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Fate Worse Than Death / Fan Works

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  • Animorphs Redux sees such a fate inflicted on David, as he is permanently rendered incapable of taking 'revenge' on the team because he is trapped in the form of a Chee, and thus his body's programming won't allow him to hurt anybody by attacking them in his current state or morphing into another form.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

  • In The One With The Angelic Face, after merging back with Angelus, Angela has to literally walk into Hell in order to save the world.
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  • In "Home Before Dark", after the Scooby Gang- specifically Giles- affirm to Holtz that Angel and Angelus are distinct entities, and Holtz spends time talking with Angel about the nature of a vampire and how the soul and the demon are distinct, he decides to leave Angel alive so that Angelus can remain trapped inside him, concluding that this is worse than just killing Angelus by killing Angel.


  • Child of the Storm has what is done to Belova and Lukin in the sequel by a deeply displeased Dream for what they did to Harry (who, through sort of adoption, is technically Dream's nephew). The full details aren't given, but apparently Belova had every dream and delusion dismantled, leaving her chillingly aware of the truth of her insignificance and how no one had ever cared for her, and every nightmare made real, mutating her into something described as a female version of Gollum. Oh, and she's in a straitjacket because she was last seen trying to wash the blood off her hands by scraping the skin and flesh off her bones. It speaks volumes that Loki, of all people, mid Roaring Rampage of Revenge, took one look at her and decided that he literally couldn't do anything worse to her.
    • The first book leaves the fate of Gravemoss ambiguous, with him either being vaporised, or blasted somewhere past Jupiter. If the latter, he's critically injured, but likely alive, floating in the vacuum of space.
  • Thousand Shinji: The souls of Gendo and the SEELE Committee were carefully extracted from their bodies and imbedded in the walls, ceiling, and floor of the Hall of Torment, where they'd remain trapped for all eternity, being tortured by dark gods.
    The senior members of SEELE and his father were imbedded in the walls, ceiling, and floor of this place, screaming in agony, their souls trying to claw their way out of membranes of unreality that would trap them for all eternity.
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  • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Heroes crossover series Interventions, Willow inflicts this on Sylar in the end, erasing all conscious memory of his abilities and his actions and leaving him essentially reverted back to his original identity of Gabriel Grey, socially isolated and terrified of life as a whole while lacking the nerve to actually do anything about it like try to connect with people or kill himself.
  • Doesn't specifically apply in Tok'ra Apocalypse, as the Wraith would have to die to experience it, but Sam convinces a Wraith Queen of the dangers of demons by making her experience his own memories of his time in Hell.
  • Played for laughs in the Harry Potter/The Munsters crossover Dodgers, Dresses, Teddy Bears and Spot. Grandpa takes all of Voldemort's soul fragments and puts them in a teddy bear, which he gives to Harry as a birthday present. As a magic teddy bear, Voldemort can move, but he can't hurt anybody.
  • In Infinity Crisis, this is at least hinted at when the Phantom Stranger states that everyone killed by Thanos’s use of the Gauntlet isn’t actually dead, and Constantine’s contact with the Ancient One affirms that their souls are trapped in the Soul Gem (Granted, the Gem is presented as a neutral paradise, but trapping half the population of the multiverse in a single dimension is not exactly a paradise).
    • The Red Skull resents his time trapped on Vormir, but Steve and Tony have very little sympathy for him.
    • With the heroes all restored, Superman disposes of Thanos by trapping him in the Phantom Zone.
    • In Brothers of Thunder, the Loki of Earth-8096 is left to be tied down in a cave and tortured by the Asgardian Serpent, with his Earth-199999 and Earth-911111 counterparts observing that he fully deserves this fate.
  • Spider-X:
    • When Peter Parker is mutated into the Man-Spider, Rogue speaks for Peter when she learns that the cure might take away his powers, affirming that he would rather be powerless than live in his current state.
    • Also used for Electro's abusive father; after gaining his powers, Dillon subjected his father to such a massive electric shock that it left the man brain-dead.


