One evening Sam came into the study and found his master looking very strange. He was very pale and his eyes seemed to see things far away.It's bad enough that scars tend to be permanent and sometimes painful in fiction. The really unlucky, however, get something even worse: a wound that won't heal at all, and remains open and raw long after it ought to have healed. This usually happens for supernatural or highly symbolic reasons. Perhaps the wound was made by something powerful enough to prevent healing, or it was received as the result of treachery, cowardice, or evil potent enough to force the injured person to pay for their trespass indefinitely. Either way, normal medical care simply won't do the job. Somehow, the wound must be purified and the symbolic meaning behind the injury rectified before the sufferer stands any chance of being healed — if that's even possible. The really unfortunate can never be healed, and spend the rest of their lives in pain... Compare Scars Are Forever and Achey Scars, which at least heal enough to leave a scar, even if it still hurts sometimes. Contrasts Healing Factor or Healing Hands as it stagnates if not outright stunts or reverses the effects recovery ability, nearing it clean into Harmful Healing territory. In video games, this often takes form of Maximum HP Reduction.
"What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?" said Sam.
"I am wounded," he answered, "wounded; it will never really heal."
"What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?" said Sam.
"I am wounded," he answered, "wounded; it will never really heal."
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Anime and Manga
- In Mnemosyne, Sayara Yamanobe is severely disfigured in episode one, then turned into an immortal by the Big Bad to come back for episode three. The catch? Since she was effectively half-eaten alive when she became immortal, her wounds won't kill her and won't heal either. Naturally, she is very pissed at Rin for doing this to her.
- Somewhere around volume 11 or 12 of Priest, Ivan Isaacs gets stabbed in the chest by Armand. Even with an exceptional healing ability, the wound perpetually bleeds and never closes, never heals - not until volume 15, at least, due to a bit of magic.
- In the first Rurouni Kenshin OVA, the wound Kenshin received from Tomoe's fiancee, Akira Kiyosato bleeds whenever he kills someone or is reminded of the person he killed. When The Reveal finally happens it bleeds while he reads Tomoe's diary and realizes that she was a spy all along. The injury doesn't heal until after Tomoe deals him another cut across the first, creating Kenshin's iconic cross-shaped scar.
- In the final volume of the manga, in the epilogue chapter, Kenshin still has his scar but its gotten far smaller due to the happiness that Tomoe wanted him to have coming true.
- The Brand of Sacrifice borne by Guts and Casca of Berserk is one of these, and bleeds when the demons draw near.
- The wound that Slan of the Godhand inflicted on Guts is another one of these. According to Schierke, it's a physical and a spiritual wound. The cursed Berserker's armor is the only reason Guts isn't already dead.
- In The Vision of Escaflowne, Van makes some sort of bond with the eponymous Giant Mecha, increasing its responsiveness to his piloting, but after the following battle its revealed that any damage the armor receives is inflicted as a corresponding wound to his body, and doesn't heal until the damage is repaired. Oh yeah, he experiences that too. Now imagine how it feels to have a horrific chest wound welded shut with no anesthesia.
- In Rave Master, one of the villains carries a special weapon that can be especially deadly: wounds caused by this weapon don't heal, but actually worsen until the midnight hour comes along. Until the bell tolls midnight, any treatment of these wounds is futile, and the victim is forced to suffer as every second, the wound becomes worse and worse. Now, imagine if you were scratched by this weapon at exactly 12:01 AM.
- In Kekkaishi, wounds done by Kaguro's blades don't heal properly even if the victim has a Healing Factor. This results in the death of one of the main characters.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Louise Halevy loses a hand when Nena Trinity shoots up a wedding Louise was attending. Current medical science should be able to regrow the hand, but the false GN Drive of Nena's Gundam lacks a critical filter component, making it give off toxic radiation that prevents even normal healing and results in Louise showing up in the second season with a mechanical hand and popping pills (supposedly) to deal with the toxins. When The Movie comes around, Louise is still in treatment but it starting to actually get better.
- In Claymore all girls who would become half-yoma warriors were cut open by the Organization in order to implant Yoma flesh in every part of their bodies. That huge cut is the one wound their regeneration cannot heal since their altered bodies consider that cut part of their "default" state. The Organization's work-around is to crudely stitch the wound together to keep the Claymores' guts from falling out.
- Medaka Box: Ihiko Shishime, a massive demonic Hero Killer who resides in the Shiranui Village, is known as the irreversible destroyer because the damage that he inflicts on the world is permanent. He ends up defeating Zenkichi, Kumagawa, Ajimu, and even Medaka this way. It doesn't matter if a character is a determinator, reality-warper, or has super healing. Fortunately the effect vanishes after he is defeated.
- In Fate/Zero, the Noble Phantasm Gae Buidhe wielded by Servant Lancer inflicts wounds which cannot be healed so long as the weapon is intact. One such wound hinders Saber's use of her left hand until Lancer voluntarily sacrifices Gae Buidhe so that Saber can use Excalibur's full power to defeat the Eldritch Abomination summoned by Caster.
- In Fate/Prototype, the newly revived Manaka Sajyou still sports the mortal wound that Saber gave her years ago. It seems that it still bleeds.
- The obscure Transformers Decepticon Overlord had the power to cause the wounds he inflicted to be unhealable.
- In Shakugan no Shana, Sabrac's spell Stigma causes the wounds he inflicts to worsen over time while it is active.
- Trafalgar Law in One Piece can inflict this by combining his swordsmanship and Devil Fruit's powers. It is potent enough to prevent Logia users from regenerating their form, even when their powers are active (as opposed to being neutralized by Seastone or Dark Dark Fruit).
