americans to suspect him of war crimes, and he committed suicide by Cyanide Pill. Interestingly, he did this exactly 1300 years after his ancestor, Fujiwara no Katamari, led a coup d'état against the Soga clan.
    • Several wanted to commit seppuku but or otherwise should have couldn't, for some reason or another:
      • Prime Minister Hideki Tojo attempted suicide by pistol after the surrender. The allies found him, gave him a blood transfusion, and saved his life. Then they tried him at the Allied military tribunal and sentenced him to death. The Allies wanted to avoid this kind of death for Tojo, showing him that he would die on their terms, not his own.
      • Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, commander-in-chief of the Imperial Navy's Combined Fleet and responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway, wanted to commit seppuku after the Pearl Harbor attack because he wanted it to be done after Japan formally declared war on the United States. Doing otherwise was a sneak attack and thus dishonorable. His superiors wouldn't let him do so. He was ultimately killed in 1943 when he was shot down by American fighters over Bougainville.
      • Lieutenant General Kotoku Sato, who had the thankless task in the Burma offensive of 1944 to take Kohima without supplies or support from HQ, disobeyed orders and withdrew to save his soldiers' lives. He was offered the opportunity to commit seppuku but declined, instead insisting on a court-martial, where he could expose his superiors' incompetence. Kanshi is not so practical in the Burmese jungle.
  • During the filming of the James Bond film You Only Live Twice, actress Mie Hama, desperate to keep her role as Bond Girl Aki but unable to learn English sufficiently well, suffered a breakdown and threatened to commit seppuku if she was fired. The producers defused the situation by having Hama switch roles with Akiko Wakabayashi, who spoke English fluently and played another Bond Girl, Kissy Suzuki, who had fewer speaking lines.
  • In 1970, nationalist author Yukio Mishima and his private army, the Tatenokai, led an attempted coup seeking to restore the Emperor to his former glory. They barged into a Self-Defense Force base in Tokyo and took the commander hostage, while Mishima addressed the soldiers from the office's balcony and urged them to overthrow the government. The soldiers responded by heckling Mishima, who retreated back into the office and committed seppuku by sword, the traditional way. Mishima's kaishakunin Masakatsu Morita couldn't manage to line up the head cut, and his companion Hiroyasu Kouga had to do it. Then Morita committed seppuku with Kouga as his kaishakunin.note  Mishima's biographer believes that Mishima had been planning to commit seppuku for a year, and the attempted coup was just pretext.
  • Mitsuyasu Maeno, a roman porno actor and admirer of both Yukio Mishima and yakuza boss Yoshio Kodama, tried to commit seppuku and kill Kodama at the same time after learning of Kodama's involvement in the Lockheed bribery scandals. Maeno happened to be shooting a movie about kamikaze pilots, so he got into his plane and dive-bombed into Kodama's home. He was filmed by a second plane and even caught sending a final radio message, "Sorry I haven't replied in a long time. Long live the Emperor!" Although the crash started a fire and injured two servants, only Maeno was killed.
  • In 1985, following the crash of JAL Flight 123, a JAL maintenance manager and a JAL engineer killed themselves in apology. The crash was the direct result of incorrectly executed repairs. 520 people died in the accident, making it the deadliest single-aircraft accident in history.
  • In 1986, Idol Singer Yukiko Okada killed herself by throwing herself from her music publisher's building (although it's uncertain why — some proposed reasons aren't exactly seppuku-worthy). It inspired a wave of copycat suicides and the term "Yukiko syndrome" to describe them. This particularly hit fans of hide; three of them committed suicide by hanging thinking he had committed seppuku, before it emerged that he had probably accidentally strangled himself.
  • In 2001, gold medalist judoka Isao Inokuma committed seppuku, purportedly because of financial losses suffered by his company.


Alternative Title(s): Ritual Suicide, Harakiri

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Seppuku?from=Main.Harakiri