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And I Must Scream / Literature

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  • Iain Banks, author of the Culture novels, is VERY fond of this trope and has sprinkled his space operas with some truly horrifying examples of it. To name just one:
    • In The Algebraist, the Archimandrite Luseferous has the head of a particularly troublesome rebel leader removed, sustains it on life support, mounts it upside down on the ceiling of his office, and uses it as his personal punching bag forever after. A literal example of this trope too, as the warlord has the man's tongue removed and his lips sewn shut after he grows tired of listening to it spit abuse and scream for release. Although it cries after particular long and hard boxing sessions, it is described as having long-since gone completely insane.
    • A protagonist Use of Weapons spends most of the novel trying to regain contact with his sister, who is a medic in a distant facility. Their other sister was killed by the Big Bad, who then turned her into a chair. Her bones, mostly, but the seat was upholstered with her own skin, earning the nickname the Chairmaker. He's ultimately refused an interview with the surviving sister because her brother did not recover from the fatal wound he received the night the other sister was killed. The man who believes he's her brother is in fact the Big Bad himself, driven mad by his own actions. Ties in with this trope because his mind has locked that part of himself away where he can't hear it, replacing his persona with the dead man's, who has been wandering the galaxy trying to make up for what he's done by trying to defeat other evil rebel warlords — without realising exactly why, even though he can't get the image of the chair made from a dead woman's bones out of his head... Perhaps the author came up with the idea while waiting for the dentist, who can say?
  • Orson Scott Card works:
    • In the short story "Kingsmeat", collected in Maps in a Mirror, the main character commits "gross atrocities" against the people of his colony (by cutting off bits of them and feeding them to an evil alien), but it is found by to have been the only way to keep the colonists alive, so the court rules that he shall be "helped to live as long as science and prudence can keep a man alive". The colonists obey the judgement of the court, but they also cut off all his limbs, leaving only a head and a "loose sac of flesh that pulsed with life." This is not quite a literal application of the trope, as he is technically capable of screaming:
      "They would, perhaps, have cut out his tongue, but since he never spoke, they didn't think of it. They would, perhaps, have cut out his eyes, but they wanted him to see them smile."
    • In the climax of Earthborn, the antagonist has been sent into a coma by The Keeper of The Earth. Shedemei and The Oversoul check him over and the Oversoul says it can detect brain activity, and as far as it can tell, he's screaming.
  • In one of David Lubar's darkest short stories, a gifted teenage boy decides to make a cure for vampirism. He thinks he's succeeded, but needs to find a vampire to test it on. He finds one, and the vampire acts immensely grateful, treating him like a savior...then invites him back to the lair to test it out. Upon reaching the lair he is reverently thanked by the other vampires...then attacked, drained of blood and shackled to the wall. He's their savior all right, but not in the way he thought... now that they have a vampirism cure, they can just keep feeding on the same victim forever instead of going out and hunting humans (and thus risk being tracked down and slain during the day). As if that wasn't bad enough, the story states that both turning to and from a vampire takes several days and is extremely painful.
  • Larry Niven:
    • In Wait It Out, an astronaut stranded on Pluto takes off his spacesuit to freeze himself until help arrives: he discovers that the low temperature turns his brain into a superconductor, meaning he will be completely aware, if immobile for however many years it takes for rescuers to arrive. Assuming they ever do. However, he is not entirely horrified as his superconducting brain experiences time much slower (every few minutes for him is a day for the rest of the universe), and he looks forward to when he can be rescued and thawed out. His friend, who was dying of radiation sickness, went outside and took his helmet off first, but didn't prepare for it quite as well (he was just trying to commit suicide), so his eyes are covered with frost. One of the big regrets of the viewpoint character was realizing that his friend might well be in the same state and he didn't think to wipe away the frost.
    • In The Ethics of Madness, the main character ends up being pursued through empty space by an empty ship, completely alone, for one hundred and twenty thousand years. He can choose to die if he wants, although his brain eventually becomes so deeply patterned that this isn't really an option.
    • The immortal necromancer Wavyhill thought it would be a good idea to use a spell that prevents him from dying. He was reduced to mere bones by a werewolf in the short story What Good Is a Glass Dagger?. Years later in The Magic Goes Away his skull is given the ability to see and speak by being given artifical "eyes" and a "tongue". After screaming for a while, now that he finally has a mouth, he calms down enough to reveal that he was conscious the whole time.
  • Roald Dahl
    • In the short story "William and Mary", the Jerkass protagonist, who has incurable cancer, has his brain and one eye removed and put in a sort of bowl as a scientific experiment, anticipating that this way he'll be able to keep standing over his doormat of a wife for the rest of her life, as she is legally obligated to take care of his life support system in order to keep the money she inherited from him. Unfortunately, she realizes that just because she can't kill him, that doesn't mean she has to listen to him either. So, instead, William can only watch in horror as Mary defies him by doing all the things she's always wanted to do, but which he always forbid her. And he'll have to do this forever. Of course, since it's a "torment" only because he's such an asshole, it becomes a Karmic Twist Ending.
    • The Witches, the grandmother tells our hero the story of a girl, Solveg, who went missing... only to appear in a painting in the family home. We know she fell foul of a witch, but the fact she was forced to grow up, live and eventually die in a painting, with no means of escape or communicating with her family makes for the horrors. This story was also told in the film version, which also noted the missing girl to be a relative of the grandmother.
      • Another boy is turned into a statue (although it's uncertain if he remained conscious for it) and yet another was turned into a porpoise, though in the latter case he (and his family) grew to enjoy it.
  • Somtow Sucharitkul:
    • The short story "Absent Thee From Felicity Awhile" features aliens who offer the human race the gift of immortality. There's just one catch; to earn this gift, everyone has to repeat what they did on the day before the aliens came (for the benefit of study groups) — for a million years... and if you died the day before, too bad for you; you get to die again 365,250,000 times. Without the immortality reward at the end.
    • His Inquestor-verse stories have the "delphinoid shipminds". These are essentially the brains of blind, mute alien creatures that have been removed from their bodies and placed in starships to navigate through hyperspace (working in tandem with human telepaths who can communicate with the shipminds — their story isn't pretty, either). They're sentient, aware of their situation, and in perpetual agony. At one point some characters are able to essentially hijack a starship by promising the shipmind that once it takes them where they want to go, they'll allow it to die.

  • A Shadow Bright And Burning: When Henrietta manages to get inside of Korozoth's funnel cloud, she discovers that everyone who's been absorbed into it are now trapped inside the cloud, endlessly screaming. She manages to free them by killing Korozoth.
  • Amy from Across The Universe (Beth Revis) gets into a cryogenic tank for a three hundred years interstellar trip. After a somewhat gruesome prep, gets frozen. And is still aware.
    • Well, maybe. After she's finally revived she wonders if maybe her memory of centuries of isolation is really just a nightmare she experienced as her brain woke up during the unfreezing process. She then decides it's best not to think about it, and that's the last it's brought up.
  • In All Tomorrows, the Qu were on a mission to remake the universe. Mankind included.
    • The Mantelopes were bipedal creatures who had no way of using tools or doing anything. They kept their intelligence and were used by the Qu as scribes and entertainment. When the Qu left, they had no way of putting their knowledge to use. With only their voices, they built a culture around despair and ennui before devolving into stupid animals.
    • The Colonials resisted the Qu Invasion three times. When they were finally conquered, the Qu went all out in revenge. They transformed them into limbless, boneless slabs of flesh, keeping them intelligent so they could experience the horror of what had been done to them. They were used as filtration devices for Qu Waste, and when they were abandoned by the Qu, most of them looked forward to extinction. Ultimately subverted; over the course of millennia, they evolved into a series of symbiotic subspecies, giving themselves back their limbs and other stolen body parts, and became a galactic power.
  • If you're infested by a Yeerk in Animorphs, then your memory and body is completely at his command... And it leaves your mind and intelligence intact, completely unable to do anything other than watch your "guest" do all sorts of horrible things! The Yeerks themselves suffer this in their natural state, being blind, mostly deaf slugs who just happen to be sentient.
    • Also, in The Ellimist Chronicles, Toomin is captured by the entity 'Father', who for eons keeps him alive, motionless and underwater, the corpse of his spouse right in front of him, and forces him to play mind games with the memories of the dead, all of which Toomin loses — until he figures out that he has an edge over Father in terms of creativity.
    • The ultimate fate of Visser Three is relatively mild compared to others, but still pretty bad: As punishment for his crimes against humanity, he has to stay in his Yeerk form, without a host, in a small dungeon fitted with a Kandrona ray emitter. So he's just crawling around with no sight or speech for several decades, until his Yeerk body (presumably) wears out and dies.
    • This also happens to David, the Sixth Ranger Traitor who knows all their secrets and has tried to kill them all. He is tricked into Mode Lock as a rat to remove him as a threat, and because The Heart of the team believed it to be a better alternative than killing him. The process of mode locking was two hours long to be sure he couldn't change forms while trapped. This rather quickly and apparently becomes a Fate Worse than Death. The whole two hours, he's screaming at the "heroes" to free him, and/or he'll kill them. Through thought speak, now his only means of communication. To be completely sure he's out of the waynote , they have to maroon him on an island until his rat-form dies. He's still screaming, and his thought speak can be heard by passing boats for the next months/years, haunting the island. But no one can do anything to help him, short of literal Deus ex Machina.
  • Arcana Magi Zero opened the story with Alysia Perez turning to stone and completely aware of it, resulting in post trauma.
  • Artemis Fowl
    • Qwan turned himself and fellow warlocks into statues when trying to save them from magic gone wrong. He can't come out of the form by himself, and remains stuck as a statue while conscious for 10,000 years. Oddly enough, it doesn't seem to have affected his sanity.
    • In a nightmare, imp No.1 is terrified of the same thing happening to him.
      The stone virus was spreading upwards across his chest and along his neck. No.1 felt the urge to scream. He was suddenly terrified that his mouth would turn to stone before he could scream. To be petrified forever and hold that scream inside would be the ultimate horror.
    • Opal Koboi manipulates this trope to her own advantage; to avoid being punished for her supervillainous deeds, she pretends to have suffered a Villainous BSoD and goes into a meditative coma. She gets put under heavy guard and intentionally keeps herself asleep for a year until some of her minions get a chance to sneak her out, leaving a mindless clone in her place and conveniently making the good guys think she's still out of the picture. It's mentioned that doing this meditative-coma thing for so long can be hard on your sanity, which might explain the crazed vengeance spree she embarks on right after waking up...
  • In the web-serial Ash & Cinders, the Rock Lord's Establishing Character Moment, is to hammers a disobedient underling into a brutish sword while it still lives. This is apparently how the it fashions all weapons for the Stonewights.
    • The Forest Queen is literally bolted to her own throne by its branches weaving through her body, forcing her to move the branches of her throne with her mind if she wants to move at all. Cinder notes that she can't really tell if the Forest Queen is doing anything of her own accord, or whether her actions are manipulated by something more Fae.
  • The fate of apprentices who betray Valiria from Atharon is very painful death, followed by this trope, because then torture of the soul starts!

  • The Balanced Sword has a cheery anecdote about a demon who had a Heel–Face Turn and was punished by the King of All Hells by being placed under a curse that forced him to watch helplessly from inside his own head as his body went back to his old evil ways and destroyed everything he had tried to save.
  • China Miéville's Bas-Lag Cycle: The slake-moths from Perdido Street Station can suck the information, conscious as well as unconscious, from a person's brain, in the form of dreams, leaving the poor victim completely unable to care for himself or herself, not even to swallow or defecate. If this happens far away from other people, you may be lucky enough to die in a day or two from thirst. If found and "saved", you are condemned to years and years practically as a living corpse.
  • In David Eddings' The Belgariad, Belgarath encases Zedar in rock. Made worse by the fact that a) they were like brothers before Zedar's Face–Heel Turn, b) Zedar is stated in the prequels to be very afraid of the dark, and c) Belgarath fashioned the spell specifically so that Zedar can't die while entombed, and only Belgarath can let him out again. Belgarath makes it very clear that he has no intention of doing any such thing.
  • Zenna Henderson wrote a short story, "The Believing Child", about a little girl who believes whatever she's told — and whatever she believes becomes true. When she's told that the magic word PYRZQXGL from the Oz books makes the speaker able to change the shapes of things, she changes the two little boys who've been tormenting her into rocks — but, "They're scared," she adds, chillingly. "I turned them into scared rocks."
  • The Black Company:
    • A form of this is seen in both the concept behind the Taken, and in what happens to the Dominator, the Lady, and the Ten before they are released. Also what happens to Shivetya, Dominator, Limper, and possibly Kina and Croaker
    • The Company Command Roster spends fifteen years in stasis beneath the Plain of Glittering Stone. It is implied that they remain conscious for the entire time, unable to move a muscle. The experience is enough to make Croaker and Lady abdicate their positions in Company leadership. The really scary part? There are "old men" that have been down there for so long that no one even remembers the civilization that installed them.
  • The Black Spider: Christine is permanently transformed into a mindless, immortal large black spider, and sealed away in a hollowed-out wood beam. By the time the story starts, she has remained imprisoned in her narrow hole for six hundred years.
  • In the Isaac Asimov short story "Blank!", published in the anthology Buy Jupiter and Other Stories, the protagonists invent a time machine which malfunctions catastrophically during its maiden voyage, becoming "jammed" between two adjacent moments in time. When they open the capsule door to diagnose the problem, they discover the hard way that the machine is stuck in a time-vacuum of sorts, and that normal time in the capsule is now rushing out the door. As their time runs slower and slower, they eventually become stuck in the vacuum themselves to wait out eternity+ 1...
  • Christopher Moore's Bloodsucking Fiends novels (there's no official name for the series) have a rather unusual way of dealing with vampires if there's a problem and they need to go away for a while... they're encased in bronze. In Bloodsucking Fiends, Jody and the Big Bad Elijah are electroplated until Tommy can figure out what to do with them. You Suck has Abby and "Foo" do the same to Tommy and Jody because Tommy wants to be human again but Jody does not and Abby feels that their love is eternal and should remain that way. Bite Me doesn't have any encasements... just freedom from them.
    • Interestingly enough, being imprisoned like that is torture to some vampires, but not others. Vampires in this setting have the ability to turn to mist, and when they do, they don't need to feed and their consciousness is sort of suspended, so the passage of time doesn't bother them. They could hypothetically be imprisoned for a million years until freed by geologic forces and they might be OK. However, vampires have to be taught how to turn to mist, and if they don't know how when they're imprisoned, they'll wake up insanely feral after just a few days due to starvation and imprisonment.
  • The Boojumverse has several ways this can happen. Victims of the Mi-Go become undying brains in cylinders, inevitably going insane. This may also be the case for the people turned into Artificial Zombies by Dr. Fiorenzo's reanimation serum: Cynthia wonders whether the serum will eventually wear off, or whether the reanimated are doomed to continue suffering in their undead state for all eternity.
  • Jonathan Tulvey from The Book of Lost Things, who is immortal and wants to die but can only grow progressively older.
  • The two protagonists of Joe Haldeman's Buying Time were zapped by an experimental drug that had an unamusing side effect of slowing down their time sense precipitously. The result was a two-week inter-planetary trip back to Earth was for them a twenty year, near freeze-frame odyssey.

