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Cut His Heart Out With A Spoon / Literature

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  • Charles Dickens uses this trope in A Christmas Carol, when Fred comes to wish his uncle Ebenezer a merry Christmas (the line, or some variation thereof, would go on to appear in almost every adaptation):
    Ebenezer Scrooge: If I could work my way, every idiot who goes about with "Merry Christmas" on his lips, should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.
  • Discworld:
    • When Susan Sto Helit has a stint as a nanny in Hogfather, she threatens her charges with things like "If I catch you being twee again, I'll knot your arms together behind your head." She finds that these actually worked better than believable threats.
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    • Also, when the Great God Om found himself Brought Down to Normal in Small Gods, he took a while to abandon the over-the-top threats that had always worked before: "Your intestines to be wound around a tree until you are sorry!" and "May your genitals sprout wings and fly away!"
    • Another fine example, from Sergeant Jackrum in Monstrous Regiment: "...there's no rule to stop me beating seven kinds of crap out of you... And that may take me some time, sir, because until now I've only ever discovered five types of crap." (There are seven kinds of crap.)
    • A two-parter from Sam Vimes/John Keel in Night Watch: "...you try it on one more time and you'll need to use both hands to pick up a spoon and you'll need to pick up a spoon, Ned, 'cos of living off soup by reason of having no damn teeth!"
    • One of the dire threats of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night in Guards! Guards! involves toasting the offender's figgin on a spike. The power of this threat mostly hinges on not finding out that a figgin is a (fictional) type of pastry containing raisins. The Watch, who do know what a figgin is, are very confused when their prisoner runs away screaming after an innocent offer of a snack. According to the history books, Mad Lord Snapcase was "hung up by his figgin" when he was overthrown some time before the current timeline. "This meant that either the language had changed a little over the years, or there really was some horrifying aspect to suspending a man alongside a teacake."
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    • In Lords and Ladies Granny Weatherwax tells Nanny Ogg's bratty grandson Pewsey "If you don't shut up, I will personally rip your head off and fill it with snakes." The little boy is merely amused by this threat.
      • In "The Sea and Little Fishes" later on in the time line, Nanny Ogg tells Pewsey that if he doesn't stop crying, she'll never give him candy again. The shock shuts him right up.
    • In The Last Continent one of the "ladies" whose float Rincewind hides on at the Galah screams at a troublemaker: "I'll stick my hand down yer throat and pull yer trousers up!"
    • In Men at Arms, Carrot threatens Dr. Whiteface, head of the Fools Guild. He threatens to follow Sergeant Colon's orders to the letter, the orders Carrot got just before going to the guild. When Whiteface threatens to call his guards, Carrot calmly informs him that that will only make it easier for him to obey those orders. He then adds that, if it helps, he'll feel slightly ashamed to do so. Whiteface backed down. The orders? "If there's any trouble, we're leaving right away." Colon had seen people bluff with bad hands, he'd never seen someone bluff with no cards.
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    • In Interesting Times, the Red Army are not very good with making effective threats, to the point where Rincewind summarizes their threats as "Slightly bad things please happen to our enemies!"
    • In Going Postal, Vetinari recalls one of his predecessors' fondness for having prisoners torn apart by raving tortoises. In his words, "It was not a quick death."
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Shagga son of Dolf's repeated threats to anyone and everyone that he will "chop off your manhood and feed it to the goats." In spite of the rather obvious lack of goats in the vicinity. Used so often it becomes a Running Gag.
    • He actually gets to do it on Grandmaester Pycelle in the second book. As it turns out, 'manhood' referred to someone's beard.
  • A variant from Sword of Truth, where after a speech from Richard about how he intends to teach his damaged hot dominatrices a bit of humanity by letting them take care of his as-yet-unconceived son, one of them says emotionally, "If you get yourself killed trying to rule the world, I will break every bone in your body."
  • In Nick Cave's novel And The Ass Saw The Angel, a man threatens to rip off Euchrid's head and shit down his neck, in what is probably a Full Metal Jacket allusion.