  • Batman Beyond Revisited: If Chainsaw doesn't kill you for failing him or insulting him, then you become his slave instead. Signified most of all by shock collars.
  • In The Death of Robin, after the Joker brutally murders Robin and learns Batman's true identity, Batman ensures that the criminal can't tell anyone about his discovery by permanently destroying the Joker's vocal chords, condemning the Joker to never be able to share his knowledge with anyone else.
  • In Hellsister Trilogy, Darkseid intends to enslave the entire universe by learning and speaking the Anti-Life Equation, and all heroes would rather die than become his willing, eager slaves until the end of time.
  • New Tamaran:
    • This is how Blackfire views imprisonment for her crimes across the galaxy, which is why she lets Starfire deliver a Mercy Kill.
    • In Justice Returns, Lex Luthor is sent to Belle Reeve, where Killer Frost is free to sadistically torture and rape the other prisoners, who are kept alive solely for her continued amusement note .
  • In Supergirl (2015) fic Future Shock the Survivor demonstrates that death is for people who lack imagination when sentencing Lillian and Sam Lane at the end of Devils In The Dark.
  • Ultimate Sleepwalker: Rather than being killed off, several villains have suffered this instead. Cobweb is permanently imprisoned in the Mindscape, the Dreadknight is buried at the bottom of the ocean and the Bookworm has been driven completely insane.
  • With This Ring asserts that the orange light's 'Identity Theft' ability, turning the target into an enduring orange "Construct-Lantern", is worse than death, since it is a total violation of both body and soul, utterly enslaving them forever; they can only want what their master wants them to want. Given that the orange light is capable of absorbing even magic, it's possible that if the construct-Lantern is somehow destroyed, they might not go to an afterlife.
  • Daughter of Fire and Steel: In a flashback, Kara reveals that Zod and his forces are released from their status by the guard of their ship who shows them the destroyed Krypton. He rants that this was only supposed to be a three-week assignment before he was rotated out but now was unable to die with his family. He decides to let them suffer by freeing them all on a ship with only a week's worth of supplies so they have a slow death while he takes his own life.

Doctor Who

  • In "The Legacy of Gallifrey", faced with an 'alliance' of Davros, Rassilon, Omega and the Valeyard, the ten Doctors use the Key to Time to trap their enemies in the final moments of the Year That Never Was. Their enemies know that the timeline they're in is about to be erased, but there's literally no way for them to escape it in the time available to them, leaving them all trapped in the knowledge that they're seconds from being erased as time is wound backwards and that Year erased.

Harry Potter

  • In Forever is an Exceedingly Long Time, Harry can't find Voldemort's last Horcrux because it's been dropped in the middle of the ocean, so he force-feeds him Draught of Living Death and preserves his unconscious body in a cave. Voldemort wakes up 2.5 billion years later to find the Earth almost completely devoid of life and his wand sealed in a block of an indestructible substance called Lexan. He has achieved his goal of immortality, but he's now the last human on Earth with no followers and almost no magic, forced to wander the wasteland eternally.
  • In Furious Angels, when Unspeakable Lowdly tells Arthur about the consequences of Ginny receiving a Soul Stone from Harry, he notes that Arthur should be lucky both parties were truly soulmates or the Soul Stone would have destroyed their souls for exchanging it under false pretenses, Lowdly explicitly stating that Arthur doesn't want to know what happens to the people who've suffered such a fate.
  • Minister of Magic Cornelius Fudge suffers from this in the Inquisitor Carrow Chronicles. His main financial backers have been killed, he's lost massive amounts of political power within the Ministry and the Wizarding World with Carrow's anticorruption measures, his attempts to kill Timothy Faulks, and worse, Carrow himself, have all met with abject failure and given them all the ammunition they need to sink his career, and he's been shown that if he decides to keep toeing the line, he'll be simply written off and converted into an automated servitor under Carrow's command.
  • In Nine Killing Curses Harry places Voldemort's mind in a book designed to last 250,000 years, which is spelled to force him to correct the grammar of Hogwarts students' Defense Against the Dark Arts essays.
  • In Sisyphus, Harry is forced into a redo of his life. Over. And over. And over. Every time he dies, he wakes up again, eleven years old. He is not pleased.