  • In The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach, the Galactic Emperor punishes a king who insults his baldness by conquering his planet and connecting him to a machine that keeps him alive. He then starts a galaxy-wide cult in which certain men become "carpet makers", whose purpose in life is to weave a carpet from the hair of their female relatives and sell it to the Emperor. These he collects, and uses to carpet the entire surface of the king's planet, forcing him to watch. For tens of thousands of years.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, Fortunato gets entombed alive and left to die. In a moldy catacomb. With a nagging cough that may or may not be some kind of infection. And as if that weren't enough, the last thing Montresor does before sealing his tomb for good is to drop in a burning torch.
  • The short-lived Asimov's SF Adventure Magazine had a story by Victor Milan called "The Casque of Lamont T. Yado". Yeah, lousy pun... anyway, in a twist on Edgar Allan Poe's The Cask of Amontillado, the "Montresor" character helps the "Fortunato" character to steal a time helmet which will let him move so quickly it will seem as if Time Stands Still. The twist is that "Montresor" has sabotaged the controls, so "Fortunato" actually finds himself moving slower and slower until he can't make any visible movement, while his consciousness remains in normal time. It gets worse. "Fortunato" has a pseudo-Jamaican accent and worships an entity known as Tracer God, and his last words are "For the love of Tracer God, mon!"
  • An Edogawa Ranpo short horror story called "The Caterpillar" featured a Japanese World War 2 pilot who lost all his limbs, much of his face, and the ability to talk, but not the ability to roll around and stare eerily at his wife, who alternately tortured him and treated him like a baby.
  • Ursula K. Le Guin's anthology Changing Planes has a particular version loaded with terrible implications. An interdimensional traveller learns that on the dimension she's visiting, there is an island known as the Island of the Immortals, which is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. There's apparently a group of immortals in the rather shabby island, whose only other attraction is a diminutive diamond venue all over the island and a large fly infestation, which despite being mostly a nuisance has nearly all the residents living in crude gauze protective suits. Several odd details are given about said diamonds — instead of mines, they are found nearly on ground and are for the most part far greater than any known diamond, almost near two kilos. Then the traveller finds one of the few immortals still around and asks the caretaker why are there so few of them. The native explains that the other tourists have been taking them as souvenirs. Fridge Horror takes in, and the horrified traveller realizes the Immortals have been buried alive for millenia until they have been ultimately been reshaped by time and pressure into the diamonds. The caretaker also explains the immortality is brought about by one of the island's flies, one immortal fly...
  • In P.B. Kerr's Children of the Lamp, Dybukk's sister, whom he never met, lost blood while jumping between bodies. Because of this, her soul is incomplete, so she can no longer enter any living bodies, even her own. She spends her days roaming Earth as an unsensed force.
  • The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness by Michelle Paver has a version of this trope in the book Ghost Hunter. Every human has three souls- name-soul, clan-soul and world-soul, and all three are needed to keep your identity. Eostra the Eagle Owl Mage wants to become a spirit walker so she can live forever, and to do, she intends to steal Torak's world-soul. Renn realizes that should she do so, Torak will become adrift, having no connection to the world and knowing who and what he is, but unable to find peace, forever.
  • Describes the daily life of Jenny Awesome in Citadel. Her power has a mind of its own and acts to insure that she'll be perceived as "awesome" by everyone around her. It manipulates events and the actions of others with varying levels of subtlety but also controls her every move, leaving her a silent passenger in her own body. It's made worse by the fact that almost no one she interacts with has a clue that she’s anything other than the happy, peppy girl she appears to be.
  • The City and the Dungeon: Being killed and reduced to a heartstone is complete sensory deprivation, with only your thoughts for company. Worse, once you are revived you can't actually remember what you thought while you were dead; it's described as an extremely disturbing situation. Being shattered is apparently even worse, as you remain aware of each and every shard. No one knows what it feels like to be shardgear, because no one has managed to revive anyone from that state yet.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society, downplayed because we never see his point of view, but Dr. Photon, as soon as he is freed from Mind Control, says he saw everything they did and made him do, and could do nothing, and leaps to the attack.
  • Clocks that Don't Tick has the Thralls. They're people who were so afraid of dying they took an enormous loan in order to pay for a procedure that renders them immortal. Along with said immortality, they receive housing and a job to work until their debt is paid off. Only it never will be due to the astronomical interest rate. They end up as slaves working sixteen-hour shifts every single day. The oldest of the Thralls (Including the main protagonist) have lived like that for over five hundred years. Not even the sickly, pus-ridden common people particularly envy them.
    • The fate of the Lady of Pestilence's newborn babies.
  • Kage Baker's The Company Novels have a ton of this. There's a research facility, the "Bureau of Punitive Medicine", where Immortals are continually tortured until a way can be found to kill them off for good. Even aside from that, Immortals come up with all sorts of nasty ways of getting rid of each other; specific fates include being imprisoned in a submarine buried in silt at the bottom of the ocean, being buried under a slab of concrete and having a building built on top of them, being reduced to ooze by nanomachines that tear them apart molecule by molecule just as quickly as they regenerate...
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story The People of the Black Circle, the king demands his sister kill him because sorcerers are trying to trap his soul.
    Haste, lest you damn me to spend eternity as a filthy gaunt of darkness.
  • One of several examples by Michael Moorcock is found in The Queen of the Swords, later collected in the first Corum omnibus. There's a scene in which the heroes encounter a huge army of foot soldiers cursed by the goddess Xiombarg to stand like statues, which they've been doing for 100 years.
  • Brandon Sanderson's Cosmere:
    • Mistborn: The Original Trilogy: Marsh gets turned into a Steel Inquisitor. On its own it's pretty horrific, as the process involves having 11 large metal spikes driven into you, including two through each eye and out the back of your head, without killing you, but he remains in control. The real problem comes into play when Ruin begins to stir, and proves he is able to dominate the will of any Inquisitor at any time. Marsh soon gives up on even fighting, since he can't break Ruin's control over him as long as Ruin is paying attention, and at least when Ruin is in control, he thinks all the destruction is beautiful. Marsh ends up indirectly saving the day by using an unexpected burst of willpower to resist Ruin long enough to rip out Vin's earring. Since the earring was a hemalurgic spike (like the ones Inquisitors have), it was the preventing her from taking up the power of Ruin's opposite to oppose and eventually defeat him.
    • Words of Radiance (second book of The Stormlight Archive):
      • After binding a voidspren, Eshonai is forcibly transformed into a Voidbringer. While her new Voidbringer personality is happy with the change, she can hear her old self screaming, always screaming...
      • In another example, it is revealed that Shardblades are actually the bodies of dead spren, trapped in unending agony by the breaking of their Oaths. Radiants who touch a Blade (and anyone else who is touching it at the same time) can hear it scream.
  • Noirtier in Dumas's The Count of Monte Cristo, who was stuck with locked-in syndrome after a stroke. Like the real-life example of Jean-Dominique Bauby, he communicates by blinking.
  • In The Court of the Air, an ancient civilization of cannibalistic demon-worshippers got around the inconvenience of keeping their victims-to-be confined on People Farms by mutating them into Plant People. They were still sentient and aware of their fate, and still bled when devoured, but were rooted to the spot and powerless to escape.
  • In Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness, the god Osiris deals with his enemies in this fashion. His ex-girlfriend is a living skull that he uses as a paperweight; one enemy has his nervous system threaded into a carpet and feels pain as he is walked upon; other enemies are awake and aware in forms like ashtrays and fireplace pokers.
  • In Croak, the fate of your soul is in the hands of frequently very young Grim Reapers. And if any of them screw up, you're stuck on earth forever, and usually in horrible pain of some kind or other.
  • In Crystal Rain, Pepper and John deBrun spent nearly three centuries in coffin-sized escape capsules making their way back to Nanagada from a collapsed wormhole. Many other were in the same situation, but most of them committed suicide within the first hundred years, after it became clear help wasn't coming.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos:
    • The story "Out of the Aeons" has the monster Ghatanothoa, an Eldritch Abomination so hideous that merely seeing its image can instantly petrify the viewer, turning them into a mummy, while keeping their brain alive and preserved in such a way that they'll stay conscious for however long it takes for someone or something to put them out of their misery. T'yog is an unfortunate soul who attempted to defeat Ghatanothoa by using a magic scroll to protect himself from the monster's petrification, but the scroll was swapped with a fake, and he ended up trapped within his body for over 170,000 years.
      Sight of the god, or its image, as all the legends of the Yuggoth-spawn agreed, meant paralysis and petrifaction of a singularly shocking sort, in which the victim was turned to stone and leather on the outside, while the brain within remained perpetually alive — horribly fixed and prisoned through the ages, and maddeningly conscious of the passage of interminable epochs of helpless inaction till chance and time might complete the decay of the petrified shell and leave it exposed to die. Most brains would go mad long before this aeon-deferred release could arrive.
    • The Mi-Go who appear more often in the Cthulhu mythos can fly through space unassisted. Most beings (such as humans) can't do this, so they are turned into brains in jars, and fitted to suitable sensory and motor apparatus when needed. If they're unplugged, they're in a sensory deprivation chamber that doubles as a robust life support unit which will ensure they have a very long life indeed.
    • This is presumably the fate of Henry Akeley in the H. P. Lovecraft short story The Whisperer in Darkness. In the original short story, although not explicit, it is heavily implied that Akeley was trapped and debrained by the Mi-Go very much against his will.

