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Spikes of Doom

"It's a spike pit! And if you're even slightly off side... FATALITY"

The funny thing about spikes is that they're surprisingly plentiful. But where do you expect to find them?

On the floor. On the walls. On the walls that are closing in on you. On the Descending Ceiling. On the Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom. All sharp enough to impale you and leave you a bloody, shish-kabob'd hero (or at least take off a Hit Point or two...).

Appearing in more games than the barrel and the crate combined, the classic deadly spikes might just be the most widely-used videogame object ever. (It should also be noted that while crates and barrels are everyday items that most people see throughout their day, you'd have to search really hard to see a real-life death trap made of spikes.)

Commonly used as an alternative to the Bottomless Pit, a floor covered with spikes spells certain doom for the platform-jumping hero - that is, unless you've got an Invincibility Power-Up or are allowed Mercy Invincibility. They can be used in other places besides floors - as videogame design throughout the ages has shown, you can put spikes anywhere to spell the simple message "touch me and die!"

Spikes often take on more natural appearances, such as stalagmites and stalactites in a cave environment, icicles in Slippy-Slidey Ice World, or teeth in a Womb Level.

Spikes, for some reason, are deadly from both above and from the side. That's right, you just killed yourself by walking into the side of a triangle.

Spikes have a strange tendency to repeatedly retract into the ground and then come back out again, forming a sort of Temporary Platform.

Spikes also have a strange tendency to become disconnected from the wall or ceiling and come try to kill you. Enemies with spikes on their bodies can often throw them at you and regenerate them at will.

Most video game enemies are completely immune to the pointy tips on the spikes. If they walk into them, they'll just turn around and go the other direction. If they step onto a floor of spikes, just keep walking as if nothing's wrong. Many times, the hero will even need to jump on their head and ride them across the floor in order to survive.

Often, spikes will damage or kill the player even when in Real Life situations, spikes aren't that sharp. Often spikes have a nasty tendency to kill even when you're not touching the tips of them.

A classic, staple Death Trap and obligatory part of every Death Course. Obviously, they aren't just limited to videogames, but that's where they're most known.

Spikes of Doom are very frequently found affixed to an Advancing Wall of Doom.

See also Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. Also see Spike Balls of Doom for a spherical version. Not to be confused with Spikes of Villainy.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

     Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece features these on level one of Impel Down. The enitire floor is coated with them, besides a large hole to level two.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
    • The Gurren-Lagann creates dozens of cone-shaped drills all over its frame in episode 8. In Episode 11, it uses some of those drills to impale an enemy flight-Gunmen and turn it into a jet-pack. It's Giga Drill Maximum takes Spikes of Doom to the next level, as it encases itself in a prison of Giga Drills.
    • Guame's Gunmen also has these, at least in its humanoid form. Whoever wants to place spikes on the inner side of the arms, however, is not clear. It only uses these for nearly defeating a member of the Dai-Gurren Brigade. It is defeated by a certain star-shaped Gunmen known as King Kittan, using Kittan Stinger, followed by Hell's Helmsplitter (more Spikes of Doom. Apparently, the show has lots.
      • Chouginga Gurren-Lagann takes Gurren-Lagann's Spikes of Doom to the next level, by creating several drills on its frame and in the rift on each drill, it creates more drills... and once more. Each of the smallest drills it creates are the size of Gurren-Lagann's Giga Drill Breaker, which dwarfs Gurren-Lagann.

    Comicbooks 

    Film 
  • Deployed on the king's order in Army of Darkness, when Ash fights some decomposing deadites in a pit. Similar to many video game versions in that, when Ash throws one of his foes against the incoming wall of spikes, it just yanks itself free because its undead body can only be stopped by dismemberment, not impalement.
  • Cube also had a room where sound-activated spikes move out of the walls in every which direction.
  • DEBS. A feature of the Descending Ceiling trap in the bank vault.
  • In Event Horizon, the titular ship's gravity drive apparently requires copious amounts of spikes to function properly. The doors have spikes on the edges which close into a tiny square, the hallway into the engine room is best described as a walkway through a giant mulcher... the people who made this ship must have been baked out of their skulls. And none of this has any purpose, even for the sake of gory deaths. In fact, when someone DOES die in there, they land on a walkway over the coolant pool, tearing apart their entire body.
  • Rambo constructs traps intended to impale enemy soldiers in First Blood.
  • In Hidalgo, the titular horse falls into a spiked pit at one point in the story.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, the Descending Ceiling trap. And the spikes that impale people if they move into the light in Raiders of the Lost Ark
  • Krull had a room in the Black Fortress that had spikes intermittently moving out of the walls in every which direction. Didn't end well for one of the bandits.
  • The Emperor causes a snowy courtyard to sprout hundreds of upward-pointing icicles in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.
  • The Running Man had a wall of spikes in a wrestling cage-the villains used a stand-in to make it appear Arnold Schartzenegger's character died on the spikes.
  • The Autobot hangar at Diego Garcia in Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen is covered in soundproofing spikes, which makes sense considering the top secret nature of the base.
  • Flash Gordon has a Temporary Platform variant, where Barin and Flash (Ah-ah!) battle.
  • Kid Omega's in a porcupine way in X-Men: The Last Stand.

