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Casual Crucifixion (Aversions Discussion)

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Being rescued from being crucified doesn't leave the debilitating injuries you'd expect.

This work is a proposed Trope, Tropers can vote and offer feedback in the comments section below.
Proposed By:
ErikModi on Feb 6th 2019 at 2:16:52 PM
Last Edited By:
ErikModi on 2 minutes ago
Name Space: Main
Page Type: trope

Clark, they left you tied to a stake in the middle of a field. Even the Romans saved that for special occasions.
—Lex Luthor, Smallville

Being crucified is probably the worst way of being executed. There are many different ways to go about it, but two main ones are typically depicted in media.

The most popular (due to a certain carpenter) involves nailing a person to a cross, simple post, or other such object. Depending on exactly how the person is nailed to the cross, their weight may be supported by hands, feet, or both, and some crosses may have included accessories (footrests to stand on, a saddle to sit on, or a sharpened spike pointed at the victim's crotch) to take some of the victim's weight, thus increasing the length of time before death (and thus, the victim's suffering).

Binding a victim to the cross instead of nailing them may be considered even less humane. You don't permanently maim their hands and feet, but the victim does not now have to contend with blood loss, possible infection or blood poisoning, and the pain of being nailed, meaning they can theoretically last much longer.

Asphyxiation may be the most common cause of death from crucifixion. Since the victim's weight is supported by their nails or bonds, they are fighting against their own body weight to breathe. Using the bonds or nails as leverage can alleviate this problem, but sooner or later strength and endurance will run out. The strain can also cause myriad other cardio-pulmonary problems. Additionally, exposure, dehydration, malnutrition, and even animal predation are potential causes of death. Even if a person is rescued from crucifixion before they perish, their lives are in grave peril, recovery will be long and difficult, and they may never heal completely, especially if those pesky gigantic nails were involved.

But in the land of fiction, a character removed from a cross while they're still breathing will be a-okay not long afterward. They'll need a lot of water, something to eat, maybe some rough bandages over the massive bleeding holes in their hands, and a good night's sleep, but they'll be right as rain the next day.

Subtrope of Hollywood Healing. The "nails" variant can be related to Only a Flesh Wound, despite the hands and feet being some of the least fleshy parts of the human body.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • In New Mutants, Magma gets crucified, but her friends manage to get to her in time, and while she has her hands bandaged for a while, she otherwise seems to suffer no lasting effects.

     Films — Live-Action 
  • Averted, surprisingly, in Conan the Barbarian (1982) (because if you'd expect this trope to apply to anyone, it'd be Conan). His crucifixion is of the binding variety, and he's implied to survive far longer than anyone else could in his position, but he still very nearly dies after being rescued. It's implied Valeria has to trade her life for his in order for Conan to survive and recover.
  • In Monty Python's Life of Brian, the characters treat crucifixion as more of a minor annoyance than anything, and Brian keeps hoping someone will come and rescue him. The other crucifixion victims cheer him up with a rousing chorus of "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life." Of course, this is strongly played for Black Comedy.
  • Zig-Zagged in War for the Planet of the Apes. Alpha-Omega binds apes to St. Andrew's crosses (x-shaped) as a method of warning and execution. Ceasar finds one such ape still alive and cuts him down, but the ape lives only long enough to pass on some important information. Later, Ceasar himself is crucified in this manner for a day or two, and is visibly weak and suffering. He may not have survived the night if Nova hadn't snuck him food and water. Ceasar is then fit enough to participate in the film's climax, though it's implied his time on the cross may have contributed to his death at the end of the film.