  • The ending of Dark Prince by David Gemmell leaves the Dark God Kadmilos, who had attempted Grand Theft Me on Alexander the Great, trapped inside of Alexander's dead body, which is embalmed and encased in unbreakable crystal. Kadmilos can't move or speak and the only way to break his link to the body would be if it rotted away or was burned to ashes. Plus, he gets to experience the Egyptian embalming process firsthand.
  • In Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's The Darksword Trilogy, "the Turning" is a process by which condemned criminals are turned into living stone, dooming them to "eternal suffering". Thankfully for Saryon, it can be reversed.
  • in The Dawnhounds, particularly dangerous criminals have their consciousness wiped, turning them into nonhuman 'blanks'. Blanks have no rights: they are the subject of horrifying genetic experimentation and mutilation. They're fully conscious, and can feel pain, and most of them aren't even criminals.
  • The first Deathstalker series featured psi-blockers, devices that could prevent espers from using their powers. The psi-blockers in question were created by extracting the brains from living espers, sealing them in special containers, and periodically triggering their pain receptors. The psychic screams of agony disrupted all espers in the area.
  • In Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex series, part of the backstory is the fate of the Soft Men. These were three scientists who discovered how to make Angelwine, a distillation of human souls that (among other effects) makes those who drink it immortal. When the Church caught up with them, it discovered that they weren't kidding about the immortality bit: the scientists could survive any injury, and couldn't be poisoned, suffocated, etc. Eventually the Church found a way to keep them out of circulation for good: by ripping all their bones out of their bodies (rendering their still-functioning muscles useless), and burying the still-living bodies separately from the bones. Although, inevitably, eventually someone hears the story and becomes curious enough to dig them up.
  • The fate of Doran the Dragonlover was revealed in Deltora Quest 3: Isle of the Dead to be becoming the Guardian of the Sister residing there, which he originally sets out to destroy to save Deltora. Not only he guards the thing he cannot destroy as a Guardian, but he can't die without someone else killing him.
  • In Brian Caswell's Deucalion, two Elokoi (a telepathic alien) were kidnapped and put into stasis by humans, and sent back to Earth for study. However, the stasis did not shut off their brains, so by the time they arrived a hundred years later they had gone completely insane.
  • Dexter: Dearly Devoted Dexter has the "yodeling potato". That's where everything except the eyes (but including the eyelids) is stripped away... and they're forced to watch in a mirror the entire time.
  • The eponymous Diadem from Jo Clayton's Diadem Saga was specifically built to enact this as a revenge. It can not be taken off once put on, and it gradually absorbs and traps the wearer's mind, which remains completely conscious long after the wearer's physical death. It was created by an ex-lover of Harksari, who (impatiently) killed her and threw her body into a volcano. She had to wait until the planet itself was rubble and a passing asteroid miner put on the diadem before she could sense anything outside of herself or make contact with another person again. Shadith, on the other hand, only had to lie around as crumbling bones for a few hundred years; but all three of the Diadem's victims were looking at an eternity in a glass case in a museum until Events Transpired.
  • Subverted in Greg Egan's Diaspora. The Star Puppies elect to spend entire interstellar voyages in simulations of biological forms experiencing real time, but avoid going insane by installing personality adjusting software that makes them feel joy in every experience. Think a few millennia on ecstasy but better.
  • Discworld:
    • The fate of many of the golems in Terry Pratchett's Discworld. It's mentioned that many of them end up deep underground, ceaselessly working machines alone in the lightless depths, sometimes for centuries. However, the golems don't seem to have a capacity for boredom, so it doesn't really bother them much.
    • One even spent millennia sitting on the ocean floor after the civilization that created it sank. Made even more tragic when said golem is destroyed in a house fire just a few weeks after being recovered. Even Terry's cast of Deadpan Snarkers have a moment of sad reflection. After the destruction of the golem, the trope is subverted. The golem "wakes up" in the middle of a sparkling desert under a black sky. He asks Death what he is supposed to do. Death tells him that he has reached the place where there are no more orders. Even though Death says that most people choose to "move on" from the desert, the golem finds it to be his version of Heaven and remains seated where he woke up for all eternity.
    Death: Here? There's nothing to do here.
    Anghammarad: Yes. It Is Perfect. I Am Free.
    • Speaking of this same afterlife, Vorbis from Small Gods is similarly stuck in the desert, but because he's too afraid to move on after realizing that voice that commanded him to do all the horrible things he did was never his deity; it was all him. And he remains stuck there, too scared to keep moving, where there is nothing to do but be alone with his own thoughts... right until Brutha comes along a seeming eternity later and decides to subvert it by escorting him out himself, despite everything.
    • After the suicide of one golem, a character remarks "a mind that would have been screaming if it could only have uttered a sound", a perfect example of this trope.
    • Also, in Pterry's book Lords and Ladies, the Queen of the Elves threatens Granny Weatherwax with this: "You will not be killed, I promise you that. You'll be left alive, to dribble, and gibber, and soil yourself, and wander from door to door for scraps. And they'll say 'Here goes the mad woman'. [...] But inside, I'll keep just a part of you which looks out through your eyes and knows what you've become." Not exactly "I have no mouth and I must scream", but at least "I can scream, but nobody understands me". Amusingly enough, Granny is not impressed with these threats:
      "You threaten me with that? Me, who am becoming old?!"
    • In Carpe Jugulum, the Old Count vampire knows this fate can happen to vampires. As vampires turn into piles of dust when killed, they just need a drop of blood to revive. The Old Count knows that if a vampire becomes too much of a monster, it could end badly for them. Like his younger nephew who tried to become "modern" by simply taking control of villages, herding the townspeople like cattle and requiring them to give blood on a daily basis... instead of the typical 'I took your vife! Come and try to take her back at my cliche castle with plenty of breakable pieces of furniture for easy-to-make wooden stakes'. The Old Count has lived for centuries by being an unthreatening vampire, to the point the local villages regard the Count's revivals and subsequent defeats as a hereditary tradition, and the Count treats it like an amusing sport. He notes that his predatory nephew could find his dust in a bottle falling off the edge of the Discworld (i.e. into the abyss of space) with no guarantee he will ever be revived.
    • In Pyramids, the Well-Intentioned Extremist antagonist has arranged things so Djelibeybi's rulers don't Move On when they die, but remain mummified and trapped under the countless pyramids which dot the landscape. This leads to a conversation between the spirit of the most recent king to die and one of his ancestors. Paraphrased:
      King: But I hate the pyramids!
      Ancestor: No. You merely dislike them. After you have been entombed under one for a thousand years, then you will hate them.
  • The Divine Comedy:
    • Inferno features this several times, which is a given since it depicts Hell.
      • Suicides transformed into deformed, gnarled trees, constantly mauled by harpies and werewolves. They can scream, but only when someone (or something, as Dante sees later) breaks off a branch.
      • The souls of traitors are frozen in the icy lake of Cocytus, at depths corresponding to the depth of their betrayal. Those at the very bottom, those who swore loyalty to masters and still betrayed them, are completely encased in grotesque positions. This is one of the only punishments so unrelenting that those suffering under it can't even speak.
    • In the Purgatorio, the penance for the sin of Pride is to carry boulders, the weight of which is proportional to the sin's weight. Dante, via the Pilgrim, remarks that this punishment is the simplest, and yet quite terrible, and also admits that the Pride circle is where he expects to spend the largest part of his own penance.
    • The late Dutch sci-fi/fantasy author Paul Harland once wrote an excellent adaptation of Dante's Inferno called Water tot IJs (Water to Ice). The story takes place on a planet divided among alien races who use humans as a resource in return for making them immortal. The effect is indeed hellish — all immortalised humans are forever subjected to experimentation, exploitation and torture. The Ninth Circle still involves people entombed in ice, but in Harland's version they are kept there by a race of aliens who feed on desperation.
  • The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, an autobiography "written" note  by Jean Dominque-Bauby, a Real Life sufferer of this trope. (Thankfully (for a given value of that word), he only spent 15 months in that condition before dying).
  • Whatever Doc Savage visits under the U.S.A. contains moving rocks and trees that a man who claims to be a junior devil says are low-level damned souls.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Room With No Doors has this in spades:
      • Set in feudal Japan, it features rival warlords battling for control of a psychic weapon that turns out to be an lost cryogenic suspension pod containing a telekinetic alien. His abilities are unusual even amongst his own species, and freezing him for his own protection has unwittingly accelerated his mental processing to over 4,000 times normal as his brain became superconducting, which also hugely amplifies his abilities.
      • The Doctor himself is at one point buried alive by people who believe him to be dead. When he regains consciousness he directly invokes this trope by realising where he is and trying to give "one little tiny scream... but I can't open my mouth".
      • The "room with no doors" of the title refers to a mental cell where his seventh incarnation's personality will be imprisoned once he regenerates into the Eighth Doctor. The New Adventures novels postulated that the Doctor's previous selves continue to exist and be aware in his own subconscious, able to interact with each other and observe the current incarnation's activities; the Seventh Doctor's mind had imprisoned the Sixth Doctor's personality for fear of it becoming too unstable and corrupting him, but faced that fate himself for nevertheless becoming dark, manipulative, and serving the greater good at the expense of his friends and innocent lives.
      • The above scenario is subverted as the Doctor learns to forgive himself for his sins in this experience, simultaneously freeing the Sixth Doctor from the room he is currently in and allowing the Seventh Doctor to recognise that he doesn't deserve such a fate either.
    • In the Past Doctor Adventures novel Festival of Death, Doctor Kole Paddox has spent most of his life researching the Arboreteans, a race that have the unique ability to relive their lives over and over again every time they die, with the goal of allowing himself to recreate their ability so that he can go back and relive his life to prevent the death of his parents in a shuttle accident when he was six years old. However, while he succeeds in sending himself back after his experiments have driven the Arboreteans to extinction, Paddox only learns at the moment of his parents' deaths that he can't actually exert any influence on his past self, condemning him to witness his crimes over and over and over without ever being able to change a single thing.
  • In The Doll People, dolls who pull a stunt so dangerous it puts the very existence of talking dolls at risk are forced into Permanent Doll State (PDS). A doll in PDS will remain immobile for the rest of its life, and it's implied that they are fully conscious during this as well. In the second book, Mean Mimi goes into this state after almost exposing herself as a sentient doll to Kate.
  • In the Doom novels, every sentient race except humanity faces this when they die if their bodies are not completely destroyed. Their consciousness is trapped in their own corpses and their senses remain functional.
  • In Dragonlance this never actually happens except in an offshoot timeline witnessed by Caramon, but when Raistlin becomes a Dark God and kills all other gods, destroying the world in the process, he's doomed to continue existing alone in the void forever, since evil can't create anything, and gods are immortal. Luckily for him Caramon manages to warn him before it is too late. Ah, time travel.
  • Dune has some examples, including Leto II's pearls of awareness trapped in each of the new sandworms. It says something about Leto that he knew this would happen to him, and willingly went to his 'death' anyway. It could also apply to the Axlotl Tanks, depending on how much consciousness remains.
    • Takes a different twist in the Legends of Dune prequels, in which the robot Erasmus was trapped and immobilized for centuries and couldn't do anything except think to itself, which made it develop full sentience. Being an a.i. machine meant the imprisonment didn't effect the robot in any emotional and psychological ways.
  • Jack Vance's Dying Earth novels have the Spell of Forlorn Encystment, which keeps its victims alive indefinitely in tiny pockets inside solid rock 37 miles underground. A few victims are (accidentally) released and found to be in near-catatonic states.

  • Eden Green centers around an alien needle symbiote that keeps its human host alive no matter what. Upon learning of its existence, the title character's overactive imagination is immediately flooded with the horrifying possibilities.
  • In the first installment of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, the cavern in which the Stone Prince is found is full of chunks of black rock, which are later revealed to be princes who've been turned to stone by using the dipper that they were told NOT to use. They have to stay there, as chunks of rock, until someone comes along who knows how to follow directions.
    • This is actually a take on a much older tale from the Arabian Nights. In this case, a prince who knew to use the plain dipper but just wanted to look at the golden one feels himself starting to stiffen and sticks his arm into the well, which contains the Water of Healing. He's still turned to stone, but a conscious, ambulatory statue rather than a stone slab...
      • That same thing happens to one of the princes who tries to get the water, although in his case he's a conscious statue that can still move and talk, making him a subversion.
    • It is debatable as to whether or not the rocks are still conscious or not though, and Kazul implies that none of them are ever there for very long.
  • Everworld has some terrifying moments when the characters go through Nyflheim, along with the goddess of torture. Twice. Most of the damned are sealed in coffins for a thousands years or buried neck-deep in the ground and used as cobblestones. Others are nailed to the walls of a nearly Bottomless Pit, and if Hel is feeling particularly sadistic, thrown into lava pits forever.
  • The Expanse has this be the ultimate fate of Protomolecule victims. After being turned into goop by it, their minds are preserved as "templates" that the Protomolecule can use later when necessary. Some of them seem aware of this state, while others aren't or are stuck in mental loops, such as one person that's in a constant state of experiencing their flesh falling off their body as the Protomolecule rendered them down. This wasn't supposed to happen as it was designed to work on single celled life and has been forced to improvise.
    "Another, oblivious, reexperiences her flesh falling from her bones, the nausea and fear, and begs for death as she has for years now. Her name is Maria. It does not let her die. It does not comfort her."

  • The worst fate for a bad guy in Fablehaven (both the book and its titular preserve) is a cabinet that's absolutely safe. You can't break out or break in; the only way to take something out is to put something else in. Anyone put inside becomes fully conscious and effectively undying, forever, until someone else gets put inside. While it's naturally used as a prison, it's also once used to cleverly preserve a rapidly-decaying Artificial Human, who is real enough to be useful in the future but not quite so real that the seamless existence will get to her.
  • The punishment Silas saves for immortals in the Fallocaust series is this. He encases them alive in concrete with a breathing tube, continuously dying and resurrecting. Some chimeras have been in this state for years, and Gage has been entombed for over a century.
  • In Firebird, Ilya wonders if the men turned into statues are still alive and aware, and considers it horrible if true. It is true, but he frees them.
  • In Frozen II: A Forest of Shadows, it's shown that Anna was fully conscious when she became ice at the end of Frozen (2013).
  • In Full Tilt by Neal Shusterman, those who die in the rides become part of the scenery. A boy who crashes his car in the bumper cars ride becomes an advertisement for coca-cola. The main character even remarks "If eyes could scream, the sound would be bloodcurdling".