- Also, The Going Merry, the Straw Hats' ship. After sustaining damage over the course of the battles the crew got in, the ship's keel (basically the ship's equivalent of a spine) was cracked. The only way to repair a ship once that happens would be to literally tear the ship apart, replace the keel, and then rebuild the ship around the new keel. Eventualy, the ship just cannot hold out anymore and the Straw Hats' are forced to give her a Viking Funeral, her spirit says that she has no regrets
- Non-biological example. Both the Turn A and Turn X units from Turn A Gundam are equipped with powerful nanomachines that can regenerate virtually any damage, supposedly up to and including the pilot. But at some point in the past, the Turn X received an X-shaped scar on its chest from the Turn A, and its nanomachines are unable to repair it for some reason. Thousands of years later, during the current story, it still has that scar (which is the source of the name "Turn X").
- Sword Art Online: Sugou suffers this after Kirito brutally kills his in-game avatar, Oberon, after turning off his pain inhibitor note , as punishment for all the shit he had pulled (including torturing Kirito himself to almost death and molesting Asuna); as a result, he suffers phantom pain in the real world and is blind in one eye. Said pain can't be cured because there's nothing physically wrong with him.
- In The Seven Deadly Sins, it is implied demons can cause this. Whenever Ban, who is immortal and has a Healing Factor, gets wounded by demonic power, the wound takes longer to heal and leaves scars.
- At one point, Marvel's Mighty Thor severely pissed off Hela, the goddess of the dead. Consequently she cursed him to never die — and never heal. A truly horrible fate for a warrior god.
- The curse actually worked in Thor's favor in his last fight against Jormungandr. As part of the Ragnarok Cycle Jormungandr and Thor were destined to kill each other. Since Thor can't die Jormungandr was the only one who died. Thor was left a total wreck afterwards.
- In Fables Boy Blue gets shot in the arm with a cursed arrow which also carries in a thread of the powerfully magic Witching Cloak. When Mister Dark hits the cloak (which was made from his own essence) with a powerful unbinding curse, Boy Blue sickens and dies, despite repeated efforts by the supernaturally skillful Doctor Swineheart (who eventually amputates the infected arm to remove the thread), examination by the Fables' best magic practitioners, and the Messianic Archetype healing powers of King Ambrose.
- In the Persona 3 fanfiction Death And Ker, Minako has a series of wounds all the way down her back from where she was pulled off the Great Seal. They alternately bleed, scab over, and bleed again throughout the story, by way of indicating Minako's status as an integral part of the Seal.
- In The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13, an injury inflicted by the Originals cannot be healed by anyone, be they a mortal wizard or the strongest of gods. The effects of these permanent injuries also tend to be somewhat... varied.
- Charon's flesh was stripped away. His skeletal body constantly emits poisonous magic that is harmful to mortals and gods alike.
- Hadrian's body wasn't damaged, but instead he lost the ability to kill.
- Link lost his right eye and left arm, which were replaced with look-alikes made out of dark magic. They function just as well as... well as, the originals. Notably, even after acquiring enough power to obliterate the Originals with ease, he still doesn't have the ability to restore the old limbs.
- In the Bleach fic Hogyoku ex Machina, this is the ability of Kenpachi's zanpakuto, Shakushi.
- In Cosmic Warriors it is the effect of Experiment-D-U-D's golden spear.
- In Lost Girl Stop The World, Lauren develops a permanent scar from the being on the receiving end of a Shoot the Hostage situation in the previous story. That it won't heal despite her Healing Factor is a cause for concern. Lauren muses that it still hasn't fully healed, and later when she gets angry, begins to hurt and bleed. This may be because she's possessed by the Garuda, and it got in there.
- Pony POV Series:
- In the Origins arc, Mimic kicked out Discord's tooth, explaining why he only has one fang. For some reason, he cannot restore it, even with his Reality Warper powers.
- Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox from Dark World sporting one of these received from Alicorn!Trixie in a previous loop, leaving a severe burn on her face that she covers with a White Mask of Doom. Notably, the character is a Time Master who can rewind time to undo any injury she sustains but can't undo this one. When Twilight absorbs her and other versions over herself to become a goddess, the wound appears on her face, and she notes that even as the personification of magic herself, she can't heal it. She is surprised when Trixie forgives her for Eclipse's crimes and then casually heals it.
- In Tangled In Time while Ganondorf survives his execution by Master Sword from Twilight Princess, his wound is made even worse as now he's in constant pain and constantly has to take blue potions to ease it. In a Call-Back to the example below, Ganondorf manages to keep the Master Sword.
- In Apartment Gensokyo, Koishi comes home injured and her wounds never heal, instead, they continue bleeding. She later succumbs to them.
- Freedom Dies With Me has this happen to protagonist Traveller; specifically he ends up being impaled in the stomach by Lord Brevon's blade. The blood on that blade is described as a sort of poison that hinders the body's attempts to heal. Even the Blade of Hysteria cannot heal it and it takes a Timey-Wimey Ball to actually keep it closed.
- In A RWBY Zanpakuto, Aizen's Bankai inflicts these injuries. Only Reality Warper powers like Orihime or the Hogyoku can heal them, healing kido and healing factors are ineffective.
- Blood and Spirit: During his confrontation with the Fierce Deity early in the fic, Link suffers a slash across the chest that infects him with Majora's corruption. Every time Majora begins to exert his influence and corrupt him further, the wound reopens.