     Live Action TV 
  • In the Comic Relief Doctor Who parody The Curse of Fatal Death, the Master has the Doctor and his assistant bound to a wall. He proclaims "Say 'Hello' to the Spikes of Doom", and the wall promptly revolves only to spin back around again with the Doctor and assistant sitting on a sofa. "Say 'Hello' to the Sofa of Reasonable Comfort"
  • In a flashback scene from the Rose Red miniseries, the psychic girl throws a tantrum and causes water to spray out of the kitchen sink, then instantly freeze into a forest of lethal-looking ice spikes. Just short of her mother's eyes.
    • Instant Spikes Of Doom: Just Add Water?
  • The Prisoner episode "The Girl Who Was Death" has Number 6 (as Mister X) in a gauntlet that includes a trap door over a rising floor of spikes. That are electrified.

    Pinball 

     Video Games 
  • Amazingly, instantly lethal spikes manage to appear on board the futuristic space ship featured in the point-and-click adventure game 7 Days a Skeptic as part of the ship's communications apparatus.
  • A Boy and His Blob, known for Everything Is Trying to Kill You, has a scene where the boy feeds the blob a cola jellybean to turn the blob into a bubble in order to go underwater. If you touch a stalactite or stalagmite, the bubble bursts.
  • In Achievement Unlocked it is required to get impaled by all of them in both games to complete every achievement.
  • The Adventures Of Rad Gravity's final planet, appropriately named Telos (Greek for "end"), is full of these; on the floor, on the ceiling, on the Advancing Wall of Doom, under the Conveyor Belt-O-Doom, a long stretch that has to be crossed with a Cast From HP item, you name it.
  • To Aero The Acrobat, spikes are a one-hit kill. Too bad they are apparently standard fixtures in circuses and funparks.
  • Alfred Chicken wants you to walk across them using invulnerability in order to reach a secret item.
  • Aladdin (Capcom) and Aladdin (Virgin Games) both have spike pits in certain stages, but fortunately not instantly deadly ones.
  • Angry Video Game Nerd Adventures, in addition to standard retracting spikes, has One-Hit Kill "death blocks", some of which periodically appear and disappear.
  • Subverted in Atlantis No Nazo, where several zones have dangerous-looking spikes in the background that do nothing.
  • Game Boy Color game Batman: Chaos in Gotham had three types of sharp things. The first type was a platform that looked like it had sharp pieces but were really background material. The second type were slightly damaging spikes that you had to jump over. Next, there's a large icicle that instantly kills Batman if he tries climbing it.
  • The infamous Nintendo Hard game Battletoads had tons of these. One section of one level took it so far as to cover every stable surface with these - to survive, you had to use giant snakes as temporary platforms.
  • One of the booby traps in Be Trapped is a large, curved spike that pops out of the floor.
  • In The Binding of Isaac the spike beds usually appeared in the Cave/Catacomb levels and remained a constant from then on. They weren’t actually insta-kill, but they did remove one full heart, which was as good as an insta-kill for Glass Cannon characters Samson and Judas. Necropolis levels occasionally had a room with a dozen or so of them, and a similar number of Boom Flies and spiders. Have fun!
    • The Wrath of The Lamb expansion also added the Sacrifice Rooms, where you would receive a chest after walking over a field of spikes a random amount of times. Those were almost always not worth it, unless you’ve become very good at dodging and/or you finished the level and there were leftover hearts you didn’t need.
  • In Bionic Commando Rearmed, unlike the original, spiked floors always cause instant death.
  • Bio Miracle Bokutte Upa has protruding pencil points of pain in its later levels.
  • In Brain Dead 13, Lance can fall into a spike trap hidden by leaves on the ground and get impaled in one death scene if you take the wrong way in The Maze.
  • Bug! is pretty light on this compared to many other games, as most spikes in the game tend to retract and allow safe passage. Even if you do touch them, they only take away one of Bug's five hit points.
  • The 1st, 3rd, 5th, 10th and 11th level of Captain Claw. Also non-fatal ones on 3rd, 4th, 12th, 13th and 14th, which still removes 10% of your total hp. 9th, 10th and 13th has random arrows shooting out of the walls as well. 12th has stalactites falling from the ceiling.
  • Castlequest has floor spikes, ceiling spikes and wall spikes. And the player is a One Hitpoint Wonder.
  • Castlevania
    • Castlevania: Symphony of the Night has entire corridors lined top and bottom with these. It also has the Spike Breaker armor, which causes them to shatter harmlessly when you walk over them. They make you navigate a spike-filled, pitch-black corridor with only your little bat-sonar-peep for guidance to get at the stuff, too. Or you can do a little Sequence Breaking and navigate it blindly as invulnerable Mist instead.
    • Before Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, even touching a spike will kill you instantly, with the exception of some spiked platforms in Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse that simply took off a lot of your health.
    • One stage in Castlevania III had whole ceilings of spikes, which left ducking as your only option when dodging enemies.
    • Super Castlevania IV upped the ante by making you deal with a ROTATING ROOM full of spikes only avoidable by the Tarzan-swing-with-whip trick. As an added incentive for Simon to hang the hell on, there's an example of the cost of failure in the skeleton of a former, less savvy hunter lying in one corner... In that same room, if you choose to hang on to the platform instead of the Swing Ring, a new set of spikes appears on the floor you're trying to land on. Lose-lose situation there.
  • Cave Story has two types of spikes. One type is found on floors, walls and ceilings throughout the game, and damages you a good bit if you run into it. There is another type of floor spikes which glow red; landing on them is instant death. The Bonus Level Of Hell contains extreme amounts of both spike types.
  • The dungeon specific traps for the Mana Tower in Children Of Mana are these. Somehow, they are hidden in pots. They also show up in other dungeons, but not in pots.
  • Chuck Rock has thorn bushes as well as more conventional spike pits.
