We are two mariners/ Our ship's sole survivors
In this belly of a whale/ Its ribs are ceiling beams
Its guts are carpeting/ I guess we've got some time to kill.
An extreme version of the Big Eater
which is usually fat, usually a monster of some type, eats the hero or some other innocent bystander. But they don't chew
, and their stomach happens to be big and spacious, full of oxygen, devoid of acidic gastric juices, and in some cases actually well lit. It may even be a Ribcage Stomach
. Our hero is fine, he just happens to be inside the monster for awhile. In erotica, it's often called vore (short for "vorarephilia"). Specifically, this type is called 'soft vore', as opposed to the hard stuff.
(This is actually considered more acceptable in erotica than cannibalism as a fetish, seeing as it's impossible
At this point, one of two things happens. Either the monster is slashed open from the inside or the outside, and the hero escapes unharmed (and usually quite clean), or else he does something to cause the monster indigestion, and get vomited back out
. For bonus humor, they may not even be aware they were inside the monster's gut
until they provoke this dyspesia.
Whales are commonly invoked by writers
for this trope across various media, simply because the huge sea mammals were poorly understood for most of human history. Many cultures, even those that have hunted them, hold the cetaceans in awe and feature them in their mythologies. Stories of whales destroying ships and swallowing humans are often heard in many folklores tales,
even though nowadays we know Whales are generally shy and easily spooked by people
. Not to mention that, despite their immensity, it's biologically impossible
for one to devour large prey such as us. Despite all this, whales are still used, since they continue to captivate the imagination. Oceans are not required
When a character tries to invoke this trope, it is a case of Eat Me
This may be a case of Explosive Indigestion
. When the hero himself simply proves to be inedible, it's Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth
This is an extremely old trope and features very often in children's books, though it also shows up in other settings.
May be invoked as Nightmare Fuel
or Fetish Fuel
, whether as permanent digesting or harmless temporary swallowing/passing.
Compare Just Eat Him
and Eaten Alive
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Anime & Manga
- Roobear Koala and Betty Koala from Adventures of the Little Koala are trying to save stranded sea creatures by throwing inside a nearby pod of huge whales. Unfortunately they end up trapped inside one, and taken for a ride.
- Mr. Stain on Junk Alley: Mr. Stain befriends a fish living in the fountain, and it grows huge over the course of the episode. Eventually, he gets eaten by it.
- This recently happened to Miina in Cage of Eden.
- At one point in Fullmetal Alchemist, Ed, Ling, and Envy are accidentally swallowed by Gluttony. Then, inside Gluttony's "stomach", Envy shifts to its true form and eats Ed.
- Near the end of the series, Father does this to God.
- In Naruto:
- In the One Piece Skypeia arc, Luffy and some of his companions are swallowed whole by a giant snake. Once Luffy realizes he's in the snake, he figures the quickest way out is to head for the tail. His companions talk him out of this.
- This seems to come up rather frequently in One Piece, probably because it's a world stuffed to the brim with enormous sea monsters. This includes a man who literally has a vacation home inside a massive whale's stomach and the threat of being eaten by a goldfish that literally eats islands. And if you want to avoid this trope, don't go anywhere near the Calm Belts.
- In chapter 5 of Tokimeki Tonight, Ranze mistakenly shapeshifted herself into a bread during a race and end up swallowed by her rival, Yoko. She managed to morph back and escape in the following chapter through Yoko's mouth when she was unconscious.
- What Mana does to Tobita to power herself up in Super Dreadnought Girl 4946.
- Blood-C boasts a rare example in which a character is eaten whole by a ball of hair, leaving only an enigmatic puddle of blood behind. Some other episodes feature people being eaten whole, but it is much more common for them to become horribly mutilated before actually being eaten.
- For a more traditional example; in the final episode, Saya purposefully enters the body of an Elder Bairn through it's mouth to save Kanako and to kill it from the inside.
- In Catnapped!, the rampaging monster Papadoll swallows dozens of citizens whole. It turns out he was just carrying them to his mistress to be used in her evil plot, because when he gets back to her, he spits them all out alive and unharmed. Curiously, the heroes who witness the "swallowing" seem to understand that the victims have been taken away and can be rescued, rather than assuming (as the audience might) that they were eaten.