- Lancelot suffers this fate in Excalibur. (It may be a metaphorical wound, though. He sustained it while wracked with guilt about sleeping with Guinevere, and it was done by Excalibur which couldn't have been in his physical possession at the time.)
- Early in Highlander, Ramirez slices the Kurgan's throat open, but doesn't completely decapitate him. When Connor meets the Kurgan centuries later, he still has the wound, and it's apparently being held closed with safety pins.
- In Death Becomes Her, when the two women drink the immortality potion, they find every wound is like this. The women cannot die, but their bodies can be severely damaged. This only becomes apparent after they both suffer injuries that would have normally killed them, like a broken neck or having a hole blown through their stomach with a shotgun. They are both for all intents and purposes zombies. Their souls are bound to their bodies forever, but since their bodies are clinically dead they no longer have the ability to heal. Whoops.
- In Drive Angry, the Godkiller is a gun that causes anything it kills to suffer Cessation of Existence. When The Accountant, the demon bounty hunter sent to bring the protagonist back to Hell, has his cheek grazed by one of its bullets, he keeps the injury for the rest of the film, while demons and the undead usually heal from any injury.
- In Left Bank, Marie's knee injury not only fails to heal, but progressively festers throughout the film.
- In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-Earth:
- In the first Lord of the Rings book, Frodo was stabbed in the shoulder with a Morgul-blade by the Witch-King. A fragment of the blade burrowed towards his heart, but it was removed and his life saved. Despite this, even after the fall of Sauron and all his minions the wound never fully heals. Frodo is in fact ill every year, both on the anniversary of being stabbed by the Witch-King and being stung by Shelob.
- From The Silmarillion,
- Unhealing wounds that never stop hurting are what the silmarils inflicted on anyone who touched them without being worthy (i.e., pure of heart and innocent of wicked deeds). That didn't stop less-than-innocent characters from stealing and even swallowing them.
- Melkor loses the ability to heal wounds after he becomes a full-fledged God of Evil. The burns from Silmarils and the wound from Fingolfin's stab stay with him.
- In Ian Watson's novel Queenmagic, Kingmagic, injuries inflicted by magic can only be healed by personally killing the magician who injured you. If someone else happens to kill them first, you're stuck with a permanently unhealed injury for the rest of your life. This can be very nasty if it's something like a broken arm or fractured skull.
- In the Dragonlance novels, Raistlin punished his apprentice Dalamar the Dark for spying on him by digging his fingers into Dalamar's chest, leaving five permanently seeping wounds.
- In The Wheel of Time, Rand has an unhealable and highly plot-significant wound in his side, the result of two separate blows across the same area by two different forces of evil.
- In His Dark Materials, Will's wound from his own Absurdly Sharp Blade doesn't heal throughout the entirety of The Subtle Knife until Jopari fixes it in the end of the book. It just keeps opening up again.
- A justified non-magical example in The Knights of the Cross. Macko gets ambushed and shot with a crossbow bolt. A broken piece of the tip gets stuck under his rib and causes the wound to fester, nearly costing him his life before the heroes finally manage to remove it.
- After being bitten, nearly drained of blood and poisoned by 'space vampire' Minty Mazata in the third Spaceforce book, Jay finds that the puncture wounds show no signs of healing after four days.
- Torak in David Eddings' Belgariad has half his face burnt away when he steals the Orb. Being a God and therefore never intended by the universe to be physically harmed, his body has no natural capability of healing, so he suffers for thousands of years.
- In The Space Trilogy by C. S. Lewis, Ransom receives a bite on his heel from the Un-Man, which never fully heals afterwards. (Shortly thereafter, he receives a bequest that requires him to change his last name to Fisher-King.)
- False Gods: In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 book, Horus is dealt a blow with the Anathame, a sword that is made to kill whoever is named to it when it hits them. A lesser man would have died, but being a Primarch Horus is instead dealt a wound that refuses to heal, knocking him into a coma. He gets healed, the galaxy wishes he didn't.
- Elantris: Due to a catastrophe that occurred ten years before the start of the novel, the Elantrians do not heal from their wounds, at all. And they're all nigh-immortal save for beheading or burning. Consequently, the city of Elantris is full of piles of undying Elantrians who are too pained or injured to move, but are still alive. Fortunately the problem gets fixed at the end of the novel.
- In The Hollows series, demon wounds don't heal if the victim owes the demon but hasn't accepted a mark for repayment.
- Robin McKinley
- Early in Chalice, Mirasol receives an accidental burn on the back of her hand from her land's new Master, a priest of Elemental Fire. The burn does not heal, and can't even be soothed by the usual remedies, until the Master uses his power over Fire to heal it; Mirasol argues that the failure to heal is a natural result of the burn being in such a thin-skinned and awkward place, but the Master is of the opinion that it's something more uncanny in accordance with this trope.
- Sunshine: The title character is given a cut on her chest by a vampire. While the other injuries she takes during the experience heal normally, the cut lingers for months, scabbing over and then cracking and bleeding again; it's later stated that the wound is supernaturally poisoned and that the only thing that has kept it from killing her is the time she has spent exposing it to direct sunlight, with which she has a magical affinity. It doesn't heal until another vampire helps her purge the taint.
- In Dracula, the wound to the forehead that Harker gives the count early in the novel never heals. Whether this is because Dracula, being already dead, cannot heal wounds, or simply because not enough time passes, or something else, is never made clear.
