It's not uncommon in fiction for one character to offend or otherwise anger another character (or group). The act of provoking a foul and violent response from someone is a trope as old as fiction itself. But what happens when it's not enough to beat the tar out of someone? Heck, what happens when it's not even enough to just shoot someone dead
? Why, you do something that will inflict the pain of having one's skin torn off by fast-moving asphalt while being flung around chaotically, occasionally being thrown, at high speed, into stationary and possibly immovable objects!
When a character is mangled or killed by being tied or attached to something fast moving, like a car, this trope comes into play. The victim is dragged along the ground like a bag of screaming meat. This is a form of Cruel and Unusual Death
and Cold-Blooded Torture
, to say the least.
Of course, there are versions of this trope that aren't portrayed as quite so extreme. It is possible for a character to be dragged at lower speeds by methods of transportation less powerful than the average automobile. Not that getting a face full of dirt is much fun, either. Often Played for Laughs
with Amusing Injuries
in cartoons, with nonfatal examples of characters being dragged on a leash or rope across pavement, into trees and lampposts, and through openings much smaller than the victim.
Has nothing to do with dressing in drag
See Dragged by the Collar
for a Lighter and Softer
version. Compare Wipe The Floor With You
and Body Sled
Anime and Manga
- Claire Stanfield, pissed off and in need of information, subjects a Smug Snake mook to this in Baccano!. Being dragged across railroad tracks from a moving train is not a pleasant way to die.
- In the anime of Trigun, some villagers take Vash for a drag after they find out who he is. Fortunately, Meryl intervenes before they get around to shooting him.
- This is how Seras kills Zorin Blitz in Hellsing. No vehicle was involved here — just a vampire who has just been awakened to her true abilities and is supremely pissed grinding Zorin's face into the nearest wall at Super Speed.
- Discussed in Silver Spoon: when Hachiken is learning to ride a horse, he's told that if he starts to slip off he should try to climb back up unless some part of him starts dragging along the ground. At that point hanging on becomes even more dangerous than letting yourself fall off.
- Attempted in Hana Yori Dango. Thanks to Sakurako's machinations, Tsukushi finds herself taken for a drag in a speeding car while Kazuya is Forced to Watch. Tsukasa arrives and bails her out, but barely.
- On We're Alive, Riley and Burt tie Tardust to the back of their vehicle and force him to run along behind until he falls. They then threaten to just keep dragging him if he doesn't tell them where Scratch is hiding.
- One episode of The League of Gentlemen had a Running Gag where a cyclist rode past the central characters. At first, he was pulling along a reluctant dog on a leash; the next time, the dog was being yanked along struggling to keep up; next, it was being dragged along the street, and the final time we see them there's just a hunk of meat bouncing along behind the bike. It's that kind of show.
- In an episode of Supernatural, the Winchester boys had to re-kill the ghost of a man killed in this manner by... killing it in this manner. Specifically, they had to find a way to scare a ghost to death. They just figured that re-experiencing its own death might scare it enough.
- Happened accidentally in an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. A girl was pushed out of a car, but she got tangled in the seat belt, dragging her along until she died.
- CSI also subverts it in at least one case, where the corpse of a bride's mother turns up dragged behind the couple's car, but it turns out she died earlier.
- In the German series Zweite Heimat, one of the characters waits too long to board a tram car and gets caught in the closing door and dragged to his death.
- This happened in Heroes to Jeremy, a boy who could heal or kill people with a touch.
- In Taggart, a cop series set in Glasgow, a "fight" between two criminals entailed a woman chasing a man across waste-ground, trying to run him over with the Transit van she was driving. When she got out, she found her bound and gagged son attached to the van's underside. He'd been alive and well until she tried to use the van as a weapon...
- MythBusters took a stab at this one to see if it was possible that the friction from being dragged behind a horse would make denim ignite. Tory did not enjoy the experience much (the field through which he was dragged was littered with horse dung), even covered in protective gear though his pants remained fire free. They determined the pants would fray before they would ignite.
- The Piranha Brothers sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Vince Snetterton-Lewis (Graham Chapman): Well, one day I was sitting at home, threatening the kids, when I look out through the hole in the wall and I see this tank drive up. And one of Dinsdale's boys gets out, and he comes in all nice and friendly like and says Dinsdale wants to have a talk with me. So he chains me to the back of the tank and takes me for a scrape round to Dinsdale's place.
- One Victim of the Week in the Midsomer Murders episode "Blood on the Saddle" is killed by being lassoed and then dragged along behind a horse.
- The Unsub of the Week did this to another Serial Killer on one episode of Criminal Minds. The unsub chained him to the back of a truck and dragged him along the street.
- In Top Of The Lake a family of thugs accidentally kill a guy who they were trying to frighten by dragging him across a lake in a rubber ring behind a speedboat. He got caught with his face in the water and drowned.
- Xena: Warrior Princess: Season 3 'the Bitter Suite', Xena rides a galloping horse and drags Gabrielle through rocks, fire and sea. Gabrielle is covered in cuts and bruises, but she can still fight competently.