     Live-Action Television 
  • Played straight when Dorothy Gale of Emerald City first encounters Lucas (the show's counterpart of the brainless Scarecrow)— he's been bound to a T-shaped post and left to die by the Wizard's Guard. After she cuts him down and dresses his wounds, he makes a complete recovery and is soon able to run, sneak, and swing a sword as if nothing ever happened. This version of Dorthy Gale might be a trained nurse, but Lucas' recovery is nothing short of miraculous.
  • Clark is basically crucified in the first episode of Smallville as part of Smallville High's yearly "Scarecrow" hazing prank, and Lex Luthor (on friendly terms with Clark at this point) shows up to rescue him. Of course, Clark was only in this position because he was made to wear Lana's Kryptonite necklace, and Lex unknowingly dislodges it during the rescue. Once it's off, Clark switches right back to being, well, Clark.
  • Averted in Spartacus: Blood and Sand. Agron is rescued from being crucified partway through, but the nail driven into his hand makes his sword-arm useless.

     Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed Origins, Bayek is strung up on a cross by the Roman soldiers and left to roast in the hot desert sun for days. He doesn't have the strength to break the ties and get down, but once one of the Hidden Ones slices the rope and releases him, Bayek has the strength and agility to engage in a 3-on-1 knife fight and then immediately return to the city to take on the entire guard of the municipality governor who betrayed him.
  • Conan Exiles:
    • In the intro trailer, Conan himself rescues Razma of Shem from crucifixion (bondage variant). Despite however long she was on that cross in that desert waiting to die, she's ready to spring to Conan's aid with the axe he used to cut her down.
    • In the game proper, Conan rescues your Player Character from the nails-in-the-hands variant. One exhaustion-and-sandstorm-induced episode of unconsciousness later, and you're fit to run, jump, climb, grab stones, strip bushes, weave clothes, make axes, chop down trees, and beat animals to death with your bare hands.
  • Zigzagged in Fallout: New Vegas. Attempting to free most characters who are being crucified by Caesar's Legion (who use the binding method instead of nailing them to the cross) is met with a notice that because they're already near death, cutting them down will kill them, preventing players from doing so. The exception to this is the "Aba Daba Honeymoon" sidequest, where players have the option of freeing a crucified drug mule. If freed, he doesn't make a full recovery (becoming one of the only characters in the game to walk with a permanent limp), but he somehow manages to cross most of the Mojave Wasteland alone and on foot immediately after his rescue.
  • The You Testament: This is zig-zagged, as normally the in-game punishment of crucifixion is a death sentence. Meditating while on the cross, however, will allow the character to leave with little damage... except of course for the two large spikes still in their wrists, which don't seem to affect the heart meter at all and will eventually go away as the game proceeds.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of South Park had the kids crucify Cartman, due to a series of hilarious misunderstandings. The writers don't seem to have known about the "fighting against your own weight to breathe" bit as his obesity actually allows him to stay up for a week without eating.

Feedback: 31 replies

Feb 6th 2019 at 2:54:39 PM

The two aversions should be removed- they aren't meant to be on non-ominpresent tropes.

  • The You Testament: This is zig-zagged, as normally the in-game punishment of crucifixion is a death sentence. Meditating while on the cross, however, will allow the character to leave with little damage... except of course for the two large spikes still in their wrists, which don't seem to effect the heart meter at all and will eventually go away as the game proceeds.

Feb 6th 2019 at 3:12:56 PM

It seems to me, every time I've seen a character crucified except for those two, they've shaken it off pretty easily (or they've died). So I feel like aversions are appropriate. But I'll remove them if I'm wrong.

Feb 6th 2019 at 3:15:45 PM

The basic rule is that aversions only go on omnipresent or aversion-only pages, and that these pages can ONLY have aversions. So if the trope is omnipresent you can't have normal examples; if it's not you can't have aversions.

Feb 6th 2019 at 4:59:21 PM

In Assassins Creed Origins, Bayek is strung up on a cross by the Roman soldiers and left to roast in the hot desert sun for days. He doesn't have the strength to break the ties and get down, but once one of the Hidden Ones slices the rope and releases him, Bayek has the strength and agility to engage in a 3-on-1 knife fight and then immediately return to the city to take on the entire guard of the municipality governor who betrayed him.