  • Commander Keen Episode 1: Marooned on Mars has green spikes that move up and down. They kill you in one hit, but then again so does everything else dangerous in the game as Commander Keen is a One-Hit-Point Wonder.
  • Some of the spikes in Cosmos Cosmic Adventure are stationary, while others continually retract into the walls and then come out again. Most of the spikes can be removed with bombs.
  • Dark Messiah features spike walls that enemies can be kicked onto.
  • The Voice with an Internet Connection in Depict 1 warns you the first time you see spikes that touching them is instant death. They do no damage, and you can pick them up and use them as throwing weapons.
  • Distorted Travesty offers plenty of painful spikes. The sequel even manages to force you to ascend a verticle shaft lined with said spikes using wall clinging. And descend through a maze with every platform protruding said spikes. But starting about halfway through the first game the player is introduced to INSTANT DEATH SPIKES. Before long you find yourself facing huge pendulums and other traps made of said instant-death spikes. As may be obvious the game is Nintendo Hard.
  • The Warriors' Hideout in the arcade version of Double Dragon has gargoyle statues with stabbing spears that take off half your HP. There's also spikes on the floor below, although that is treated as a Bottomless Pit.
  • Donkey Kong Country 2 's bramble levels.
  • Door Door has tiny green spikes that are deadly to the player but harmless to enemies.
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project used these in the 5th episode, Fearsome Factory. What's strange about these is that the game is fully 3D rendered, despite being a side-scroller, so there are often instances where you can clearly see a way Duke could walk around obstacles if only he weren't forced to conform to the path. As you might expect, even lightly stubbing your toe on these spikes is enough to make Duke explode into a pile of gibs.
  • Dwarf Fortress features the Menacing Spike, key component in the Upright Spike Trap. If linked to a pressure plate, these will shoot up, kill any hapless dope standing on it, and if the panel is pressed again will retract and leave the impaled goblin to collapse into a bleeding heap. Having these spikes at the bottom of a fifteen floor falling trap will result in lots of goblin torsos stuck on the spikes, while their limbs are scattered about, having been shorn off on impact. Dwarves are just fond of menacing spikes in general; they put them on everything. Dwarves will even stud training weapons with menacing spikes, which do nothing to alter the weapon's effectiveness (or deliberate lack thereof).
    • Subverted in DF2010 where one of the best ways to train your dwarfs for combat is to turn the barracks into a danger room filled with spike traps loaded with blunt training spears.
    • This entry menaces with spikes of onyx and adamantine. On the entry is an image of spikes in camel bone. The spikes are menacing.
  • Ecco the Dolphin has sharp spikes protruding from the underwater walls. Guess what happens if you swim too close to them? *cue loud BOKKKK injury sound*
  • In the latest expansion to EVE Online, named 'Incursion', the Space-Zombies {AKA Sansha's Nation} has these all over their ships and structures. Well, technically, they're just spikes, but if you see a Sansha Fleet, you're screwed, unless you brought reinforcements. On the upside, though, that's only when they really begin their Incursions. Mission-Running against Sansha is no more dangerous than against the Angel Cartel, Blood Raiders, Serpentis or Guristas... Well, until they start using ECM, Stasis Webifiers AND Warp Scramblers... Which they do a lot. Simultaneously. (Thank CPP for F.O.F. Missiles)
  • In Eversion, the flowers, as you everse, turn wilted, then into weeds, then into lethal thorns.
  • In a rare JRPG example, Final Fantasy VII has one area where, if you run instead of walking, you will slide into a wall of spikes that will take off a significant amount of your party's HP.
  • The Floor is Jelly has dark red blobs with spikes jutting out floating around in some levels.
  • Gruntz has these, although they're usually only a mild annoyance, unless you must walk through a lot of them with no protection.
  • Spikes are the main cause of death in Ivy the Kiwi?, but can be protected against by stretching vines above them (or below, if they're hanging from the ceiling and you need to pull Ivy upward for some reason).
  • I Wanna Be the Guy is full of spikes, which in some rooms almost entirely cover the floors and ceilings. The kid can die even by touching the side of a spike. At one point, a spike pit gets up and chases after you for several screens! (This one has cost many an LPer their sanity.) Seriously. These spikes also have a tendency to detach themselves and shoot toward you, though they don't always fire in the direction they point so the game can kill you when you least expect it.
  • The Jumper series has spikes as just one of the ways in which you can die. Naturally for the type of game it is, there are lots of them.
  • Jetpack has both ordinary spikes that can occur in any orientation, and hidden spears that pop out of floors. Both are deadly to the player and harmless to all enemies.
  • Joe Danger has stationery spike traps that send him flying if he lands on one, causing you to start over from the last checkpoint (or at the beginning of the race if there are no checkpoints).
  • In Keith Courage In Alpha Zones, touching spikes is instant death (same as a Bottomless Pit), and since Keith only has one life, it's back to the beginning of the level (or game) if he dies. Particularly aggravating when jumping on platforms, or dodging Goddamned Bats such as the flying skulls in the underworld.
  • In Kick Master, wearing Magic Boots would protect you if you needed to walk over spiked floors.
  • The level Cozy Cabin in Kirby's Epic Yarn.
  • Knytt has crystal-like spikes in the eastmost area of the game.
  • La-Mulana has lots of spikes, including whole floors of spikes in some areas. However, as you progress through the game and collect Life Jewels, you'll build up so much health that spikes end up serving as a nuisance rather than a mortal threat. At times touching spikes can even be useful to exploit Mercy Invincibility and/or to Damage Boost in the right direction. The remake changes this by having spikes take off a fixed percentage of your maximum health, and by making it possible to walk sideways through spikes. Some puzzles require making jumps and dodging spikes on the way down; the Hell Temple has a chamber two rooms tall where the player must navigate spike-filled shafts with careful Wall Jumps; touching a spike or enemy will cause the player to fall down and restart the entire thing. There's also an early puzzle where the player must jump into a pit of fake spikes which do nothing. Much less common are long white spikes which can suddenly emerge from platforms, usually from triggering a trap.
