"They say that, when the throat is cut, the breath escapes it with a sound like the winter wind. I have always wanted to hear that sound. But to hear it coming from my
own neck is ridiculous..."
This Death Trope
is one of the classic ways to kill someone in media. Take a knife, a straight razor, or some other nasty edged weapon and draw it across your victim's throat. In a lot of media, this is generally instant death, but in more realistic works, it is generally quite slow (unless the carotid arteries are all severed, in which case the target passes out after a few seconds due to lack of oxygenated blood to the brain—though it takes a certain amount of expertise to land such a strike) and VERY messy to boot, particularly if the carotid artery or the jugular vein are severed, though of course this depends on the work. Not to mention the victim usually drowns in their own blood before passing out. Naturally, Knife Nuts
are particularly fond of this method.
See also Impromptu Tracheotomy
as well as the lethal variant of Dangerously Close Shave
This being a way people are killed, expect spoilers
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- In Full Metal Panic!: The Second Raid, this was one of the bloodier killing methods, done by Creepy Twin Yu Lan to a guard. It is done to an Arm Slave at one point too.
- In chapter 51 of Mirai Nikki Yuno slashes Akise through the neck rendering him unable to breathe or talk. She later beheads him.
- From Fullmetal Alchemist
- This happens to Riza Hawkeye in chapter 100/101. She gets better, thanks to emergency treatment.
- Hughes does this to Envy, who is disguised as Maria Ross. Unfortunately, Homunculi don't die so easily.
- In Psycho-Pass, this is how Makishima disposes of Yuki, one of Akane's friends introduced early in the series, as punishment for the latter's inability to use an actual weapon to kill him instead of using her Dominator.
- In Domu: A Child's Dream, a ronin student is possessed and forced to cut his own throat with a utility knife.
- Bertolt Hoover suffers one in Attack on Titan. Since he's a Titan Shifter, his Healing Factor allows him to survive and quickly recover from it.
- Like the Film example below, this is how Ogami Itto kills an assassin in Lone Wolf and Cub. The assassin, who survives for a short period afterword, manages to provide the page quote before dying.
- In End of Evangelion, the JSDF invasion begins with a commando appearing behind a NERV security guard and opening his throat before letting the rest through the gates. It isn't instant death; the guard's mouth is clamped shut with a hand over it for the amount of time it takes him to bleed out.
- In the V for Vendetta graphic novel, Heyer dies after his throat is slashed, but manages to take his assailant with him.
- The Rumor's throat is slashed with a note from a Musical Assassin in The Umbrella Academy. It's a rare case when the victim doesn't end up dead, though she was immediately rushed to a hospital and bears an ugly scar afterwards.
- Constantine Drakon slit Arsenal's throat so that he couldn't fight back and had to submit to being kidnapped. Interestingly, it makes use of the slowness of dying from the wound. Constantine instructed Arsenal to put pressure on the wound to keep himself alive (a trick he had already done with an anonymous businessman, who applied too much pressure and died of suffocation instead).
- Another example from the DCU is that Jericho was mute due to some of his father's (Deathstroke's) enemies capturing him in order to get Deathstroke to reveal information. Deathstroke refused, and killed the assassins - but not before one of them severed Joseph's vocal cords. This also led to the fight between Deathstroke and his wife where Addie tried to kill him, but only managed to put his eye out instead.
- The 2007 revival of the DC Comics series Checkmate begins with two Checkmate agents, one of whom is the superhero known as "Fire", slitting the throats of two Kobra soldiers.
- L.A. Confidential: "The proof had his throat cut."
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sweeney Todd's primary method of murdering his customers was slashing the throat.
- For any who the throat didn't do it for, being dropped down a shaft head first would finish them off.
- Angel of The Wild Bunch is killed quite graphically this way immediately before the final shootout of the movie.
- Eastern Promises features a fair number of these.
- The Devil's Advocate has a quite shocking one of these when the protagonist's wife kills herself this way right in front of him.
- The Chang Cheh movie Vengeance! climaxes with the protagonist finishing off the Big Bad this way after feigning death to draw him close.
- The Inglourious Basterds used this a few times. It's also speculated that Lt. Raine survived one of these, hence his scar.
- One of the organ traffickers in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is killed this way. His mother tells him not to remove the knife, but he does so anyway and ends up bleeding to death.