- A variant in Dragon Ball Z; Buu can absorb other fighters to gain their power (gaining the outfit of the strongest person he has absorbed in the process) by engulfing them in the pink goo he's made of, doing so to Gotenks (the fusion of Goten and Trunks, who defuses while absorbed), Piccolo, and Gohan. When Vegetto, the fusion of Goku and Vegeta, is absorbed (as part of his plan to free the others), he puts up a shield, which prevents him from becoming a part of Buu, but defuses back into Goku and Vegeta, who then journey through Buu's body to free the others.
- In episode 5 of Attack on Titan, Eren gets swallowed whole by a Titan in his attempt to save his best friend. In episode 8, he then emerges unscathed on a different Titan. It gets explained on the next episode how that happened.
- In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, Fabia's giant bat demon does this a lot. However, it doesn't digest the people it eats. Instead, it shrinks them then spits them out in a sealed jar for its master. Most of the new cast are captured in this manner.
- There's a benevolent version in Bleach, where Unohana Retsu's zanpakutou takes the form of a flying ray-thing that somehow heals the Shinigami it swallows.
- In Spirited Away, this appens to quite a few of the bathhouse employees after No-Face goes nuts. Fortunately, Chihiro's medicine makes him cough them up. (Along with everything else he's eaten, much of which he spits up on Yubaba.)
- In the Justice Society of America storyline The Return of Hawkman, Atom Smasher is eaten whole by an alien. Unfortunately for the alien, Atom Smasher's powers of Super Strength and Size Shifting...
- The first time Spider-Man meets Mattie Franklin, the third Spider-Woman, they both arrive to fight one of the Mole Man's giant monsters, who swallows Mattie when she's distracted; only for her, to Spidey's shock, to start beating the monster up from the inside until it coughs her up.
- In Stupid, Stupid Rat Tails, Big Johnson Bone is swallowed by a giant rat creature and escapes by starting a fire.
- In an issue of Booster Gold, a transformed-to-rodent Blue Beetle is swallowed by an antagonist called Estrogina. After failing to free him, Booster despairs, until the spell changing Blue Beetle into a chipmunk wears off...
- Most of the monsters in Felarya swallow their prey whole, but they do have stomach acid, and it's rare for the prey to get out alive.
- The origin of Ultra Boy from the Legion of Super-Heroes has him being swallowed up by a giant space-living energy creature and being bombarded by its radiation before another ship blasted the side of the creature, letting Ultra Boy loose but giving him superpowers. (Because the Silver Age of comics is sometimes not very subtle, Ultra Boy's real name is Jo Nah.)
- Played for horror in issue #33 of Grimm Fairy Tales, which adapts the obscure fairytale "The Three Snake Leaves". A scientist uses a snake-based elixir to cure his wife's fatal cancer, after being given a copy of a book containing this fairytale. Unfortunately for him, the book-giver is Belinda, the evil "Storyteller", and his wife, like the wife in the story, is overwhelmed by the instincts of the snake. Worse, just after reading this part of the story, he gets a call from the man who sold him the snake, explaining that he was given a snake-eating, offspring-cannibalizing king snake, rather than the intended coral snake. There is a Hope Spot when he sees his eldest son is alright once he rushes home... but the last panel shows he was too late to save his youngest son.
- In Wormy, Bender the salamander was swallowed alive by a long-jawed mudsucker, only to cut his way out with a knife it'd also swallowed.
- "Little Red Riding Hood", in the younger versions at least — there are a couple older variants where the wolf carves up grandma and lil' Red (and they, hardly surprising, don't get out alive).
- "The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids": The wolf devoures all of Mother Goat's children, but they are rescued in the same way Little Red Riding Hood and her Grandma are saved.
- "The Dragon Sliced In Two": In this Swiss fairy tale, a clever young shepherd named Juri tricks a brutish but gullible giant into believing that he is as strong as him, and to help kill a ferocious dragon to stop it from eating a princess. Unfortunately, Juri gets swallowed alive by the dragon, but as he tries to hack his way out of its belly with a knife, the giant kills it with a blow on its spine that causes it to split in two, freeing the hero, who through some more fast talking cons the giant into thinking they killed it together; the giant outside, the hero inside!
Films — Animated
- In Pinocchio, Gepetto, Figaro, and Cleo get swallowed whole by Monstro the Whale, and Pinocchio later does as well when trying to find them.
- Finding Nemo. Right before finally arriving at Sydney, Australia, both Dory and Marlin are actually swallowed up by a blue whale. And then, upon reaching Sydney, are swallowed by a pelican (which they escape from by choking him) and then are carried about in the mouth of another (friendlier) pelican.
- At the end of Astérix Conquers America Lucullus gets eaten off-screen by Caesar's pet panther.