  • In The Horse and His Boy, Lasaraleen orders everyone within range to silence thus:
    Lasaraleen: No one is to be let out of the house today. And anyone I catch talking about this young lady will be first beaten to death and then burned alive and after that be kept on bread and water for six weeks. There.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Storm Front Victor Sells actually attempts to cut Harry's heart out with a ritual involving a rabbit and a sharpened spoon.
    • Dead Beat has Harry threaten the vampire Mavra with "If you try that again, I will kill you so thoroughly that your last ten victims will make miraculous recoveries."
    • In Turn Coat, Listens-to-Wind informs the skinwalker that "I'm just going to kick your ass up between your ears." Then he does.
    Touch the boy again and your family will have to bury a pair of five-hundred dollar shoes.
  • The penalty for damaging a palm frond in The Marvelous Land of Oz is to be put to death ten times, then imprisoned for life. Since nobody in Oz ever ages or dies, that's torture plus prison for a really long time.
  • Tucker Case, from Christopher Moore's Island of the Sequined Love Nun, tells a Polynesian village that has him strung up in a tree that:
    Soon as I'm on my feet, your asses are mine. You all might as well just go practice falling down for a while so you'll be used to it. Just order the body bags now 'cause when I'm done, you're going to look like piles of chocolate pudding. They'll be cleaning you up with shovels.
    • When he passes out, the islanders all agree that it was an excellent threat.
  • Notable examples from the war novels by Sven Hassel include "I'll pull your arsehole up over your ears!", "I'll have you shaved with the big razor!" (sentenced to decapitation), or the crowning one:
    "He's going round telling the world you're nothing but a cleaned-out rabbit's head, stuffed with sauerkraut, and if you're lucky enough to get back from the front he's going to see to it you get deported to a cowshit-stinking hole in South Bavaria where the entire population consists of village idiots."
    • That same person, after surviving a murder attempt, demands the man responsible be brought to him in 25 separate pieces, which he'll then feed through a mincer and sell as dog food, off the ration.
  • In the Redwall prequel Martin the Warrior, Captain Clogg throws a fit of rage when Badrang sets fire to his ship, and screams "I'll cut yer 'ead off an' throw it in yer face!" (Technically possible if one assumes he doesn't mean that head, but since this is a children's book it's unlikely that was the intended meaning. )
    • Mellus attempting to revive Hon Rosie in Mariel of Redwall: "No! Don't die! If you die, I'll kill you! Oh, I'm sorry, dear." Similarly, in Marlfox, Dippler informs an unconscious Dannflor that if he dies, Dippler will never speak to him again. Dann promptly wakes up and bursts out laughing at the uselessness of the threat.
    • In Pearls of Lutra a pirate captain tells an incompetent follower that "When we get out of this I'm gonna hang you upside down over the side of the boat and let the fishes nibble your 'ead off, though they'll be out o' luck if they expects to find any brains in there!"
    • It's also quite common for various characters to threaten to remove someone's body parts and feed said parts to the victim.
  • Dortmunder: Tiny Bulcher has dialogue to this effect at times, such as threatening to shove Dortmunder through a pencil sharpener when he thinks Dortmunder is about to get them caught by the police in one of their earlier adventures together.
  • In one of Melanie Rawn's Dragon trilogies, someone threatens, "I will send him back to you in a large number of small boxes."
  • Near the end of Mary Stewart's This Rough Magic, a teenage girl is raging about the escape of the villain, who'd almost succeeded in murdering her brother. She shouts that she wishes she could eat the man's heart in the marketplace, and someone comments that although the girl may never have read Shakespeare, her threat is nearly word for word from one of the plays. Then the young fellow who plans to marry her reveals that he arranged for the villain's escape vehicle to blow up, and he tells her, "You wanted to eat his heart.... I have cooked it for you."
  • Angela of Eragon wishes the following fate on Durza the Shade: "I'd like to cut his heart out with a dull hairpin and feed it to a pig!"
