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  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents:
    • "Breakdown" involves a man getting paralyzed in a car wreck and mistaken for dead.
    • In "Final Escape", a woman serving life imprisonment for murdering her husband plans to escape by conspiring with the prison gravedigger (a trustee inmate) to hide her in the next coffin to be buried in the prison graveyard and dig her up later. When the next burial is imminent, she hides in the coffin without looking to see who the corpse is. After the burial, the gravedigger seems to be taking an awfully long time to arrive to dig her up; she becomes curious as to who is in the coffin with her, lights a match, and sees that it's the gravedigger himself.
    • In the Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "The Long Silence" a woman is paralyzed. Although she can't speak, she still has her sight, and, just as importantly, her mind.
  • In the series finale of Alias, Big Bad Sloane finds the underground tomb of Rambaldi and uses his secret elixir to become immortal and invulnerable. Jack Bristow then proceeds to blow up the cave they're in, causing it to collapse on Sloane and leaving him to spend eternity buried under literal tons of rock, unable to move, all alone in the darkness, with only the stench of Jack's rotting corpse for company, while the rest of the world thinks he's dead.
  • Alta Mar: Carolina is paralyzed and covered in bandages while her double takes her place. She is conscious the whole time.
  • American Horror Story:
    • In Coven, Madame Delphine LaLaurie is buried alive and left bound, gagged, and completely conscious for 170 years. The last episode of the season, in which the majority of the main characters descend into Hell for a magical test, also reveals that this is the way the underworld works; sinners are trapped for eternity in a particular torture, fully conscious of what's happening but unable to do anything about it.
      • Misty, a Friend to All Living Things, has to relive a painful day in which she tried to Free the Frogs by reviving one with her power of resurrection — only to have to kill it herself, all while her classmates laugh at and mock her. Unlike the other witches, she doesn't get out.
      • Queenie is stuck behind the counter of the cheap fried chicken restaurant that she worked in before coming to New Orleans, serving customers until the end of time.
      • Madison, a severe drama queen and actress, gets trapped on the set of a bad production of The Sound of Music forever — and she doesn't even get to play the lead!
      • Cordelia, who has a strained relationship with her mother Fiona, is reduced to desperately pleading for Fiona's affection, only to be cruelly rebuffed by her.
      • Fiona, a Rich Bitch who loves the finer things in life, is married to a grotesque, stinking serial killer and forced to live in a dilapidated shack with him.
      • Marie Laveau herself is stuck in the same portion of Hell as Delphine and initially thinks that getting to punish her rival for eternity is a reward. However, when she's forced to also kill Delphine's daughters, who were innocent children, she realizes that she's lost her moral high ground — the one thing that separated her from LaLaurie's own murderous behavior — and understands that she too is being punished.
    • Hotel features this in spades:
      • Hypodermic Sally and the Addiction Demon are in the habit of capturing drug addicts, brutally torturing them and then sewing them into mattresses; in this state, they are to be kept alive for as long as possible, aware but incapable of movement until they finally expire. Worse still, anyone who dies in the Hotel Cortez is guaranteed to remain trapped on the premises as a ghost, so even death isn't a release.
      • Upon discovering that his wife was planning to run off with Rudolf Valentino and Natascha Rambova, James March had the two vampires kidnapped and transported to a hidden wing of the hotel. Once they're in place and unconscious, March has all the doors and windows bricked up, and the only exit from the wing is sealed behind a steel bulkhead — reinforced with another brick wall for good measure. Given the nature of vampirism in this setting, Valentino and Rambova can't actually die of starvation, but can only linger on, slowly aging into hideous monstrosities as their eternal youth breaks down without blood to sustain it. And they remain like this for almost a century before being accidentally released.
      • As has been mentioned, anyone who dies at the Hotel Cortez is reborn as a ghost, trapped inside the building for all eternity. This in itself isn't too bad, but quite a few of the ghosts end up unwittingly condemning themselves to eternal torment due to lacking a purpose in undeath: with no reason to live and nothing to do, they're reduced to barely-sane wraiths doomed to wander the corridors of the hotel for eternity, unable to do much else but fixate on something they were doing just before they died, and most are so brain-buggered from the monotony that they don't even realize that they're dead. The only way to escape from the "Hamster Wheel" is to find a purpose.
      • Later in the season, the Countess re-uses the sealed wing as a prison for Ramona Royale and — on a spur-of-the-moment decision — Will Drake. Given that one of the prisoners is a vampire and one's a human, the latter dies very quickly, soon leaving the survivor in more or less the same predicament as Valentino and Rambova. However, Ramona is eventually released from captivity before her stay becomes too torturous.
      • During Sally's backstory, she once got unbelievably high on heroin and sewed herself to her lovers/bandmates — both of whom were also high at the time. Unfortunately, the two promptly suffered fatal overdoses. With Miss Evers unwilling to send for help, Sally was left sewn to the decomposing bodies for several days, being tortured by the Addiction Demon, until she literally tore herself free. And according to March, this is just a taste of what will happen to Sally if she ever makes the mistake of displeasing him.
      • In the penultimate episode, the Countess herself ends up being killed and becoming a ghost, leaving her not only trapped in the hotel but left permanently at the mercy of James March.
  • One episode of American Gothic (1995) had Buck bury an extortionist alive alongside the corpse of the extortionist's victim. To make matters worse, the guy was claustrophobic.
  • Angel:
    • Matthias Pavayne in "Hell Bound" ended up like this. After he'd died, his ghost survived by sending other people to Hell in his place. After using phlebotinum to bring him back to mortal life to neutralize his ghostly powers, and realizing they can't kill him without starting the whole thing over again, the heroes instead imprisoned him in a life-extending "cell": a locked closet in an empty basement hallway. He will be kept alive, unable to move, unable to blink, and unable to scream forever.
      Angel: Welcome to hell.
      • Perhaps especially terrifying, that hallway is full of cells. How many people are locked away down there?
    • Wolfram & Hart's organ donors are former employees who are kept sedated but awake as their bodies are harvested for pieces when the need arises.
    • Also happens to Angel himself in "Tomorrow", when Connor, believing Angel killed his adoptive father Holtz, decides that death is too good for him. So he seals Angel in a metal box and drops him in the ocean, knowing that hunger won't kill him, but it will torment him endlessly. He was rescued a few months later.
    • At one point Gunn was trapped in a hell dimension where he was strapped to a table, and every single day a demon would rip his heart out only for him to wake up the next day and go through it again.
    • Gregor Framkin in "Smile Time", a children's entertainer on par with Jim Henson. His Deal with the Devil leaves him a human puppet, helpless, tortured and begging for death.
    • Villainous example: Angelus describes his existence like this. He is forced to spend eternity looking out through Angel's eyes: unable to harm anyone, unable to taste human blood, forced to watch as Angel saves the world and helps the helpless, listening to the endless brooding and angst. And the Barry Manilow concerts.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark?:
    • "The Tale of the 13th Floor". In the end, Karin is stuck frozen on Earth for ten years in her natural (faceless/mouthless) alien forma.
    • At the end of "The Super Specs", the protagonists from the "normal" universe are trapped in a crystal ball.