- Forgotten Realms Towards the end of the Time of Troubles trilogy, Midnight is wounded by Cyric's blood-drinking sword. When the two of them are elevated to godhood, her wound never goes away, and is sometimes used as an oath: "Mystra's Wound!"
- The secondary power of the Mindsword in Fred Saberhagen's Swords and Lost Swords series is that any wound it inflicts, no matter how slight, is poisoned and will not heal naturally, and will, indeed, be fatal. The only power known to be able to counteract this is Woundhealer.
- In Wicked Lovely, the scar on Niall's face, given to him by the leader of the hounds, looks as though he only just received it when he isn't wearing a glamour. It is unknown wether his other scars have the same effect. It's probably symbolic; Niall's even more scarred on the inside.
- Harry Potter
- Bill Weasley's wounds from an untransformed Fenrir Greyback are hinted to be this, as are other werewolf inflicted wounds.
- Mr. Weasley's snake bite from Nagini. It did heal eventually, but the magical abilities of Nagini kept that "eventually" going: no magical or non-magical healing could stop the bleeding. It ate right through the stitches!
- Normally, it is possible (with quick action) to reattach and heal limbs separated due to magic gone wrong (for example, if it gets splinched), but if one loses a part of the body to a Dark Art, such as the curse Sectumsempra, it is impossible to reattach the lost part (that's what happens to George Weasley's ear).
- Donna Jo Napoli's Sirena is based partially on the legend of Philoctetes (see below): Sirena tries to take care of Philoctetes' wound, but every day it requires special care, and it never gets better (in a variance from the source material, the reason that the crew abandoned Philoctetes on the island was that he was bitten by a snake sent by Hera, and they didn't want to be harboring a man who had angered the Queen of the Gods.)
- Fate/Zero has Servant Lancer's Gae Buidhe, which will create a wound that cannot heal on the target. This afflicts Saber early on and becomes her Drama-Preserving Handicap until Volume 3 of the novel. Even then, after the curse gets lifted, Saber insists on fighting only with her right hand during her rematch against Lancer.
- In Sandman Slim, Lucifer (yes, that one) has one of these from when God booted him out of Heaven. It eventually drives him to leaving hell when Mason tries to take over.
Lucifer: Father showed me the door with a faceful of fire.
- In Symphony of Ages, Ashe received one of these from the F'dor when it nearly killed him and stole part of his soul. He endured it for years until healed by divine magic, and even then he wasn't truly whole until his soul was also healed.
- In the Skulduggery Pleasant series, wounds inflicted by Billy-Ray Sanguine's razor do not heal. Weirdly, Sanguine apparently still risks using the razor to shave.
- In the Mediochre Q Seth Series, any wound caused by a Blood Iron weapon will not heal. This makes them the perfect weapons for use against dragons. Mediochre, who is functionally immortal and heals automatically from any normal wound due to his dragon's blood, gets slashed on the arm by a Blood Iron sword at the end of the first book. He's slightly ticked off at the prospect of having to stitch the wound up again every time the stitches decompose.
- The Last Dragon Chronicles: The Mark of the Oomara. By the fourth book, though, Zanna's arm is better.
- The Stormlight Archive:
- This is one of the creepier properties of Shardblades. Shardblades don't cut living flesh, they sever the soul itself. Which means that if one passes through a limb or other non-vital extremity, all the nerves below the cut die, and you can't feel or move that limb ever again. In Words of Radiance, Kaladin's arm is cut in such a way, and he is surprised to find that he is able to heal it with Stormlight without too much difficulty. It's implied that healing the wound isn't actually hard, it's just that most people on the planet don't have access to a way to heal damage to the soul.
- Despite this capability, however, Kaladin still has a Slave Brand on his forehead (and efforts made to tattoo it into reading "freedman" heal themselves away before they can take). Not because it's magical, mind you - because Kaladin has never stopped seeing himself as a slave.
- This matches with other edge-cases throughout The Cosmere where magical healing doesn't heal every ailment a person has - e.g. a bald person retaining his baldness even after being taken by the Shaod (which when working correctly turns someone into an idealized, sparkly god), a eunuch retaining his lack of equipment after tapping a gold metalmind (which normally grants a short-lived Healing Factor, at the cost of long periods of sickliness later, to charge it back up). In these cases it has to do with how they look in the Cognitive Realm, which relies heavily on self-image.
- In Pact, the Hyena, a powerful goblin, inflicts injuries like this as a matter of course. It mauls its victims in body and soul, and once it's done so it can use the injury to drive them to madness and exert control, turning it into a Minion Master. Death itself will not ease the pain-the victim's soul and ghost will linger, still maimed, as the Hyena makes use of them to hunt.
- In the Towers Trilogy, Xhea's dark magic negates both healing magic and her body's natural healing. As a result, the knee injury she sustains in Radiant does not heal, and grows progressively worse in Defiant.
- In Douglas Hill's Blade of the Poisoner, Kid Hero Jarral is cut by the Tainted Blade. Not only does the wound—in the shape of the villain's monogram, no less—refuse to heal (and hurts like hell in the bargain), but it leaves him with a month to live unless he manages to destroy the sword in question before his time is up. With the help of his friends, he manages, with moments to spare.
- In the Jacob's Ladder Trilogy, nanotech-infused swords called unblades inflict wounds that can never heal. At the beginning of the series, Ariane uses an unblade to cut off Perceval's wings.
- In Burn Me Deadly, those who believe in dragons say that burns from their fire never heal and never stop hurting, no matter how much time passes. They're right. In fact, just touching an egg is sufficient, as one character who must now permanently wear gloves could attest.