Feb 7th 2019 at 3:59:30 AM

  • Examples section
    • Corrected spelling (which don't seem to effect the heart meter at all -> which don't seem to affect the heart meter at all).

Feb 7th 2019 at 9:58:22 AM

The alternative reading of religious history made popular in The Holy Blood And The Holy Grail and imitators sets out a case for Jesus having been surreptitiously taken down from the Cross and smuggled out to the South of France (he starts a new life with Mary Magdelene and has children, establishing a blood-line that rises again and again in history as leaders, kings, innovators and generally superior people). Nowhere in this speculation is there any discussion that having spent even a few hours nailed upright by his hands and feet, he would be functionally crippled for the rest of his life.

Feb 7th 2019 at 8:15:21 AM

In Monty Pythons Life Of Brian, the characters treat crucifixion as more of a minor annoyance than anything, and Brian keeps hoping someone will come and rescue him. The other crucifixion victims cheer him up with a rousing chorus of "Always Look On The Bright Side of Life." Of course, this is strongly played for Black Comedy.

Feb 7th 2019 at 4:07:59 PM

@Ag Prov: Not sure which folder your example would go in.

Feb 7th 2019 at 5:26:56 PM

  • One episode of South Park had the kids crucify Cartman, due to a series of hilarious misunderstandings. The writers don't seem to have known the "fighting against your own weight to breathe" bit as his obesity actually allows him to stay up for a week without eating.

Feb 7th 2019 at 6:00:53 PM

Bomb because the aversions are still there :p I'll hat this as soon as that's resolved.

Feb 7th 2019 at 10:16:14 PM

Comic Books

  • In New Mutants, Magma gets crucified, but her friends manage to get to her in time, and while she has her hands bandaged for a while, she otherwise seems to suffer no lasting effects.

Feb 7th 2019 at 11:52:18 PM

@Erik Modi: I'm not either! The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail - is it "Religion and Mythology", as it depends on examining Christian orthodoxy and coming up with a wildly different perspective? (The idea Jesus didn't die on the Cross is a "heresy" as old as Christianity; Baigent and Leigh were re-hashing it for the 20th Century). It isn't "Literature", as THBATHG purported to be a factual examination of the evidence - although what muddies the water here is that it was later claimed to be a literary hoax and was put out there to see how gullible the reading public was... it could perhaps be a "Real Life" note, although the Real Life component is more about the book, the controversy it engendered and reactions to it, rather than the subject matter of the crucifixon of Christ....

The Da Vinci Code is more clear-cut, as this is a fiction drawing heavily on Baigent and Leigh as source material: but even this barely dwells on the effects of crucifixion on the body and treats it as incidental.

Feb 8th 2019 at 2:33:42 AM

@War Jay 77: From Averted Trope:

"So aversions worth mentioning will generally follow this pattern: A super-majority of works that have element A will also have trope A, but work W has element A without trope A. If the number of aversions on a tropes page consist of at least a third of the examples, perhaps averting the trope isn't as notable as initially thought."

Thus, I feel the aversions fit, since the vast majority of works mentioned so far where characters are crucified (Element A) have them shrugging it off with very little problem (Trope A, or this trope). Thus, when a work acknowledges that even if crucifixion isn't fatal, it's difficult or impossible to completely recover from, that is noteworthy. Currently, aversions stand at two out of ten (or one-fifth).

But again, I'll remove them if I'm wrong. If anyone else wants to weigh in on the Aversions angle, please do so.

Feb 8th 2019 at 10:26:11 AM

I guess that's true. Aye, we'll see what others say then. (I'll keep the bomb until this is resolved just to discourage a potential launch while we have things to figure out)

Feb 8th 2019 at 11:35:33 AM

No worries, I appreciate the attention to detail.

Feb 8th 2019 at 3:59:21 PM

Maybe note that Japan came up with some creative variations on crucifixion during the Sengoku period. Criminals were commonly crucified and stabbed multiple times with spears, Christians were staked up on tide plains at low tide and left to drown at high tide.