  • The Legend of Zelda uses this trope, but one of its most noteworthy versions is the boss of the Earth Temple in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. The villain, a giant, intangible ghost, is met in a room whose walls are covered in spikes. The ghost can blow Link, our trusty hero, into the walls and kill him thusly, but if Link can render the ghost tangible, he can then throw him into the wall, at the spikes, where he breaks apart into smaller, stab-able ghosts. The underlying message? Hooray for spikes!
    • Or not. Another example is the boss of the forest temple from A Link to the Past, which would have been pretty easy to defeat were it not for the fact that the room not only has spikes everywhere, but the spikes move around a lot, and even the floor moves occasionally. The boss (a giant moth) doesn't even feel the need to really attack Link as a result—it just chills in the air for the most part, watching him get impaled by spikes over and over again. Damn you, spikes!
  • Limbo has some amounts of them and they look very sharp.
  • In Little Nemo The Dream Master, spikes mean instant death. Naturally, it's a Capcom game.
  • Little Samson has lots of spike-covered surfaces, but Gamm can walk over them without taking damage.
  • Loco Roco has them in quite a few places. Togeh, togeh!
  • The Lost Vikings have large amounts of them in some levels.
  • MadWorld's rose bushes, though they're a tool for the player to violently impale mooks and present no threat to the player.
  • The 2D platformer MMORPG MapleStory has spikes here and there. Two areas in particular, Warning Street: Road to the Dungeon and Warning Street: Henesys Dungeon Entrance, are loaded with thorns among other things.
  • Meat Boy and Super Meat Boy are filled with Meat Boy-shredding buzzsaws and other such hazards, causing him to explode in a bloody mess on contact. The Dark Stages in Super Meat Boy are insane about this, as are the I Wanna Be the Guy-themed bonus levels (naturally).
  • If you had a nickel for every set of insta-death spikes in a Mega Man game, you could buy every game in the series, and all of its spinoffs. (& if you had even a penny for everytime every player touched those freaking things, you'd be one of the richest beings in history!) Even though Mega Man and other protagonists are all supposedly made of metal, the spikes’ instant lethality suggests plasticine was the material of choice.
    • In Mega Man 1 game, Mercy Invincibility did not protect you against spikes(This glitch was fixed in Wily Wars). Later games allowed damage from enemies protect you from spike damage later.
    • In Mega Man & Bass and 9, it is possible to buy a spike guard (Up to three at a time in Mega Man 9) that would make spikes damage you instead of outright kill you. However, the spike guard is used up the moment you touch spikes while you have one, so if you don't get off the spikes while temporarily invulnerable, you'll die from them. Furthermore (As a slight subversion), a Wily boss in Mega Man 9 has an underbelly of spikes that only damage you on contact.
    • All four Mega Man Zero games had a power-up that permanently turned off the spikes of doom. Mega Man X5 and X6 also had armors that you can acquire that let you walk on spikes without harm.
      • Ouroboros in Mega Man ZX Advent had regenerating spiked blocks just to add to the madness. And yes, you do need to break some to get to the end. Happy nightmares... This is made a bit worse by the fact that Model H is the only armor with an aerial dash enabled. This would make these traps easier, except that same armor has only sabre weapons, making it harder to specifically destroy the regenerating blocks you want out of your way and not the ones you need to use as platforms to move on. You could use a more balanced armor like Model ZX, but then you lose your mobility. QueenBee, Vulturon and Model H do help due to their flight, ability to hover & stick to walls and block-breaking tornado charge respectively.
    • X8 had Gravity Antonion's level by mostly this. Including enemies that could walk on said spikes. Though that's slightly subverted, as the enemy in question could be copied by Axl, who would then be able to use that form with the similar effect. Sadly, this enemy doesn't show up in other levels, which probably would have made it a little too useful.
    • "Wait, what was the name of this boss!?" .... Oh you suck, Wily.
    • FINALLY gets weaponized by Mega Man himself in Mega Man 10 in the form of the Chill Spike. Shooting the ground or a wall with this weapon causes a set of spikes to freeze up at the impact site. This is the weapon of choice against Nitro Man, who takes the most damage from it when it's used as a tire hazard.
    • Surprisingly, Street Fighter X Mega Man goes very light on this one, to the point where the number of spikes is less than the number of spikes in any other Mega Man game.
  • Mercenary Kings has them appear often in its levels.
  • Super Metroid had spikes in a few places, including under lava and acid! Luckily, some spikes are fake and won't hurt you if you touch them, and the fake spikes can be destroyed. Without the X-Ray Scope to see if some spikes were fake, it's pretty much playing with mines trying to see which set of spikes were fake and real. In one specific region, one can freely walk upon the spikes without harm, as every single spike (even in the bottom of a damn cave) are motorized, and without a local power supply, the spikes are harmless.
    • The original Metroid as well as Zero Mission have a chamber called "A Bridge Too Far" amongst fans. If you try walking across the bridge, it crumbles underneath Samus, and if you try to jump across and only shortly land every now and then on the bridge, you will hit the spikes in the ceiling just above the bridge. This is a lot easier to get past when you get the Speed Booster.
  • Mortal Kombat loves using spikes in its death trap levels. Spikes on the floor, spikes on the ceiling, spikes several floors below you, spikes on SPINNING RAZOR WHEELS OF DOOM...In later versions there are even spikes that have blades at the bases, so you can fall and become an instantly paraplegic fighter shish-kabob.