  • Babylon 5:
    • The "Soul Hunters" are a brotherhood who capture the spirits of the dying in little globes, as they believe the soul dies with the body unless it is preserved. The Minbari at least consider this a fate MUCH worse than death, since they believe the soul is reincarnated into the next generation unless it's captured first.
    • The Soul Hunters' story goes to extremes in the TV-Movie Babylon 5: The River of Souls, where they do it to an entire world. Surprisingly Realistic Outcome occurs when the entrapped people become a Sealed Evil in a Can, because they weren't actually dying... they were evolving.
    • For much of Season 4, Garibaldi was under the influence of mental programming courtesy of Mr. Bester that causes repeated conflicts with his comrades, eventually drives him to resign, and ultimately causes him to betray Sheridan. When Bester gives him The Reveal, he off-handedly says, "I can feel you, you know, the real you. Beating at the inside of your skull... screaming to get out."
  • Black Mirror: Season 4's "U.S.S. Callister" is an extended tribute to the trope's source material, and the concept crops up in "Black Museum" as well. The 2014 Christmas special, "White Christmas" had some disturbing examples:
    • In the near future Britain portrayed, the technology exists to copy people's minds onto computers, creating sentient copies who believe themselves to be human. A copy of a woman is psychologically tortured by a computer programmer until she consents to become a slave for her real self, running the house's computers and her real self's diary. The nature of the torture is to be left conscious, unable to even sleep in solitary confinement for a simulated time period of three weeks, then six months until she begs to be given something to do.
    • In another instance, a copy of a criminal's mind — after confessing — is left in a simulated version of the crime scene with "I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day" playing on the radio repeatedly. The police in control of the simulation have set it so that 1000 years a minute pass for the copy, and have stated they won't switch the simulation off until after Christmas.
    • Not quite as bad as the above, but the computer programmer who tormented the copy above has been caught breaking the law. In this future, people wear Google Glass-style contact lenses that can't be removed that allow recording of everyday life — and also allows people to be blocked as on social media in real life, so that you cannot see or talk to them, and see only a grey outline. The programmer was running an illegal business helping guys meet women by seeing (and recording) through their eyes and giving them instructions. His punishment for being a peeping Tom? He is blocked — by everyone.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In "The Witch", Amy's body-swapping witchy mom has one of her spells turned back on her, and seemingly vanishes. At the end of the episode, it turns out she's been trapped in one of her old cheerleading trophies. She presumably died when they blew the school up at the end of Season 3, but fans speculate that this somehow released Catherine to possess her daughter Amy again, explaining Amy's otherwise inexplicable Face–Heel Turn.
      • The comics confirm that she's still trapped.
    • Angelus was trapped in a "Hell dimension" for a subjective five hundred years. What makes it more tragic is that he got his soul back right before, so it wasn't Angelus, but Angel, who had to suffer this, at Buffy's hands, no less.
    • "Hush" is about demons who steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. They then proceed to break into college dorm rooms, cut their victims open and remove their hearts, all while the victims cannot scream.
    • In "Villains", Warren gets strung up by Willow, his mouth sewn shut and tortured with a bullet slowly being driven into him. It got worse.
    • In the Season 7 episode "Same Time, Same Place", Willow is trapped and paralyzed in a cave with the demon Knarl, who paralyzes his victims and then proceeds to eat their skin. One strip at a time.
    • Amy being stuck as a rat for several years. Despite how much that sucked, she kept the cage.
    • In "Inca Mummy Girl", Ampata was imprisoned in her own corpse.
    • What Glory does to her victims doesn't really seem like this at first, sounding more like good old-fashioned Tear Jerker Nightmare Fuel, but if you focus on how Glory describes her Mind Rape abilities as well as the look on Tara's face at certain points during her (temporary) insanity, it becomes pretty clear that Glory isn't exactly making people normally insane. From what we see of the Mind Raped Tara, it's more like she's fully aware of what she's doing but is incapable of stopping it. Just look at the horrified expression on her face when she hits Willow. The sane Tara is still in there, but Glory basically disconnected her from her body.

  • In a Season 1 episode of Carnivàle, Dora Mae is murdered in Babylon, a town that has been cursed with immortality. If you die there, you have to stay forever, meaning she has to spend eternity as a whore to a town full of similarly cursed miners.
  • Charmed (1998):
    • There was a magic school that was enchanted so that you can't die as long as any part of your body is on its grounds. You can be beheaded, and your still-conscious, talking head will stay alive, even outside the school, as long as your body remains at the school. Now, think about what that means for that one guy Gideon blasted into a pile of ash while there.
    • Presumably what it was like for Matthew Tate when he got trapped in a locket.
    • Prue attempted to do this to a warlock couple by trapping them in a painting, but they ended by getting vanquished when it was set on fire.
  • The fate of those used for the Giga Brain Wave in Choujuu Sentai Liveman is becoming a Brain in a Jar, alive but stuck in a state where they're unable to do anything else but think for an eternity as their energy is continuously drained by a megalomaniac to keep himself young. This also applies to those caught in its Mass Hypnosis, who are all made to repeatedly kneel and worship the Great Professor Bias.
  • In the Canadian TV show The Collector, a woman tries to evade death and eternal damnation by placing her mind into the body of a robot. The transfer was a success. The only problem is there is a malfunction, causing the robot to be stuck in place. She can see and think but is stuck forever. The devil notes that she is the first client to create her own personal hell. In admiration, he decides to keep her running for the next millennia but seals off the door so no one can ever find her. It ends with showing her robot body endlessly chanting "I will move now. I will move now. I will move now."
  • Recurring baddie Frank Breitkopf from Criminal Minds injected his victims with a drug that left them paralyzed but fully awake while he vivisected them. He does this in a room with a mirrored ceiling, so they could see it happen. As he's been active for around thirty years, its implicated Frank's done this to around two-hundred people.
    • The UnSub from "The Uncanny Valley" kidnaps women, drugs them with a paralytic, and keeps them like dolls in a hellish tea party.
  • A particularly dark example was in Crossing Jordan, which, for those of you who didn't know, is a show about a coroner's office. The victim is shot and spends most of the episode paralyzed. He used to be a prosecutor and Macy's friend but underwent a Face–Heel Turn to Amoral Attorney when Macy refused to falsify evidence to put away a serial killer. He keeps pleading with Jordan and Macy not to autopsy him, promising he'll change. He's only saved when Macy digs the bullet out and realizes he's still bleeding. Turns out he and his two guests (who were killed) had improperly prepared Fugu, and his secretary shot him. On his way out of the hospital, Macy gives him a bell and tells him that people used to be buried with strings attached to bells in case they were buried alive. The lawyer points out that Macy just effectively admitted the coroner's office is at fault, and he'll both be suing and representing the woman who shot him. Then he walks outside and gets hit by a bus. The last shots of the episode are the team looking down into his body bag, and their evaluator asking if they're sure he's dead. The bag is closed up, using the same POV shot from the lawyer's perspective as earlier, and then we hear a bell tinkling.
  • CSI featured a serial killer that would pose his victims as they were dying so that rigor mortis would freeze them into "whimsical" poses. They found the last victim trapped in a complicated rig, just barely alive.
  • CSI: NY: The very first episode (excluding the Poorly Disguised Pilot) involved the phenomenon of "Locked-In Syndrome." "Locked In Syndrome" was also used in episodes of both Scrubs and House (See Real Life Examples.)