  • Eric Nylund's A Game of Universe features two examples. First, there's a magical kingdom where the inhabitants have been cursed and cannot die. Their method of execution is dismemberment, followed by being used as fishbait. The curse means they're conscious through this whole process. The second is revealed as the punishment for those who betray the local assassins' guild: They trap you in a holographic environment designed to prey on all your personal fears: a personalized technological version of hell (which actually does exist in this 'Verse; the hero gets to visit it).
  • Played straight in The Game of Wyrm and Soldier. The transforming soldier pieces are conscious and able to hear while in statue form, sometimes for generations. Some of them stay sane, probably because they're essentially Artificial Humans. Some don't. All come out a little bent after several hundred years of this.
  • In "Gentlemen of the Shade" by Harry Turtledove, vampires in Victorian London get really, really mad at this new vampire who's appeared recently. The new guy is Drunk with Power and won't listen to reason, has been brutally murdering prostitutes, doesn't care about upholding the Masquerade, and, worst of all, he isn't a gentleman! They can't actually kill him, because vampires are immortal, so they encase him in a giant cement block, then use that block in the construction of the Tower Bridge. They figure it'll be a few tens of thousands of years before the cement erodes enough to let him out.
  • At the end of Ghosts of Tomorrow, the original digital copy of Mark Lokner is trapped forever in a small, simulated office, alone, with nothing to do but create increasingly tortured art on the walls. Despite his repeated suicide attempts, his torment won't end until the last data systems on Earth stop working, by which point he'll be too insane to even look forward to death.
  • Kevin O'Donnell's 1978 Analog story "Gift of Prometheus" uses a variation on the Prometheus story in which a time traveler is shot while trying to use his time bracelet. The bullet ricochets off the bracelet into his stomach, and the malfunctioning bracelet strands him in limbo, surrounded by nothing, incapable of being found or rescued, and frozen in time so the pain will never end. He can only escape temporarily into his own memories, even though they will always lead him back to the pain.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's The Girl Who Trod on the Loaf, in which the title character is punished for her vanity by becoming a statue in Hell. She's able to hear everything being said about her by the living.
  • Give Yourself Goosebumps:
    • The book Scream of the Evil Genie has this as one of its bad endings: wish for beauty, and you get turned into a beautiful painting.
    • The Knight in Screaming Armor featured a bad ending where the reader discovers the clock from The Cuckoo Clock Of Doom. If the reader guesses the wrong option, they turn into a baby while their companions in the story are unaware that anything is out of the ordinary.
    • The Curse of the Creeping Coffin has one ending where the protagonist turns into stone, but is perfectly aware of everything. He is picked up by a man who owns a garden store, gets bought by his own grandma because the statue looks like her dissappeared grandson and put back in the haunted garden where the recurring ghost twins will keep treating him like a plaything. Forever.
    • Diary of a Mad Mummy has the protagonist turned into a mummy, who is unable to talk. In one of the endings, he's picked up by the museum director and put new bandages. Everything seems just fine when he's given pen and paper to communicate with him. However it turns out the protagonist is not the first mummy to arive to him. He puts him in a storage room with other mummies implied to also be kids. And then says that he'll be able to see his parents again... when they open the new Egyptian exhibition.
  • Brittney and Drake being buried alive in Gone.
  • Goosebumps seems to be fond of these. Basically, to wit:
    • In the short story "How I Won My Bat", a kid gets a bat which makes him a near-perfect ball player, and he asks the person who gave it to him if he can keep it forever. The guy says yes, but wants to take a picture of him swinging first. The "camera" turns out to freeze him in place and he gets put up in a museum. He doesn't think it's too bad, though, because, technically, he does get to keep the bat forever.
    • Let's Get Invisible! is about a mirror with a special light on top that turns anyone it shines on invisible. Unfortunately, this comes with a terrible price-repeated exposure to the light will phase that person into a sort of mirror dimension, while their reflections escape and take over their lives in the real world.This happens to the protagonist's kid brother-before the mirror is shattered.
    • The Curse of Camp Cold Lake has Della Raver, the ghost haunting the camp. She was killed by a rattlesnake in the woods, and her spirit is trapped for years on the camp grounds. The only way she can escape is to kill someone and claim their soul as her "buddy." Unfortunately for her, the protagonist isn't willing to co-operate.
    • The Haunted School is about an entire class being transported to a strange black and white world where they never age. When the protagonist and his friend arrive here years later, most of the students have devolved into insane, bloodythirsty savages and want to keep them there forever.
    • No matter how silly you might think I Live in Your Basement sounds there is still such moments being smothered by his friend Keith, who has been turned into a blob.
    • The Goosebumps TV series introduced a couple of Taken for Granite endings that would count as this. In the TV adaptation of "Be Careful What You Wish For," Judith wishes to be beautiful and admired, and is turned into a beautiful statue. In "Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes", Major McCall is turned into a lawn ornament.
  • Robert Reed's short story "Mere" from Great Ship starts off with a child being kept barely alive by a desperate computer (and fully conscious) throughout a 10,000 year long voyage in a malfunctioning, wrecked ship.
  • Guardian Cats and the Lost Books of Alexandria ends with Professor Chin stuck in the Book's old room, unable to leave. He doesn't seem able to die as people at the library have rumors of a "ghost" talking to himself through the floor.
  • In Gulliver's Travels several residents in the country of Luggnagg, notably the Struldbrugs, are born with immortality. However, their bodies never stop aging, most of them living for exceptionally long periods of time without the ability to do anything for themselves. They are unable to stand, walk, they suffer ailments such as losing their hair and eyesight, and talking is nearly impossible if not completely impossible for them. To make matters worse, as soon as they turn 80 years old, and worst of all, despite being immortal, they are considered dead by law and have no legal rights, not even being allowed to be witnesses in court and cannot be employed, buy or own lands, or take leases...

  • L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt's fantasy from Harold Shea, "The Incomplete Enchanter", has a brief scene in which the evil wizard Dolon shows the heroes his collection of faeries whom he has shrunk and imprisoned in glass jars, and his former apprentice whom he paralyzed into a living nude statue as punishment for spying for the good guys.
  • Implied by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and confirmed by Word of God, to be the final fate of Lord Voldemort, after he is killed by his rebounding Avada Kedavra curse during the Battle of Hogwarts. Because he split his soul into eight pieces (counting the one in his body) and had them all destroyed without being reintegrated, he is trapped mutilated in Limbo, unable to either return as a ghost or move on to the afterlife for all time. And that's how he defeated death.
    • When Voldemort's body was destroyed while his Horcruxes still existed, his soul lived on, unable to die, but as less than the meanest ghost (although he could still possess people).
    • There are evil creatures called Dementors who can perform an attack called the Dementor's Kiss, which sucks the victim's soul out of their body, leaving them in a vegetative state worse than death. Their soul is possibly trapped in the "hellish" interior of the Dementor with eternal suffering as the body loses all feeling with their soul removed. The only known person to suffer this fate is Barty Crouch Jr.
  • The Heaven Makers by Frank Herbert features the Chem, an immortal and near-invulnerable race. Because of these two traits, the only punishment the Chem can inflict on a Chem criminal (no matter what the crime) is to isolate them from the rest of the Universe, with full life-support. How often this has been done, and what tends to happen to such (although it's said that their near-invulnerability gives them immunity to mental health problems as well as physical ones — although boredom is a constant threat, and by an effort they can commit suicide), is not revealed.
  • The Cenobite dimension in A Hellbound Heart, later adapted into Hellraiser. For the sin of meddling with otherworldly powers in search of the ultimate pleasure, those who solve The Lament Configuration are taken to a world of eternal torture and pleasure — both to such extremes that no human can endure it. Nothing those trapped in this world do will ever relieve their torment. The character Frank finds a tiny loophole that allows him to escape, only to be taken back and have all hopes of freedom dashed forever.
  • Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar series:
    • The story of Need. An old Mage-Smith uses spells to trap her soul into a sword (because a sword will be more useful to help save the apprentices of the temple she's in then an old woman and a half-trained apprentice). The I Must Scream part: First, she's been a sword so long she's forgotten her own name! Then it's implied that she was alive at a time so distant that not even the people with histories of the Mage Wars know who her people were. And she survived the Mage Wars by being locked inside a box. Need only sees and hears when she has a bearer, and she can only talk telepathically when her bearer has the ability to hear Mindspeach.
    • Also Talia, the Queen's Own Herald. At the end of her year of field training she punishes a man who has been molesting his daughters by using her extremely powerful gift of Empathy by forcing him to relive all of the abuse from the perspective of the victims. The man does get one scream out before collapsing into catatonia. He does have an out; if he ever changes his attitudes toward women, he'll be able to break the loop. Of course, once he's back to sanity, he'll still have to answer for his crimes...
  • Mrs Coulter, Lord Asriel and Metatron from His Dark Materials fall into a bottomless void (specifically in a gap between the worlds of the multiverse). You would think that they would die, but as ghosts exist in the novels, their ghosts would continue falling indefinitely... Lyra explicitly talks about this after it happens in The Amber Spyglass.
  • In Hive Mind (2016), this happens when Amber's imprint activates. She envisions herself in a little crystal bubble, trapped inside her own head as her mind is taken over by the imprint.
  • In John Saul's The Homing, the result of a sting from a modified bee from a mad scientist/serial killer causes the character, Julia, to be trapped in her own body, as an insectoid presence forces her to lie to her parents and friends against her will so that it can continue transforming her into a humanoid queen bee of sorts and create drones by injecting swarms of tiny insects into her friends' mouths to infect their brains, who also experience the same fate. After the new queen and her minions depart to create more hives, one of the victims infected earlier is forced to run away from the hospital and continue going barefoot towards the direction of the new swarm until her body gives way and dies. The novel ends when the black swarm inhabiting her body infects a nearby coyote investigating the corpse.
  • In the Honor Harrington novels, this is the fate of anyone targeted by the Mesan nanotech virus, which takes over motor control, leaving the victim aware but helpless inside their own body. In a twist, the telempathic treecats can hear their mental screams, and act accordingly.
  • In The Host (2008), some humans whose bodies have been taken by the souls don't cease to exist, but rather their consciousness is shunted aside. They can't move any part of their own bodies, they can't speak, and only very rarely will the soul inside them even know the human is still there.
  • In House of Leaves, one of the characters dreams about limbo. It's an immense room with a well in the center. You can wait in the room indefinitely, and there are people who have been there for eons. If you jump into the well, your life is judged. If you're a good person, you disappear in a flash of blue light and are taken to an eternal paradise. If you're a bad person, you sink into the darkness for all eternity.
  • The fate of all of humanity, without hope, in Jack Williamson's story The Humanoids. Perfect robots take over human colonies one by one, initially appearing as the best servant bots to have ever existed. Once people either sign waivers allowing them to take over or are backed into a corner and forced to do so, they realize the hellish existence that their lives have become. There is no need for physical exertion of any kind, not even opening a door, because the humanoids will do it for you. Sports are outlawed, because someone might get hurt. Books are taken away, because they often have depressing topics in them. Love cooking, crafts, or building furniture? Not allowed to anymore. And the only thing they let you play with is soft blocks. You can't even die prematurely, because they're always right there by you. Your only hope is to be so problematic that they essentially lobotomize you. It's even scarier when you think of 50 or so years of this.
  • In Whitley Streiber's The Hunger, Miriam Blaylock has several boxes in her attic which contain the immortal but eternally-starving remains of the lovers she's turned into semi-vampires.
  • Hurog: Dragon Bones has Oreg, who was turned into castle Hurog. While he technically has a mouth, as he can materialize a body, he can only scream, or do anything else, if his owner doesn't order him not to. His very soul is enslaved. The horror is mainly in the flashbacks, as Oreg's current owner Ward is very opposed to slavery in theory and practice, and basically only orders him to continue doing what he has been doing voluntarily, namely protecting Ward's younger sister.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, it is stated that the Hegemony has no capital punishment — but there is the unpleasant alternative of becoming a living brain without senses.
    • The Shrike likes to impale its victims on a metal tree, where they hang forever, unable to die or escape.
    • Father Duré crucified himself on a Tesla tree to try to drive a cruciform out of his body. He spent eight years being perpetually electrocuted, with the cruciform bringing him back every time he died.

  • In Ice Hunt, researchers find a giant iceberg where somebody had been doing suspended animation experiments decades ago. The research says that he had to put the subjects to sleep before suspending them. One explorer finds out why when he uses some of the suspended animation serum when he gets trapped in a pod as the whole place collapses - while suspended, the subject cannot sense anything, but is completely conscious — the guy realizes this as his pod lands at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.
  • The Trope Namer I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream, written by Harlan Ellison.
    • In the ending, the evil supercomputer AM transforms the last surviving protagonist into a gelatinous blob to prevent him from harming or killing himself in any way. Oozing around the inside of a crazy, vengeful computer forever. Did we mention all the other Cold-Blooded Torture the supercomputer can inflict? And that everyone else is dead?
    • The game provides for a better ending, presumably even for the person who remains to watch over the computer.
    • The game also makes it clear that AM is suffering from the trope too. He is a mighty AI with godlike powers, but his area of influence is extremely limited, since he is trapped under the earth inside his own complex, and due to his programming he is forced to constantly think about effective warfare, torture, and death, removing any ability to do anything original with his vast powers. And he is fully aware of this.
  • In the short story "Immortality" from the book Future Fright: Tales of High-Tech Terror. An evil teen boy named Chadwick abuses random slaves and his butler. His mother was a scientist who invents an immortality serum. She tells the boy about the serum and how anything injected with it cannot die at all. Not even from suffocation, shooting or poison. Naturally Chadwick sneaks into his mother's lab and injects himself with the serum and he becomes totally immortal. Towards the end of the story he gets into a fight with his abused butler while a new building is being built. The butler has enough of his abuse and punches him, knocking him out. Chadwick wakes up to find himself encased in the concrete of the building, unable to move, see or speak. He will never escape since an entire building has been placed on top of him. He will spend the rest of eternity trapped under a building and he can't even open his mouth to scream.
  • In The Indian in the Cupboard books by Lynne Reid Banks, a form of time travel requires someone to be locked into a container with a magical key, touching an object from a different era/setting, and they will be transported to that setting into the nearest toy or small figure. In The Return of the Indian, Omri tries this in a trunk without a predetermined toy to go into and ends up as a decoration on the side of a teepee, able to see and hear but not to move, during a battle. The teepee gets set on fire, and he sustains a bad burn and almost dies before he's brought back. In The Key to the Indian, it happens accidentally to Omri, his brother and his father in a car. Omri and Gillon go to India and luckily land in two puppets with faces and everything, which makes them just miniature versions of themselves; but their father becomes a corn doll in an Iroquois longhouse with no face — not deaf, but blind, unable to inhale normally or speak, and with "a smooth face of skin and bone with — no features." Understandably, he describes this as the worst shock of his life.
  • Inheritance Cycle:
    • Carn kills an enemy mage with a spell that freezes him in place as all the moisture leaks out of his body while he decays until nothing is left but dust.
    • In Brisingr, Oromis, Eragon's mentor, tells Eragon that dragons can store their consciousness inside a "heart of hearts", and live long after their body dies through this special body part. Whether it's this trope or not depends heavily on the dragon. Dragons whose body has died along with their rider often ask to be destroyed as the pain of losing a rider is so horrible. If a dragon coughs up its Eldunari too young, it will be too small, as it's basically a Soul Jar. The dragon limits its emotional, intellectual and magical growth if it does this effectively being trapped in the dragon equivalent of an angsty teen. Dragons who overcome this or who never had a rider find the transition a little unpleasant but generally don't have a problem adapting as it's a natural part of their biology. So long as they're not left alone they can live perfectly happily like this. It helps that as dragons reach advanced age they tend to change how they think and spend longer and longer just lying around thinking and dreaming anyway. They don't need a body to do this and in their Eldunari form they don't need food, water or even air so it can actually be an advantage if their body has already died.
  • People possessed by the Entity in I Sit Behind The Eyes are essentially trapped in their own bodies for the rest of their lives, with no means of crying out for help except through fragmented one-word yelps, which they can only do while the Entity is distracted by its more alien thoughts. After the real Emily’s soul is destroyed, it is suggested that she might still be trapped in her own body, unable to even do that!