- This happens to Reynald de Châtillon in Kingdom of Heaven, after being captured after the Battle of Hattin. Saladin offers Guy de Lusignan a cup of ice, indicating that he is sparing his life. When Reynald, who has gained notoriety by attacking caravans and killing Saladin's sister, gets handed the cup by Guy, Saladin states that the cup was not offered to him, then promptly kills him.
- Truth in Television as well. This scene is true to the historical aftermath of the Battle of Hattin.
- Happens all the time in the Saw series.
- Braveheart - Basically the Berserk Button that carries William Wallace through the entire film. Wallace's secret wife Murron gets her throat cut by the Magistrate. Following his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, Wallace kills the Magistrate the same way, kicking off a Scotland-wide rebellion.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, one fellow who refuses to join Davy Jones's crew gets killed this way.
- Dana Hadley in the first Puppet Master was killed this way by Blade.
- In Batman: Under the Red Hood The Joker kills a mobster by breaking a glass and slicing his throat. Graphically. If the movie were in live-action this would never be made, with this trope and the brutal beating of Jason Todd (which was actually toned down for the movie).
- V himself, in the V for Vendetta movie, just can't get enough of this.
- Conan the Barbarian (1982) has a more realistic example: there's some thrashing around and it takes quite a while for the mook to go down. On the other hand, its sequel features a man getting his throat slit, then yelling.
- One of the most iconic movie deaths ever is Clarence Boddicker's dataspike to the throat in RoboCop (1987).
- Big Daddy from Kick-Ass does this to a mook in the warehouse raid scene.
- In Hostel Part II, this is how Lorna is finished off. Also, Josh in the first movie, but that one isn't nearly as graphic.
- In the Halloween series, this seems to be Michael Myers' favorite method of killing.
- Rather in an out-of-character manner, Wonder Woman does this to two security guards in the 2009 animated film of the same name - by throwing her tiara, boomerang-like, at the unaware guards, who fall dead instantly as their throats are slashed.
- A stoned camper gets his throat slit by The Jersey Devil in Satan's Playground, causing it to explode.
- Kurgan in Highlander has his throat cut by Ramirez during their duel in Connor's home. Unfortunately the cut wasn't deep enough, and though Kurgan bore a scar and had his voice ruined for the rest of his Immortal life, he survived to take Ramirez's head.
- Earlier in the film, during the battle between the two clans, a priest kills a man slashing his throat from behind, then does the sign of the cross.
- Mirrored with Duncan's own arch-nemesis, Kalas, in the TV series. Kalas has his throat slashed by Duncan during a fight in the 1920s. He survived but had his voice permanently ruined, (at the time Kalas was an opera singer) leaving him unable to sing again. He didn't take it well.
- Happens on screen to someone in "Ghost Ship" as Katie Harwood is being forcibly dragged back to her cabin she witnesses someone get his throat slit with a straight razor by one of the crazed crew members.
- In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Wiress dies this way. Particularly creepy when you take into account nobody would have noticed except for the fact she was singing 'Hickory Dickory Dock' but fell silent.
- If you are watching a Friday the 13th film, there's a 75 % chance of this happening to someone.
- Dean cuts his own throat in A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) remake due to Freddy's influence.
- A pretty bloody one is seen in Die Hard 2 (SWAT member who wasn't in on a secret) and Die Hard with a Vengeance (Bank security guard who was attacked by a female Knife Nut)
- In the second Lone Wolf and Cub film, a mook gets his throat slit, and thinks on it poetically as he dies. See the page quote.
- Apparently how Juno (Sylvia Sidney) died in Beetlejuice - not entirely obvious until she takes a drag off a cigarette.
- Near the start of S.W.A.T. Alex Montel cuts the throat of his uncle Martin Gascoigne for stealing from their crime organization.
- In the final battle of Pacific Rim, Striker Eureka inflicts this on Slattern. It doesn't even notice the wound.
- Several in The Wolfman (2010)!
- In The Thing (1982), the Americans discover a frozen corpse in the remains of the Norwegian camp whose throat and wrists have been slashed. In the The Thing (2011), a deleted scene shows why and how it happened. He did it to himself when he was trapped in the room with a Thing.
- The giant in the fairy tale of "Hop-o'-My-Thumb" kills his daughters this way.
- Saruman dies this way in The Lord of the Rings. In the movies, he's stabbed In the Back and impaled on a spike.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's novel Sixth Column, also known under the title The Day After Tomorrow, one of the characters kills a "traitor" this way. This "proves" he is fit to continue as an undercover agent.