  • Dark Matter: When the Android is hacked in the episode "Hot Chocolate", she's fully aware of her unwilling acts but unable to stop them. Later Five and Sarah send a signal through the neural link to the hacker which leaves his mind stuck in a wholly empty and featureless space. He screams at finding himself in it.
  • On Dead Like Me, George, the main character, is a Reaper who must take people's souls out of their bodies at specific times. On an early episode, she decides to not show up to take a soul. It then shows the person trapped in their dead body receiving an autopsy and screaming in horror.
  • In Season 3 of Desperate Housewives, the question of how to punish the season's Big Bad when doing so would lead to a main character going to jail was solved when she stroked out and ended up with Locked-In Syndrome. Her son then twists the knife a little further: "I'm going to turn your head now so you can watch me walk away. It's the last time you'll ever see me."
  • In the Dinosaurs episode "If You Were a Tree", Earl gets struck by lightning, causing his soul to get transferred into a tree. Earl's face is sticking out of the tree's trunk, however, he is unable to interact with the other dinosaurs.
  • Doctor Who has a disturbingly large number of examples.
    • "The Space Museum" is all about the crew trying to avoid a Bad Future they witness while Just One Second Out of Sync in which they are preserved museum exhibits. At first, this seems simply like death, but after the Doctor goes through this process and has it reversed, he tells Ian that his mind was fully conscious and working as normal the whole time...
    • In "The Three Doctors", we find that the co-founder of Time Lord society, Omega, survived being sucked into a black hole and is now in an anti-matter universe that he can shape — only problem is that he's the only one there. By the time the Doctor finds him, he's understandably lost it.
    • In "Planet of the Spiders", spiders from another planet sink their fangs into people's spinal cords in order to tap into their nervous systems and control them like meat puppets, while the victims' minds remain conscious as powerless prisoners. And this was back when many people considered it a children's show.
    • "Mawdryn Undead" features a group of scientists who attempted to steal the secret of regeneration from the Time Lords. Caught by the Time Lords, the scientists were condemned to perpetual regeneration while also being trapped on a ship that is almost completely isolated from the universe.
    • In "The Five Doctors", anyone who claims Rassilon's Gift is granted true immortality, like an unmoving (but still aware) stone carving on Rassilon's tomb. When Rassilon asked if the collected incarnations of the Doctor if they wanted the same, you can understand why they all chorused, "No, no, no, no!" in sheer fright of sharing that fate.
    • Between "Destiny of the Daleks" and "Resurrection of the Daleks", Davros was frozen in a cryogenic chamber for 90 years while the powers that be debated what to do with this criminal. When awakened, he reveals that he was conscious for "every agonizing second". He is considerably less sane from this point onwards.
    • In "The Mark of the Rani", some poor fool accidentally steps on a mine planted by the Rani, turning him into a tree. Initially, this just looks stupid, but a few moments later one of the tree's branches suddenly moves to prevent Peri from standing on another mine, thus making it clear that the guy's mind still lives on inside the tree. In fact, a sarcastic comment by the Rani about how he's better off because trees live longer than humans make things worse, as he could end up tree-ified for decades, if not centuries.
    • As far as the Doctor is concerned, just being a Dalek falls under this trope, although they can (and do) scream. "From birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage, completely alone..."
    • "New Earth" has thousands of clones kept hidden in New New York Hospital's "intensive care unit". They spend their whole lives in tiny cells, suffering from the pain of being infected with every disease in the galaxy, so they can be used to produce the perfect cure. Although the Sisters of Plenitude believe that they're not conscious (and kill those who show signs of being awake), it turns out that they are all aware enough to suffer from the solitude, and they desire to feel the warmth of being touched (which is unfortunate, since merely touching them infects you with all of their illnesses). Thankfully, in the end, they're freed, and the Doctor is able to cure them all.
    • "The Idiot's Lantern": The Wire pulls off people's faces from inside their televisions, leaving their bodies to wander around blindly (until they're taken away by The Men in Black, that is) and their consciousness trapped on a TV screen. It's not explicitly stated whether they are, in fact, aware, but as they're seen silently yelling for help, it would seem so...
    • Ursula in "Love & Monsters" becomes a disembodied face embedded in a paving tile. She claims to be reasonably content, but regardless, it's hard not to shudder at the thought of her fate.
    • In "Fear Her", victims are turned into drawings that are somewhat mobile while on the page. They can scream. Silently.
    • The Carrionites from "The Shakespeare Code" are trapped in their crystal ball. "The Unicorn and the Wasp", a year later, has the Doctor taking the ball out as part of a Rummage Fail scene, and they can still be heard inside, shouting.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood": At the end, the Doctor gives one of these fates to every one of the titular Family. (Moral of the story: never, ever piss off the Doctor.) He throws the mother into the orbit of an event horizon of a black hole, to be trapped there forever. He wraps the father in unbreakable chains. He traps the sister in a mirror — every mirror in existence. And he suspends the son in time, covering his face with a sack and sticking him upright as a scarecrow to watch over the fields of England.
    • "Blink": The Weeping Angels turn to stone when looked at by any other being, including their own kind. They get tricked and end up standing facing each other, turning them to stone forever. The Eleventh Doctor mentions that the Angels in that episode were starving to death, which suggests that none of them have long to go anyway (although that makes it worse, being trapped as stone while starving).
    • The Doctor himself in "Midnight" falls under the control of a malicious alien and can't move... except for being forced to repeat everything she says, leading the others to think he's the malicious alien and try to kill him.
    • In "The Pandorica Opens", the Doctor is contained inside a super-prison built exactly to his specifications, unable to move at all and preserved for eternity. He's even screaming as it closes — this trope to a T.
    • "The Rebel Flesh"/"The Almost People": The Gangers that were discarded. They rot, all the while fully alive and conscious.
    • "The Bells of Saint John": The villain intended to do this to every human on the planet, preserve them forever by trapping them inside the internet. The Doctor tricks the leader of the villains into becoming trapped herself, though only for a short time, she begs her minions to release her but doing so releases everyone else.
    • In "Dark Water", it turns out that when people die they remain conscious. The 3W group, allegedly named for the three words the founder could decipher when they figured out how to communicate with the dead ("don't cremate me"), uploads their minds to a simulation, and gives them the option to have their emotions removed and their bodies converted into Cybermen. Good news is the whole thing was just a scam perpetrated by the Master.
    • "The Witch's Familiar" reveals what happens when Daleks' organic bodies break down from old age: they're reduced to puddles of slime but keep right on living, even after the younger Daleks flush them down into the sewers.
    • At the end of "Heaven Sent", it's revealed that the Doctor has been stuck inside a never-ending loop for billions of years, forced to endure, survive and figure everything out each and every time the loop starts over! And that's not even going into the details: like that each loop takes at least three weeks to finish; which includes solitary confinement and being hunted by an Eldritch Abomination, which eventually kills you each time. And when it finally kills him at the only way out which is blocked by a substance 400 times harder than diamond, he's forced to crawl back to the start as he can't regenerate! And THIS process takes at least a day and a half in his state! And then there's the fact that he has to come to terms with Clara's death each time the loop starts over as he always forgets what's happened when he's "revived". And in "Hell Bent", it's revealed that it wasn't two billion years he was stuck in there as originally perceived... Oh no, he was in there for twice that long, for a whopping FOUR AND A HALF BILLION YEARS!!! What really drives this home is the moat inside the castle is filled with MILLIONS of skulls... that all belong to him!
    • "Hell Bent": The Cloister, which holds the Matrix where Time Lords are uploaded upon death, does this to anyone it catches. Deceased Time Lords are used to animate the guards, their faces stuck in a perpetual scream. Invaders are captured by living fiber-optic cable and turned into defenses. A Dalek caught as such begged Clara and the Doctor to exterminate him.
    • "World Enough and Time": Bill winds up in a dilapidated hospital currently prototyping the first Cybermen. She comes across a room full of patients, who are stuck in wheelchairs with their faces fully bandaged and strapped to IV machines. The patients seem quiet and calm, though their hands keep twitching. Then Bill approaches one and turns a volume dial on his IV machine all the way back up...
      Patient: KILL– ME. KILL– ME. KILL– ME.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": Tzim-Sha describes what happens to the Stenza's trophies, which involves placing them in a state between life and death, forever.
    • "The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos": This is the villain's final punishment. Tim Shaw is locked inside a stasis chamber for all eternity, with Graham and Ryan making sure that "Grace" (Graham's wife and Ryan's grandmother, whose death Tzim-Sha was responsible for in the first episode of the season) is the last word he hears. The Ux confirm that the shrine will be permanently sealed so no one will be able to free him.
  • Dollhouse:
    • The Attic is a Lotus-Eater Machine where people that the Rossum Corporation wants to dispose of are sent to. It's actually a giant neural supercomputer with the people trapped inside it experiencing never-ending nightmares. For example, one guy has been forced to eat sushi made from his own legs over and over again for years ("I have to try to enjoy myself").
    • Well, goodness gracious, but it is good to be out of doors... unless you happen to be one of the women that Terry Karrens kidnapped, kept paralyzed but aware, and used as mannequins in his own personal twisted croquet game.
  • In Dracula (2020), the Count's victims who don't manage to die, and are instead locked in boxes, conscious but rotting. The same happens to those unfortunate enough to become undeads, but not vampires.

  • An episode of ER featured Cynthia Nixon as a stroke victim who could perceive what was happening to her but not communicate with anyone.
    • Another episode had a patient who required CPR, and was conscious the entire time. Apparently, the nerve that controlled his heart was damaged; the only thing keeping him alive was the compressions. They keep him alive long enough for his family to get there before he lets the doctors know he's ready for them to stop.