- In Malazan Book of the Fallen the Crippled god was called from the heavens by a cabal of mages and was injured badly upon impact with the world. Since the local Gods and Ascendants try to keep him subdued, none of these wounds have ever healed during the eons he has been trapped there. None of the injuries from the Fall have healed. Not one in a hundred thousand years.
- In The Witchlands, Cursewitched wounds will not only not heal, but poison the rest of the body, unless you can find a Firewitch to cleanse them, which is why Iseult is out of action for a large chunk of the first book.
- In The Medusa Amulet by Robert Masello, the titular amulet makes anyone immortal if they look at their reflection and the reflection of the full moon at the same time, but they are left completely frozen in the state they were in when they see themselves. Artist Benvenuto Cellini, who created the amulet and was the first beneficiary of its power, is noted as still suffering crippling damage to his legs after he jumped out a window to escape a Nazi raid in the Second World War, and other users of the amulet's power- Marie Antoinette and Adolf Hitler- are depicted as actually still retaining consciousness even after being completely decapitated until their heads are explicitly destroyed.
- Journey to Chaos: Greater Mage Haburt Kloac has chronic health issues because Sathel Aranid inflict them via poison in retribution for him kidnapping her daughter. Neither magic nor medicine cure him.
Live Action TV
- Highlander: The Series: Similar to the above-mentioned example from the original film, during a fight with another Immortal, whose great talent was his singing voice, Duncan grabbed a shard of glass and slices his throat. Decades later, Kalas is still unable to sing, furthering his hatred of Duncan.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Dominion uses energy weapons that have anticoagulant effects, disrupting the natural healing process and typically requiring advanced treatment—even by 24th Century standards—to prevent death from blood loss.
- Torchwood: After dying and being resurrected, Owen discovers that (because he is essentially a walking corpse and thus his cells do not regenerate) his body will not heal from any wounds he receives.
- In The Librarians 2014, any wound inflicted by the Excalibur can only be healed by magic. Otherwise, it will continue to bleed, until the person is dead.
- In Legends of Tomorrow, Nate Haywood has hemophilia, which means his blood doesn't clot normally, and any wound can potentially kill him. After being injected with a Super Serum, he develops powers, and his hemophilia is cured.
- The song "Witch of the Westmereland" by Archie Fisher
Pale was the wounded Knight
That bore the rowan shield
Loud and cruel were the ravens' cries
As they feasted on the field
Saying beck water cold and clear
Will never clean your wound
There's none but the witch of the Westmereland
Can make thee hale and sound
- Kid Crusher also mentions this trope in "I'm Not Alone".
KC: "Sundown! I'm here! I'm so pissed cause my wounds won't heal!"
- Linkin Park is infamous for their mention of this trope. The song is about drug addiction and how it has affected the body (complete with feelings of something moving beneath the skin), but Memetic Mutation has made the song known as an anthem of whiny Emo Teen edgelords everywhere.
CRAWLING IN MY SKIN, THESE WOUNDS THEY WILL NOT HEAL
- Rush uses this word-for-word in their song "Red Sector A."
I clutch the wire fence until my fingers bleed
A heart that cannot feel, a wound that will not heal
Hoping that the horror will recede
Hoping that tomorrow, we'll all be freed
- Evanescence also makes mention of this in My Immortal:
These wounds won't seem to heal
This pain is just too real
There's just too much that time cannot erase.
- Sarah McLachlan in "Fallen":
But we carry on our backs the burdenTime always revealsIn the lonely light of morningIn the wound that would not healIt's the bitter taste of losing everythingThat I've held so dear.
Mythology and Religion
- In Classical Mythology, this happened to a few unfortunates:
- The immortal centaur Chiron was accidentally shot by one of Heracles' deadly arrows, which happened to be covered in Hydra blood. The venom kept the wound from ever healing, and caused such excruciating pain that Chiron willingly gave up his immortality and died to be rid of it.
- Another victim was Philoctetes, who was either bitten by a serpent or accidentally scratched by one of these Hydra-arrows before the siege of Troy. Philoctetes was not caused pain by the scratch, but the never healing wound stank like a mountain of corpses, which was unbearable during a prolonged siege, as there was no way to escape it. Philoctetes was exiled to an island, taking the quiver of Hydra venom tipped arrows with him (they were his property, having been a gift from Hercules), and when the gods tell the Greeks that the only way the war can be won is with his bow, the Greeks end up having to swallow their pride and beg Philoctetes to return. In some versions, the wound is eventually healed by the son of Asclepius.
- En route to Troy, Achilles wounded Telephus. It would not heal, and Telephus learned from an oracle that it had to be healed by the one who inflicted them. Achilles refused because he has no ability to heal. Fortunately, Odysseus deduces that scraping off pieces of a spear onto the wound will do it, because it was spear-inflicted.
- In The Gospels the Resurrection healed all of Jesus's other wounds, but not the ones inflicted by the Crucifixion on his wrists, ankles, side and head, which is why Thomas was able to place his finger inside them.
- Most stigmata, which are supposed to be copies of the Crucifixion wounds (hands, wrists, feet, side piercing done with The Lance of Longinus, sometimes forehead if we consider the wounds coming from the thorned crown, etc.), are like this, as are any wounds that a saint wears as a mark of holiness. Said wounds are supposed to never heal, never putrify or be infected, and in some stigmata cases exude the pleasant "Odour of Sanctity".
- The stigmata of St. Francis of Assisi is the first example of Catholic stigmata documented.