- In An American Tail, Fievel is almost eaten by a cat but manages to climb back up it's throat and grab its uvula, causing a gag reflex that makes it cough Fievel up.
- In An American Tail Feivel Goes West, Five ends up in Tiger's mouth by accident. He's fine when Tiger hears him.
- The dragon from The Pagemaster.
- In Hercules the Hydra swallows Herc whole, who decapitates it from the inside.
- In How to Train Your Dragon, the Red Death swallows a Gronkle whole for not bringing enough food to feed it. Also, when Hiccup, Astrid, and Toothless try to flee from it, it is also seen devouring a Hideous Zippleback.
Films — Live-Action
- The Millennium Falcon's asteroid landing in The Empire Strikes Back.
- Also implied to have happened to R2-D2, although we never see what it was that pulled him under the surface of the swamp.
- And Jabba the Hutt, in various other media if not the movies themselves.
- Burt Gummer gets swallowed by a Graboid in the third Tremors movie; he's in an oil barrel at the time, which offers a degree of protection, but he's still looking a little grotty when he's cut free from the corpse.
- During Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Devastator uses his giant vortex thing to eat Mudflap. Shortly afterward, Mudflap punches Devastator's eye out from inside his head and starts to hit him with it.
- Happened to Agent K in Men In Black and a mugger in Men In Black 2.
- In Where the Wild Things Are, KW hides Max from Carol by swallowing him. She pulls him back up once the coast is clear.
- On Dude, Where's My Car?, Tommy is gulped down by the Super Hot Giant Alien. Cut from the movie is Tommy's rude comment ("Do you spit or swallow?") that let to the swallowing in the first place. At the end he survives after the Alien is blown up, Covered in Gunge.
- One of Michael's female friends in Jaws 2 right in front of him.
- The movie The Creeping Terror is basically seventy-odd incredibly tedious minutes of leggy ladies getting gulped down by the rug monster from outer space.
- In Godzilla (2014), the female Muto does this to a group of soldiers on a pier, and would have done so to Ford as well had Godzilla not force-fed her his Atomic Breath.
- Deep Rising: The creature's tentacles can eat human beings in one gulp, and function as a digestive chamber as well. One such victim falls back out after the heroes fire at a tentacle, still alive and half-melted.
- The old troll in Terry Pratchett's The Light Fantastic.
- In Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing, Peter's pet turtle Dribble is swallowed alive by his little brother Fudge. It doesn't survive of course, but Peter's first question upon learning that the turtle is out of Fudge's system is if it's alive or dead, as he'd hoped this trope might apply.
- In a variant from The Bones Of Haven, a giant spider encountered in the sewers lands on Hawk when it's killed. While it didn't actually swallow him, he punches a hole in its descending abdomen with his ax, ends up inside its (mostly hollow) belly, then spends the next couple of minutes hacking his way out.
- Happens sometimes in Animorphs. Rachel is once swallowed by a kronosaur, morphs grizzly, and claws her way out.
- Also Marco, who gets swallowed in spider morph by a bird and then has to morph out of it.
- Baron von Munchausen and a whale.
- Happens to several main characters in Robert Silverberg's Lord Valentines Castle. Luckily for them, water-lord anatomy is weird.
- How one travels by blimp in the Gaea Trilogy. Luckily, blimps' digestive acid has approximately the pH of strong tea; they can only digest food that's been pre-digested and crapped out again by their symbiotes.
- In Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star, this happens to Seth, after a demon he awoke catches up to him. He lives.
- Happens on purpose in Leven Thumps and the Gateway to Foo when an Earth Snake eats the gang. They get back out alive. Happens by accident in Leven Thumps and the Whispered Secret when Leven swallows Geth.
- The Adventures of Pinocchio, again, only in the original Italian story it was a giant shark, not a whale.
- During the course of Galaxy of Fear: The Nightmare Machine, Tash and Zak end up in the mouth of a whaladon, and know that being swallowed will kill them. It's a hologram.
- Golly Gump Swallowed A Fly, a children's book by Joanna Cole. The title character accidentally swallows a fly (it flew into his mouth while he was yawning), then deliberately swallows a spider to catch the fly, a bird to catch the spider, a cat to catch the bird, a dog to catch the cat, and a dogcatcher to catch the dog! At the end, Golly has an idea, and angrily threatens the six: "If you don't all get out of there, I'm going to swallow a grizzly bear!" It works, and they quickly climb (or fly) back out of his mouth, alive and unharmed.