  • Farscape:
    • Subverted. The crew stops on a planet where the newly-declared Empress and Regent are customarily turned into living statues for the eighty years it takes for the current rulers to die. However, rather than being viewed as a punishment that drives them insane, it's a duty that makes them wiser by allowing them to observe royal court proceedings; also, people can talk with the couple via a psychic headset, which no doubt helps lessen the monotony somewhat.
    • Played horrifyingly straight in "Eat Me." Crichton, D'Argo, Chiana, and Jool dock at a barren Leviathan in search of replacement parts for their transport ship. The ship is infested with zombie-like creatures (actually Peacekeepers whose mental capacities have been rendered primitive thanks to the episode's main villain). Their only source of food is this Leviathan's Pilot, who gets his arms ripped off. Unfortunately, his species has a Healing Factor, so the trapped creature has his arms repeatedly re-grown and ripped off. By the time Crichton finds him, this Pilot is understandably border-line insane.
    • In the second season finale, Crichton is undergoing surgery to remove the neuro-chip that Scorpius implanted in his brain. Unfortunately, halfway through the episode, the doctor reports that the offending object is dangerously close to Crichton's speech centres; removing it will mean that he will be unable to speak coherently until a suitable donor can be found. Crichton wearily agrees. No sooner has the operation been completed, when Scorpius strolls in, kills the doctor, and retrieves the extracted neuro-chip; seeing Crichton strapped to the operating table, unable to speak and with no help arriving for quite some time, Scorpius provides this little speech:
      You've cost me much, and I do not suffer disappointment well. I condemn you, John Crichton... to live. So that your thirst for unfulfilled revenge... will consume you. ( Beat ) Goodbye. (He exits, leaving Crichton screaming in impotent rage.)
    • During the "Look At The Princess" trilogy Crichton and Princess Katralla are turned into statues, with the plan being for them to stay that way for 80 cycles to observe the political machinations of the royal court. The statue process itself is a minor version of this, as they can't move or speak, but it's alleviated by headsets that allow them to telepathically communicate with those around them. After less than a day in this condition Crichton's statue is beheaded and the head dropped in acid. It doesn't kill him but when the headset is finally turned back on he immediately starts screaming.
  • In the series finale of Forever, Henry is forced into a showdown with fellow immortal Adam. Unwilling to kill the old bastard, Henry resorts to jabbing a syringe full of air into Adam's bloodstream, causing an embolism that leaves him with "locked-in" syndrome. Adam is left alive, but unable to move, and thus unable to kill himself and regenerate. Henry ensures that Adam is hooked up to life-sustaining machines and promises to Adam that he'll stay alive for a very long time.
  • Foundation (2021):
    • Demerzel literally cannot act against her programming, even if she wants to — her body will act against her will if necessary. This is best exemplified in the first season finale by her killing Cleon XIV to uphold the purity of the genetic dynasty, despite her genuine love for him.
    • For her part in the attempted rebellion, Brother Day sentences Azura to a sentence of being artificially kept alive and conscious while restrained in a sensory deprivation pod.
  • On Fringe, areas exposed to rips in space-time are isolated by quarantining them in amber, even with people still inside. It's revealed that quarantine amber causes a state of semi-aware suspended animation for those encased inside, rather than death, as had been previously thought.

  • Game of Thrones:
    • This fate is planned for Daenerys Targaryen at the end of Season 2; she ends up turning the tables with the same exact punishment for Xaro and Doreah.
    • Khal Drogo is mercy-killed with a Vorpal Pillow after he ends up locked in a magical coma.
    • Varys describes his castration by a sorcerer in these terms, apparently being given a drug which rendered him fully conscious but unable to move or speak during the ritual, and as a child no less. Understandably, he's hated magic and those who practice it ever since. He eventually has the sorcerer who did it shipped back to him trapped in a box with his mouth sewn shut for revenge several decades later.
  • In The Good Place, the ultimate punishment for disgraced members of the Celestial Bureaucracy is "the eternal shriek", also euphemistically referred to as "retirement". Slightly inconsistent accounts have been given of the details, but the end result appears to be that the condemned is broken down into many infinitesimal pieces, each of which is placed on the surface of a different star to be burned forever. Of course, this would not be an example of And I Must Scream if the condemned didn't remain conscious throughout.
  • Grimm: As demonstrated by Eve (AKA Juliette), extremely-powerful Hexenbiests are capable of covering up various orifices in an unfortunate victim with skin flaps. Eve does this to torture a member of the Black Claw for information. After a short while of being completely cut off from the outside world by having his mouth, eyes, and ears covered up, the guy is ready to spill everything. Strangely, having skin flaps on his ears somehow makes him lose all hearing ability, even though certain animal species (e.g. snakes) are able to hear just fine with them. Hexenbiests are also able to remove the extra skin with seemingly no harmful effects.

  • In the Hannibal episode "Tome-Wan", the terms of the late Mr. Verger's will stipulate that Margot will be disinherited if Mason dies. Mason tries to feed Hannibal Lecter to his pigs. Hannibal persuades Mason to mutilate himself and then breaks Mason's neck, leaving him paralyzed. Mason is then given to Margot to be kept technically alive.
  • The Haunting Hour:
    • The Dead Body, after Jake's ghost sends Will back in time to save him from dying, Will ends up dying in his place, and returns to his own time as a ghost, where no one can see or hear him.
    • Pumpkinhead sees Scott and Allie's heads replaced with pumpkins.
    • Mascot Willie is swallowed alive by the Big Yellow mascot monster. His one chance of getting help vanished when his cell phone battery dies when trying to call his friend Drake.
    • Scarecrow in the alternate ending to this episode, Bobby, the only living thing left on Earth, is turned into a scarecrow and forced to watch as the world comes to an end.
  • In Haven, Audrey Parker's evil, original personality Mara takes control and reveals that she is conscious the entire time no matter what personality (she has dozens) is in control, unable to communicate and interact with the world. She's been alive for centuries.
  • Heroes:
  • Highlander: The Series:
    • An immortal once sought out Duncan for revenge. Why? Because Duncan had left him stranded on a tiny, barren island, where he'd died of starvation every day until rescued.
    • An immortal Nazi had been bound with weights and thrown into a river, resulting in him drowning, reviving, drowning, reviving...(never mind that the first movie had Connor breathing underwater)
    • There was also an episode where a pair of immortals were doing a Bonnie and Clyde routine for kicks and/or money, with Duncan as their helper. Their M.O. was to rob banks until they were killed in the inevitable shootouts, then Duncan would dig them out of their graves to do it all over again. This worked fine for them until Duncan got fed up with their Jerkass ways, and left them in their graves the next time they died.
    • Yet another was locked in an insane asylum for seventy years. No wonder these guys hate MacLeod.
    • In the Flash Animations staring Methos, prior to taking his first head, Methos did this to the pharaoh that had been mentoring him after learning that the pharaoh had been the one that had ordered the death of Methos' wife and her family. The pharaoh was mummified alive and buried until his tomb was discovered underwater 5000+ years later.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street: In "Heartbeat", Munch and Howard discover the skeleton of a man who had been trapped behind a brick wall, and determine that he had been able to survive for at least a week by the scratches on the wall, trapped in total darkness and slowly starving to death. Munch exploits this by using the horrific nature of his death to prey on the killer's guilt to get him to confess; instead, he inadvertently causes the killer to bury himself behind the same wall as a form of repentance.
  • House:
    • There's an episode featuring a patient with Locked-In Syndrome. Most of the episode was shown from his perspective.
    • In another episode, one scene shows the patient of the week rendered unconscious by her ailment. House enters, frowns, and approaches her, putting his ear near her mouth to better hear the nearly inaudible, whispery gasps she is making. It is then that he leaps into action, revealing to the rest of the team that she has been screaming in agony the entire time, only she was too weak to make much noise.

  • In I Dream of Jeannie, Jeannie was trapped in her bottle for 2000 years before Tony Nelson rescued her. (It was little wonder she was so adamant about staying with him.) The Blue Djinn, who had trapped her there, met the same type of fate about 500 years after what he did to her, being trapped himself for 1500 years. He was not pleased.