- Arthurian stories:
- Usually, the "Fisher King" (or a similar character) has wounds that won't heal except through divine intervention, tied to the fulfillment of a certain condition. For example, in Wolfram of Eschenbach's Parzifal the eponymous knight meets Anfortas, the King of the Grail, now nicknamed the Fisher King, who suffers from a never healing wound in his genital area, due to him being unfaithful. The wound would be healed and Anfortas released from his duty as King (since he had become unworthy) if a visitor would simply have enough compassion to ask what his suffering is. Parzifal doesn't get it first. On his second visit he is wiser, asks and becomes the new King of The Grail. In Arthurian scholarship, this kind of wound is also referred to as the Dolorous Stroke. — Some interpretations, however, explain the cause of the Fisher King's suffering as crippling or disfiguring scars rather than permanently open wounds.
- In some variants of Tristan and Isolde, he killed her uncle and received a cursed wound, such that he had to go to Ireland to have it healed. In other variants of Sir Galahad, a wounded knight is brought to Camelot and the knights learn that he's under a curse: only when the best knight in the world searches his wound will he recover. This proves to be Galahad.
- In Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, the knight Sir Urry is brought to Camelot after Galahad's ascension. In this version, he's cured by Lancelot, who — while not perfect as Galahad was — is nonetheless at the time the best knight in the world. Yet more variants of Sir Gareth and Lady Lyonesse, they try to anticipate their wedding vows; Lady Lynette keeps them on the straight and narrow by using a magical knight to wound Gareth. Repeatedly. Finally, she has him inflict a wound that will not heal, and cures it herself just before the wedding.
- In Celtic Mythology, there is Fragarach, forged by the gods and wielded by Lugh, Cúchulainn and Conn of the Hundred Battles, had a number of properties that marked it as a Cool Sword, including the ability to inflict these.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The "Cursed Blade" spell makes wounds that don't heal unless a Remove Curse spell is cast, and vile damage only can be healed in a hallowed area.
- Clay golems have the ability to inflict a Cursed Wound on you that won't heal normally, resists healing magic and needs Remove Curse cast on it before you can be healed.
- There's also a Sword of Wounding that does the same. You don't even need to cast the spell, the blade just does that automatically for you.
- The Epic Level Handbook's Lavawight and Shape of Fire take it a step further with their blazefire ability, which causes damage that cannot be recovered, period.
- Asmodeus has the wounds he got when he was cast down from the Higher Planes and smashed through all nine layers of Baator. Every drop of blood he sheds becomes a greater devil, but that's small consolation for the millennia he's spent in agony.
- Forgotten Realms has the "Wounded God", Ilmater, who bears these due to being the God of Matyrdom and Compassionate Suffering.
- 4th edition D&D introduced Torog, who bears these as a part of being a Disabled Deity; they help highlight his nature as the God of Torture.
- Magic: The Gathering: -1/-1 counters. At the end of every turn, normal damage heals. These stay and keep the victim weaker until they get removed (not normally available). This can even kill those who are Nigh Invulnerable (the Indestructible keyword).
- In Deadlands, when a person comes back from the dead as a Harrowed, the wound that killed them never heals completely, which is a problem if the killing wound was something readily visible. Usually, though, such "death scars" are exactly that — a Harrowed who was shot through the heart might have a round bullet-hole scar over their heart, whilst one who was hung will usually support permanent ropeburn-type scarring around their neck.
- Vampire: The Requiem has the Eupraxus bloodline of the Daeva clan. Each bloodline has a specialized curse, and for the Eupraxus, it's that the bites they inflict — which can usually be sealed up by a lick with other vampires — will only heal naturally, which means their meals are usually left bleeding out while in a state of ecstasy unless first aid is applied. It also means that those who are Embraced into the bloodline usually has a bite mark that will never heal, which most members cover up with a scarf, bandage, or other accessory.
- Warhammer; Malakith, Witch King of the Dark Elves, attempted to prove his legitimacy to the Phoenix Throne by stepping into the Flames of Asuryan. Unfortunately for him, the Flames deemed him unworthy and roasted him, and even with his magical armor keeping him alive the burns are still agonizingly fresh after centuries.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- Kaela Mensha Khaine. It's not that surprising that a deity of war, murder, traitors and assassins has the epithet "The Bloody-Handed God", but it is kind-of surprising to learn that in some versions of his legend, said god's eternally blood-dripping left hand is constantly dripping with his own blood, as he was cursed for murdering a particular (space) elven hero. (Admittedly, in other versions, it is constantly dripping in the dead hero's blood.)
- The body of Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines, is kept in a stasis field on their homeworld of Macragge, his mortal wound still visible. Occasionally an excitable pilgrim will swear that the wound is healing, but the Ultramarines dismiss these claims, since, well, stasis field. Subverted as of Gathering Storm, where they put the new Armor of Fate which is heavily implied to possess advanced life support systems (and a healthy dose of Eldar magic), and Guilliman is alive once more.
- The pilgrim will usually claim that the healing through the stasis field is due to the power of the God-Emperor trying to heal his fallen son. It says something about the Imperium that some Ultramarines concede that this is a valid argument. It further says something about the setting that a number of fans consider this a valid argument.
- Anyone lucky enough to escape the Dark Eldar city of Commorragh, and the horrific tortures that the Dark Eldar perform on their captives, will still feel the physical pain from their tortures for several years afterwards. No wonder being captured by the Dark Eldar is considered a Fate Worse Than Death.
- Lucius was once the best-looking of the Emperor's Children, an entire Chapter of Pretty Boy Space Marines. His nose was broken in a fight and stayed broken despite the Apothecaries' best efforts, so when his Chapter fell to Chaos, he jumped off the slope and started scarring himself.
