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.
"What's the matter, Mr. Frodo?" said Sam.
"I am wounded," he answered, "wounded; it will never really heal".
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. In video games, this often takes form of Maximum HP Reduction
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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 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 Gundam 00, Louise Halevy loses a hand when Nena Trinity shoots up a wedding Loiuse 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.
- 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. 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).
- At one point, Marvel's The Mighty Thor really 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, 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.
- In the Pony POV Series has 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.
- 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.
- 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 chouldn't have been in his physical posession 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.
- In Drive Angry, the Godkiller is a gun that causes anything it kills to suffer Cessation of Existence. When the demon bounty hunter The Accountant's cheek gets grazed by a bullet, he keeps the injury for the rest of the film, while demons and the undead usually heal from any injury.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- Teen Wolf: Derek's accidental clawing of the back of Jackson's neck.
- Torchwood: After dying and being ressurected, 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.
- 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 about spoiled teenagers whining about their parents (mainly because some listeners did interpret it that way).
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
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.
- 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 Lane 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 exhude the pleasant "Odour of Sanctity".
- 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 Darthur, 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fucking A: The main character of the Suzan-Lori Parks play is an "abortionist." The letter A is burned into her body, and the scar occasionally "weeps."
- In Richard Wagner's Parsifal, the wound in Amfortas's side can only be healed by the same Holy Spear that inflicted it.
- 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 Simons Quest, with Simon resummoning Dracula and beating the crap out of him to break the curse.
- 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.
- 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 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. This time the Triforce of Power abandons him. Doesn't help that link uses a JUMPING stab, as well.
- 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, though.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Even then, the scar is still livid and healing seemingly in tandem with Szark's progress towards redemption.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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, Butcher XIV and Murder Rat from Worm all had the power to inflict wounds that refuse to heal.
- 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 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.