A character is mutilated in an explicitly symbolic way. They might not see the truth until they are [[EyeScream blinded]]. A grasping or avaricious character might lose a hand, a vain character may be disfigured, a character who refuses to act may be paralyzed, a character who committed a sexual offense might have their genitals cut off, and one who fails to speak out against injustice might lose their tongue.

Compare and contrast AnArmAndALeg, which also uses severe injury to advance the plot but the injury itself won't necessarily represent anything specific about the character.



* This is extremely prevalent in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', where JerkassGod's law of EquivalentExchange dictates that the price of victory is enduring Symbolic Mutilation as a form of IronicHell. The HandicappedBadass main character Edward lost the arm that allowed him to perform alchemy and the leg on which he stood, damaging his pride by forcing him to depend on others. Similarly, his brother, who attempted to resurrect their mother in order to feel the warmth of her presence again, lost his entire physical being, now unable to feel anything at all. Their teacher, longing for [[spoiler:her dead child, loses her reproductive organs]]; the WideEyedIdealist [[spoiler:Mustang]] is blinded.
** Not directly invoked by said JerkassGod, but still relevant: action guy [[spoiler:Havoc]] gets paralyzed; the IncorruptiblePurePureness [[spoiler:Nina]] gets gruesomely [[spoiler:fused with ''her dog'' and then murdered]]; the silver-tongued [[spoiler:Kimblee]] has his throat torn out; the desperate-to-help [[spoiler:Lan Fan]] loses her arm; the list goes on from there.
* In ''Manga/KoeNoKatachi'', Shouko Nishimiya's right arm is in a sling after the events of chapter 43. Since she is deaf and normally uses sign language or notebooks to communicate and that is her writing hand, it makes her attempts to communicate more difficult and represents how she is being isolated from others.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* ''Fanfic/AloneTogether'': Kim and Shego are each injured in a way that impacts a major character trait -- [[SheFu ultra-athletic]] Kim gets a broken ankle that doesn't properly heal; [[DeadpanSnarker sharp-tongued]] Shego is left mute in the aftermath of [[spoiler:her suicide attempt]]. Like everything else that physically happens to them in the [[AlternateUniverse Other World]], these are [[ResetButton undone]] when they return home.
* ''FanFic/DirtySympathy'': Klavier lost his small toe because of Daryan to represent that he lost a small part of himself.
* ''FanFic/IAmNotGoingThroughPubertyAgain'': this is [[spoiler:Sasuke]]'s reason for having refused a prosthetic for his left arm, as well as why he incinerates the very ''real'' left arm that he'd ripped off post time travel when Sakura offers to reattach it.
-->[[spoiler:'''Sasuke''']]: It's symbolic. The hand I used when I tried to kill you is gone. Discarding it signifies my resolve to turn aside from the dark path I walked in my younger years. It's a sign of my penitence, and of my ultimate acceptance of your philosophy.
-->'''Naruto''': You know... [[FridgeLogic I'm pretty sure]] you've tried to kill me plenty of times with your ''right hand'', too.
* ''FanFic/SonOfTheDesert'': To demonstrate his desire to no longer destroy things and have a new life, Scar/Kirah had his alchemy arm cut off by Edward.
* ''Fanfic/TheVow'': The [[NobleWolf Wolf Boss Zhan]] follows [[ByronicHero Lord Shen]] out of loyalty, even helping without question in the panda massacre during which his [[EyeScream left eye is scarred]]. He afterwards helps Shen to prepare for the peacock's conquest of China. While firmly loyal to Shen, Zhan's really only half-blind because [[WeUsedToBeFriends Lady Lianne]] manages to instill in him doubts whatever or not Shen's conquest can change [[FantasticRacism the prejudices]] most people have about wolves and make [[AFatherToHisMen him]] consider the risks his pack will face against the imperial army. [[spoiler:Following Shen's act of sending Zhan and most of the pack away before his ultimate defeat, Zhan takes his pack to make a new live in the West, and while he learns of Shen's survival, he resigns his subordination.]]
** For most of the story, [[spoiler:Lord Shen]] is [[FragileSpeedster a swift warrior]] who [[{{Determinator}} cannot be dissuaded from finding a way against the odds]] and is falsely labelled as a [[spoiler:sickly albino]] by his enemies. By the time of the epilogue, his survival has [[DentedIron left him with bone injuries]] that can never fully heal and limit his fighting prowess. Having to live with this without being able to change that wounds his pride, along with the fact that he's forced to live the rest of his life as the secret prisoner of [[spoiler:his own wife]].