  • In NetHack (non-bottomless) pit traps often have spikes at the bottom, which merely cause more damage than a normal pit trap rather than causing a One-Hit Kill. However, the spikes are often coated with poison, which have a chance of causing a One-Hit Kill if the victim isn't immune to poison.
  • Ninja Senki features many spikes in the cave sections 5 and 6, not only on the floors and ceilings but also several horizontal spikes on the ledges. These are instant kill, even though being stomped by the stone statue that serves as the level's boss only takes away one health orb.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney case 3, the victim was killed by being accidentally knocked onto a fence spike.
  • In Plants vs. Zombies you actually get to deploy these in the form of Spikeweeds/Spikerocks. While these do not kill off normal zombies instantly (rather, it drains their health as they walk on the spikes) or the giant zombies AT ALL (they simply smash the spikes with their weapons and walk across the square as though there never was a spike there to begin with), it is played straight against vehicle enemies.
  • Pokémon has a sort-of example, with the moves Spikes and Toxic Spikes (and to a similar extent, Stealth Rock). When used, spikes get laid around the opposing team, and any Pokemon that switches in that can't fly/Levitate over them (or is immune to Poison in the latter case) gets hurt (directly with Spikes, or get poisoned with Toxic Spikes). Using the moves again increases the damage done (in the case of Toxic Spikes, a second layer badly poisons Pokemon that switch in so they lose health faster).
    • Now there's Ferroseed and Ferrothorn who have the ability "Iron Barbs". Guess what happens if you attack them with a physical contact move?
    • In Drake's room in Ruby and Sapphire, there is a hole in the floor with spikes at the bottom. Luckily for the player, you can't fall into it.
  • In a case of Trailers Always Lie, the trailer for the game Portal shows a crushing ceiling with spikes lowering when the player crosses the entrance to one of the areas. However, while the crushing ceiling is in this section in the actual game, the spikes are not. There is, however, more than one third-party map for Portal that does have a spiked crushing ceiling, such as "Hetzchase Nailway".
  • Valve's Portal 2 has them, but in this case the spikes are realistically deadly because they are on two moving walls with spikes (Smashing Hallway Traps of Doom), so the spikes still kill you.
  • The Prince of Persia series is absolutely full of spike traps, though different games have used different types:
    • Prince of Persia used instant-trigger floor spikes, especially at the bottoms of pits. Anyone who falls onto them gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice. The Prince could either inch through the spikes or clear them with a well-timed jump.
    • Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame lost the spiked pits, but had spikes coming out of walls instead — left walls only, to make it obvious, as right walls don't face the player.
    • The Sands of Time series had retracting spikes in the floor. But in lieu of serving as a temporary platform, they would impale any poor fool who so much as made a sound over them. To add insult to injury, if they managed to do this once, they'd likely do it again as you struggled to free yourself, forcing you to waste a sand tank to escape. Like the original game, however, you could avoid them, either by a well-timed wall run or tiptoeing over them, but you had to do it at the absolute slowest movement speed possible. Enemies also never got near them until the second game, where you could get some righteous revenge by triggering the traps with enemies on them.
  • In Prototype, Alex Mercer can use these, as one of the special moves for his claw powers. Giant spikes burst up from the ground, skewering a target. You're immobile while charging the groundspikes up, but early on, it's one of the few attacks that does appreciable damage to hunters and tanks. Then there's the Groundspike Graveyard, a move which skewers anything within a thirty-foot radius with spikes (it works best on armor, but lower-level mooks also die).
  • Psychosomnium has tiny little triangular spikes. One part of the game involves flying through a curving corridor with spikes on every wall.
  • Purple has three varieties of spikes. Short ones that take away 1HP (like nearly everything else), long ones that kill instantly and short ones that continually retract.
  • All over the place in Quake: spike shooters, spike traps that come out of the walls, and spikes on an Advancing Wall of Doom are common level design element.
  • The Quest Of Ki has spiked floors and ceilings in many levels. As with almost everything else in the game, Ki will die if she touches them.
  • One Press X to Not Die prompt in Resident Evil 4 has Leon impaled in a spike pit if you miss it. Another trap has a spiked Descending Ceiling, where you must shoot out the sensors to stop it.
  • Serious Sam: The Second Encounter featured a long corridor with spikes on the walls to each side. The twist was that there was a strong air current trying to blow you sideways into them as you traveled the corridor that you had to fight, and it continually changed strength and direction. The secondary twist was that you didn't need to maneouver at all—the air current just happened to blow in such a way that if you kept simply going forward without fighting against it, you'd end up narrowly avoiding all the spikes.
    • In Serious Sam II, upon entering into one of the rooms full of spikes, you'll get "I hate spikes"!
  • The online Shift games play with this; the hero survives these spikes because they were created by shoddy Actionscript.
  • In Shrek the Third, the second-to-last level was set in a sewer temporarily converted to prison. Amongst other things, there was a field of bent, curved hair-like spikes going up and down in a pattern and you had to time it right to get through it.
    • There were also two guards nearby who are alternately urging you to stay away for your own sake or encouraging you to go through and get impaled. Luckily, once you do make it, you get to kick their ass.
  • Something series:
    • Night of Spikes. The only enemy around is the Tick and most of the obstacles are spikes.
