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Agonizing Stomach Wound

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Charley didn't say anything but knew it was true. Stomach wounds were fatal. The surgeons could do nothing. The ambulance drivers would go through the wounded when and if they got to the field and jerk shirts up checking for stomach wounds. Those soldiers would be left. The surgeons were too busy with amputations and treatable injuries to spend time on those with stomach wounds. It was an agonizingly slow death it might take two days and the pain left men screaming until they were too hoarse to make another sound.
Soldier's Heart

In fiction, a shot to the head or chest is almost always immediately fatal. Shot in the shoulder or leg? Usually Just a Flesh Wound. Likewise, being Shot in the Ass is typically both non-lethal and Played for Laughs. Then there is this trope. A character who is shot or otherwise wounded in the stomach is in for a slow and agonizing death, especially if medical assistance is not available. More often than not, this is Truth in Television, especially in a pre-modern setting. The danger here comes from damage to internal organs with all the nastiness that comes with it. Rupture of the large intestine, for example, sends toxins into your bloodstream which can poison the rest of your system leading to organ failure and death. Unfortunately for the victim, this can mean hours or days of agonizing pain.


When inflicted intentionally, such wounds are typically only employed by villains to inflict a Cruel and Unusual Death or For the Evulz. Sometimes, an Anti-Hero of the Unscrupulous or Nominal variety may threaten to inflict one as a negotiating tactic or to ensure the villain suffers a suitable death. When the wound is accidental, this trope can be used to show that War Is Hell or that being wounded can be a Fate Worse than Death. Quite often, the victim of such a wound will beg to be put out of their misery rather than be left to die.

This trope tends to exist on the mundane extreme of the Sliding Scale of Realistic vs. Fantastic. When the trope is not played straight, a Torso with a View or Invisible Holes may result. As such, this trope is frequently seen in Westerns, War Movies, and other serious works wherein the Time-Delayed Death can be Played for Drama.


While this trope is similar to Gutted Like a Fish, that trope usually implies extreme bodily harm (i.e. internal organs spilling out) sufficient to cause immediate death. Being wounded in the stomach is the opposite of Instant Death Bullet, Off with His Head!, Half the Man He Used to Be, and Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, all of which result in a quick (although not necessarily painless) death.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the first episode of Goblin Slayer, Rookie Mage gets overwhelmed by a pack of goblins and stabbed in the stomach with one of their daggers. She lets out a blood-curling scream as it happens, and Priestess is forced to flee as a result. When Goblin Slayer finds Rookie Mage, she's so badly hurt that all she can do is beg for a quick death instead of a slow one by a stomach wound. Goblin Slayer obliges.
  • Vinland Saga:
    • After an attack on London is repelled by Thorkell's forces, a short sequence shows the large numbers of wounded in the Danish camp. Anyone with a gut wound is offered a Mercy Kill since a gut wound in the early 11th century means certain and very painful death.
    • Bjorn, Askeladd's Number Two suffers a gut wound when trying to defend Prince Canute. Everyone knows this means certain death for him, but he manages to arrange to die in a proper warrior's duel the next day.

    Comic Books 
  • This is how Nicky Cavella goes out in The Punisher MAX after he makes the mistake of digging up Frank Castle's family and pissing on their remains. Castle was not happy about this asshole doing this, and did not want to make his end a quick one, leaving him in the wilderness to die of infection or blood loss after gut-shooting him.