  • In Jack Blank, Revile the Undying is indestructible to the point of shrugging off massive amounts of ammo and can regenerate very quickly. In order to ensure he remains down for the count after his sudden return, they shoved his body back into the Infinite Warp Core Engine on the wreck of the Rüstov mothership and kept it running so that he'd be stuck in a loop of destruction and regeneration.
  • In the novella "Drink Down the Moon" from Charles de Lint's Jack of Kinrowan, the villain tortures Jacky by bringing her briefly into a "void" where she remains fully conscious while losing all sense of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch, and he threatens to leave her in this state forever if she does not give him the information he seeks.
  • In Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the Gentleman with the Thistledown Hair speaks of trapping someone in the pattern of a Turkish rug... unable to escape from the endless labyrinthine geometry of a length of carpet? Yeah that would probably drive anyone mad.
  • In the book and movie Johnny Got His Gun, the main character loses all of his limbs and all of his senses but feeling in an explosion and is unable to suffocate due to a tracheostomy. At one point, he thinks in a panic, "What good is living if I can't even tell if I'm asleep or awake?!?" He begins attempting to communicate via Morse Code, but his nurse doesn't know Morse — so she brings in an officer to interpret. He asks to either be displayed as a symbol of the horrors of war, or to be permitted to die. The officer's response? What you ask is against regulations.

  • In the novel version of The Keep a supernatural entity slowly kills a number of German soldiers stationed in it the castle where it had been sealed up, then later uses controls the corpses and uses them, among other things, to slaughter the rest of the soldiers. A short passage described through the eyes of a dead officer shows that these undead soldiers are still conscious and can think, but are completely unable to resist being controlled.
  • Krabat:
    • There is one spell mentioned with which your mind can leave the body for one night. Even the Evil Sorceror warns that if you don't manage to return in time, you become a disembodied spirit, which is completely incapable to interact with the world in any way — worse than a poltergeist who can at least make random noises or move objects.
    • This may also happen if you separate your spirit from the body and don't return until dawn — you'll become a kind of ghost who is completely unable to interact with the world. Almost happens to Krabat. Also this: To make some money, one of the boys turns into a big fat ox, who is sold to a rich merchant. However, they have to make sure to keep the rope around his neck, otherwise this trope would happen. This time it doesn't — but one year later, they try the same trick, with Krabat turning into a horse, and when Juro sells "Krabat" to a one-eyed lord, he forgets to mention the halter until it's too late, dumb as he is... and since the lord is really their evil wizard and master in disguise, he won't give it back either.
  • In Poul Anderson's short story "Kyrie", the main character is telepathically linked to another character who falls into a black hole. Due to time dilation, it takes him forever to die, but telepathy is not affected by time dilation, so she feels his pain forever.

  • In Richard K. Morgan's A Land Fit for Heroes, the mysterious and powerful bad guys are able to transplant the heads of their victims onto root stock such that the heads will awaken, fully aware of their situation, whenever the roots are placed in water. (When removed from water they go dormant but do not die. Ever.) When awake they can see and hear, and can move their mouths to frame words, but cannot make any sounds — a literal interpretation of this trope.
  • L. Frank Baum's Land of Oz series has various instances of this trope:
    • Tik Tok is a helpful robot who is built to work like a very big wind-up toy, with separate winding keys for his brain, speech, and ability to move. If his body winds down, he's immobilized, but still able to think until his brain winds down. It's especially bad when he wants to help a teammate, but can only watch them suffer/get captured/etc. Good fun when his brain runs down first, though; without any actual thinking to govern it, he wanders aimlessly and blabbers nonsensically. Plus, since he's not thinking about it, he's not suffering, so everyone wins!
    • Additionally, in one of the Oz books, the reader is assured that while you are in Oz, you can't die. Which is cool... until it is also stated that you may be turned to stone or into a statue or chopped into pieces or worse. Worse yet, as is also pointed out, the spell which caused this effect made no exceptions — so all babies are eternally babies, and anyone on their death beds are caught up dying forever.
    • Those who are turned to ornaments in Ozma of Oz don't seem to be aware, though, so such transformations wouldn't fall under this trope.
    • The Scarecrow of Oz has a usurper who tripped his predecessor into a deep pond, and then threw in a mass of heavy stones to trap him there. Called out in the text:
      It is impossible to kill anyone in this land, as perhaps you know, but when my father was pressed down into the mud at the bottom of the deep pool and the stones held him so that he could never escape, he was of no more use to himself or the world than if he had died.
    • The ruler before those two fell into a Bottomless Pit.
    • Then there's the Tin Woodsman, rusted solid for years until Dorothy rescued him. Before rusting solid, his axe was enchanted by the Witch of the East to slip and slowly hack him to pieces. It's also terribly plausible that the tinner who "saved" Nick and Fyter was working for the Witch all along, which just adds to the nastiness. The Tin Woodsman slowly replaced himself, piece by piece, but the man making the replacements forgot his heart so Nick Chopper never could love his Munchkin sweetheart.
    • A later book introduces Captain Fyter, the Tin Soldier, who has the same freaking story! Clearly, the Witch of the East was worse than her sister ever was. Add in the fact that both of them were rusted solid and unable to even move, but were fully conscious for years before anyone found them. (Fyter does say that he did spend the time composing poetry and songs in his head; possibly a useful way to keep your sanity in such a situation.)
      • Since you never die your pieces are still alive and so Chopfyt was made by gluing bits and pieces of the two tin men together with Fyter's head being used. Nick's head was shoved away out of sight and was very ill-tempered when he was found again.
    • Or the Scarecrow, who is stuck on a pole until Dorothy rescued him. Though in his case he only hung there for about a week, just long enough to get the idea that a brain would be a good thing to have.
    • In The Royal Book of Oz, a sequel by Ruth Plumly Thomson, the Scarecrow turns out to be someone else entirely, which is why he alone among all the scarecrows of Oz is sentient.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "The Last Trump" , the end of the world is just everyone coming back from the dead, but with the inability to feel passion or pleasure, to continue living eternally. This will eventually drive everyone who has ever lived mad with boredom.
    • As a character says - "The Dantean concepts of Inferno were childish and unworthy of the Divine imagination: fire and torture. Boredom is much more subtle. The inner torture of a mind unable to escape itself in any way, forced to fester in its own exuding mental pus for all time. Oh, yes, my friend, we have been judged, and condemned, too, and this is not Heaven, but hell."
  • Partly subverted in John Ringo’s Legacy of the Aldenata: AIDs (artificial intelligence devices) are extremely susceptible to sensory deprivation; it is essentially the most unpleasant possible situation for them, as they are programmed to be extremely interested in observing and thinking about everything around them, and being extremely fast computers they experience the equivalent of subjective years in outside hours. The only threat that appears to work against them (and every time it was attempted) was to be shut in a shielded box with an external power source and thrown in the ocean to await the Sun turning to a nova. New AIDs are shipped in boxes shielded enough for total sensory deprivation, but they are normally shut down during transport. One of them appears to have been forgotten turned on during shipment, which was indeed extremely unpleasant and drove it mad (according to its own diagnostic). However, normal AIDs have secret programming added by aliens which force them to spy on and subtly sabotage their owners. One effect of the “madness” in the case of this particular AID was to disable that particular part of its programming, turning it into one of the heroes and a major character, in Yellow Eyes.
  • In between R.A. Salvatore's Legacy of the Drow Series, Wulfgar is presumed dead, but has actually been captured by a minion of Lolth and given to the demon Errtu for him to torment in the Abyss. For years, until he is finally freed. Readers of the books don't see his suffering, but the effects of living in the Forgotten Realms answer to Hell are explored in subsequent books. It was not pleasant, and it's amazing that Wulfgar was ever able to put it behind him.
    • Now imagine what Kyorl Odran went through. She's been suffering at Errtu's hands for 127 years. The only thing she has is complete and utter hatred of Matron Baenre, who put her there. So much so that a later plotter against Matron Baenre's daughter considers bargaining with Errtu to get her out to attack the Baenres. The only reason she considered this is because of her mental abilities. We might soon find out what insanity does to psionics.
  • In E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman, exploited. The villains, with a little telepathic help, decide to torture a captive Lensman to crippling injuries and send him back. If they tortured him to death, the Lensmen could mourn him, give him a funeral, and go on, but if he's still alive, they will feel bound to keep him so. The exploitation comes in that pain is handled by more telepathic powers, and the crippling by inventing new medical technology that restores him to health.
  • Subverted in Vampire novel Let the Right One In; Eli was about eleven when Vamp'd and mentally, still is...just with a few hundred years worth of memories. She plays with toys, has awkward friendships/relationships with boys her own age etc. And to be honest, this is about as accurate a depiction of a child vamp as you can get — adult minds develop from child and tween minds thanks to hormones as much as to experiences — hormones never produced by frozen in time Vamps. So while she is trapped as a child, she has the mind of a child...the Must Scream part comes from the fact that at the end when she escapes with Oskar, we realise she must either turn him or suffer through watching him age and die.
  • In John Bellairs's young adult novel The Letter, the Witch and the Ring, the witch villain acquires the Ring of King Solomon and calls the demon Asmodeus, asking to live for a thousand years, and be young and beautiful forever. The demon obliges... by transforming her into a willow tree.
  • Som-Som from Alan Moore's Liavek who has had the two halves of her brain separated in such a way that the half of her brain that can see and hear is unable to speak or act, while the half that controls her actions and words is unable to perceive the world.
  • Light and Dark: The Awakening of the Mage Knight: Bonded weapons are powered by the souls of former knights. Danny doesn't like the idea because being trapped in a sword forever sounds like a raw deal. This is part of what drives Syndil to the Dark Side.
  • Lock In by John Scalzi has Haden's Syndrome, a symptom of a flu-like disease that results in people becoming paralyzed and becoming trapped in their own bodies. The effects are permanent, but the government has since developed the means to allow "Hadens" to interact with the world through robotic avatars called "Threeps" (named after C-3PO). It's also possible for a Haden to Body Surf using an Integrator, someone affected by the syndrome but not to the point of a lock in. As can be imagined, this makes detective work... interesting.
    • Scalzi goes into great detail into the emerging Haden culture, where prejudices like race, sex, or sexual orientation are meaningless. There is also a Haden-exclusive Cyber Space, where they can appear as whatever avatar they wish. For bonus points, it's never revealed if the protagonist (a Haden) is male or female (there are intentionally two versions of the audiobook, read by a man and a woman, respectively). It's not until halfway through the novel that we even learn that the protagonist is black in an offhand comment by his/her father. When a biotech company starts working on a possible cure for Hadens, there is an uproar among the Hadens, who no longer consider their condition to be a disease.
  • In The Lord of the Rings, this befalls Sauron at the end once the Ring is destroyed: he is "maimed for ever, becoming a mere spirit of malice that gnaws itself in the shadows, but cannot again grow or take shape."