- On Charmed, the Big Bad Wolf does this to Piper and Grams in a fairy-tales-come-to-life episode. Piper blasts it into a cloud of fur-tufts from inside, and the two are released unharmed.
- In the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Bliss," the Voyager crew is led inside a giant bioplasmic creature who deceives them into thinking they are flying into a wormhole that will lead them straight to the Alpha Quadrant. Only Seven of Nine, Naomi Wildman, and the Doctor are unaffected, as Seven and Naomi share no interest in returning home and the Doctor was taken offline by the rest of the crew. They encounter an alien pilot of another ship who was trying to destroy the creature and work together with him in order to escape.
- In "Basics, part 2," Hogan was killed at the mouth of a cave where a giant snakeasaurus lived in a lightning-quick Discretion Shot. Later, more of the Voyager crew were attempting to sneak across a cavern where the snakeasuraus slept in a pit. It didn't work. A nameless crewman slipped, awoke the beast, and got Swallowed Whole just like Hogan.
- In the Dinosaurs episode "I Never Ate for My Father", Earl, Robbie, and a few mammals get eaten alive by a giant swamp monster, and are still alive, whole, inside its stomach (as it takes a week for a creature of that size to digest its meals).
- Many Muppet characters have been eaten whole by monsters over the years. One of the most notable examples being the "Under My Skin" number.
- One Monster of the Week on Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers who was serious Nightmare Fuel for young viewers was the Terror Toad, who was able to do this to the entire team except Kimberly; at the last moment, she was able to make him cough them up. A lesser known monster who could do this was the Invenusable Flytrap; in that case, Jason, Zach, Kimberly, and Billy were able to blast their way out.
- The The Chemical Brothers song "Come with Us/The Test" features Weston being approached by a curious blue whale, which she then swims into the open mouth of.
- The Decemberists' "The Mariner's Revenge" is told from inside a whale. The speaker notes, "Its ribs our ceiling beams, its guts our carpeting. I guess we've got some time to kill."
- Voltaire's "Goodnight Demon Slayer" contains the line "If he eats you, don't you fret/ Just cut him open with an axe."
- The duck in Peter and the Wolf; unlike many examples of this trope, he does not escape, though he's still alive at the end of the story...
Mythology and Religion
- Miniatures of St. George and the Dragon often show George freeing a maiden (unharmed) from the dead dragon's belly.
- Chronos swallowed all of his children whole when he found out that one of them would overthrow him the way he had his father. When Zeus (who escaped such a fate by the trickery of his mother) kills him, he pulls his siblings out alive.
- When Zeus finds out that he's to succumb to the same fate, he eats his pregnant lover. However, it is their daughter that reemerges unharmed in the end.
- Early Mesoamerican artwork suggests that the cultures of the area had a story similar to Jonah. Statues of a man being swallowed by a large fish have been found on archaeological sites.
- Jonah and the giant fish from The Bible.
- At least one Native American tale has Coyote undergoing this as a deliberate strategy, being prepared he cut his way out, killing the monster and freeing all of its other victims.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- Some monsters have the Swallow Whole ability. (Purple worms are likely the most notorious creatures who do so.) Victims take damage as they are digested, but can try to cut themselves out. However, "muscular action" closes the hole afterward, meaning that multiple swallowed adventurers each have to cut their own hole. Utterly ridiculous, yes, but it stops players from deliberately getting swallowed and then insta-killing the monster.
- Advanced D&D monsters that can do this are the albino wyrm, behir, carnivorous whales, Dinichtys, froghemoth, Tyrannosaurus Rex, giant catfish, giant frog, giant gar, giant shark (Megalodon), manta ray, remorhaz, sea wyrm, verme and wereshark.
- Basic D&D monsters with this ability include the caecilia (giant worm), large carnivorous land dinosaurs, giant sturgeon, giant manta ray, giant toad, killer whale and nightcrawler.
- The Bag of Devouring is a classic cursed magic item which, while it appears to be a useful Bag of H0olding, actually leads to the stomach of an other-dimensional monster that can drag the user in to be digested alive any time they reach into the "bag".