    • Hell Ship in the Sky has a Spikitu toss Homing Pidgit Bills. Another one joins in the madness and makes things worse for Mario.
    • Spikitu Castles 1+2 in Something Else. Spikitus are the major enemy in both levels. They are immune to Luigi's arsenal of tricks.
  • They appear all too often in the Sonic the Hedgehog series. Unlike most other spikes though, only the sharp edges are typically damaging.
    • Curiously, both the original Sonic 1 and the original Mega Man game had a specifically programmed behavior (at least in Sonic's case) with their Spikes of Doom that instantly killed you if you touched them during Mercy Invincibility. The remakes took out the glitch behavior, but it's never been explained why it was there, in the first place.
    • Sonic The Hedgehog 3's Marble Garden Zone also has an enemy that subverted Spikes Of Doom: it looks exactly like a set of spike, until you got close to it, at which point it rises from the ground slightly and fires glowing projectiles at you. The spikes on top of this enemy don't actually hurt you, instead acting like a springboard, but this being an enemy, touching the sides of the spikes will.
    • Mystic Cave Zone of Sonic 2 is home to the infamous inescapable spike pit. At one point, you need to grab a rope to lower a bridge to cross a pit. If you fall into the pit, you are speared repeatedly by a row of spikes at the bottom. It might as well be a Bottomless Pit, given that the shaft is so deep that it can't be escaped (except by Knuckles). Even worse if you're Super Sonic and therefore can't take damage until you've run out of rings (which happens incredibly slowly)...
      • Actually, because Super Sonic could jump higher than normal Sonic, it was possible for him to escape from the pit... unless Tails had grabbed the rope after you'd fallen in, causing the bridge to cover the pit. Thankfully the 2013 iOS and Android remake has the spikes were removed, and in their place is Hidden Palace Zone, a zone that was originally dummied out of the game.
  • Spelunky has spikes that kill you if you fall on them, but not if you walk past them, or gently lower yourself on top of them.
    • It is also possible to throw enemies onto spikes to kill them instantly (and messily). And if any enemy lands on the spikes, they die. Even giant spiders and shopkeepers.
  • The Super Mario Bros.. series is famous for these, especially Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World.
    • There were certain critters in Super Mario World that were unharmed by walking over spikes, and which Mario could "ride" across a particularly expansive bed of spikes.
    • Yoshi's Island DS kinda went Nintendo Hard in the secret levels because of these, with entire levels having nearly all the level either instant death spikes or instant death lava. Especially Yoshi's Island Easter Eggs.
    • Every ROM hack known to man of Super Mario World and every other Super Mario Bros. game have used these in massive amounts. Kaizo and every hack based off the concept has often used entire levels made of killer spikes.
    • Most Mario spikes just take you down to small if you have any powerups, and Super Mario Bros. 2 just takes one hit point. But while Yoshi could in Super Mario World, he couldn't in Yoshi's Island.
  • Tails Nightmare uses these in both games, in varying shapes and sizes. They were the only main obstacles in the first game. Although the sequel had much more variety, they were still prevalent.
  • Prevalent in They Bleed Pixels, although only the really long ones are an instant kill. The heroine can punch and kick her enemies into the spikes repeatedly to build up her combo meter.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Buster's Hidden Treasure has these in several levels, but perhaps the most notable examples are the Ice Mountain levels, particularly because you have to jump on disappearing platforms at the right time to avoid falling in them.
  • Tomb Raider is far more full of spike pits than any actual tomb, although Lara was mysteriously unhurt if she just walked through spikes instead of blindly running through them.
    • Presumably, "walking" was video game shorthand for "moving slower and more carefully."
    • This made a part late in the first level of Tomb Raider III a Guide Dang It. Progressing in a certain area DOES require walking through an area full of spikes and then jumping up and pulling yourself onto a ledge while standing on the spikes. Better hope Lara grabs the ledge the first time if you don't want to be sent all the way back to your last save... Worse, saving while standing in spikes causes Lara to immediately get shishkabobbed on reload, making that save unwinnable.
    • One secret area in the first game requires jumping into a spike pit in just the right place that you don't get impaled.
  • Even skateboarders aren't safe. Several Tony Hawk's Pro Skater games had "Punji Pits" in the editor.
  • Toss The Turtle uses these to stop the turtle in his tracks. You can get an achievement for hitting enough of them, too.
  • The doom part is subverted since Tux is Made of Iron, but the Tux Racer courses Path of Daggers, In Search of Vodka, I Like Spike, and I Like Spike 2 all feature spikes prominently.
  • Done very badly, along with a lot of things, in the rushed Ultima IX: Ascension. The spikes are clearly meant to be a trap, but are so weak that you could stand being impaled by them for a good five minutes and only take negligible damage.
  • In one of the Action 52 games called Unerground, spikes?(spears?, mushrooms?) work in a weird way. They don't damage you if you fall on top of them but will kill the character if you try to walk past them.
  • In Vessel, you can fall onto stalagmites while in the mines.
  • VVVVVV has a whopping 7612 of them. Even the title tells quite a lot about the most common hazard in that game.
  • The many spikes in World of Goo are rather less... triangular than most two-dimensional examples, being more like very long thorns. Goo burst on contact with them, threatening the entire structure.
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine game had both stationary and retractable varieties. The retractable ones were usually timed to have a rolling effect. Given that you're playing Wolverine the penalty for a mistime isn't much at all. The stationary ones are great fun for impaling your foes on.
  • Played straight then averted in the indie game Speedrunners. Initially touching a spike resulted in instant death, but later the game was patched so spikes only caused knockback.