  • In a short story in one of the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 1980s anthologies, the protagonist (and everyone around him) is trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop that gets steadily shorter, from hours to minutes and then mere seconds, until he couldn't even get to the end of a thought. The sequence always started over exactly the same, with him being trapped on a traffic island, and the drivers of the cars around him likewise going in circles forever and ever... the protagonist speculates that Earth may have fallen into a traveling singularity or that Time has actually ended because the universe was imploding, but essentially they are trapped in hell, going insane, and no hope even for death to deliver them. Possibly Richard Lupoff's 12:01 PM, made into a short film, & later a made-for-tv movie with a happier ending.
  • Scott Meyer's Magic 2.0: In Off to Be the Wizard, "ghosting" someone turns them into an invisible and intangible... well... ghost. The person can't eat, drink, or breathe but still survives in constant agony. The only sounds the "ghost" can make is a strange, very quiet howling. This is done so that the "ghost" haunts his or her relatives and friends in an attempt to get help. The spell is reversible, though. It was developed by a wizard-in-training named Todd, who was exiled shortly afterwards (for proudly demonstrating another spell of this type, involving using force-fields to turn another person into a controllable doll). The spell is used once again by Jimmy to keep Tyler quiet, after Tyler discovers his plans for England.
  • This happens a lot in the universe of the Malazan Book of the Fallen. Possible ways include being dragged underground by a living house thing, getting stuck under a huge boulder while immortal, dying by a special sword and having one's soul imprisoned inside the same sword in order to drag a wagon forever, being undead and getting too damaged to move, being used to seal a dangerous dimensional rift with one's soul, and many more. In fact, eternal imprisonment is the method of choice for dealing with beings that won't die easily.
  • The Medusa Amulet, by Robert Masello; if someone looks at their reflection and the reflection of the full moon in the titular amulet, they are permanently frozen at the age they were when they first looked into it (as well as being immediately restored to full health if they were ill when they looked into it). However, they are left frozen in this state even if subjected to serious damage; a flashback reveals that Marie Antoinette was a beneficiary of the amulet's power, and after death, the amulet's creator went to retrieve her head, and the decapitated head started screaming before he dropped it into a bucket of quicklime to dissolve it and spare her the horror of her new condition. A similar fate befalls Adolf Hitler at the novel's conclusion, but he is simply shown trying to continue the fight, apparently able to control his body despite his new state, until his castle explodes while the protagonist escapes.
  • Mirror Project: After Lynn is killed in a car crash and undergoes Brain Uploading, her consciousness is first activated with no input/output. Her first reaction is to start screaming, until she realizes that although she can feel the emotional catharsis, she doesn't have a throat. She has resigned herself to an eternity of The Nothing After Death by the time Holly finds a way to communicate with her. Later, as punishment for misbehaving, Bill shuts off her body but not her consciousness. It lasts only five minutes, but thanks to the speed at which her mind works without sensory input, it feels like years.
  • Narrowly averted in The Misenchanted Sword where the protagonist would have continued to age but be immortal, forever, unless he could find a way to get around the sword's spell.
  • In Teresa Frohock's Miserere: An Autumn Tale, the Rosa sports human-faced flowers. It sprouts a new one after killing a man, and those looking can recognize the face.
  • The Mummy, or Ramses the Immortal, where Ramses got a hold of a potion that makes him immortal. Oddly enough, Moses is never mentioned one way or the other. But still, at one point he is surprised to find out that immortal does mean immortal, and that his millennia-old immortality potion is still fresh and works just fine. He then remembers some immortal cattle he had made to end hunger in his kingdom/the world (as immortals don't have to eat and regrow cut off parts), but it didn't work because their immortal flesh recomposed itself in the volunteers' stomachs. He ends that paragraph by realizing that those cows and pigs must still be alive, chained in metal boxes in the bottom of the ocean.
  • Mark Twain evokes this trope in The Mysterious Stranger when Satan divulges the fact that the narrator is the only one who actually exists.
    Satan: It is true, that which I have revealed to you; there is no God, no universe, no human race, no earthly life, no heaven, no hell. It is all a dream—a grotesque and foolish dream. Nothing exists but you. And you are but a thought—a vagrant thought, a useless thought, a homeless thought, wandering forlorn among the empty eternities!

  • In "Crux" of The Nexus Series, the uploaded Su-Yong Shu, now cut off from her clone body is trapped in her quantum computer CPU completely cut off from the outside world. While at first she's able to entertain herself by creating worlds Inception style, these worlds start to decay into chaos as she descends into madness. Then her handlers start to torture her in order to get one last breakthrough before shutting her down completely. This takes place for what seems like millennia for her due to time dilation.
  • This trope shows up in a few of the stories in King's Nightmares & Dreamscapes as well:
    • In "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band", a young couple finds themselves in a small town called "Rock 'n Roll Heaven". They soon learn that the town's name is somewhat accurate, as the major citizens are famous dead rock musicians — Janis Joplin, Buddy Holly, Roy Orbison, Elvis, and Ricky Nelson all appear, among countless others. Unfortunately, the musicians have become horrible, twisted sadists in their un-death, gleefully torturing any human who comes their way. The "must scream" part ties into those non-famous citizens: they're permanently trapped in Rock 'n Roll Heaven, unable to age or die, forced to do menial labor all day and attend rock 'n roll concerts every night — concerts that bend time to last for over a year. Attendance is mandatory, and if you try to leave the concert — or the town itself — you are horrifically punished (one young woman has two fingers chopped off for trying to help the main characters escape). There's no hope for escape, even in death, and most residents have become bitterly resigned to spending eternity in Hell. And the worst part? They're not bad people — they just ended up in the worst possible scenario for absolutely no reason.
    • In "The End of the Whole Mess", a Wide-Eyed Idealist becomes disgusted with humanity destroying itself and sets out to find a cure for violence. He eventually discovers a small town in Texas where a rare chemical in the water completely eliminates any and all violent impulses in humans. He gets his brother to help disperse the anti-hostility chemical into the Earth's atmosphere via a volcano, and world peace seems possible...until they realize, too late, that the chemical works too well, causing Alzheimer's disease, dementia, and a general destruction of any high-level brain function. The story is told as an Apocalyptic Log, and we see how the narrator (the idealist's brother) slowly realizes what's happening to him and desperately tries to stave it off, only to eventually succumb and start writing in a toddler's scrawl. Now imagine that happening on a worldwide scale: being aware that something is horribly, horribly wrong with you, your family, your friends, and the entire human race, and not being able to stop it.
    • "Dolan's Cadillac" sees a mob boss and murderer Buried Alive in the titular car. In the middle of a busy highway. With plenty of air. And no way to kill himself beyond a slow, painful death from suffocation. Asshole Victim though he was, it's still horrific.
  • In The Night Mayor, the Diabolical Mastermind's ultimate goal is to upload his mind into The Alternet, Yggdrasil, thus becoming Yggdrasil and taking control of the world. He succeeds, only to learn that Yggdrasil already has a mind of its own, within which he is as small and insignificant as a single microbe in a human body. Yggdrasil tucks him away in an empty file and gets back to what it was doing, easily ignoring the tiny noise of his screams.
  • Night Watch (Series): In Twilight Watch, three über-spells are mentioned that scare even the Great Mages. They are discussed at length in subsequent novels and 2 of them qualify:
    • "Sarcophagus of Times" encapsulates both the victim AND the caster in the said sarcophagus for all eternity. Inquisitors used it only thrice as the last resort. From the inside the sarcophagus looks like an airtight marble dome with a marble floor about 10 meters in diameter. Anton muses that it's intended to keep prisoners alive indefinitely long, but drive them insane with each other's company: they can still use their magic, they never feel hunger or thirst, don't age, the air is always fresh, but they cannot leave. Unless a zero mage girl threatens to kill Twilight if he doesn't let her dad out. Probably a powerful teleporter artifact can help too. Anton even wonders if the Sarcophagus (and the people inside) will survive the end of the universe (he hopes that the answer is "no").
    • "White Haze" once turned an army of Dark Mages into statues without killing them, leaving them paralyzed, blind and deaf, stuck in their own minds until the statues fall to dust. Initially reading their minds showed they were all shocked. When Anton visited the place a millennium and a half later, reading their minds revealed that they have all gone insane, some laughing, some sobbing, some talking to themselves. Worth notice that the spell was invented by a Great Light Mage Merlin. Who never dared to use it. Gesar dared, but swore never to repeat it. At least Merlin's ultimate spell freed them in Last Watch.
  • In K.W. Jeter's book Noir, the protagonist is a member of a copyright enforcement squad who likes to separate the nervous system of copyright infringers, leaving just enough to be conscious and experience pain, cold, loneliness, &c., and place them as wiring in things like loudspeakers and toasters, or embed them in carpets so the person against whom they infringed can stomp on them, play loud music, etc to them.

  • Old Kingdom: It's hinted in Sabriel that Touchstone was very vaguely aware while he was in magical suspension with his spirit in Death, but fortunately he seems to forget everything about the experience not long after being released (although he does panic briefly when he wakes up under a grey blanket).
    Grey mist coiling upwards, twining around him like a clinging vine, gripping arms and legs, immobilizing, strangling, merciless. So firmly grown about his body there was no possibility of escape, so tight his muscles couldn't even flex under skin, his eyelids couldn't blink. And nothing to see but patches of darker grey, crisscrossing his vision like windblown scum upon a fetid pool.
  • The end of Tad Williams' series Otherland has the co-Big Bad Johnny Dread, a Psycho for Hire Serial Killer, trapped in an illusory world within his own mind in which he's constantly chased across a desert by the women he has killed over his lifetime, all of whom have transformed into relentless hyena-like monstrosities. He can't even stop for a few minutes or they will catch up to him and tear him to pieces. Horrible, but when you consider what an inhuman monster Dread actually was, it was just deserts...

  • In Pact the devil known as the barber leaves victims twisted wrecks of their former selves, trapped inside whatever he leaves them of their bodies. His victims are often unable to move under their own power or request aid.
  • In one of the short stories in John Ajvide Lindqvist's Pappersväggar (official English title pending), the main character makes a deal with a supernatural water-being that the ocean will never take his life. So he jumps into the sea only to discover that the bottom of the ocean is cold, and he becomes immobilized from hypothermia and has to remain there indefinitely, unable to drown or return to the surface.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Maat is in this condition. Imprisoned since she was a child, insane and suffering, kept alive against her will by machines and a symbiont. Maat has long ago given up any desire for freedom and simply wishes to die so that her pain will end, and doesn't particularly care how many other people she has to take down with her to make that happen.
    Maat: Maat was the first prisoner, and her daughters are slaves. Nothing sets me free, not even the madness. Not anymore. Maat can kill millions, but she can't even die. Why can't I die?
  • Kronos the Titan King from Percy Jackson and the Olympians was originally cut into a thousand pieces by Zeus and cast into Tartarus. As an immortal he could not die, but his injuries were so severe he could not form a new body like the rest of the Titans. He existed as some sort of spirit/thing in a suffering pit yet unable to interact with the physical world. Thousands of years later he is able to possess the body of another only to be cast out and his consciousness spread so thin it is unlikely he will ever reform yet in some twisted sense he is still alive.
  • Virally modified humans in Neal Asher's The Polity are used as automata by an alien race which removes the brains and upper spinal cords and replaces them with a remote control system. The virus renders the bodies effectively immortal, bar massive trauma... but it is also implied that the excised brains are still fully conscious for the same reasons. One individual has his spine severed and the remote installed without removing his brain, leaving him with all his sensory input but no motor control, stuck with watching his body do another's bidding.
  • And good ol' Harlan gives us another in Pretty Maggie Moneyeyes, in which the protagonist is tricked by the soul of a dead prostitute that lives in a slot machine to give his soul to her, freeing her but trapping himself in a weary purgatory as the slot machine is destroyed in a furnace.
  • In The Prism Pentad the ancient and powerful sorcerer Rajaat was sealed by his former followers in the "Hollow", a ghost dimension where time and space are meaningless and where he'll spend all eternity. He's eventually freed from the prison but is sealed back again for good by the heroes.
  • The April 1999 issue of Analog had a Probability Zero short called Going Home by H.G. Stratmann, which was about the first manned flight of a Faster-Than-Light spaceship. On the outward journey everything seemed fine, but the instant the two-person crew returned home they found themselves incapable of making the slightest sound or movement. Relativity says that information can't travel faster than light, so the universe immobilized them to prevent them from telling anyone what they'd seen... (Because it's a "Probability Zero" piece there's a flaw in this logic — not that that's any consolation to the two victims.)
  • Despite the trope namer becoming a cliché in alien invasion stories, Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters may possible be the most disturbing piece of science fiction ever. The Puppet Masters, or Titans, don't just control their host's bodies, they control their MINDS. The personalities of the host become near-emotionless slaves, utterly aware of their situation yet dedicated heart and soul to the Titan's conquest. The thoughts of the enthralled main character as he is forced to move against(?) his will by his parasite becomes downright horrific when it's revealed that deep down a part of his original feeling are still there, trapped yet unable to escape: "I felt no emotion most of the time, except the contentment that comes from work which needs to be done. That was on the conscious level; some place, more levels down than I understood about, I was excruciatingly unhappy, terrified, and filled with guilt, but that was down 'way down', locked, suppressed; I was hardly aware of it and not affected by it."

  • 0 from Greg Cox's The Q Continuum trilogy has been locked outside the galaxy by the barrier for eons, and with his ability to travel beyond light speed shut down by the Q, traveling to another also isn't an option for him — well, it is, but he'd still be alone in space for a very long time. He's gone quite mad... not that he was any less dangerous sane.
    • 0 actually tried to enslave the precursors to the Calamarain (cloud-like creatures who have a major grudge against Q) to carry him above light speed. his attempt failed, and he was roughly fought off. Outraged, he began to compress them down into a single lump of matter, which is set adrift through space for who knows how long before they thaw out. Picard, who had been brought to witness just how dangerous 0 is, wonders if they are still conscious while trapped in that form, but hopes they are not. And this wasn't just an individual, this was a race!