Feb 8th 2019 at 4:35:54 PM

That's all linked in the other Wiki article, no need to rehash it all here. Besides, those are lesser-known and not commonly depicted in media, so don't really bear into the trope.

Feb 8th 2019 at 5:18:49 PM

Wasn't there an episode of Xena Warrior Princess where Julius Caesar orders Xena to be crucified along with the pirates who captured him, but she comes down off her cross in an immediate fighting mood and kicks a lot of Roman ass (or something)?

Feb 8th 2019 at 11:48:00 PM

Zigzagged in Fallout New Vegas. Attempting to free most characters who are being crucified by Caesar's Legion (who use the binding method instead of nailing them to the cross) is met with a notice that because they're already near death, cutting them down will kill them, preventing players from doing so. The exception to this is the "Aba Daba Honeymoon" sidequest, where players have the option of freeing a crucified drug mule. If freed, he doesn't make a full recovery (becoming one of the only characters in the game to walk with a permanent limp), but he somehow manages to cross most of the Mojave Wasteland alone and on foot immediately after his rescue.

Feb 10th 2019 at 9:57:18 AM

Where did two more bombs come from?

Feb 17th 2019 at 2:14:12 AM

So, anyone else want to weight in on the aversions? Do they belong or do they not?

Feb 17th 2019 at 2:40:50 AM

I say keep them. If the majority of the time Crucifixion is portrayed nowhere near serious as in real life, then sure include examples where it its treated more realistically (especially if your dealing with works were its more likely not to be).

Feb 18th 2019 at 2:12:45 AM

That kind of my thinking, especially since only one example currently (the Smallville one) justifies the rapid recovery with a Healing Factor (don't know if Magma from New Mutants has one, so that might be two).

Feb 21st 2019 at 11:19:05 AM

Live Action Television

  • Played straight when Dorothy Gale of Emerald City first encounters Lucas (the show's counterpart of the brainless Scarecrow)— he's been bound to a T-shaped post and left to die by the Wizard's Guard. After she cuts him down and dresses his wounds, he makes a complete recover and is soon able to run, sneak, and swing a sword as if nothing ever happened. This version of Dorthy Gale might be a trained nurse, but Lucas' recovery is nothing short of miraculous.

yesterday

There is a lot of good medical information in the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th paragraphs, but those paragraphs contain supporting information that delays readers from getting to the meat of the trope (which is only introduced in the 5th paragraph down, starting with "But in the land of fiction..."). I think the 5th paragraph should be moved up to where the 2nd paragraph is.

Additionally, would you be opposed to making the title "Casual Crucifixion Recovery," or something similar? ("Casual Crucifixion Convalescence," if you're partial to alliteration.) This trope seems to be very much about a character walking off their wounds, but the way the title is written it seems like the act of crucifying a character is being described as casual (not the results of the crucifixion/ lack of lasting damage).

yesterday

I was a tad worried about that in the trope name, I'll leave it open for discussion.

I think the information about how damaging crucifixion is should be left in, to establish the "reality" baseline from which the trope deviates. But I'm certainly not married to it, and it can change if it's not working for anyone else.

yesterday

Alright, I'll drop the aversion issue. It seems like the consensus (if we can call it that...) is against me.

23 hours ago

The aversion of this is a massive argument in favor of Christians arguing against the idea that Jesus' "resurrection" was merely passing out and recovering in the tomb. In addition to the tremendous odds against a person surviving all the things He did, had He survived, He would looked too damaged to convince His disciples that He had conquered death.

2 minutes ago

@War Jay 77: Yeah, I'd like a bit more consensus personally, myself. We'll see how it goes.

@Hero Gal 2347: Not quite sure where your example would fit. I'd hesitate to put it under Mythology/Religion since it's more interpretation than direct quotation. Real Life seems to fit, but I have concerns about drawing The Rule Of Cautious Editing Judgement.

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