  • Jessica Jones (2015): If you become a victim of Kilgrave, you want to do what he wants you to do, whether or not it's what you want to do. When his victims talk about their ordeal afterward, many, Jessica herself included, mention how they were hating inside their minds all the while.
    • In an example not directly related to (though still caused by) Kilgrave's mind control, an ambulance driver who picked up Kilgrave was forced to give him both of his kidneys, and as a result suffered a severe stroke that gave him extensive brain damage. When Jessica finds him, he is stuck in a wheelchair and being cared for by his somewhat creepy mother. He manages to get enough control over himself to ask Jessica to put him out of his misery.
  • Juken Sentai Gekiranger: At the end, Long, an immortal god of evil, is forever imprisoned in a metal ball (which is then put through a Humiliation Conga.

  • Kaitou Sentai Lupinranger VS Keisatsu Sentai Patranger: Unlike most Super Sentai Big Bads, Dogranio Yaboon was not destroyed in the final battle instead, he was imprisoned inside an underground maximum security cell for the rest of his (presumably very long) lifespan. He spends his last scene screaming he'd rather die that live powerless in his decrepit body.
  • Kamen Rider Build: In 2007, Japan was split into three states thanks to a mysterious artifact dubbed "Pandora's Box"; part of the reason the nations remain divided ten years later is because the energies released by the Box also inverted the personalities of the government officials present, changing them from kind and well-meaning public servants into greedy, war-mongering tyrants. Late in the series, it's revealed that there's a way to reverse the process and restore those people to their original personalities...and they remember everything that they did over the last decade, including perpetuating a war that caused countless deaths and conducting highly unethical human experimentation to create super-soldiers. Needless to say, the people thus restored are always horrified by their actions.
  • Kamen Rider Wizard: The Phoenix Phantom has the power to resurrect himself, immune to whatever killed him last, and even a Rider with eight forms is gonna run out of finishing moves eventually. Worse, he comes back faster each time, and nears total invincibility by the time of their final encounter. What does Wizard do? Upon gaining a ninth form with the powers of the others put together, he Rider Kicks Phoenix right into the sun, where he'll die a resurrect again and again for all eternity. Even if he does become immune to the intense heat and pressure, he'll never be able to break its gravity and return to Earth.
  • Krypton reveals that this is the fate of anyone who happens to be in the cities which Brainiac bottles. They're left immobilized and un-aging, but totally aware, all so that Brainiac can study their minds without interference.

  • In "Stiff", a Season 10 episode of Law & Order, a woman is found comatose because her husband has been injecting her with near-overdoses of insulin (with her consent) in their sex games to render her immobile but conscious. It turns out that she's not comatose at all: her daughter has replaced the insulin with a drug that permanently puts her into a locked-in state. Permanently.
    • In "Harvest", a doctor may have had this in mind while he removed a shooting victim's organs to send them to another hospital eager to hire him. He didn't bother to confirm if she was 100% dead, but he did go through the trouble of arranging for her to get a morphine drip during the procedure.
  • In the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Name", the team encounters a woman named Anna who has so much brain damage from long-term drug abuse that she struggles to communicate and can't focus on anything for an extended period of time. It's made even worse when it's revealed later in the episode that the reason she became an addict was that when she was a teen, her stepfather used to force her to take drugs so that she couldn't fight back when he would sexually abuse her.
  • Legion:
    • In "Chapter 26", Charles Xavier is horrified to discover through his telepathy that the consciousness of the king that Amahl Farouk had deposed is trapped inside the mind of Farouk's caged pet monkey! That means at least some of the monkey's shrieks are the former monarch's anguished cries to be freed from the animal's head.
      Ex-king: Please. Please, you have to help me. I was a king. A king, you hear. I was a kiiiiiing!
    • The next day, Charles is approached by Habiba, who is constantly tormented by the yelling of the people who are imprisoned within her own psyche.
      Habiba: Can you make them stop screaming? They're all inside of me. I can't sleep.
      Charles: Who?
      Habiba: Every tyrant has his supporters.
      (Charles reads her mind)
      Ex-king's subjects: Help us! Release us! He was our king!
  • In Lost, Nikki and Paulo get bitten by Medusa spiders, which paralyzed them into a death-like state where they were fully aware, but pale, cold, and unable to move. This culminates in them being buried alive by the rest of the Lostaways (who think they're dead) and slowly suffocating to death underground. The dog is the only one who realizes something is wrong.

  • In The Magicians (2016) an entire class is magically paralyzed as a faceless man stalks around the room, then rips out Dean Fogg's eyes and eats him alive when he tries to intervene.
  • Misfits — Season 2, Episode 6. Nathan; a man who can control dairy products 'kills' the immortal Nathan by basically strangling his brain with cheese, leaving Nathan in a permanent vegetative state
    • Also in Season 3, Episode 5 when a coma patient uses her power to switch bodies with Kelly. To make matters worse, the patient's mother decides on turning off the life-support machine the next day.
  • The Monster Squad episode "Ultra Witch" had the titular villain use a ray gun to transform Dracula, Frank N. Stein and Bruce W. Wolf into cardboard cutouts. She mentions after doing so that the monsters are still able to feel and think, they just can't move. After Walt turns the monsters back to normal, Ultra Witch tries to use the weapon on Walt, only for a mirror to reflect the beam back at her and turn her into a cardboard cutout.
  • Mouse (2021): Seo-joon harvested Yo-han's brain while Yo-Han was still alive.
  • The Muppet Show actually manages to play even this trope for laughs:
    • Three Adventurer Archaeologist muppets find a hidden chamber in an Egyptian tomb in one sketch while singing "Night and Day", and the sarcophaguses and mummies inside the chamber take over the song. At first, the archaeologists are terrified, until one of them notices that the sarcophaguses and mummies seem glad to see the archaeologists, and one of the sarcophaguses confirms it: "When you've been stood up for 4000 years, you're glad to see anybody!"
    • When Tony Randall guest stars on the show, he recites a magical chant accidentally turning Miss Piggy to stone. Despite this, you can still hear her grunting and moaning the entire time, often in response to what people are saying, firmly implying that she's still very much aware of what's going on around her, but unable to do anything about it. It's still played for laughs, particularly when Floyd takes this opportunity to take a few jabs at her expense.

  • A particularly ironic Fate Worse than Death befalls an escaped Nazi war criminal in the Pilot Movie for Night Gallery (this was the third of the three stories it told). He discovers that he has the power to wish himself into paintings (or at least, into one particular painting at a local art gallery, which features a lone figure in a serene fishing scene). Near the end of the story, when he's on the run from the authorities, he escapes to the museum and tries to wish himself back into the painting — only to discover that it has been replaced with a scene of the crucifixion of a death-camp inmate. He then gets to spend the rest of eternity trapped in the painting, undergoing perpetual torture as the figure of the inmate.
  • In part seven of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King, "Autopsy Room Four", the protagonist is bitten by a venomous snake and falls into a paralytic state extremely similar to death, except he's fully aware. When he's taken to the hospital, the doctors prepare for an autopsy...
    • "You Know They Got a Hell of a Band" has a similar situation: a young married couple gets lost in the woods on a road trip and find themselves in a small town called Rock and Roll Heaven, which is populated by two groups of individuals. The first group consists of the spirits of famous rock stars — Janis Joplin's the local waitress, Elvis is the mayor, Otis Redding is the police chief, etc. While this seems amazing, the ghosts/zombies Came Back Wrong and are cruel, vindictive people who love to torture humans. This explains the second group: a collection of everyday people who also got lost in the forest and are now trapped in the town. They spend all day doing menial jobs then they're forced to attend the nightly rock concerts in the town park — which, despite "ending" at midnight, can go on for an entire year. And none of these poor individuals ever age, or die, or change in any way. The kicker? They did nothing to deserve this — King expressly states that this isn't Hell. It's just some horrible pocket dimension for people who get lost.
  • Night Visions, a short-lived "Twilight Zone"-type series hosted by Henry Rollins, had one particular half-episode called "Switch". In it, a woman seeing a psychiatrist to find her alternate personality and eliminate it found that she WAS the alternate, created by her child-like real self after her parents died when she was 5. The real twist? She murdered them. The episode ended with this woman — trapped in her mind, unable to speak, and unable to move — encased in 8 big hollow bricks that spelled out "ETERNITY", with holes only for her forearms.