    Fan Works 
  • The protagonist of the story I Did Not Want to Die is a soldier that gets shot in the gut during a major battle and spends the rest of the story trying to endure an increasing level of agony and seeing his squadmates trying (futilely) to help him and get him to a safe place. At the end of the tale, he finally convinces them that he's a lost cause and spends his final couple of minutes shooting the enemy in a Last Stand to cover their retreat.
  • In Mass Effect: End of Days, a Batarian slave has his revenge upon his former master by giving him one of these and leaving him locked up.
  • In The Victors Project, about the past Victors of The Hunger Games, Brilliance, a District 1 Victor, is executed by the District 13 Kangaroo Court. His executioners "accidentally" shoot him in the gut, so that his death will be more painful, as punishment for not being contrite enough about his crimes.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Full Metal Jacket, a Vietnamese sniper intentionally shoots an American soldier in the groin with the intention of drawing the other soldiers in the unit into the open as they try to prevent the wounded soldier from slowly dying.
  • In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, the villain shoots Indy's dad in the stomach specifically because he wanted him to die slowly, forcing Indy to recover the Holy Grail which could save him.
  • Discussed Trope in Kiss of Death, where Tommy Udo the unhinged Giggling Villain says he likes to shoot his victims in the stomach, so they'll suffer.
  • The character Chester in D.O.A. was likely intended as an imitation of Tommy Udo, and spends much of his scenes gloating of how he enjoys shooting into the belly.
  • In Pulp Fiction, Marcellus Wallace intentionally shoots his former captor in the stomach with a shotgun so as to prolong his victim's agony (assisted by a pair of pliers and a blowtorch).
  • In Reservoir Dogs, Mr. Orange is slowly bleeding out from being gutshot, which is a running plot point.
  • Early in T2 Trainspotting, Francis Begbie plans to escape from prison by getting himself transferred to a civilian hospital; to this end, he has a fellow inmate superficially stab him in the belly. Unfortunately, the "hitman" gets a little bit carried away and skewers his client's liver, leaving Begbie (no stranger to pain) lying on the floor in a pool of blood, howling in agony. Only immediate medical attention saves his life.
  • In The Jackal, Major Koslova is shot in the liver when she runs into the eponymous villain. He proceeds to gleefully describe to her the agony she's about to suffer before her inevitable death, only so she can pass on another gloating message to the surviving protagonists.
  • In Harry Brown, the titular vigilante gut-shots a drug dealer, then spends the man's last few minutes explaining it to him.
    Harry Brown: I don't reckon you've got long. Seen that before. Gut wound. The slug's probably torn right through your liver. Mate of mine in Ulster got caught in sniper fire. Bullet blew his insides out. He screamed for a good 10 minutes. We couldn't send a medic in; the section was too hot. So we all took cover... and watched him die. I've never told that... to anyone... You should've called an ambulance for the girl...
  • Count Yorga: When the titular character end up impaling himself on a stake while trying to choke the last surviving hunter after him. His death is very drawn out in which he reels back, before yelling in agony with a lot of schizophrenic jump cut as he writhes in pain and falls to the floor before finally expiring.
  • Left for Dead: Big Bad Mobius Lockhart likes to inflict stomach wounds on his victims because they are painful and the victims take a long time to die. After he gut shoots a Bounty Hunter, he tells Blake that it will take at least two days for the man to die. (Clem later performs a Mercy Kill on him.)
  • In 1917, Blake gets stabbed by a German pilot he'd rescued from a burning plane. Despite Schofield's attempts to get him back on his feet, every small movement makes him scream or groan in agony and he continuously falls back over. In the end, there's nothing that can be done to save him, and he dies slowly and painfully while Schofield stays by his side to make him feel better.
  • Jumper: The Paladins stab captured Jumpers in the gut and leave them to die.