- In the book The Five Fingers about combat in Vietnam, the author mentions that the "commonly known" way of cutting a throat, by slashing across it, does not work if you wish quick, silent killing. He says the proper method is to jam the knife into the throat and rip forward, tearing open the windpipe and veins.
- During the climax of the Warhammer 40,000 novel Dark Disciple by Anthony Reynolds, Slaaneshi Daemonettes attack the prisoners and owners of a Dark Eldar skiff using their crab-like claws to slice their victims throats. The victims writhe on the ground in orgasmic ecstasy as they bleed out.
- Averted in Tom Clancy's Without Remorse, where John Clark opts to stab his target through the base of the skull, severing the spinal cord for an instant kill. This tells the investigating policemen that they are dealing with a professional: a slashed throat is noisy (all that escaping air) and very, very messy, but it's much easier to do than a stab through the base of the neck.
- It happens in Iron Fist; Deadly Doctor Ton Phanan cuts a man's throat with a laser scalpel, and the man staggers, glassy-eyed and trying to stop the bleeding, for a moment before he falls.
- This is how murder is usually committed in Warrior Cats.
- In Dale Brown's Wings of Fire, Wendy McLanahan gets her throat slashed with the swipe-along-the-neck method and survives... only for Vasilyeva to throw a knife into her chest and kill her. When Chris Wohl kills Pavel Kazakov, he stabs into the neck before slashing out, slicing it nearly in half.
- Happens to Catelyn Stark at the Red Wedding in A Storm of Swords. It doesn't take.
- Richard Marcinko describes the act of cutting a throat in some detail (emphasizing the difficulty of the act) in one of his early Rogue Warrior novels.
- In Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor, Sgt. Bothari slits Admiral Vorrutyer's throat with a pocket knife, spraying blood all over Captain Naismith, whom Vorrutyer was about to rape.
- A mugger in Virtual Girl tries this on Maggie. It doesn't work, her being a robot and all.
- Long before The Last Dragonlord, Linden encountered Harper Satha, a harper-healer who had gone into a magical sleep for a century, during which someone had come by and cut his throat. Thanks to the magic, though, he didn't die of it. Linden recalls the whistling bubble of his voice as some air inevitably escaped through the cut.
- The Mortal Instruments: In City of Ashes, Valentine does this to collect Simon's blood. he gets better.
- Clary comes very close to this in City of Fallen Angels, courtesy of Jace (to be fair, he was under Lilith's Mind Rape at the time).
- In The Last Wish's short story "The Witcher", Geralt barely survives having his neck ripped open by the striga Princess Adda. He got lucky: The claw swipe in question missed anything really important, and he got medical attention soon after. He still spent a few months in a hospital.
- The Union, a Nebulous Evil Organization from Raymond Benson's James Bond novels, has its victims' throats cut as a Calling Card, even if they were killed by other means.
- In the first episode of Breaking Bad's 4th season, Gustavo Fring does this to one of his goons to punish him for not preventing Gale Boetticher's murder but also to create a past victim showcase and scare the crap out of Walt, Jesse and Mike so that they never step out of line again. The goon on the receiving end of this treatment was not only not expecting it, but the throat slitting was conducted with a box cutter (complete with a blood spurt). Just to make this throat slitting creepier, Gus simply removes his bloodied hazmat suit, puts on his buisness suit, tells Jesse and Walt to clean up the mess, and calmly returns to work.
- In Smallville, Stiletto, a thug tries to do this to Chloe Sullivan, but he probably get the message that it is a bad idea when Doomsday emerges, drags him away and kills him messily.
- 24 made repeated use of this trope. In season 5, Jack Bauer actually instructed a Naval engineer young enough to be his son how to discreetly slit the throat of a mook who was in his way. The boy carried out the kill successfully.
- This pops up occasionally on NCIS:
- One episode involved the murderer using the Marine sentry removal technique (described in The Five Fingers example above) to kill the victim...while she was having sex with him.
- In an episode revolving around a revenge plot against Ducky, when the team rescued Ducky, one of the perps slashed his own throat with a scalpel rather than go back to jail.
- One episode of Midsomer Murders had two people (and several sheep) killed this way with the skull of a smilodon.