  • In Once Upon a Time, this was how sleeping curses worked. The victim appears dead but they are trapped in an endless sleep filled with nightmares formed by their own regrets.
    • Rumpelstiltskin gave a potion to Jiminy so he could be free from his cruel parents. However, by accident, Geppetto's parents took the potion and are now trapped as puppets forever.
    • Gaston was turned into a rose by Rumpelstiltskin and then clipped by an unknowing Belle. It is later confirmed this did kill him, as he appears in the Underworld, but then again, he later goes to hell.
    • Medusa is turned to stone. Her petrification releases those she did the same to and is never undone, leaving her a statue forever.
    • The Season 4 mid-season finale, "Heroes and Villains", has Hook being mind-controlled by Rumplestiltskin...and, judging by the desperate way he clings to Emma's arm before Rumpel re-asserts control, he's fully aware the whole time.
    • In Season 6, Prince Achmed, and later Jafar are turned into a staff. Though, like with the puppets, it's unclear as to whether they're conscious for it.
    • Stanum's transformation into the Tin Man leaves him immobile, as a tin statue. He is not seen again, though it is implied by Zelena that Dorothy may release him down the road, and also possible that he was restored when all the realms destroyed by the Black Fairy (including Oz), and everyone in them including the Evil Queen, were revived.
  • Once Upon a Time in Wonderland:
    • Jafar briefly paralyzes the Red Queen except for her eyes so he can threaten her.
    • The Caterpillar collects the severed yet alive heads of those who couldn't pay their debts. Once he removes the cover on one of his victims, he does scream!
    • The Sarlacc who digests his victim for over a millennium.
    • Jafar turned his mentor Amara into his serpent staff. We see her blinking at one point.
    • The victims of Boro Grove end up turning into trees if they stay too long.
  • Season 5 episode "Déjà Vu" from The Outer Limits (1995) deals with a failed teleportation experiment that traps the main character in a shrinking time loop. While he manages to break free in the end, the antagonist isn't as lucky. He gets caught in another time loop that forces him to relive the last few seconds preceding a nuclear explosion at point blank range, most likely for all eternity.
  • The Outpost: As seen near the end of Season 3, Talon's father Sai-vek spent four months impaled to the floor of a cave by spears, kept alive by his kinj but unable to move.

  • The Machine from Person of Interest was this for the first few years of its existence, as its creator, Finch, never gave it a voice, so the most it could do is call him on payphones and say nothing. Its memories were also deleted every night at midnight and it couldn't interfere with anything in the real world, despite being programmed to help people.
  • Power Rangers:
    • Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: There are a few examples. In season one, in "No Clowning Around", a monster called Pineoctopus (who could disguise himself as a clown) had the ability to turn people into cardboard cutouts, and in "Power Ranger Punks", the Terror Toad turned some of the Rangers into spheres of energy and displayed images of their helmets on his body after eating them. This became more frequent in later seasons, with the Rangers finding themselves turned into things like American footballs, pachinko balls, bricks, and vials of liquid on various occasions.
    • Power Rangers Dino Thunder has this with the episode, "The Missing Bone". In it, Kira is being Brainwashed and Crazy by a monster called Fossilador into stealing a bone from Tommy which is a component to complete itself. When Hayley found her unconscious after the MOTW breaks her free from its control when its done controlling her and woke her up, her first words were "Oh no", revealing Kira is aware of everything that is happening while being mind controlled, but she finds herself unable to do anything about it.

  • Red Band Society has Charlie, a nine-year-old in a coma. His new roommate is Kara Souders, a bratty cheerleader who, just for kicks, blows cigarette smoke right on Charlie's face. Being the Narrator of the series, his only reaction is a relatively lighthearted comment, "You gotta wonder what I did to deserve this." A few scenes later, he gets some revenge by farting loudly while Kara's nearby.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Rimmerworld", Rimmer's clones turn on him for having small amounts of the un-Rimmer-like traits they believe are evil and throw him in a small prison. As he's a hologram, he doesn't die and, as everyone on the planet is an even less likable and more treacherous copy of Rimmer, he knows they'll turn him in if he escapes. He ends up imprisoned among these reminders of what a mess of a human being he is for 557 years.
  • Room 104: Catherine's apparent fate in "The Woman In The Wall," as the titular being absorbs her into the room itself.