    Webcomics 
  • Parodied in this Brawl in the Family, where Mega Man is killed by touching Sonic's hair spikes.
  • In one Chopping Block strip, Butch attempts to learn what permits are needed to build a spiked pit in his yard. He finds that the Public Works Department apparently doesn't know how to field that one.
  • 8-Bit Theater tried to answer the Spikes of Doom origin...
  • Referenced in an early part of the "video game comic" Kid Radd. Next level: Sharp Painful Object Land.
  • These two The Order of the Stick strips. The trap is taken directly from the D&D source book "Dungeonscape" (complete with the acid breathing shark). Only the glass containment was added.
  • Webcomic/Yamara has an obligatory spike pit.

     Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender 's episode "The Firebending Masters" features actually a floor that lowers when a tripwire is triggered, revealing the spikes.
  • In The Simpsons, "Simpsons Bible Stories", Milhouse and Lisa get thrown into Pharaoh Skinner's tomb. One of them sets off the spike trap/advancing walls of doom from both walls, but the spikes just catch in the middle and the trap fails. Lisa shrugs it off...
    Lisa: Slave labor. You get what you pay for.
  • In the Haunted Castle episode of Inspector Gadget, Gadget and Penny are caught between closing-in spiked walls. In another episode, a bed is booby-trapped with a descending spiked canopy.
  • In the 'Popcorn Panic' episode of The Penguins of Madagascar, the Penguins are pushed towards these by a huge amount of popcorn, prompting Skipper to regret installing the 'decorative' spikes in question.