  • Novels from the Ravenloft game setting have provided a few examples of this, including a short story ("Objets d'Art") narrated by a man who went searching for immortality, and was rewarded by having his body stripped away, leaving him a disembodied spirit without senses or mobility. Possibly a Shout-Out to the Trope Namer, given the way the story concludes.
  • In Realm of the Elderlings this the Heroic Sacrifice skill coteries tend to end up making, along with their skill coteries. Eventually, the coteries are drawn to the Dragon quarry, where they'll carve a new dragon and join with it, to sleep until the Kingdom needs them.
  • Relentless by Karen Lynch: When a human becomes a vampire, which is Always Chaotic Evil, they don't die. No, they're alive and aware and unable to twitch an eyelid as they watch a demon use their body to rape, torture, and murder countless people.
  • In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen by Lloyd Alexander, some soldiers are turned into stone, but find that they can move with great effort.
  • Remnants gives us Billy Weir on the Mayflower. For some reason, he never goes into hibernation like the others do — instead, he stays awake for five hundred years. He can't move, he can't speak to anyone, and it doesn't take long for him to Go Mad from the Isolation. (And then he gets Bored with Insanity, then he goes insane again, and so on and so forth.) It does nasty things to his mind; when he comes out of suspended animation he's gone catatonic because his perception of time's slowed down so much. He eventually becomes able to function again, but he's still kinda funny in the head.
  • In Renegades, the hero Donna, whose powers let her transform into a swarm of butterflies, ends the second book stuck in that form, with no way to reform or even communicate with anyone. Worse, Adrian implies that when she's butterflies, Donna cannot understand human speech well, meaning they can't communicate with her either.
  • "The Return of the Pig", by K. J. Parker: What makes rising as a Revenant a Fate Worse than Death is the fact that, having already died, Revenants can't die again — their minds are trapped forever in their bodies, even if they're dismembered or cremated, which are the standard methods of dealing with them. One wizard is researching a means of transforming the revenant condition into true Complete Immortality; another is looking for a way to annihilate their remains so utterly that they can find some peace in death.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Book 2 reveals that the Bone Man is trapped on Oak Island for his act of vengeance against the colonists who murdered his lover, though he's been shown to send a vision of himself to Molly during her quest to find his long-lost wife.
  • Alastair Reynolds is also a fan of this trope. In Revelation Space Series the Yellowstone space cops have their heads surgically removed and grafted into their patrol ships, which they control through a neural interface. One of these cops is punished for his brutality by having the life-support core, containing his head and the means to keep it alive, extracted from his ship. The plan is for the cop's head to be kept alive and conscious in an opaque cylinder for decades before he's finally allowed to die. The Scrimshaw suit of Absolution Gap is also specifically designed for this, being essentially an immobilising and sensory depriving human-shaped coffin with sufficient life support to keep the victim alive for years.
  • Riverworld: In Gods of Riverworld, the insane Star Spoon traps the men who raped her in sealed cells, with fully sensory-interactive recordings of her memories of the rapes playing on endless loops. The cells provide food and water, their Riverworld bodies never age, and she'd set the resurrection equipment to return them to the same spots if they die, so even suicide is no escape.
  • Romeo and Juliet and Vampires (A retelling of Shakespeare's tale with the bent of the Capulets all being vampires and the Montagues vampire slayers) Juliet is still able to see and hear after she takes Friar Laurence's potion. When her eyes are closed for the funeral, she can only hear.

  • The climax of The Scarecrow has Carver the Serial Killer being shot through the head. He is left trapped in an irreversible coma, semi-aware, suffering from unending terrible pain.
  • The Scholomance: When a maw-mouth consumes someone, their bodies are dissolved into its biomass, leaving only their eyes and mouth on its surface, and their minds last as long as the maw-mouth lives. Victims can be targeted with communications spells but can only send incoherent screams in reply.
  • In the first Secret Histories novel, the heroes come across a water sprite that has been frozen into a statue. The narrator notes that her eyes are "horribly aware". The Drood family also turns would-be invaders of their estate into "scarecrows", beings alive, immortal and aware but completely unable to do anything other than protect the estate from future threats. In scarecrow form.
  • The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel: Mars who was trapped under a stone shell and Abraham the Mage, who was turned into a gold statue,.
  • Seven Sorcerers series by Caro King:
    • This is the fate of anybody who is tricked into wearing Ava Vespilio's ring. The person remains conscious and has most of his/her senses, but cannot move or even make a sound on their own. This goes on until the host is either killed, or Vespilio decides to transfer into a new body, in which case he usually kills the host anyway.
    • This is also Vespilio's fate in periods where nobody wears the ring: he is conscious, but cannot move or make a sound. His magic, however, keeps goading people into putting the ring on — until Strood throws the ring into a presumably Bottomless Pit, trapping Vespilio like this forever...
  • The compelled ghosts in Shaman Blues, who only want a bit of extra power, and instead get turned into abominations meant to maim and kill on their new mistress' wishes. They quickly flee once Witkacy frees them.
  • This is done in the Shannara series with Antrax. A superintelligent computer system that takes anyone who enters its domain and turns them into cyborgs completely under its control and incapable of free will. However, in order to use the abilities they may possess, their minds are kept alive and CONSCIOUS.
  • In Anne McCaffrey's The Ship Who Sang, brainships can be "disconnected" from their sensors while still remaining conscious. It almost drives the protagonist insane when it happens to her during an incident which leads directly to subsequent brainship cells being built with integrated sensors that can't be disconnected against the occupant's will.
  • Simulated: What Winston does to Sam when he traps him in his hidden subspace.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The book Collateral Damage reveals the fate of Karl Woodley. He is still stuck to a wheelchair. He has lost his ability to talk and can only make noises. His wife Paula Woodley makes him eat baby food, while she eats a great Southern meal right in front of him. She is more than happy to taunt him, and he cannot do anything about it. When he is not in the kitchen eating his meal, he is kept in a small room as a prisoner, with nothing but a TV that has nothing but the weather channel on it. He is perfectly aware of everything going on around him. What had he done to deserve this, you might ask? He was an abusive wife-beater who burned his wife, broke every bone in her body, kicked her while she was down, and probably other heinous deeds were done! His wife wants her own form of Revenge and justice against him!
  • Stephen King's Skeleton Crew short story "The Jaunt" is about a form of teleportation that takes a split second on the outside, and quadrillions of senseless years on the inside. Most people who use it are drugged and unconscious throughout. Unless you're an inquisitive little boy who decides to hold his breath during the process of administrating the anesthetic gas. Then you get to be conscious the whole time. As in the whole of time. Yippee. No wonder everyone who goes through it while conscious ends up dead or insane.
    • It's mentioned at one point that a woman was Jaunted off to nowhere by her murderous husband. Her husband's lawyer made the mistake of trying to defend him by claiming it wasn't murder since there was no proof she was dead; once the jury had time to think about that, the husband was convicted and executed.
    • Another King story, Autopsy Room Four, has a man being prepared for autopsy after being paralyzed by a snakebite and mistaken for dead.
  • Somewhither: People in the world of Cainem cannot die in any way, and new ones are born constantly. So why isn't their world filled with people? They regularly wage wars, where those defeated are buried in the ground to be stuck there forever.
  • The graphic novel for the Star Trek episode The City On the Edge of Forever is based not on the episode as it aired, but on the original proposed screenplay written by Harlan Ellison, which bears relatively little resemblence to the episodenote . In this version, instead of a drug-crazed McCoy, the events of the episode center around a drug dealer on the Enterprise named Beckwith. Escaping an execution for his crimes, he transported down to the Time Planet, escaped through the portal and changed the past. In the original treatment after Kirk and Co. put right what once went wrong, the Guardians — who were akin to the urSkeks from The Dark Crystal — punish Beckwith for his interference by trapping him in a time loop at the center of a supernova, alive and conscious as the explosion kills him over and over, for all eternity.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Ghost Ship features a noncorporeal entity that consumes the bodies of its prey, leaving them conscious, but with no senses. When the crew of the Enterprise runs into it, Data manages to make contact with the crew of a Soviet submarine who have endured nearly four hundred years of this and beg the crew to help them die. Picard, uncertain, has himself cut off from all his senses for 18 hours. The description of this experience is particularly gruesome, especially when he loses any ability to track time and has become convinced the ship's been destroyed and he'll be stuck that way forever. Fortunately, in the end, the entity is killed and the submarine crew allowed to die.
    • The all-series spanning two-novel series The Brave and the Bold also features a Big Bad who is introduced in this way as Sealed Evil in a Can. And this is how he ends up, this time for all eternity.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In the novelization of Return of the Jedi, Han Solo's time in carbon-freeze is described as "conscious, painful asphyxiation". When he awakened from the state in the film, he described it as "a big, wide-awake nothing".
    • Ysanne Isard, the Director of Imperial Intelligence, when finally brough to justice informed her captors that she knew too many secrets to be ever taken to trial. They concurred. Instead, she would be quietly locked away in a section of her ship, with no one to manipulate, no one to hurt, tended by droids and left all alone for the rest of her natural lifespan. Isard's horror at the thought of "life entombed" finally got her to act impulsively, and she was shot and killed.
    • Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor has the Pawns, who are mildly Force-Sensitive individuals who get embedded in meltmassif and wake up as it digs into their skull and embeds crystals into their key sensor and motor regions of their brain and end up hopelessly under the control of their master.
      • There is that whole scene when the black-armored stormtroopers who'd earlier declared their absolute loyalty to Luke all start screaming and apparently having seizures as the meltmassif built into their armor turns into fine needles and works its way through their bodies into their brains. One of the victims hears a sound as it's happening... there's no pain when the needles enter his brain, but he can feel his self being cut away and replaced by a thoughtless blinding rage, and his final thought is that he knows what the sound is. It's him. Screaming.
    • Jabba's palace originally belonged to the B'omarr monks, who sought enlightenment by denying their senses; when they were enlightened enough they would have their brains removed and put into jars with some sensory apparatuses, or if the monk wished to move about, into a jar slung under a spider droid. These used to have voiceboxes until Jabba ordered them removed, silencing the brains. It's just fine for the monks, but it's also inflicted on nonmonks who try to cheat or con them, and their opinions on it vary. They did this to Jabba's right-hand man, Bib Fortuna, but he managed to escape by transferring his mind into the body of another criminal.
    • In Tales from Jabba's Palace Bib Fortuna's cousin Nat ends up in a jar slowly going mad, even with droid access, whereas some of the others forcibly converted by the end of that book came to like the peace and companionship, and Bib himself becomes The Determinator. In Galaxy of Fear it happens to Tash, and when she's put back in her body she says she wouldn't want to stay like that but it wasn't bad — but these forcible converts were all allowed to pilot droids, which let them walk about and still have some agency even if they have no hands and can't talk. Tash wrote in the dirt with a foreleg, after Jabba died voiceboxes were re-installed, Bib could laboriously grasp a spoon between two legs to type things into a computer. A traitorous monk doesn't get that.
      Above their heads, on the fourth shelf from the top, in the third jar from the left, one of the brains almost seemed to shudder frantically in its pool of yellow-green chemicals.
      I'm here! Grimpen screamed. But he had no mouth to yell with. Help me!
      No one heard him, except perhaps for a few very enlightened monks. But they ignored him. They knew that Grimpen would remain on his shelf until he became enlightened, or until the end of time.
      Whichever came first.
    • First, there was Exar Kun, whose soul was taken from his body. He became a Genius Loci in the temple in Yavin 4.
    • Kun tried to do the same to Luke, though Luke could still possess Jacen. Which may explain...
    • Then there was the Black Fleet Crisis. Nil Spaar is actually dumped in hyperspace.
    • Most recently, this clearly happened to Abeloth, Sealed Evil in a Can and all.
    • The short story The Tenebrous Way describes the "death" of Darth Plagueis' master, Darth Tenebrous. Plagueis came up with the idea that midi-chlorians migrated back into the Force upon a user's death, and this inspired Tenebrous to create a virus in the form of "Maxi-chlorians" that would allow him to transfer his consciousness into the Force in the hopes of one day stealing the body of the Chosen One at the cost of his ability to see into the future. After Plagueis snaps his neck, Tenebrous uses the Maxi-chlorians to enter Plagueis' body and witnesses his death at the hands of Darth Sidious. Realizing his plan was a failure, he leaves Plagueis' body only to discover that his own had become mummified. He then realizes that he's been reliving the events leading up to his own death countless times and finds himself wishing he had a mouth to scream with right before the cycle begins again.
  • The Strange Matter series had a few instances:
    • The villain in Weird Weird West was trapped underground for over a century as an undead skeleton due to a rockslide and was only able to escape due to an earthquake.
    • The fate of everyone who was given longevity or transformed by the green sphere in A Place to Hide isn't exactly pleasant.
    • The girl who gets turned into a doll in Toy Trouble.
  • Stuck in Neutral is about a boy with cerebral palsy so bad that he has no way of communicating with the outside world, and has all the mobility and responsiveness of a newborn that never cries.
    • At the end of the book, author Terry Trueman says that his son Sheehan is like that, and he doesn't know if Sheehan actually is as mindless as he seems or if he's thinking and intelligent, but immobile, like the book's protagonist. His protagonist is content with his life and astral-projects to protest when his father, weeping, wants to euthanize him, saying that his life is good and he doesn't want it to end. Maybe Sheehan Trueman is content to be an adult cared for like a baby, listening to his family talk to him and pretending he can respond, being left at night alone in a room with a fly and barely enough reflexes to close his eyes when the fly lands on them, drooling and unable to decide what to look at, his greatest pleasures being when his mother pokes a sweet into his mouth or his gaze dips briefly into someone's cleavage. Maybe he is happy. After all, it's all he's ever known.
  • The Sundered ends with Harry Iskinder as the last living human, and is given immortality as "a reward and punishment".
  • In the end of Carlton Mellick III's Sweet Story, all water in the world is gone, life on Earth had died out, leaving Sally and Timmy alone on a dead planet. The wish Sally made for it to rain candy forever killing everything from both the inertia of the falling candy and the lack of actual rain, while Timmy's wish for the two of them to be "married forever" has cursed both of them with absolute immortality, making them unable to die.
  • Sylvester and the Magic Pebble was probably some kids' first experience with how horror-ready this concept was, especially given that the eponymous donkey is rescued from his fate by sheer dumb luck. Sylvester finds a magic pebble that grants his wishes. But at one point, he encounters a lion, and gets scared. To escape the lion, he says "I wish I were a rock." Well, the lion ignores him alright, but he is a sentient, immobile rock. Making things worse, the book goes into detail about how his parents get scared and look everywhere for their son, while Sylvester can't move or scream for help. His parents finally give up and try to move on with their lives. They have a picnic on the rock that just happens to be Sylvester and his dad just happens to put the wishing pebble on him and Sylvester wishes himself back into donkey form. Many a little kid has been freaked out by this story, especially as it is just plain dumb luck that saves Sylvester from his eternal torment. Imagine what it would feel like to slowly erode as a rock over tens of thousands of years.