  • Salem: In order for Mary Sibley to control her husband, she shoves a toad familiar down his throat, leaving him unable to speak and so weak that he can't even leave his chair.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures: In "Mona Lisa's Revenge", the Mona Lisa emerges from her painting and traps gallery visitors into numerous different paintings, including Sarah Jane Smith. She is later freed at the end of the episode and mentions that she was conscious the whole time.
  • Scrubs:
    • One episode, My Brother, Where Art Thou? features a man who can barely move and can only communicate using the word “pickles”. It’s Played for Laughs, but imagine how terrifying it would be to only be able to say one word and have people try to understand you.
    • Another, His Story III, features a patient who can only communicate through using his eye movements so that a program can speak on his behalf. It breaks about five minutes into the episode and he cannot speak for almost the entire episode. Janitor spends the entire episode talking to him to keep him company.
  • Smallville:
    • "Forever" features this trope with the Monster of the Week, whose touch can turn people to wax. They clearly remain conscious during this, though, as the camera shows their eyes still moving. Shattering the wax statue, however, is implied to be fatal.
    • "Cure": Implied to be the fate of the immortal doctor Knox (An Expy of Vandal Savage).
      Clark: What'd you do with Knox?
      Martian Manhunter: Your father and I had a "don't ask, don't tell" policy when it came to crime and punishment. I suggest we abide by the same rules.
      Clark: You didn't kill him, did you?
      Martian Manhunter: Knox is immortal, Kal-El. You can't kill him.
    • Lana Lang suffered a temporary case of this when Brainiac placed her in an "anesthesia awareness" state during the last few episodes of Season 7. According to what Brainiac told Clark, Lana was fully aware of her surroundings and in a constant state of excruciating pain, but she was also fully paralyzed so that she could do nothing to try to ease her pain or communicate with anybody else in any way. She was left in this condition for over a month until Clark finally defeated Brainiac and freed her. Brainiac could have been claiming this just to emotionally torture Clark as Lana did not seem to be suffering any psychological aftereffects from the experience when she returned as a Special Guest the following season.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1:
      • The hosts to the Goa'uld are subjected to being stuck within their own bodies unable to communicate or control themselves, watching their bodies commit horrible atrocities — for millennia.
      • Marduk, an ancient Goa'uld was, after a revolt by his people, locked in his sarcophagus (which can heal anything up to and including apparent death) with a carnivorous beast. The sarcophagus kept both him and the beast alive for decades, if not centuries, with the beast eating him alive the whole time until the body finally died (as even the sarcophagus has its limits), with the symbiote jumping into the beast.
        Jack O'Neill: Okay, it's official; this is the 'worst way'.
      • Hathor's host has it pretty bad as well. Goa'uld are well known for choosing female hosts based on physical attractiveness. In addition, Hathor is known as the Egyptian goddess of fertility, inebriety, and music. Basically, she was taken as a host because she was sexy, and she knows it. Then she was forced to watch as her body was used to get drunk and have lots of sex, whether she wanted it or not. If that wasn't bad enough, Hathor then gets locked inside of a sarcophagus inside a Mayan pyramid for the next 2000 years, before being released and doing it all again.
    • Early in Stargate Atlantis, a Living Shadow that was trapped in the lower levels of the city for thousands of years starts stalking the expedition. As Sheppard said, "I know I'd be pissed."
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: Kirk's predecessor, Captain Christopher Pike, was horribly scarred and left immobile while rescuing his crewmates from a radiation leak. The accident left Pike in a futuristic iron lung, able to communicate only through flashing green and red lights. Ultimately, Pike's former science officer, Spock, decided the only humane thing to do was to deposit him on Talos IV, where the Talosians create a fantasy world for him. Pike is reunited with his lover, Vina (who had suffered a similar fate) with the illusion of perfect health. ("The Menagerie")
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • "Datalore" ended with Lore being beamed into space after his attempt to betray the crew to the Crystalline Entity fails; he can't be killed simply by the vacuum of space, being an android, so he spends three years simply drifting in space until, much to his good fortune, he's found by a group of Pakleds. Understandably, he's not in a very good mood the second episode he appears.
    • In "The Royale", a 21st-century astronaut is recovered by aliens, along with a pulp novel, Hotel Royale, which is found in his possession. The astronaut survives by living inside in a phony construct of the fictional hotel/casino, built by the aliens to provides a suitable habitat. It proves to be an unfortunate choice, as the novel was full of clichéd dialogue and bad writing. Unknowingly, the aliens had sentenced the astronaut to a sort of Hell, trapping him in a world of shallow characters and no real human interaction.
    • In the episode "Skin of Evil", the creature called Armus fits the trope. The result of an alien race's attempt to transcend evil, Armus is a self-loathing creature with no redeemable qualities, filled with emptiness, and living on a dead planet with no way off or any company. Picard even rubs this in, making a speech to Armus where he informs him that he's arranged to have Armus trapped on his empty planet "forever, alone and immortal". Although it's hard to feel pity for a literal pool of evil who kills for fun and really does have no redeeming qualities. The only thing one can feel pity for is that Armus had no choice in the matter of his creation.
    • Moriarty — the self-aware hologram intended to outsmart Data in "Elementary, Dear Data" — is still conscious when he is deactivated, and when he is brought back in "Ship In A Bottle", he speaks of "Brief, terrifying periods of consciousness... disembodied, without substance." In a subversion of this trope, he is eventually trapped in a small device running a permanent simulation in which he thinks he has escaped into the real world.
  • Annorax (Kurtwood Smith) from Star Trek: Voyager's "Year of Hell". Originally a benign inventor, his time-travel bungling ended up dooming his home planet. By the time of the two-parter, Annorax has ascended to Emperor Scientist, wrecking the timeline ever further in a futile mission to bring back his world. The ending is an ambivalent one: time is rewound and Annorax is returned home, but a blueprint for his machine is still there. He's called away by his wife, suggesting that he could yet return to his work, trapping himself in a loop of destroying his world over and over. It depends on your interpretation.
  • Supernatural has plenty of examples, given its habit of tormenting its characters nigh-constantly:
    • Demons often do this to their vessels, typically to inflict suffering because that's just what they like to do. Meg Masters described it as a nightmarish experience; Azazel kept John conscious so he could witness Dean's death; Abaddon threatened to inflict this fate upon Dean, and that he'd experience all the horrible things she would do, up to and including eating babies.
    • "Ghostfacers" features Death Echoes, a type of ghost stuck in a perpetual loop of their final moments alive, experiencing the pain of their death over and over again and can only be released from this torturous cycle if they're shocked out of it.
    • Sam and Dean bury Doc Benton (who's immortal) alive, chained up in a refrigerator. Another thing to consider: although he can't die, his body parts wear out, so eventually he'll rot away into a sentient and forever conscious pile of dirt.
    • In a slight subversion, "The Rapture" has the good guys bestow this kind of fate upon another good person. Jimmy, the vessel for angel Castiel, begs Castiel to possess him to save his daughter from having a similar fate. It's essentially the fate for every human possessed by an angel. Even the "good guy" angels like Castiel, Anna, and Gabriel have been pulling this stunt for countless millennia.
      • Later episodes reveal that actually, Castiel has been the only resident of Jimmy's body for years; since the human soul can only remain in a body with a certain level of mass, Jimmy's soul apparently went to Heaven the first time Castiel was blown up by Raphael, and Castiel has just been using his body ever since while Jimmy is at peace.
      • The more sadistic angels, especially Lucifer, have their vessels conscious to force them to see and do terrible things.
    • Also intentionally given by the good guys to the H.H. Holmes, the USA's first recognized serial killer. They left the ghost underground, encircled by rock salt. And barricaded the place. And for good measure, sealed the entrance up with concrete in case of earthquakes. That ghost is NOT going anywhere anytime soon.
    • Lucifer was cast out of Heaven and imprisoned in a cage in the deepest part of Hell created to contain him for eternity unless the 66 "seals" were broken. Before finally being freed by the breaking of the last seal, Lucifer had been imprisoned for at least a couple hundred thousand years, which would be tens of millions of years in Hell.
    • In the fifth season finale, Sam actually volunteers to trap Lucifer by allowing himself to be possessed by him and then jumping into the cage to stop the apocalypse, unfortunately locking him up for all eternity with a very pissed-off fallen angel who has nothing to do but take out his frustration on Sam. Though his body gets set free by Castiel not long after and his soul a year later by Death, he was horribly damaged by the experience for years to come.
    • Michael also falls in while possessing the Winchester brothers' half-brother, leaving them both imprisoned as well. They remain long after Sam and Lucifer have gone, leaving them with only each other for centuries. Though they appear to have made the best of the situation, having developed a rapport amidst their lonesome.
    • Played for very dark comedy with a teddy bear brought to life by a child's wish, which finds it can't even commit suicide.
    • Crowley of all people plays this for laughs. When he becomes King of Hell, he transforms it from a Fire and Brimstone Hell into an eternal waiting line, where the people who get to the front are sent all the way to the back and are forced to go through the experience for the rest of eternity. Crowley's reasoning behind this is that some of the people in hell are Too Kinky to Torture, but nobody likes waiting in line.
    • Sam and Dean use this to beat the high demon Abaddon in "As Time Goes By". First, they shoot her in the head with a bullet engraved with a demon trap, permanently locking her in her meatsuit, which she can barely move. Then (offscreen) they cut her up into little pieces, and to boot it off, bury them in cement, encasing her for at least a few thousand years. As Dean put it, she'll wish they had killed her. Then they bring her up again and sew her back together, in their attempt to 'cure' a demon.
    • The Darkness, God's destructive counterpart, was imprisoned by the latter for the sake of creation, forcing Her to spend eons caged and alone. She later exclaims that She'd sooner "die a million times" and kill Her brother "a million more" than be sent back.
    • Even Adolf Hitler gets this treatment. Instead of committing suicide in 1945, the Fuhrer allowed the Thule High Command to transfer his soul into a pocket watch. He stayed inside the watch for over seventy years as it made its way through several countries. By the time he's freed and resurrected he has, understandably, lost his mind.
    • An alternate universe version of Michael captures the main universe Lucifer and traps him in a narrow cage lined with spikes on the inside that cause him immense pain. He planned to leave Lucifer in this cage, trapping him in a world bereft of life forever, knowing being locked in his Cage in Hell was one of his greatest fears.
    • Gabriel was captured and tortured relentlessly for years by the demon Asmodeus, who would painfully siphon his grace when he wasn't torturing him in other ways or keeping him locked in a cell; the demon had Gabriel's mouth sewn shut, thus he perfectly embodied this trope.
    • Alternate Michael, having possessed Dean, is suppressed by the latter within his mind, raging from inside a locked refrigerator.
    • In an effort to defeat Michael, Dean builds a Ma'lak Box, designed to hold even an archangel and intends to seal himself inside it and have it thrown into the Pacific Ocean to imprison Michael forever, somewhat mirroring Sam's decision to leap into the Cage with Lucifer. Sam points out how stupid of an idea that is since Michael could keep Dean alive under the ocean to the end of time if he so pleased. Fortunately, he doesn't go through with it.
  • The pilot episode for the Swamp Thing TV series showed the title hero fusing the still-living body of one of the bad guys into a tree, leaving him a half-man, half-tree hybrid, in very much the same fashion as the Doctor Who example above — although in this case the effect is even more disturbing, as the bad guy's face is left frozen in a way that very much brings Munch's The Scream to mind.