* Here's a fun game: watch ''Film/TheDarkKnight'' and count how many times people say the word "face" in reference to Harvey Dent, before his accident.
* In ''Film/{{Hugo}},'' the main antagonist, Station Inspector Gustav, wears a leg brace due to an injury in World War I, which tends to freeze up on him at inconvenient moments. The specific injury isn't very symbolic, but it ties into the theme of people and things being "broken" in various ways, and Hugo's desire to "fix" them. [[spoiler:At the end, Hugo making him a better brace symbolizes Gustav [[TookALevelInKindness Taking a Level in Kindness]]]].
* ''Franchise/StarWars'':
** One could say that the constant loss of hands and limbs represents the loss of control in a situation. From Anakin's hand being cut off by Count Dooku to Luke losing his hand to Vader, it shows the moment when the person who thought they were strong enough to face anything sees that they are really quite powerless.
** Anakin's incineration in ''Film/RevengeOfTheSith'' corresponds with his final commitment to the Dark Side, so that his body is appears as mangled and ugly as his soul.

* In his curious attempts to see Saint John's body, Dante from ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'' is blinded by the light of John's immaterial soul. It is only when Dante restates his sole devotion to God and confesses that all other good fruits come from that Everlasting Gardener, prompting Beatrice to restore Dante's sight in order to allow him to see the true humanity in Adam.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The Pirate Captain from ''Series/DoctorWho'' serial [[Recap/DoctorWhoS16E2ThePiratePlanet "The Pirate Planet"]]. His body is largely robotic and he is gaining material wealth ruthlessly, replacing his humanity with materials.
* {{Invoked}} on ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer.'' In one episode, Dawn becomes depressed upon learning that she's not a Potential, so Xander gives her a pep talk, saying that he feels like being TheTeamNormal has allowed him to "see" things that the others don't. Apparently [[TheDragon Caleb]] learned about this conversation from his nigh-[[TheOmniscient omniscient]] boss, because later in the season:
-->'''Caleb:''' So, you're the one who sees everything? [[EyeScream Let's see what we can do about that]].

* Gloucester in ''Theatre/KingLear''. There are numerous references to eyes and him in the text. He can't see the truth about his sons [[CainAndAbel Edgar and Edmund]], due to [[BastardBastard Edmund]] though he is quite gullible. Eventually he gets his eyes torn out.

[[folder:Religion and Mythology]]
* Samson being blinded in Literature/TheBible could be thought of as this. He gave away his secret of strength to Delilah, despite the fact she had already tried the fake methods of taking his strength [[HeroBall he told her]]. His hair being cut off could also be symbolic as it was a mark of his connection to God and therefore his strength. He is captured and blinded but at least DeathEqualsRedemption.
** There's also ''tzaraath,'' which is often translated as "leprosy," but which others believe to be a supernatural ailment only given as divine punishment. According to Mosaic Law, one with ''tzaraath'' has to be quarantined away from people until cured. Since Miriam got it from speaking against Moses, it's often seen as a punishment for gossip and slander--in other words, you try to hurt someone's reputation, and ''you're'' the one who will wind up isolated from other people instead of them.
* In Myth/NorseMythology, Odin sacrificed one of his own eyes (giving up sensory knowledge) to drink from the well of wisdom (gaining mystical knowledge).
-->''[[http://norse-mythology.org/tales/why-odin-is-one-eyed/ The fact that Odin specifically sacrificed an eye is surely significant]]. In all ages, the eye has been "seen" as a poetic symbol for perception in general -- consider the astonishing number of expressions, both in everyday usage and in the works of the great canonical poets, that use vision as a metaphor for perceiving and understanding something. Given that Odin's eye was sacrificed in order to obtain an enhanced perception, it seems highly likely that his pledge of an eye symbolizes trading one mode of perception for another.''
* Perhaps the Ur-example is ''Theatre/OedipusRex'', who dug out his own eyes to punish himself for his refusal to see the truth until it was too late.