- Exalted: Various Charms can do this, the majority of them belonging to the Abyssals.
- Legend System: The [Battered] condition (associated primarily with the attacks of the Smiting and Swashbuckler tracks) functions as a short-lasting version of this, making the target unable to regain Hit Points for one or more rounds. Given how powerful healing can be, this is often long enough.
- Pictured above, Kasen Ibara from Touhou Ibarakasen - Wild and Horned Hermit. Her entire right arm is made of smoke and covered in bandages, only because her real right arm was cut off in some manner that prevents her from attaching it back. She has a sake cup that can heal any wounds, however it's useless against her own and can only preserve her arm from rotting.
- Cuts caused by the Spear of Longinus in Persona 2 would not heal. This unfortunately does in Maya .
- At the end of the original Castlevania, Dracula inflicts wounds that will never heal, just before he is defeated. Cue Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, with Simon resummoning Dracula and beating the crap out of him to break the curse.
- According to Eric's ghost in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin, these eventually did in Jonathan's father. The Morris family can only use Vampire Killer by having the Lecarde family perform a ritual for them, but it turns the whip into an Artifact of Death; Eric notes that they only realized this after the older Morris's wounds stopped healing.
- BlazBlue: On the Story side of Gameplay and Story Segregation, Hakumen's sword seems to inflict these, at least on Ragna. After all, his sword is designed to cut the Black Beast.
- Taken even further later on. Because of Ragna's artificial right arm, wounds inflicted by magic or Nox Nycorteses (Like Hakumen's blade) will never fully heal, and even time travel won't get rid of them.
- Butcher's cleaver in Diablo is the same - while it is said that the wounds inflicted by it can't be healed because of infection, you can heal them as much as you like.
- Final Fantasy XII has the Virus status effect (also known as Disease.) Taking damage in Virus status lowers your MAX HP as well as your current HP, so to heal this effect, you need a vaccine, casting cleanse or by touching a Save/Gate Crystal.
- Final Fantasy XIII-2 has the same effect, only it's called Wound Damage and is healed using a wound potion. Luckily you are able to inflict this status effect yourself as well instead of just having to suffer it.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: Ganondorf has one. Long before the game began, Ganondorf was captured, put on trial, and sentenced to execution by the Sages. However, it wasn't until after he was impaled by a great magical sword that he revealed that he had the Triforce of Power, which saved his life. The Sages sealed Ganondorf into another realm ( the Twilight realm), but it doesn't take. When he returns in Twilight Princess, he has the same wound where the Sages impaled him through the heart — and he uses that same execution sword as a weapon.
- The wound even remains when he transforms into his Dark Beast Ganon form, and acts as his weak point in the battle. In the end, Link completes Ganondorf's long overdue execution by impaling him through the wound with the Master Sword and with a jumping stab to be sure. This time the Triforce of Power abandons him.
- Pokémon: The burns inflicted by Houndoom are said to never stop hurting and (presumably) never heal. This is just one of the countless facts provided by the Pokedex that are never actually shown to be true.
- Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: This is what happens to the loyal knight Seth, after an attack in the prologue. Get to the last battle, and he might still be complaining about it... which qualifies him as a Handicapped Badass, since technically speaking the wound doesn't stop him in the slightest.
- Dawn of War Winter Assault: Lord Crull invokes the Bloodthirster "By the Wyrm Eye that bleeds in all the dark places. By the wound that never heals!"
- In Fate/stay night, Servant Lancer's Gae Bolg is said to leave cursed wounds that do not heal naturally. A magical Healing Factor or healing magic will allow most magi or Servants to overcome non-fatal blows, while normal humans are doomed. However, even a Servant cannot be healed if Gae Bolg damages their heart.
- Joshua Graham from Fallout: New Vegas has 2nd to 3rd degree burns over 95% of his body after Caesar had him covered in pitch, set on fire, and thrown into the Grand Canyon as punishment for failure. Fortunately, he's a Made of Iron Implacable Man, so he survived. Unfortunately, he's a Made of Iron Implacable Man, so he can't heal his burns or take anything for the pain because chems have no effect on him. All he can do is change his bandages every day to prevent infection, and whenever he takes them off and exposes his burned flesh to the air, he claims it's like being set on fire all over again.
- In Akatsuki Blitzkampf this eventually becomes quiiiiite the problem for the playable Elektrosoldat, whose injuries cannot properly heal because he's a clone of the local Smug Snake and his genes/cells are failing...
- We have an interesting case with the Demoman from Team Fortress 2 and his missing eye. In the real world, a normal human is unable to regrow an eyeball, but considering The Medic with his medigun, which can heal a cut open stomach in seconds, exists, you'd think it'd be patched up by now. Yet somehow Demo's Eye hasn't healed. The reason for this is that the Demo, when he was young, went to Marasmus the Wizard looking for jobs. He opened a book he was told not to open, and lost his eye, because Magic and shit. According to TF comics issue #6, The Medic HAS tried to fix his eye, but every time he does, on Halloween, Demo's eye come out of his socket, and becomes a massive monster, because his eye socket is haunted.
- Batman: Arkham Series: Near the end of Arkham City, Ra's al Ghul, in an attempt to finish off Batman while the two are free-falling from Wonder Tower, runs himself through with his own sword when Batman grabs him and is on his back, only for Batman to evade it at the last second. When Ra's returns in the Season of Infamy DLC for Arkham Knight, he's finally used the Lazarus Pit one time too many, and it shows; the gaping wound in his abdomen from the impalement has not closed, exposing his entrails and revealing green Volcanic Veins.