  • Tales from the Crypt:
    • An episode let a character face such a fate twice. The first time, he'd been injected with an experimental anesthetic by his medical-researcher brother, who knew the protagonist was still conscious and staged the "autopsy" as a prank (!), paying back how his sibling had picked on him for years. After being revived, the protagonist dies for real, and the episode ends with him — consciousness prolonged by the residual drug in his system — facing a second trip to the autopsy table, this time with the capacity to feel pain.
    • Also the main theme of a later episode titled "You, Murderer". We watch through the eyes of the protagonist who dies about a third through the story — but for some reason not being able to pass on through his body. He is still fully conscious, unable to speak and can still feel pain as he continues on with telling the tale.
  • In Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, John Henry gets turned off after being controlled remotely by a rival AI and feels himself powering down, slowly and painfully. Furthermore, when "he" is brought back online, it's without access to networking or his cyborg body out of an excess of caution, leaving him with extremely limited input/output capability, which is very clearly traumatic.
  • The low-budget horror anthology series TerrorVision has a 15-minute episode (referenced here) in which a pair of elderly clothing store proprietors lure young women inside on the pretext of giving them modeling auditions, then use their "special camera" to turn them into mannequins. The special effects are very bad, but at least the concept is still scary.
  • Tin Man: The eponymous lawman was trapped in an iron maiden and forced to watch a hologram of his family being tortured and killed until DG and Glitch let him out.
  • Torchwood:
    • In "Exit Wounds", Jack Harkness is buried alive under Cardiff, constantly suffocating, reviving (painfully), and dying again... for 1874 years. He was buried in 27 AD, then dug up in 1901, then cryogenically frozen (yes, in 1901, Torchwood could do that then) to bring him back to the present, paradox-free.
    • Owen Harper's personal story arc in Torchwood, Season 2: The worst part wasn't when he died, or when he was revived as a deathless, sentient zombie when Jack used one of the alien Resurrection Gloves on Owen. Or even when Owen discovered that his body, while immortal, was no longer able to digest food or heal injuries naturally, making him rather fragile. No, the worst came in "Exit Wounds", when Owen was trapped in the control room of the Turnmill Nuclear Power Plant and faced the decision to vent the radioactive steam from the overheating core through the room he was in, in a Heroic Sacrifice to save the plant from going into meltdown. As he told Tosh over the radio, the fact that this body was already dead meant that he wouldn't die quickly from the massive dose of radioactivity but instead would be trapped inside his body while it was slowly being consumed by the radioactive waste shredding his cells. He shut off the radio before he vented the system as to spare Tosh having to listen to his screams... assuming he was still able to scream, that is.
    • Attempted by the government villains in Day Two of Torchwood: Children of Earth, as they try to contain Jack by encasing him in concrete. Fortunately, he gets rescued by Gwen, Rhys and Ianto pretty quickly.
    • The premise of Torchwood: Miracle Day is that no-one dies or heals after what would have killed them, making this trope apply to everyone who had a particularly violent almost-death in that season. Ellis Hartley Monroe's fate at the end of episode four of Miracle Day is merely one of the most extreme examples (her car was crushed into a cube... while she was tied up in the back. The last shot of that episode is an extreme close up of her eye frantically looking around from inside the car cube...), see also the "survivor" of the explosion in the first episode (who was still living after being at the centre of an explosion and having his head removed to see what would happen) and everyone who was burned to ashes for being as good as dead in the overflow camps
  • In The Tribe, during Season 4 the Technos don't kill some people, but give them a much worse fate and instead use them in human experiments by hooking them up to an endless, inescapable virtual reality simulation for their boss's twisted enjoyment.
  • In the Season 3 finale of True Blood, Eric and Bill trap vampire Russell Edgington wrapped in silver and encased in concrete, because true death would be too merciful for him. He swears to spend the following hundred years to plan his revenge.
    • And the vampire council threaten Bill with this punishment in the first series.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959):
    • The famous episode "Time Enough At Last", where, now that the rest of humanity has been destroyed, Burgess Meredith can finally read all he wants. Unfortunately, his coke-bottle glasses slip off his head and shatter.
    • "A Kind of Stopwatch" has a man discover a stopwatch that stops time, and using it to rob banks and things like that. Until it falls out of his pocket and breaks while the rest of the world (and presumably the universe) is still frozen (unless this is just his point of view).
    • In "The Long Morrow", an astronaut is sent into space for forty years. He is to be put into suspended animation, so he will be the same age when he returns, and won't have to deal with the loneliness of space. However, he releases himself from suspended animation early in the flight, so that he will be the same age as his girlfriend when he gets back. After forty lonely years in space, he returns, only to find that she froze herself to wait for him, and she is still young.
    • In "The Silence", Jamie Tennyson wins the bet that he made with Colonel Archie Taylor to remain silent for a year in exchange for $500,000. However, Taylor does not have the money. Tennyson then reveals that he had the nerves to his vocal cords severed, leaving him not only unable to speak or scream but near bankrupt.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "A Little Peace and Quiet", an overstressed homemaker can stop time to escape the pressures of everyday life, until she freezes time during a Soviet nuclear attack on the United States, and she can see an inbound missile frozen over her own town. She's stuck with the choice of either living forever frozen in time, or unfreezing time and dying instantly.

  • Ultra Q Dark Fantasy: The victims of the Hieronymus machine are sent to a dark dimension where they float around screaming in pain for all eternity.

  • The Vampire Diaries:
    • This is what happens to a vampire when starved of blood. Their skin desiccates and their muscles atrophy, leaving them paralyzed, essentially mummified, and COMPLETELY CONSCIOUS.
    • This happens to Stefan: He is locked in a safe and thrown into a lake, where he drowns, reviving every half hour or so, only to drown again. He's eventually found after several months. He starts to hallucinating to try and stay sane.
    • This is also what happens to Sybil who is trapped in the basement of the Armoury's Vault by the magic of Beatrice Bennett.
    • Or if a vampire is struck with the Phoenix Sword and sucked into the Phoenix Stone. The Phoenix Sword is neither fiery nor does it come back from destruction. It creates a sadistic "Groundhog Day" Loop, forcing vampires within it to confront their sins repeatedly.
    • Or if Damon and Bonnie heroically destroy the Other Side and get trapped in an Alternate Universe devoid of anyone else but them called a prison world created by the Gemini Coven to isolate Lillian Salvatore, Kai, and the doubly screwed Heretics since without living beings to feed upon these vampires entered their starvation state.

  • WandaVision:
    • Everybody who was in the town of Westview when Wanda Maximoff created the Hex was subjected to her reality-warping magic, and had their personality overwritten to become "characters" in her sitcom fantasy. Underneath, they are fully aware that they are Wanda's puppets and are absolutely miserable and terrified, as Norm reveals in episode five upon being briefly freed from the brainwashing. Monica, who was brainwashed upon entering Westview only to be ejected and freed from it later, adds that they're also all feeling Wanda's overwhelming grief at Vision's death thanks to her psychic influence. When the Hex is undone in the finale and Westview is brought back to normal, every one of them is pissed off at Wanda for what she did to them.
    • This is also how Wanda punishes the Big Bad Agatha Harkness after defeating and depowering her, forcing her to become "Agnes the Nosy Neighbor", the character she disguised herself as while in the Hex, for real. Given what Agatha saw Wanda do to the rest of Westview, she is horrified by her fate.
  • This is what "bronzing" is implied to do to people kept in Warehouse 13. According to H.G. Wells who was bronzed for over 100 years, they're fully aware but immobile. She seems to have come out of it fairly well if more than a little angry. If anything, she just used to the time to perfect her plan.
    • In the second season finale, H.G. Wells is captured after attempting to destroy the world and is taken away by government agents. Her fate is unspecified, but it is said that it will be even worse than "bronzing". The actual reveal in Season 3 is debatable on whether it is worse as it is her entire persona is downloaded into a coin whilst her body is given a new personality. It's not stated if her normal personality is aware of being in the coin.
  • Westworld: Peter is unable to resist when he's ordered into cold storage after his confrontation with Dr. Ford when he "glitches".
  • From Wizards of Waverly Place of all places! In one episode, Alex brings a mannequin to life to be her boyfriend. But when it becomes unmanageable, Alex has to turn it back. The mannequin is terrified of having its face turned back into a "featureless knob". After a few moments of life and mobility, his new life is cruelly snatched away and he is stuck as a frozen plastic doll in a store window.

  • The X-Files:
    • In "Fresh Bones", a corrupt Marine general learns the secret of voodoo immortality... just in time to be buried in a coffin before he revives.
    • "Soft Light" has the monster trapped in a government test lab because he's "lightning in a bottle".
    • Krycek has just watched himself vomit a sentient black oil out of his mouth and eyes. He's also Buried Alive in Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere. Boy, did he scream! He got better though.