* ''Roleplay/DoubtAcademy'':
** [[spoiler:When Emiko Shiromura is found dead, the self-inflicted wounds she clawed into herself after the first trial, trying to get incriminating evidence off of her have been sliced open once again. The murderer was possibly after her for this reason - to get revenge on her for escaping death.]]
** [[spoiler:Nanoka Era is blinded and made half-deaf as the scapegoat for the third trial. She is also the talent most dependent on her senses...]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/MetalGear'':
** Big Boss's trademark is an EyepatchOfPower, which we see him receive in ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'' (when he attacks Ocelot to [[AlwaysSaveTheGirl keep him from assassinating Tatyana]] and ends up getting his right eye blinded by muzzle flare in a freak accident). His loss of the eye doesn't happen at exactly the same time as the large traumatic event that sculpts his character (the death of The Boss), but does serve to distinguish the difference from a rather [[{{Adorkable}} innocent]] and ordinary soldier to a single-minded, ambitious and [[BrokenAce traumatised]] one. This injury is then repeated with over the course of the series symbolising the difference in each character's outlook compared to Big Boss:
*** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2'', Raiden accidentally injures Solidus's ''left'' eye, which he appears almost ecstatic about, in accordance with his general fixation on Big Boss. He immediately starts wearing an eyepatch on it and even suggests being grateful to Raiden for doing it to him. Of course, his injuries are actually a mirror-image of Big Boss's, signifying that he himself is just a reflection of Big Boss rather than an individual in his own right.
*** In ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid4'', Solid Snake begins wearing an electronic sensor over his eye that resembles Big Boss's eyepatch. Between that, his visible ageing and the fact that his muscle-suit resembles Big Boss's bulky build rather than his own more sinewy one, he resembles Big Boss a lot - more to screw with the audience than anything (going from a Big Boss who looked like Solid Snake in ''3'' to a Solid Snake who looked like Big Boss in ''4''). While saving Big Mama (the same person as Tatyana, just many years on) from a fire, the sensor explodes and damages Snake's face, with the result of inverting Big Boss's injury - a burned face but a functioning eye. This serves to indicate Solid Snake's defiance of his own fate - his face, the thing that ties him to Big Boss, has been mutilated; and his ties to Big Boss - he got the injuries rescuing the same person; but most importantly his ability to still "see" things Big Boss has become "blinded" to.
*** Raiden also has a missing eye in ''VideoGame/MetalGearRisingRevengeance''. This is because his eye and his arm were mangled by Sam at the beginning of the game - throughout the game, Raiden gets bonuses for chopping off enemies' right arms, repeating the injury done on him. The eye injury is covered, instead of with an eyepatch, with a bandanna resembling the one worn by Solid Snake, signifying to whom his allegiance is.
** ''VideoGame/MetalGearAcid2'' significantly uses [[InternalHomage a copy of The Boss's caesarian scar on the back of the female character Lucy]] - particularly unusual as the ''Ac!d'' games happen in an entirely separate universe to the main games. However, it supports Lucy's character as being a horrible monstrosity of a matriarch, child and wife figure simultaneously (referencing the description of The Boss from ''VideoGame/MetalGearSolid3'' - "she was like a mother to me, and my master." "And your lover?"). As well as, more directly, suggesting some of the horrible surgical mutilations she would have received from the MadScientist responsible for creating her.
* ''VideoGame/CorpseParty'': A cross between this and DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything. [[spoiler:The first ritual has the students rip a proxy doll apart, which is supposed to correspond to Sachiko, as the ritual carries her name. The correct ritual has the survivors '''unite''' said paper doll, begging her (for her forgiveness) so as to appease her wrath in order for her to pass on at last.]]
* ''VideoGame/FallenLondon'' has [[TheAdjectivalMan Unfinished Men]] -- [[{{Golem}} golems]] that are missing something, like a finger or a conscience.
* ''VideoGame/TheEvilWithin'': The very nature of the monsters' deformities and injuries; it's why their faces tend to be torn apart, or their bodies wrapped in barbed wire or impaled on glass/metal.

* The [[KnightTemplar Kyorl'solenurn]] clan of ''{{Webcomic/Drowtales}}'' [[InvokedTrope invoke this trope]] when doling out specific types of punishments, and since the clan in general is heavy on the [[BodyMotifs eye symbolism]] it often involves eyes, both literal and figurative, to represent how the guilty has become blind to the Goddess. Itansha was nearly blinded in both eyes after she came into conflict with the clan leaders and went into exile, while Ky'ovarde was one of the clan's {{Seers}} and had one eye put out after the Holy Mother she served was killed as a symbolic stripping of her powers. Heretics are also branded with a forehead marking showing a stitched-shut eye that may be combined with one of these.
* ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'':
** Tavros Nitram has zero backbone to stand up to the bullies that abuse him. In short, he has no backbone, largely because a bully threw him off a cliff and paralyzed him.
** During the CycleOfRevenge where she maims several heroes, Vriska loses her left arm and eye. The injuries are significant both because they emphasize her left side ([[ASinisterClue i.e. her evil side]]) and identify her with Jack Noir, an OmnicidalManiac from another storyline who had the same injuries.
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick,'' [[spoiler:[[DragonWithAnAgenda Redcloak]]]] losing his eye could be seen as an ''ironic'' mutilation, because now he looks like [[spoiler:his dead brother [[DefectorFromDecadence Right-Eye]]]], who opposed the very actions that brought this mutilation about. Or, played straighter: he lost an eye for being ''blinded'' to said character's advice.

[[folder:Real Life]]
* In Ancient civilizations they used these punishments. You steal or hit your father and get your hand chopped of, kiss a married woman and you lose your lips. Basically the Eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth punishment.