Hetalia: Axis Powers

  • Hell/Human AU Mister Greeter begins when America meets Arthur Kirkland, the Greeter of Hell, and insists he is there by mistake. While the first chapter and England as a person are both deceptively nice, the next chapters describe Hell, literally. Later in the series, America risks being moved to a higher level. Basically, a worse sentence. And his torture is considered mild.

The Legend of Zelda

  • The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13 throws a fair amount of And I Must Scream around, but there are a few instances where it settles for this trope instead:
    • Link is captured by the exiled pirate queen of Great Bay, chained figure-eight style in a well, and tortured for four years while his Healing Factor keeps him alive.
    • After Link defeats his father, he opts to strip him of his power and immortality and describes it as "worse than killing him." Immediately subverted:
    • The Originals robbed Hadrian of his ability to kill, and otherwise left him unharmed. Considering he's a War God Blood Knight, this could be seen as the ultimate insult. Worse yet, since damage dealt by the Originals is impossible to heal, even by the strongest gods, he's stuck this way forever.
    • Varia and Takara are captured and held for eight months as test subjects for human experimentation. They are starved, tormented, emaciated... and, due to their Immortality, unable to die.
  • In Zelda's Honor, the Nevachreans have this as a whole; they cannot permenantly die except by special means. So death by drowning, starvation, being run through with a sword or even exploding is just a minor setback for them. They can't even taste the food they eat.
    • Verbalized word for word by Francis Gorman in Glaun'rung of the poor souls that comprise part of the Temple of Ballos. When they lacked actual building materials for the temple, they started using the undying bodies of the slaves themselves to finish constructing it!

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • Advice and Trust: After finding out Rei was emotionless because she was being ordered to taking drugs in order to render her obedient, compliant and emotionless, Asuka declares that she would rather die than be turned into a puppet:
    Asuka: Don't... don't let that happen to me, Shinji. Don't let them do that to me. Or you. I'd rather die.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Shinji thinks of killing his father… before coming up with something better: give him exactly what he wants and reunite him with Yui… and then seeing his mother giving his father a piece of her mind and then divorcing him. Getting separated from Yui is something worse than death to Gendo.
  • The One I Love Is...: After trying to cause Third Impact to reunite with Yui, Gendo gets trapped in a sorts of deserted Limbo, separated from his wife forever... which is his personal vision of Hell.

StarCraft II

Stargate SG-1

  • Quite a few variations of these are presented in the What You Already Know series;
    • Sam is deeply affected when it seems as though Daniel is going to subject himself to this for her sake, when they’re under attack by a Kull warrior and Daniel’s used his powers so much recently that the effort required to stop the supersoldier could leave him with brain damage.
    • Daniel speculates that his evaluation by MacKenzie was part of Kinsey’s attempt to get him out of the picture by arranging for Daniel to be declared unstable so that he could be dragged off to a psychiatric hospital and left drugged into a near-comatose state so that he can’t do anything about Kinsey’s plans
    • After Anubis is defeated, the now-Ascended Daniel travels around and extracts every remaining Goa’uld from its host and takes them to a lake in an island on their original homeworld which he instructs the Unas to declare taboo so nobody will go to that island and risk unleashing another Goa’uld. With his task completed, the active Goa'uld will live out the remainder of their lives trapped upon that world, knowing that they will never again taste freedom or power, while those currently in the Jaffa will be killed once the time comes to remove them as the entire race goes on tretonin.