- On The X-Files, episode "Chinga", one character gets her throat cut by a broken phonograph record.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Kendra gets her throat slashed by fingernails and dies instantly. Though to be fair, she was under hypnosis at the time, and they were vampire fingernails.
- Buffy once used her ice skates to slit the throat of her attacker. He grabs his throat and falls to the ground, seemingly dead. Notable (and lampshaded in the commentary) in that there is no blood from his wound.
- Giles cuts the throat of a Bringer they've taken prisoner once he's given the information they want. He was psychically linked to Andrew at the time, who complains loudly and demands a lozenge.
- Wesley on Angel gets his throat cut. And survives, though he is unable to speak for some time afterwards.
- This happens to Nathan, with the throat-slashing being done telekinetically.
- At one point when the powers are off, HRG slices Sylar's throat with a box cutter. Not quite ruthless enough; he really should have followed that up by destroying the brain and/or burning the body...
- Zoe gets her throat cut by the Man in Black.
- Lennon had his throat sliced by Sayid
- Happens a lot on Legend of the Seeker. Most people who get it simply clutch at their profusely bleeding throat before falling to the ground. Cara, on the other hand, manages to put off dying long enough to beat the hell out of the attacker, and get information out of him as well.
- Happens several times in Oz.
- Francis Wolcott likes to off prostitutes this way in Deadwood.
- This is how Dexter kills his brother, the Ice Truck Killer. It's staged as suicide.
- This happens to a hostage after Debra falls prey to Put Down Your Gun and Step Away. He survives, and is able to speak quite soon after.
- The demon "Meg" does this in season 1 on screen while hitchhiking
- In season 2 after the Croatoan Virus is introduced. Two of the survivors are driving away from the empty town, one asks the other to pull over so he can make a call and once the driver does, the man is revealed to be possessed by an unnamed demon (possibly "Meg") who then slashes the driver's throat reminiscent of the season 1 useage.
- In ''The French Mistake" this happens to Misha Collins. Yes, Misha Collins.
- Jessica's pushy suitor in Misfits ends up with his throat slashed.
- Spooks: Connie does it to Ben with garrote wire from her bra. It's very realistic.
- Jimmy from Boardwalk Empire has done this multiple times. Notable ones include killing one of the D'Alessio brothers during a montage of their assassination, cutting the throat of a would-be mugger, and disposing of of a Mole within an ally's organization.
- The Following: When Jacob tells Emma that he's leaving the cult, she pulls him close for a kiss, and slits his throat open with a knife while doing so.
- In the season four premiere of Breaking Bad, Gus cuts the throat of one of his own lieutenants to scare the hell out of Walt and Jesse, who are (currently) too valuable for him to kill. The victim had also been spotted at the scene of a murder, but that part's only implied.
- Stargate SG-1: Apophis slashes the throat of one of Sokar's Jaffa using a concealed blade.
- In The Protomen's Act II, Emily dies in this manner. The Sniper does too, in a sense.
- In the music video for the Insane Clown Posse song "In Yo Face", there are a pair of showgirls with the classic "slashed throat" blood trails. It's just there to make them look creepy.
- In "'97 Bonnie and Clyde", Eminem is disposing of the body of his ex-wife as well as her husband and stepson, whose throat he slit.
- The above is referenced in "Stan": "I didn't slit her throat, see, I ain't like you. 'Cause if she suffocates she'll suffer more and then she'll die, too".
- "Otherside" by Red Hot Chili Peppers: "Slit my throat, it's all I ever..."
- It's possible to do this in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. It's not possible to see it in the console version, since the third-person camera view obscures the sight, but it sounds pretty messy. The PC port, on the other hand, allows for the player to see it in full – it's an initial deep stab followed by CJ ripping the blade out the front of the victim's neck.
- Quite a few Stealth Based Games allow you to do this to some unsuspecting Mooks. The first Hitman game does not encourage such, however, because slashed throats leave a lot of blood behind in comparison to the Fiber Wire that a true Silent Assassin uses for close-up killing. (Later Hitman games, however, don't take this into account and a throat-slit is treated as an effective stealth kill.)
- It is far too easy to accidentally do this in Metal Gear Solid 3. In the first two Metal Gear Solid games the player could hold a guard in place by just holding the grab button. In the third game, attempting to do this causes Snake to slit the guard's throat.
- Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines has unique stealth kill animation for each melee weapon, and the one you get with a knife is the good ol' throat-slashing with lots of blood (if the enemy has it). However, since stealth kills generally go unnoticed by the enemies, nobody will give a damn even if you shower them from head to toe with their colleague's blood.
- In Assassin's Creed II it is possible to cut the throat of a grabbed enemy. Quite amusingly, this can be done with a mace or war hammer. Or with a broom.
- This is how GDI collaborator Hassan is executed in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Sun.
- B.B. Hood's standard throw is this in Darkstalkers and Marvel vs. Capcom.
- The magazine ad for the first Tenchu game is an image of main character Rikkimaru shown through a narrow slit, which it's caption states is the view seen from some poor guard's vocal cords.
- Wing Commander IV has Captain Paulson being killed this way by Seether in a cutscene. In some versions of the game (such as the Playstation version and versions sold in Europe), the actual slashing isn't shown on-screen, but heavily implied.
- Mafia II has both the Hollywood way and the "real" way to do this. It happens in a cutscene where a minor villain pulls a knife on the main character, who disarms the chump and kills him with his own knife. At first he cuts the guy with the usual Hollywood "ear to ear" slice, but this is just to torture the guy; afterwards he kills the guy the "proper" way by jamming the knife sideways into his neck.
- Happens rather frequently in the Call of Duty and Modern Warfare series.
- In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, there is a chance for this to happen in one of the knife backstab animations. However, only about half of the knives in the game have edges on both sides, so by the time you're using Daedric and Ebony weapons, you're slaughtering people with the non-sharp side of a knife.
- They also don't account for height differences, which means you'll slit someone's neck after drawing your knife across their torso, or rather disturbingly, their face!
- Alpha Protocol has the much faster and more realistic side-stab variant as one of Thorton's lethal takedowns.
- In Dishonored, Corvo prefers to end fights quick and cleanly, and will throat stab someone if he manages to stealth kill them from the front, he'll also do this to several major assassination targets as special parry-finishers.
- Done very brutally in one of the infamous "Bad Endings" from School Days. If Makoto doesn't find out how Sekai's friends are bullying Kotonoha to keep her away from him and Sekai, Kotonoha will snap due to the harrassment and her own mental/emotional unstability... and confront both Sekai and Makoto in broad daylight. Then she'll uncover a cleaver and slash Sekai's throat, bloodily killing her in front of everyone.
- Wax Works pits you against Jack the Ripper in one of its stages, and losing all your HP to him, or turning your back on him, will end in an unpleasantly detailed depiction of this as your death scene.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, Hiyoko Saionji is killed this way by Mikan Tsumiki (who has been infected with Despair Fever) after she sees Ibuki Mioda being strangled by Mikan.
- Stunt of Dominic Deegan is fond of this method. Picture above killing Urban Eddie. This particular case is also Hoist by His Own Petard, as Urban Eddie's the one who taught him to slash throats.
- Komiyan of Darken eventually kills Blackshard this way with a pair of daggers.
- Freija in The Senkari had her throat slashed in her Death by Origin Story
- A somewhat subverted example happens in Grim Tales from Down Below. Mandy, upon finding that her time was up in her hourglass, slashes her throat. The somewhat subversion is Mandy finds that she is immortal and cannot die unless Grim says so.
- In Terra, Agrippa Varus uses this as a Coup de Grâce against Kaleb Ceros, bloodily slashing his throat with a swipe of his combat knife.
- In Zelfia, Mayy is killed via this trope.
- The brutal social/political scandal known in Chile as "caso degollados" ("case of the slashed throats"). In 1985, three well-known professionals affiliated with the opposition to Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship (artist Santiago Nattino, teacher's union leader Manuel Guerrero and sociologist/activist Jose Manuel Parada — also the son of a famous stage actor and father of a then very well-known child actress) were kidnapped by a national police agency, and the day after that their lifeless, torture-marked bodies were found with their throats slit.
- The seppuku ritual for women didn't have the ladies slitting their bellies like the samurai, since it would be seen as an Undignified Death in the face of defeat. Instead, the woman about to commit suicide would go through jigai to avoid being taken alive by tying her legs to not fall in an undignified spread-eagle position and invoke this trope on herself, via slashing her own throat with a dagger. On several occasions invaders would storm a castle only to find the lady of the house sitting quietly, having already ended her own life before they got there.
- On several occasions professional hockey players have suffered an accidental version when another player's skate goes across their throat. Richard Zednik had this happen to him but survived.