- Dominic Deegan boasts Karnak, known as the Demon of Wounds before he ascended to become the King of Hell. Most of the wounds that he inflicts remain permanently open even in the face of white magic.
- Szark Sturtz, one of the wounded, has only managed to get it closed when Karnak became the King of Hell, and only then because it has since been assumed that he's now got so many new powers to play with that he can't be bothered to keep track of them all. Worse yet, the only way to obtain temporary respite for the chronic pain it caused him was to kill someone; no wonder he'd gone so far off the deep end when he first appears. Even after it starts to close, the scar is still livid and healing seemingly in tandem with Szark's progress towards redemption.
- Dominic loses a leg and some teeth over the course of the story. Normally this would be easy to regenerate with magic, but Dominic's chosen one status has a price tag about these things. And at the grand finale, he loses HALF HIS SOUL. And ability to cast magic. Ouch.
- Bob and George: Alternate George gets his eyes pecked out between the 297th and 298th strips. (Don't worry, he deserved it.) His eyes are still closed and bleeding at the bottom of the last party, in strip 2634.
- In Charby the Vampirate Victor has an unhealing cut on his right cheek.
- Early in Gunnerkrigg Court, Antimony gets slashed by a ghost, but the wound appears to fade almost instantly. Later, as she develops her psychic powers, it turns out that her Astral Projection bears a fresh cut, even years afterwards.
- In The Senkari the titular Senkari keep the wounds they had when they died, but shapeshift them away when they don't want to scare people.
- Seems to be a standard feature for the majority of characters in Hell(p). The wounds range from simple gunshot punctures to ghastly gaping holes, but no one seems to be bothered by them. Although some characters try to hide their wound behind clothing.
- In one of his Counter Monkey videos, Spoony talks about a Thieves' World game he ran once where one of the players accidentally nailed Tempus Thales, a powerful canon character, in the face with a vial of acidnote . Tempus possesses a Healing Factor that should have made this a minor inconvenience at best, but Spoony decided that his patron goddess was enraged over such an ignoble "defeat" and revoked his healing abilities until he avenged the insult. This resulted in Tempus going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge that would have made Ahab proud and an Escalating War where both sides crossed the line many times, all while Tempus spent the whole time looking like The Dark Knight version of Two-Face.
- King Kongletard's Evergauntlet is this to anyone in close proximity to it; it stops aging, but it also stops regeneration of all wounds. This is a plot point throughout the episode because Jelly Kid died and can't regenerate/resurrect while in the same house as the gauntlet.
- Butcher IV (and thus all subsequent Butchers) from Worm had the power to inflict wounds that refuse to heal.
- As did Ravager (and thus Murder Rat)
- In Star vs. the Forces of Evil Toffee is missing a finger, despite being able to regenerate at least his entire arm. The finger being blasted off by Star's mother is depicted in a picture that refers to him as the "immortal monster" implying it took powerful magic to cause him permanent injury. The Season 3 premier reveals that Moon used a powerful Dark Magic spell she learned from Queen Eclipsa to blast Toffee's finger off (a direct hit would have killed him, but doing so would have released Eclipsa from her prison). Physically reattaching it is enough to allow Toffee to fully heal, though it doesn't do him much good before Star's Super Mode disintegrates him.
- Several venomous creatures (some of the stingrays and the nastiest of spiders) can have this effect, with their venom causing necrosis - getting rid of the dead flesh before it poisons the body leaves a gaping hole that may take years to heal properly. Even then, it'd probably just be a crater or divot covered over with scar tissue.
- Even with antivenom, the kraits (deadly venomous snakes of India and East Asia) will often leave their victims with serious and permanent nerve damage.
- People with diabetes are prone to this. They heal more slowly as a rule, and sometimes it's very difficult to get a wound to go away.
- Dislocated shoulders never completely heal.
- Hemophilia is a disorder that interferes with the clotting of blood- meaning if a hemophiliac gets a cut, it will continue bleeding well past the point where a normal injury would have scabbed over.
- The sap of the giant hogweed plant is highly phototoxic, and capable of causing blindness if even a small amount comes in contact with the eyes. On the skin, once exposed to sunlight, it results in painful blisters and purple scars that can take years to heal.
- Burns tend to act like this. Even mild 1st degree burns leave marks that take months to disappear. 2nd degree burns usually need a trip to the Emergency room to properly treat. 3rd degree burns take years of surgeries, skin grafts, and recovery to act normally. 4th degree or worse usually result in amputation and/or death.
- Joint and nerve damage simply does not heal. Tough luck to guys who really push their knees a lot, like soldiers and athletes. They have the knees of old men before they're even in their 20's...
- Head injuries. Depending on where exactly they hit and how hard the impact is, you might simply have a bad headache, or you might lose anything from your memory, to the ability to speak in complete sentences, to a number of other things since the human brain is still not fully understood.
- Lacerations from broken glass or carbide-edged cutting tools bleed incessantly, and often take longer to heal than similar cuts from a steel blade.
- Human bite wounds are notoriously difficult to heal, and have an abnormally high propensity for becoming infected. This is due in part to saliva being saturated with bacteria which is already accustomed to living in the human body.
- One of the symptoms of cancer.
- Scurvy can not only cause poor wound healing, but also weaken old scar tissue to the point where previously healed wounds reopen. According to firsthand accounts, there have even been cases of long-healed broken bones falling apart again.