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, after Arthur's house is bulldozed while he's having a drink, he tells the builders responsible that he will sue the council and then have the builders hung, drawn, quartered, whipped and boiled until they've had enough, then he will do it again, and he will then jump on the little bits until he gets blisters or can think of anything more nasty to do, only for the rant to be 'interrupted' by the arrival of the Vogon construction fleet.
  • Good Omens:
    "Your fate will be whispered by mothers in dark places to frighten their young," said Hastur, and then felt that the language of Hell wasn't up to the job. "You're going to get taken to the bloody cleaners, pal," he added.
  • In the Wind on Fire trilogy Princess Sirharasi has a few good ones, mostly involving eye-gouging of some form or other, but also this gem: "If you tell anything you've heard here, I'll have your tongues pulled out, and rabbits' heads pushed into your mouths, and your lips sewn up...and your eyes will be burned out by red-hot skewers."
  • From Steven Brust's Agyar: "I will draw forth thy bones one by one ere I send thee to the Devil, that for all time thy shapeless body shall serve as a carpet for the minions of hell."
  • In The Warlord Chronicles, at one point the main character finds himself translating between the leaders of the Britons following King Arthur and the Saxon Warrior King/Boisterous Bruiser Aelle. When called upon to surrender, Aelle responds by leveling these sorts of threats at every prominent leader there, and some that are absent. What follows is only one of those. The quotes page for Tactful Translation has more of the threats, although that's still considerably shorter than the entire passage.
    Tell that mustached fool that by nightfall this place shall be known as the Grave of the Britons. Tell him that I shall snip off his whiskers and make them a plaything for my daughter's cats. Tell him that I shall carve a drinking cup from his skull and feed his belly to my dogs.
  • There is one rather interesting threat in The Railway Series. In the story Super Rescue, an angry signalman threatens a broken-down diesel locomotive, D199, when the latter demands an engine fitter fix him on the spot as opposed to having Henry pull him away.
    Signalman: Stow it! Or I'll take my tin opener to you! Now, then...
    [signalman is shown brandishing his tin opener in the illustration]
  • In The 13 Clocks, the Duke threatens to "slit you from your guggle to your zatch and feed you to my geese." He's quite serious.
  • In Echo Park, Harry Bosch has one of these moments when the detective on an apparently related case to one of his own is acting like a condescending Jerkass.
    Harry: Olivas, let's get something clear before we go anywhere. You call me 'Hotshot' again and I'm going to shove the file up your ass without taking it out of my briefcase.
  • In Wings of Fire, Winter is constantly threatening some variant of freezing dragons' faces off, leading Qibli to comment about how he always only threatens people's face. Later on, when Winter uses a different death threat, he's relieved that it's finally not the face again.
  • The Elenium: After finding out that Annias had his queen poisoned, Sparhawk declares, "I think I'll go back to Cimmura and disembowel Annias. With a dull knife." The doctor he says it to suggests that he instead "make a lateral incision below the navel, then kick him over backwards. Everything ought to fall out at that point."
    • At another point in the story, Sparhawk also declares his intention to kill a character by saying that he will "reach down his throat and pull his heart out through his mouth." When one of his friends wonders if that's actually possible, Sparhawk replies that yes, it is, if your arm is long enough and you know what you're doing. He never mentions how he acquired this knowledge.
  • In Wolf Hall, the Duke of Norfolk is prone to making very colorful and highly specific threats. First he tells Cromwell to get Wolsey out or Norfolk will tear Wolsey's bollocks off with his teeth. (Cromwell sardonically asks if he can substitute "bite" for "tear", and uses that modified version when threatening Harry Percy with Norfolk's retribution later.) Later Norfolk says that were he the recalcitrant Mary Tudor's father, he'd beat her head against the floor "until her head was as soft as a baked apple."
  • The Code of the Woosters: Roderick Spode, a very large and intimidating man, has a habit of issuing extraordinarily vivid, over-the-top threats.
    "If the thing disappears, however cunningly you and your female accomplice may have covered your traces, I shall know where it has gone, and I shall immediately beat you to a jelly. To a jelly," he repeated, rolling the words round his tongue as if they were vintage port.

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