- Why would anyone want to be Swallowed Whole by a monster? The Splat book The Guide to Hell mentions the Worm of Minauros, a unique creature that lurks in the swamps of the third layer of Hell that resembles an extra-large purple worm. If anyone tries to fight it, it might as well be an extra-large purple worm. (It also hates devils with a passion, killing any it comes across.) However, if a mortal with an alignment other than Lawful Evil approaches it with no weapons in an act of surrender, it opens it jaws allowing the creature to approach. Anyone brave enough to let himself be eaten at this point (it requires a Will Save to avoid fleeing in panic) and able to survive in its stomach for anywhere from two to seven rounds, is spit out. After that, his highest ability score is increased by 1 and he gains a bonus to experience points gained. (There's a catch, however. These bonuses tempt the recipient to evil deeds, and committing dark acts is required to keep them, or they eventually fade.)
- Warhammer 40,000
- Tyranid Mawlocs tend to do this. And their victims are still alive and conscious while they're being digested.
- The Red Terror does it as well. Both in gameplay mechanics and fluff. In fact there is a codex story devoted entirely to the subject.
- Skyrealms Of Jorune. The Mandare monster has an amorphous body with a large mouth at the end of its long thin neck. It can swallow prey whole before digesting it.
- Kevin Moore's Wanderlost "Out to Sea" chapter has Sheldon the pig getting gulped down by a friendly whale called Tuvia, who was rescuing him from being mauled by sharks.
- In George the Dragon, the Loch Ness Monster (aka Gladys) has a stomach which is full of all manner of undigested sea critters who have created a civilization in her stomach and who in fact are going to war.
- Whether the predators in Kevin & Kell swallow their prey whole or kill and carve them first seems to depend mostly on Rule of Funny.
- Two members of The Order of the Stick find themselves swallowed whole by black dragons. Haley is rescued when Vaarsuvius casts Suggestion on the dragon and orders it to vomit, and V deals with being swallowed by casting Shapechange. The results aren't pretty.
- Bob and George In the simulation.
- Cassandra Kam, in Tales Of Gnosis College, arranges for this to happen to herself, apparently as part of a Self-Sacrifice Scheme.
- Kaz the Jester in Work Sucks is a collector of monsters, so this happens fairly often. He’s invented several methods to get out of those situations,one of which being a pill called "Pukitol”
- In Bloody Urban, Shannon (a ghoul) swallowed one of his classmates in the 6th grade because he wanted to assume the other kid's identity. Unlike with most uses of this trope, it's implied that the boy's face was badly burned by Shaz's stomach juices, and when you see him as an adult he still has some noticeable scars.
- The team get swallowed by ... something large and aquatic in an episode of Genocide Man.
Giriii: My dad took me whale hunting once. Never thought I'd be swallowed by one.
Jacob: This isn't a whale. Whales don't have card tables, chemical toilets, or crates of MREs.
Girii: It smells like a whale.
- Tower of God - The solution or winning condition in the Ball Test and the Submerged Test was to be swallowed whole by the White Steel Eel and the Mangdol Madame, respectively.
- The trope happens in Real Life in regard to large frogs and toads. Unlike snakes, which crush their prey either by strangling or during eating it whole, the frog or toad swallows the prey (which may be anything from insect to mouse to smaller frog) in a fraction of a second, before the hapless animal even realizes what happened to it (it has to be filmed in slow motion for human eyes to discern). This means the prey is alive and conscious for at least a second before digestion begins.
- Large constrictors (pythons and boas) have been filmed eating small, weak prey live rather than spend the effort to subdue and kill it.
- Taken to the extreme by the pelican eel, a deep-ocean predator that's pretty much a gargantuan maw with a stringy little tail hanging down from it. It pretty much has to swallow prey whole, as its teeth are tiny and its jaws built to engulf, not bite.
- From Pelican eels to Pelicans. In fact a lot of bird species that live on a fish diet have to swallow the critters whole. Pelicans that live in or close by human settlements will even go for pigeons◊.
- Most advanced species of predatory bony fishes feed this way, using specially-adapted jaw articulation to expand their mouths so rapidly that prey is sucked inside.
- In fact, outside of mammals, most carnivorous vertebrates will swallow huge chunks of flesh in a go rather than chewing it, and thus relatively small prey often goes down in a go. Relatively, because sauropsids (reptiles incluiding birds) have wide and thick walled esophagus, and thus stuff that doesn't seem to even fit can go down.
- Averted with carnivorous arthropods, annelids and mollusks: Due to the fact their brain develops from a ring surrounding their digestive tube rather than from the endpoint of a dorsal cord, they have to swallow very small chunks of food, or they risk being brain damaged.
- Just when you thought reality TV couldn't get any weirder, the Discovery Channel will be showing a man swallowed alive by an anaconda. Thankfully, the show has already been filmed and the man is still alive.