  • In Death Becomes Him, Dean's deal to bring Sam back after Cold Oak only brings him back while still trapping him in a decaying body. After a week in this state, Sam is losing most of his senses and his skin is decaying while he gives off a foul odour, only evading the issue of bloating because he's still able to move around on his own.
  • In It's All in the Details, seeing what Doc Benton has become on a spiritual level sends Bela into a screaming fit and makes Castiel feel like throwing up (a feat that should be impossible for angels), Bela ‘calming down’ enough to confirm that she doesn’t want to become like Doc Benton even if Hell is her only alternative.

Tolkien's Legendarium

  • In The Silmarillion fanfic The Starless Road, Eluréd and Elurín are doomed to remain in the Void forever. To make it worse, they did nothing to deserve it; they were only children when they died.
  • Invoked in The Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth when the human students declare that torture is often worse than death in Middle-Earth.
    "I think Kenna is missing too," Fawkes replied. "She hasn’t slept in her bed. I just hope she has been killed and not abducted."
    Kat nodded. Death at OFUM meant spending time at the Halls of Mandos before being sent back (though getting a few lessons first, of course). Being alive could quite often mean a fate a great deal worse.
  • In The Silmarillion fanfic Lessons from the Mountain, Maedhros finds death preferable to life as Morgoth's thrall.

Warehouse 13

  • People in Glass Houses, a fanfic in which a run in with an artifact (antique snow globe) ends with Myka trapped in a giant glass ball for three days, and at the end of the third day she stiffens into a statue unable to move or see (she closed her eyes right before she lost control) in the center of said ball, complete with water and glitter but fully aware and able to hear everything around her for ELEVEN days before she is finally freed.

Warhammer 40,000

  • Tales of the Emperasque has its share of this:
    • For ten thousand years, Jaghatai Khan is trapped in a hyperspace vortex where making a step can take hundreds of years and time and space are inconsistent with themselves.
    • Corvus Corax spends the same time being Driven to Madness by crazy, ever-changing labyrinth without exit, crafted for him by his brother.
    • Vulkan fights for ten millennia on a daemon world with Everything Trying to Kill You, being killed and resurrected over and over.
    • One particularly unlucky Tau is launched out of an airlock in the middle of Warp and promptly becomes daemonbait.
    • Whenever Dark Eldar dies, his soul becomes a chew toy of Slaanesh, god of Nightmare Fetishists. Eldrad Ulthran nearly suffers the same fate, only to be rescued by the Emperor at the last moment.