- The Closer: In "Elysian Fields", a suspected rapist and murderer is dragged behind a car by someone torturing to get him to reveal the location of the bodies of his victims.
- Monk: The first on-screen murder in "Mr. Monk and the 12th Man". A driver stops at a tollbooth and asks the guy manning the booth if his name is Frank Pulaski. When Pulaski says yes, the driver demands the change to his $10 bill. When Pulaski reaches out his hand to give the driver the change, the driver suddenly handcuffs his left wrist to a long piece of rope, then floors on the gas pedal. Pulaski's partner attempts to cut the rope, but it's too late, and the partner can only watch as Pulaski is dragged to his death. It's said by Captain Stottlemeyer in the crime scene investigation that Pulaski got dragged about 0.7 miles, and the remains aren't exactly pretty.
- Parodied in one panel of The Far Side, where three cowboys attempt to drag a varmint through the desert — but they've tied him to themselves instead of the horse.
- Dick Tracy: Wormy tries to kill Tracy by chaining him to the back of a car and dragging him along the road. Tracy is able to unhook the chain, but not before he is pretty badly banged up by the ordeal.
- In 2002, after Hulk Hogan destroyed his motorcycle by running it over with a semi-truck, the Undertaker (in his American Badass biker character) attacked Hogan, tied his feet to a rope, tied the other end to Hogan's own motorcycle and dragged him through the halls of the building.
- The 1998 dragging murder of James Byrd Jr., an African-American, in East Texas by three men, two of whom were white supremacists.
- The Huns liked to lasso enemy infantry around the neck from horseback and drag them until their necks snapped.
- Keelhauling. Ouch.
- Speaking of old punishments, hanging, drawing and quartering, the old English form of execution for commoner men convicted of high treason (commoner women were burned at the stake; nobles of both sexes were beheaded) typically began with being dragged down the cobblestone streets of the city, tied to a board. It goes From Bad to Worse from there. Much worse.
- Inverted by the "Nantucket sleighride", a tactic of old-time whalers, in which a harpooned whale would drag a longboat until it succumbed to blood loss and exhaustion. Occasionally subverted if the tether broke, or played straight if the whale turned back and flipped or demolished the longboat.
- Subverted for the survivors of the Trashman, a sailboat that sank off the Carolina coast, when they tossed a chunk of wood on a line out of their zodiac as a sea anchor. As the wood was stained by an injured survivor's blood, a big shark grabbed it and dragged the small boat several meters, but let go once it realized it wasn't food.
- Equestrians as a group are very concerned about this accidentally happening if a rider's foot is caught in the stirrup if they fall off. Because of this, one saddle may have more than three different safety devices to prevent this and anti-dragging inventions are the equine world's version a better mousetrap.
- In Star Fleet Battles, it's possible for a ship to grab a shuttle/fighter with a tractor beam and do a "death drag" — pulling the smaller ship at high speeds until it's destroyed.
- The finisher for the leader of the Shamans from Madworld is Jack performing this using a leash and his motorcycle.
- One possible use of the lasso in Red Dead Redemption is using it to drag
enemies nuns behind your horse.
- Happens to Carlos in Saints Row 2, resulting in the player character giving him a Mercy Kill.
- A selling point of Just Cause 2 is the ability to use Rico's Grappling Hook Gauntlet to attach anything to anything else. This includes mooks to cars, helicopters, fighter planes, and jumbo jets.
- Ryuji Yamazaki from The King of Fighters does that as one of his supers.
- The Heroes of Newerth hero Rampage can do this with his rhino. Or his unicorn.
- The Smoker from Left 4 Dead drags victims by its tongue and/or intestines, and in multiplayer the dragging will indeed damage the victim, though the real damage doesn't start until the Smoker has pulled the victim close enough to start clawing away.
- Red Steel 2 starts off with the Hero getting tied to a motorcycle and becoming subject to this trope. Despite of being dragged over and into rocks, sand, cacti, broken glass, oil drums, and fire, not to mention hitting pavement hard and nearly getting run over by a semi however, he escapes and walks off without a scratch.
- The Venture Bros.:
"Clues? Clues to WHAT, man? There's no mystery here."
"Clues to why I don't drag you behind my van until you're nothing but a pelvis wearing a belt."
- When Bender and Amy from Futurama fell in love, it was forbidden because it was robosexuality. Amy's parents came from Mars to take her home. She refused, so her father dragged her back with a lasso.
- This happened to Claude Cat in the Looney Tunes short "Terrier Stricken" (Jones, 1952), when Frisky Puppy unraveled a sweater and Claude tried to get rid of him by tying one end of the yarn to the back of a parked truck. Claude follows the unspooled sweater to the end of the string, which has been wound around banisters, through plumbing fixtures, and all sorts of weird places. Claude is still holding the string when the truck outside takes off, dragging him along behind.
- In South Park, this was one of many, many death of Kenny.
Stan: Well, who didn't see that coming.
- In the very first episode of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, "Thomas and Gordon", Gordon pays Thomas out for being an obnoxious brat by dragging him along behind the Express.