  • In Dean Koontz's The Taking, the protagonist comes across a a group of people who have had their faces removed and are frozen in a jerky standing position. They seem to be aware of what has happened to them.
  • Zigzagged in Tales from the Flat Earth's 2nd book Death's Master. The Nigh-Invulnerable Evil Sorcerer and Death's henchman Zhirek goes to the City of Immortals. As a show of power on behalf of his master, Zhirek summons Death (Uhlume) to bear witness. Zhirek strikes down many immortals with his magic and drowns them in a great flood, where they'll spend eons alive but calcifying into coral. Zhirek reserves the worst fate for his ex-friend Simmu. The Earth Flame will make the innocent Nigh-Invulnerable (Zhirek was put in it as young child) but it will only burn those who have accumulated corruption. Zhirek drops Simmu in it and thinks he'll burn for eternity. But the demon-raised Simmu had so much corruption that he's instead reduced to dust shortly after being put in. Demons then come and gather the dust and place it in an artificial body, so that Simmu can live again but as a demon. Zhirek is reduced to tears at witnessing Simmu's escape. Additionally Simmu's wife Kassafeh also escapes the flooding and becomes Uhlume's mistress.
  • In Stanisław Lem's Tales of Pirx the Pilot, one of the initial tests for astronauts is a temporal version of this: cadets must pass a test where they are deprived of all senses and have to endure that as long as possible. After several hours, this becomes very troubling.
  • In The Tamuli series by David Eddings, Khwaj, the Troll-god of Fire, curses two of the main villains (including a Big Bad) with a perpetual fire, thus leaving them to burn alive, without hope of death or respite, forever. To boot, one of them is also cursed into "The time that does not move": a state outside of normal time, still in the world but unable to interact with anything (water can be walked on for example). They had it coming, too.
  • The Testament of Magdalene Blair imagines a man whose consciousness persists after biological death, so that he experiences the full sensations of decomposition. And it is suggested that this happens to everyone after death. Upon discovering this, the protagonist attempts to blow her own head off with dynamite in the hope of shortening her agony.
  • In Thérèse Raquin, Mme. Raquin is mentally still as healthy as ever, but developed Locked-In Syndrome. She can't scream anymore when she realizes Thérèse and Laurent have killed her child. She does try to rat them out, but fails, which makes this even worse.
  • The short story There's Nothing Under the Bed by Bruce Coville. It ends with the protagonist being captured by the monster under his bed, and dragged into the hellish nightmare world it inhabits... then turned into an under-the-bed monster himself. He then has to live in a surreal world made of dreams and nightmares, and his job involves him receiving vivid mental pictures of horrible nightmares so he can deliver them to people while they sleep. He's telling his story after the fact and it's implied this has been happening to him for decades. He'll get relief someday, though, as he gets to go back to being human when he captures someone else to replace him. The end of the story is an explicit threat that the reader could be next.
  • Margaret St. Clair's 1953 story "Thirsty God": A man who has raped an alien girl takes refuge in what seems to be a shrine but is actually a biological converter designed for another alien species. Once the machines have done their bit, he wakes up paralyzed and thirsty. He is soon visited by the first of many waterlogged amphibian creatures who worship him as a god because his body can now absorb their bodies' excessive moisture. To him it's a horrible physical and psychological torment, and he can never move or escape.
  • When the genie is released from his imprisonment in a bottle under the sea in "The Fisherman and the Genie" from The Thousand and One Nights, he offers the fisherman who freed him a choice of how to die. To the frightened fisherman the genie explained how, during his first hundred years of imprisonment, he planned to enrich forever the one who freed him; during the second and third centuries of imprisonment, he began to get impatient and gradually downgraded the reward he planned to give his liberator; finally, in his fourth century trapped in the bottle, he went all Then Let Me Be Evil, developed into a Sealed Evil in a Can, and planned to kill whoever let him out.
  • In the Thursday Next series, Aornis Hades is trapped in a time loop of six minutes stuck in a queue at a department store. As soon as she reaches the front of the line, she is transported back to the beginning.
    • This is a common way of jailing the difficult. Hundreds of criminals (at minimum) go through this. The time loop and duration of punishment varies. At least you never get hungry.
  • Timequake by Kurt Vonnegut. Everyone on earth has to relive the past 10 years, no chance of changing anything. The thoughts of the people who DIED in the past 10 years aren't exactly addressed...
  • Chaos space from TimeRiders. It messes up your mind if you get stuck there, tricking you into believing you have spent millennia in a place without anything to see, hear, or feel.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • In The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin, Morgoth placed Húrin upon a seat of stone, high upon Mount Thangorodrim, from which he could never move but could see with enchanted eyes all that befell his family under Morgoth's curse (albeit twisted so it looks like everyone they interact with, friend or enemy, is doing them wrong). Húrin was much too tough to scream, or cry or plead. He just went on a rampage when finally freed, just as Morgoth planned.
    • The Elves who were captured by Morgoth had it worse, since he preferred to keep them alive underground — and they cannot die of natural causes — and if anyone wondered what made Orcs so irritable, consider the fate of immortal beings who, shortly after being born (and having barely learned to speak) were abducted and taken to the Iron Hells of Angband where they were tortured for eons while their kin are secluded away in an earthly Paradise.
    • Maedhros, who particularly annoyed Morgoth, was shackled to a cliff by his right wrist and left hanging. His rescuer managed to find him because he was singing while he hung there.
    • After his final defeat, Morgoth is sealed away in The Void. After his feet are cut off.
    • The last king of Númenor, Ar-Pharazôn, tried to conquer Valinor (essentially Heaven on Earth at the time) to gain immortality. He and his army "were buried under falling hills: there it is said that they lie imprisoned in the Caves of the Forgotten, until the Last Battle and the Day of Doom."
    • In The Lord of the Rings, upon the One Ring's destruction, Sauron did not die. As a Maia, he can't die. But since he poured practically all of his power into the Ring, when it was destroyed he lost any power he had, and was reduced to a helpless, pathetic "spirit of malice", unable to ever take shape or affect the world around him again.
  • Tortall Universe: In Song of the Lioness, Duke Roger of Conté called out on his attempts for the throne by the main character. Roger demands trial by combat, as per his rights as a noble, but he's going up against the best swordfighter in the series, so he loses. But he had a contingency plan: a spell known as the Sorcerer's Sleep, which resembles death but keeps the caster's soul bound to his body, making him easy to resurrect if someone powerful enough can be goaded into it. In the months between Roger's death at Alanna's hand and his resurrection at her brother's, Roger is fully conscious of who and where he is and how much time is passing. He has no way of knowing if someone will succeed in bringing him back, though, so he Comes Back Wrong (or rather, as an Omnicidal Maniac).
  • Sarah Pinborough's novel Tower Hill has such an ending for the main villain whose ritual had Gone Horribly Right. It is surmised that he will live forever, buried underground and immobile.
    ...maybe in a hundred years, maybe a thousand, maybe ten, he'll shrivel up until he looks like a twig from a desiccated tree...
  • In the Towers Trilogy, Radiants produce more magic than their bodies can contain, causing them constant agony and eventual death. Because the vast amount of magic they produce makes them valuable, the Towers go to great lengths to keep them alive for as long as possible — and when they do finally die, they bind the ghost into a new body to start the process over again.
  • The title character of John Brunner's The Traveller in Black walks the Earth granting wishes, though rarely in the manner that the wisher intends. In one scene a man wishes he could start a new religion so that he could have all the fine clothes, food and young women he wanted. The Traveller grants his wish by freezing him where he sits. His fellow villagers consider his perfect immobility miraculous and worship him as a god, dressing him in fine robes, giving him food in the form of burnt offerings, and presenting him with young women as human sacrifices. In another scene, a man wishes he could learn all the secrets of a magical tree. The Traveller complies by incorporating the man's body into the tree's, so that he instantly understands how to use its magic but is physically incapable of using it (or of doing anything else).
  • In Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Bella is awake and surprisingly lucid during her cesarian, then injected with vampire venom which takes its sweet time to excruciatingly transform her into a vampire, and while it is happening she is aware but immobilized by the morphine in her body.
    • The Das Sporking of Breaking Dawn makes a case for the Immortal Children (Very young children turned into vampires) being this. Not only does making one cross the Moral Event Horizon for the vampire doing it, because of the canon on how vampires are made and the vampires' lack of self-control when it comes to feeding, but it's horrifying for the child as well. Think about it: By canon, not only is the transformation into a vampire excruciatingly painful, vampires do not change in their mental state from the time they were transformed. Since Immortal Children were transformed as toddlers, they will always remain at that mental level. Forever. They will never get to grow up, never understand anything about their condition, and never be able to enjoy the world like adults do, because they will never be able to understand it. And it gets worse: The vampire thirst is described as a horrific pain, like a third degree burn (although in reality, third degree burns aren't painful, because the nerves are burned away. It's the second-degrees that hurt). An Immortal Child would always have that pain, but would never have the mental capacity to understand it. All they'll know is that they hurt, that they want it to stop, but they can't, because they don't know what it is, where it comes from, and how to fix it, and never can. It's aksi stated right out that their temper tantrums destroyed towns, because they can't control their strength. They're also said to be so adorable that it appears to function sort of like Mind Rape for the people around them: Any vampire who sees one is instantly driven to an insane maternal/paternal protection instinct. When the Volturi outlawed them and attempted to kill them all, every coven that had one fought to the death to protect them.
      • And the worst part? This was all done because some vampires wanted to have a young child. They did all of this to the kid just so that they could have an eternally cute baby to be a parent to.

  • This is considered the optimistic interpretation of the titular procedure in Unwind, and is the main reason it's not considered murder in-universe — after all, all of the victim's organs survive, in other people's bodies. (At the very least, the portions of brain retain some awareness. One unfortunate thief retains the memory of what was going to happen to him, but is no longer capable of understanding that it already happened, and continues to beg in vain for his life.
    • In the fourth book of the series, Undivided, wealthy black market Unwind parts dealer Divan Umarov shows his guest and Unwind supplier, Nelson, his garden where he has four large porcelain jars, in which are imprisoned four assassins that were sent to kill him. The neck of a jar is narrow enough not to allow any movement save for that of the prisoner's head, which pokes out of the top. In this fashion, they are incapable of moving or doing anything, even speaking, except to open their mouths to eat nutritional chews fed to them by Divan. Nelson wonders to himself if they had their vocal cords removed, or (paraphrased) "they don't speak because there's not much to talk about when you've been made into a living houseplant."
  • In Uprooted, people who are abducted by the Wood and put into its heart-trees are still alive, aware, and in horrific mental torment during their imprisonment. Agnieszka does manage to save Kasia, who was trapped for about a day. People who stay there longer turn into Empty Shells.

  • Claudia in The Vampire Chronicles. Trapped forever in the body of a six-year-old while her mind matures.
    • Also Mekare from the same series. Her tongue is cut out, and then she's sealed inside a coffin that is set adrift in the ocean.
    • Then when a Anne Rice vampire goes into a hibernation of sorts, going underground and simply staying there for forever (they're immortal, remember?). Since after a while they became extremely weak due to lack of blood, a vampires form of starvation, they are simply stuck there. Lestat subverts it though, he does manage to escape.

  • In Wander the feelers are permanently locked into one extreme emotional state. Dagger theorizes that they still maintain some semblance of sapience — enough to be horrified by their own actions, but unable to control their bodies.
  • Beetlewhisker in Warrior Cats. In The Last Hope, when he dies in the Dark Forest, his spirit is trapped in his body because StarClan can't reach him and the Dark Forest refuse to take him. This leaves him in a state of perpetual agony until the Dark Forest is defeated and StarClan finally rescues him.
  • The trope is averted in Clive Barker's Weaveworld wherein the inhabitants of the Fugue voluntarily wove themselves and their lands into a carpet in order to escape detection/destruction. They are all aware of what happened when the Fugue is undone and actively work to reweave themselves when they appear to be in danger again.
  • In Welkin Weasels 2: Castle Storm, this is the fate of Rosencrass and Guildenswine. They kill a bird in the Forest of Lost Birds and are swallowed up by a tree trunk, becoming mere ferret shapes in the wood, as punishment. Luckily for them, they get carved into a ship's figurehead, and this puts them into the category of statues, which in Welkin can talk. Unfortunately, they're still nailed to the front of a ship, and later end up as totem poles in a mongoose village.
  • At the end of one of Jack Chalker's Well World novels, Nathan Brazil takes advantage of his temporary control of the master program to put an enemy in a repeating time loop — being torn apart as the prey of some very hungry predators. In fact, he is only forced to repeat this loop seven times — one for every person he killed. He isn't actually told this fact, though, and unsurprisingly assumes the worst the first time he wakes up again after dying. If he had been told, he probably would have stuck with his initial plan of thwarting the punishment by jumping off a cliff.
  • Wicked Lovely states that there is no afterlife for The Fair Folk, and they instead become 'shades', trapped and silent for all eternity.

  • In the ninth book of the Young Wizards series, the Martians were stuck in a timelock for millions of years while still fully conscious.