  • The Royal Audience: A Mole Cricket Story: In the flashbacks a process known as extraction occurs when the Changeling Queen orders that all the love (energy and life force) is drained from a changeling, rendering them inert and petrified but completely aware. What's worse is that Commander Blatteria uses extracted changelings as furniture.
  • In Shining Armor's side story of the Pony POV Series, the arc's Big Bad Makarov has one of these planned for Shining (as revenge for Shining's dishonorable insult of not knowing who he was), which he goes into great detail about. To sum up: he intends to remove Shining's horn and install a mind-control device in his brain that will take away his ability to talk or control his body and send him to a slave mine, where his genitals and all other excess body mass will be removed (and fed to the Diamond Dogs running the mine), before being condemned to labor in the mine for the rest of his life, all with him still conscious and unable to do anything. Fortunately, Makarov is defeated before he's able to do any of this.
  • In All You Need Is Love Naomi gets angry when Raye goes missing and Light and Duck aren't concerned. She issues the following threats to get them motivated:
    Naomi: [to Light] ...when I kick you out that's where you're going! Roommates with Misa and Ryuk!
    Duck: Why haven't we done this before?
    Naomi: Shut up I'm not done with you either, if you don't procure his body you'll be forced into elementary school years before your time and I'll make you bring Light Yagami to parent-day so you can profess what a wonderful relationship you have.
  • In the Death Note and Vocoloid's Dark Woods Circus Fusion Fic A Madman's Circus anyone who is unlucky enough to attend Beyond Birthday's Circus of Fear are doomed to become part of the Circus. Poor, poor Light Yagami...
  • You Got HaruhiRolled! suggests that Kuyou routinely brainwashes Fujiwara into having sex with her. After the deed is done, she gives him Laser-Guided Amnesia so that he doesn't suspect a thing.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis has this happen to poor Rin Satsuki twice over. First she's transformed into a blind, nearly deaf, immortal, immobile blob that can barely communicate. When she discovers she can regain her senses by absorbing people she's "punished" by being imprisoned in small airtight box, which lasts for decades until she's finally freed.
  • In What If?, after Cypher kills Neo and the rest of the crew, he reveals to Trinity that he made arrangements for her to be alive and ‘reprogrammed’ to be his wife when he’s returned to the Matrix. The moment she learns of Cypher's plans, Trinity starts praying that he’ll trip and pull her plug rather than live a life like that.
  • In The Masks We Wear Azula (and probably both Zuko and Ozai) has some very interesting plans for her uncle should he ever fall into the Fire Nation's hands again.
    "If they ever found him, uncle was going to be made to explain himself. Preferably at knifepoint. Over lava."
  • Most characters in The Infinite Loops consider winding up in Eiken to be this, as it's essentially mandatory softcore porn without access to any of their abilities; since this usually happens after they seriously break their loop, it's considered ironic punishment. Later it was revealed that it's not actually punishment to go there, but the Admins put them there while they repair the damaged loop in order to prevent the loop from never have existing in the first place.
  • In Sonic X: Dark Chaos, the people who are killed or Mind Raped by Dark Tails suffer this. He takes their souls and uses them for eternity as conduits of Dark Chaos Energy. And the punishment for high treason in the Demon Empire is eternal torment.
  • Antonio from Auf Wiedersehen Sweetheart. Alfred in We'll Meet Again was also tortured by the Gestapo, but he manages to make it back to Arthur.
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender fic Opheliac, Azula describes having one's bending removed as this.
    Sokka: Aang should have done to you what he did to your father.
    Azula: Now, that's cruel.
    Sokka: Hardly. It's fair, isn't it?
    Azula: No. It's the farthest thing from fair you can possibly imagine.
    Sokka: You think that it was crueler than killing him?
    Azula: Yes. It's hard for non-benders to imagine. Think of it like this — what if I cut off your arms but left you otherwise alive and well? You would never be able to fight again, you would never be able to — actually, imagine I cut off your arms and your legs. You would never fight, never walk, never be independent or free or strong ever again. You would go from being who you are today to a - a burden, something others have to take care of, unable to take care of yourself or do anything for yourself ever again. Now, is that crueler or kinder than killing you outright?
    Sokka: I...see.
  • In another Avatar: The Last Airbender fic, Morality Chain, Azula tries to make Zuko feel better about having to kill Aang (a twelve-year-old kid) by telling him what the Fire Nation has planned for him if they ever manage to capture him.
    Azula: Hands and feet are to be amputated in order to prevent any controlled bending. A single ten-by-ten cube constructed entirely out of metal to prevent earthbending. Dry air to be pumped into the room constantly and a single cup of water as rations to prevent waterbending. An airlock system that can disable the pump at a moment's notice to prevent firebending or airbending. Also we'll drop his daily rations through a hole in the ceiling to prevent him from coming into contact with anyone and possibly arousing their sympathy. There was also talk of putting out his eyes, which admittedly wouldn't be really useful in terms of nullifying his bending, but hey, why not?