  • The Da Vinci Code begins with one of these: Silas opts to shoot Jacques Sauniere in the gut and leave him to it, trusting that being trapped behind Louvre's active security gates will make it impossible for Sauniere to reveal anything to anyone before he dies. However, Sauniere is able to get around this through inventive use of his own blood.
  • In the second Deathworld book, Jason gets a sword stab in the belly while stranded on a primitive planet. Luckily, his beloved hears his emergency signal in time, because the technological level of the locals makes the wound completely untreatable.
  • Mentioned in the Horrible Histories book The Vicious Vikings. If a warrior was wounded, his comrades would feed him an onion porridge, and then sniff the wound; if the wound smelt of onions, it meant his guts had been pierced and there was nothing they could do except pray to Odin for a swift journey to Valhalla.
  • In the first Mike Hammer novel I, the Jury, Mike deliberately shoots the female murderer of a friend of his, in the stomach to make her die as painfully as possible, something that was seen at the time as a shocking and reprehensible new frontier in Anti-Hero behaviour.
  • In The Long Walk, the soldiers shoot Olson multiple times in the stomach rather than the head when he tries to attack them in order to make his death extra agonizing, as well as to discourage the other Walkers from getting similar ideas of approaching them. His wounds are so severe his intestines fall out of his body.
  • Invoked in the Modesty Blaise novel I, Lucifer. Modesty and her sidekick Willie are forced by the villains to have an Involuntary Battle to the Death, and Modesty apparently shoots him in the stomach. He reacts with horror at the lingering death facing him, and she tearfully says she couldn't afford not to aim for his center of body mass, and then he staggers to the nearby cliff edge and throws himself off, seeking a quicker death. Actually, the whole thing is an act to give Willie an excuse to escape over the cliff, which he knew something the villains didn't about his chances of surviving.
  • In Patriot Games, terrorist Sean Miller has a grudge against Sgt. Highland, so he makes a point of shooting Highland in the gut and leaving to die in slow agony instead of killing him outright. Ironically, this means Highland survives long enough for medical help to arrive and save his life.
  • In Rainbow Six, Homer Johnston delivers a deliberately fatal and painful gutshot to a terrorist who had previously murdered a cancer-ridden little girl.
  • In Sarny, Sarny mentions how soldiers during the American Civil War left soldiers (many only teenagers) to die if they were wounded in the stomach. It often took a day or more for the soldiers to die.
  • In Passage, the third book of The Sharing Knife, one character is knifed in the stomach during a fight with river bandits, leaving him in agony. Unusually for this trope, he survives, though not without a nasty battle with infection.
  • The protagonist in Gary Paulsen's Civil War novella Soldiers Heart comes across a soldier dying from a stomach wound. Since the field surgeons won't even attempt to treat the wound, the soldier begs the protagonist for a loaded rifle to end his suffering.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, King Robert Baratheon ends his reign by getting gored in the stomach by a boar during a drunken hunting trip; he's left in so much pain that he can barely issue his final orders. Needless to say, he's mercifully anesthetized once he's finished, and remains unconscious until he finally expires the next day.
  • Station Eleven: The Prophet shoots a woman in the stomach "just to cause her pain" after she refuses to become the wife of one of his followers. In a post-apocalyptic world without antibiotics, such a wound is potentially fatal.
  • It's brought up a couple of times in Tortall Universe that a gut wound is almost always a death sentence, even with healing:
    • Protector of the Small: when Kel fights a centaur and wounds him in his human torso. The smell alerts her that she's pierced his intestines, so she immediately cuts his throat as a Mercy Kill.
    • Trickster's Duet: Duke Mequen is run through the stomach in Trickster's Choice; despite immediate attention from a healer, he's dead within the next few pages.
  • Warrior Cats has a slight variant. When Scourge slices Tigerstar up the belly, the wound is deep enough to make him die nine-times over, in slow, agonizing pain.
  • The Wise Man's Fear: After Kvothe fights a group of bandits/kidnappers, one survives but has a horrible stomach wound. Kvothe specifically invokes this trope, and gives him a water bottle so that his death will last longer. Kvothe still considers it the cruelest thing he's ever done.
  • Elend receives one of these from the Mist Spirit at the climax of Well of Ascension, to tempt Vin into using the titular Well's power to heal him instead of freeing it to save the world. After agonizing moments, she chooses to save the world. Too bad freeing the power only frees the Sealed Evil in a Can. Elend is saved by a different means of healing. Mistborn: Secret History elaborates on this, revealing that the gut wound was invoked by the deceased Kelsier. As he explains to the real Mist Spirit, it's lethal enough for Vin to need the Well, but he'll live long enough for her to think over the decision.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Discussed in 1000 Ways to Die when a man is put on an unsecured gurney by negligent EMT workers, rolls down a hill, and is impaled on a sign. The doctor notes that stomach wounds actually kill quickly, as there is a large artery parallel to the spine. This of course ignores the fact that the aforementioned artery might not get slashed if the wound is caused by something much smaller than the sign.
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode "T.R.A.C.K.S.", Quinn shoots Skye in the stomach, not so that she will bleed out slowly and die, but so that Coulson and his team will have the incentive to find a cure for her using the same means that brought Coulson back to life.
  • In Criminal Minds, one female unsub within a gang of bank robbers is seen shooting her victims in the gut and relishing in their agony. She even berates one of her colleagues about his own tendency to go for the headshot.
  • In the CSI: NY episode "Communication Breakdown", a (fictional tribe) Native American perpetrator kills his victim (who's a member of the same tribe) by slipping a small weapon designed for killing wolves into an oyster on the man's room service tray. The barbed object is folded and secured with a tie that dissolves in stomach acid. When it's gone, the object opens up and causes severe damage to the intestines.
  • Farscape:
    • In the episode "A Bug's Life", Aeryn is stabbed in the belly by the possessed Captain Larraq. Following a brief Hope Spot in the following episode, during which she pretends to be well enough for her usual workout, she's found to be suffering from chronic organ failure; though Aeryn asks permission to kill herself rather than suffer through the remaining fifty hours of her life, Crichton instead opts to infiltrate a top-secret Peacekeeper base in order to retrieve the peripheral tissue graft she needs in order to survive.
    • In "The Hidden Memory", Gilina is shot in the stomach by Scorpius while helping Crichton escape from the aforementioned base. This time, the wounds are far more devastating: she dies in agony over the course of the next few hours, and Stark is only able to ease her passing by giving her some of his Care-Bear Stare.
  • In the Firefly episode "Serenity", Kaylee gets shot in the stomach, forcing the crew to afford newcomer Simon enough trust to perform surgery on her as he's the only doctor for millions of miles.
  • One murderer in Foyle's War gave his victim a Sadistic Choice between either swallowing a cyanide pill or being shot in each limb and the stomach to die a drawn-out and agonizing death.
  • In iZombie, Don E. is treated to such a gutshot when some henchmen from a rival crime lord arrive at the funeral home looking for Blaine, fortunately Don E. just happens to be a zombie and is only minorly inconvenienced by the whole thing.
  • In Mr. Robot, both Elliot and Tyrell were shot in the stomach. But while Elliot survived despite being waited for a few hours before surgery, Tyrell possibly slowly passed away as he did The Dying Walk in the woods.
  • One of the Shelby brothers in Peaky Blinders, when threatened with a gun, asks the assailant to please aim for his head because he has seen what abdomen wounds do to people. For context, he is (like all older Shelbys) a Shell-Shocked Veteran of World War I.