     Real Life 
  • There are various man made booby traps used through out the world that really use spikes in a variety of interesting and horrible ways. One of the most well known is the Punji Pit, which the Viet Cong used to trap allied soldiers. Oddly enough, the goal was not immediate death by impalement, but death by infection. They would often rub the tips of the spikes with human feces.
    • The Viet Cong's traps were designed to be somewhat less than lethal so that the enemy would have to evacuate wounded and treat them at a hospital, which they believed to be more damaging to the war effort than simply killing them.
      • There's some truth to that, as it would tie up more soldiers and resources to try to keep a wounded soldier alive than to simply deal with a dead body. Alternatively, the Viet Cong would attack while the other soldiers tried to help the trap's victim.
  • In 2008 several spike pit traps were discovered in the forests around the Dutch community of "Helden". The traps contained large concrete blocks with metal spikes and were covered in a way that made them nearly undetectable. Two people sustained minor injuries and the suspected culprit was arrested and sentenced a few months later. His motives were never made clear.
  • Caltrops are four spikes arranged so that however you drop one, it will land with one spike pointing up (kinda like the jacks in a game of Pick Up Jacks). The idea is to drop them in the road or in a field somewhere to prevent vehicles or cavalry from operating freely without fear of injury or damage. They were used in the Korean War by the Air Force to cut off roads used by Communist supply lines, so they could come back and bomb the disabled supply vehicles. Pictures of the beaches at Normany show giant caltrops designed to hinder landing craft and tanks. Maybe not immediately threatening, but remember that while you're trying to get around these things or clean them up, you've probably got bad guys opening up with machine guns, artillery, and maybe even air strikes if you're particularly unblessed in life.
  • This is being tossed around as an idea to ward future Earthlings away from highly radioactive places. Played with, since the spikes would be too massive to be really dangerous (Just foreboding) but the radiation is certainly lethal enough. The idea behind it is that most types of radiation that we generate these days has a half-life a lot longer than any language we've ever spoken. A "Warning, Radiation" sign would go unheeded if no one can speak English or even read. A giant wall of spikes, however, would certainly act as a deterrent.
  • Anechoic RF Chambers certainly look that way. Good thing the spikes are actually foam rubber.
  • Cypress and mangrove trees have spiky "knee roots" that could potentially impale an unwary explorer.
  • Leap Castle in County Offaly, Ireland had one of these in its oubliette chamber. Prisoners were thrown in, and the "lucky" ones landed on the spike. The not-so-lucky ones simply wasted away from dehydration, starvation, infection, and exposure. Three large cartloads of human bones were removed from the then-abandoned castle in the 1930's. (Along with a gold watch dated to the 1840's, even though the castle was abandoned at that time.)
  • The Tsingy de Bemaraha National Park in Madagascar is an entire landscape made of limestone spikes. They protrude at all angles, and are exceedingly sharp. As a result, this area is mostly unexplored. One biologist exploring the area stumbled a little, and took a spike to the knee, which prematurely ended his expedition.
  • Certain areas where cars can come and go for parking or whatnot may have speed bumps rigged as one way spike traps. Usually, entering the area by going over the spike trap does no damage to the person's car because the spikes are bend to be pointy in only one direction and said pointy end are usually facing towards the parking lot. If someone tries to go the opposite way through the spike trap, their tires get punctured and the car gets disabled. This is done to prevent people that try to leave the wrong way or quickly flee if they committed some sort of crime.
    • Spike traps are also used by the police if they have to quickly stop a fleeing criminal that is driving dangerously and is putting other people in harm's way. Unlike the spike trap in the above example, the traps used by the cops are two way so no matter which way the criminal is driving, the spikes will pop the tires.
  • Pay & Sit: the private bench is a conceptual bench by Fabian Brunsing, that comes equipped with spikes jutting out of the seat. In order to take a comfortable seat, you have to insert coins. A warning beep goes off when the spikes are about to pop back up, to give you time to gather your belongings and leave before your backside gets impaled. The purpose of this contraption is to deter vagrants from simply sleeping on the bench all day.
  • Colorado's Royal Gorge is a famous place for whitewater rafting. One of its swifter runs, The Narrows, is lined with exposed rebar (from a worn-away old road) on the left side of the river. These Spikes of Doom are three or four feet long and are just waiting to turn hapless rafts and rafters into finely grated chum.
  • There is a theory that the Jupiter-moon Europa might be covered in meter-high spikes of ice.
  • Some walls have long and sharp metal bars (or spikes made from shattered glass) to deter thieves from climbing them. Nowadays, they are complemented by electric fences due to concerns of some sly thieves outsmarting those spiky structures.
  • England is using Spikes of Doom to keep the homeless away from underpasses. China is getting in on this as well, by putting them outside stores and buildings in cities.
  • One method of home defense is to push some nails through a rug or a piece of shingle and lay it spiky side up underneath suspected entry points such as windows for burgulars. Some people even go far enough as to file barbs into the nails so the thief can't pull the nails back out, making them easier for the cops or home owners to catch.

Smashing Hallway Traps of DoomThis Index Is in the WaySteam Vent Obstacle
SNK BossVideo Game Difficulty TropesSpike Balls of Doom
Snake PitDeath TrapSpike Balls of Doom
Laser HallwayDeath CourseSmashing Hallway Traps of Doom
Sneeze of DoomDoomy Dooms of DoomSpike Balls of Doom
Shout-OutImageSource/Anime & MangaTaking Advantage of Generosity

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