    Zuko: All that for one kid?
    Azula: All that for the Avatar.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Step Right In and Start Again this is the fate met by Starlight Glimmer. She is stuck in an eternal timeloop where every day she starts up back at the same place, being trialed for her crimes in the season 5 finale. To make it all worse, she keeps no memories of what happened the previous day. She's horribly scared and anxious already but being transported centuries into the future or even so far in the future that everything is darkness and nothing else exists only makes it infinite times more worse.
  • This occurs to The Powerpuff Girls Dark Fic Ladder. Buttercup dies on a mission, Blossom dies by accidentally killing herself, and later Bubbles dies after a bad fall. The Professor decides to bring them back to life (though he uses Ashley, who was essentially Buttercup's clone, because Buttercup's original body was cremated). This doesn't work out well. Each time something goes wrong. Either the girls are an Empty Shell, they act violently towards him (which is implied to be because they're enraged about what he's doing rather than having a Damaged Soul), they have vivid, graphic hallucinations and dreams of their previous deaths, or they simply start remembering the past. Professor Utonium keeps on killing them and reviving them in hopes that they will end up mentally stable and won't realize that they had previously died.
  • In This Bites!, Cross is adamant that the only way he Spandam will survive the Enies Lobby arc is if he, Cross, can find a way to make it so he was wishing for death.
    • One of the Marines at Enies Lobby tells his comrades to make sure Chopper doesn't take him alive, even if they have to shoot him themselves.
  • Played for Laughs in Grunkle Raditz, as said by the fic's summary:
    Raditz would have chosen continued damnation over babysitting. Unfortunately, it wasn't his choice to make.
  • In You Can Only Use Your Own, Chara tries to kill themself to avoid even the possibility of seeing their Abusive Parents again.
  • Discussed in I Must Be Going, the fourth installment of Skyhold Academy Yearbook. Varric writes a Real-Person Fic in which he transplants his colleagues and others into The Princess Bride. When he reads it out loud to his friends, Cassandra is outraged by his assertion that Samson (here in the role of Prince Humperdinck) survives the story, because she presumes this means he wins.
    Varric: I never said he wins. But he lives. And you know, sometimes, that's worse.
  • In The Land of What Might-Have-Been, even with the Empress's propaganda campaign, certain individuals in Unbridled Radiance still recognise that being 'Purified' essentially destroys who the person was originally, with a father noting that the authorities might as well kill his son instead of taking him away for Purification.
  • In the Code Geass fic Final Command, Lelouch is declared Charles' heir and learns that V.V. was responsible for crippling Nunnally. He also learns that V.V. possesses Complete Immortality and cannot be killed. His workaround? He has him dismembered, has the pieces sealed in cement, and condemns him to an eternity of being revived and dying over and over. C.C. is actually a little horrified at his ruthlessness.
  • The Grand Highblood in Hivefled has the power to bind the souls of his victims to himself, leaving them wandering a labyrinth in his own mind, still in their mutilated dying state, where he can abuse them further if he wishes. At least there are enough of them to keep each other occupied.
  • In the Echoes Of Eternity series, Maria died in 1962 at age 12, but she became a ghost due to her Unfinished Business with Shadow. Alas, Shadow is stuck comatose in a government facility for over 40 years, leaving Maria on her own for several decades. Maria quickly becomes tired of her "life" of never talking to anyone, never being acknowledged, and never aging. All she does is stand around all day waiting for Shadow to wake up. It gets to the point where Maria daydreams about sinking into the ocean and falling asleep forever, which is much preferable to her tiresome existence.
  • In Ward fanfiction Warp, Victoria Dallon doesn't want to be healed by Amy again, not even if she's sustaining life-threatening injuries. She would rather die than allow the person who abused her physically and mentally to touch her again.
    Victoria: "If something happens, I don't want Amy to heal me. Promise. [...] Promise me that you will make sure they know I don't give consent to her touching me, regardless of the circumstances. As in I would prefer to die, Dean. Tell them why if you have to."
  • Zim the Warlord: Irken Reversion: Only one of the thugs who try to mug Zim survives the experience, who soon finds herself locked up in his base and converted into a cyborg as an experiment. Zim makes it clear that without the pain suppressors he's hooked up to her, she'd go insane from the agony, and also that she's actually died from it several times but is being continually revived by Zim's machines. She notes to herself that death would be a far better condition than this.


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