  • Black Jack Justice: The episode "A Simple Case of Black and White" sees Jack and Trixie's client, Jim White, shot dead from a gunshot to the stomach. Multiple characters, some of them WWII veterans with experience with such wounds, comment on what kind of death that had to be. White hired the detectives to find the woman and child he ran out on. At first, it seems like White's murderer was his ex's current husband, Donald Black, as the gun used to shoot him was registered in Black's name. Then it comes out the gun went missing over a year ago. Jack and Trixie eventually determine that White stole the gun and shot himself with it, intending to frame Black for his death for taking his family from him. They further realize that White deliberately shot himself in the stomach precisely because it would be a long and painful death. He used the time he was dying to flush the evidence it was Suicide, Not Murder down the toilet.
  • Wolf 359: In the last episode "Brave New World", during the final confrontation Lieutenant Rene Minkowski gets shot through the stomach, with Marcus Cutter mockingly pointing out how agonising that is. The wound eventually causes her to lose consciousness due to blood loss, right as everyone else is disabled and the station is falling into the star. Thankfully Jacobi rescues them all.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer: One of the main reasons Ogres use gutplates is because gutshots tend to be especially agonizing for them if they're enough to be lethal. Disembowelment is the worst; it's inevitably lethal and incapacitating because there's so much intestine involved, but it takes days for the ogre to die, screaming the whole time. Ogres naturally find this to be one of the few horrifying things out there, and any ogre that actively goes for gutshots to be someone to fear and hate.

  • In Hedda Gabler, Hedda tries to drive Lovborg to suicide by giving him a pistol and telling him to "make it beautiful". Instead, the gun accidentally discharges while Lovborg is in a brothel, striking him in the bowels and causing a slow, Undignified Death.

    Video Games 
  • In The Secret World, Illuminati handler Kirsten Geary can be heard speaking to one of her agents over the phone in one scene: apparently, the guy's just been shot in the stomach and is in agony, while Geary is admonishing him for crying, irritably reassuring him that he won't die for several hours. As she puts it "it's a total drag."
  • At the start of the first Space Quest game, the Sariens have slaughtered almost everyone on the starlab Arcada by laser blast to the stomach, and one of the head scientists only lasts long enough to give Roger Wilco a clue to a data cartridge, before he too succumbs to this trope. For bonus points, the VGA remake allows Roger to smell and taste these corpses if the player desires.
  • In Persona 2, Maya dies from this, at least in Innocent Sin. In Eternal Punishment, she gets a stomach pain and wound from running into Tatsuya in the real world; and thus part of the events of the game is to prevent the new timeline from becoming the old timeline, which if it happens, kills Maya all over again as the wound and pain from her chest is actually from the spear that pierced Christ in Innocent Sin.

  • Niels: Niels shoots 250 in the stomach at point-blank range as a means of claiming 300 for himself. Luckily, Niels is just dumb enough to do this in front of 300 and after 300's Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he gets 250 to the hospital. Since it's a modern setting, 250 survives, but the fallout from the injury is fairly realistic: he has surgery, has to stay in the hospital for several days, spends weeks on a liquid diet, and now has a massive scar where his belly button used to be.

    Web Videos 
  • The Cry of Mann: This happens twice to Jouglat.
    • The first time is a war flashback of his Near-Death Experience, in which he not only had a major stomach wound, but a wound so bad the medics had to stuff his organs back into his chest as he was only barely staying alive with the help of his callers, and was left a bloody, bandaged mess.
    • The second time, Frank stabbed him in the gut, and he bled out. Though the death was implied to be instantaneous, the wound was so bad he didn't move even after "waking up" again; he just laid with Ghost Lady, eating and talking to callers, too shocked and agonized to do anything else.
    • At the end of Call Of Warr, Prince manages to be knocked over...onto his knife. He spends the rest of the scene flailing around and screaming in agony with his blade sticking out of his stomach. Gravesite's attempt to help is only met by shrieks and Prince's constant collapsing.

    Real Life 
  • Legendary American Navy officer Stephen Decatur died in a duel in 1820 when he was shot in the pelvis. Though the shot severed arteries, it took many hours for him to die. He is said to have exclaimed in agony on his death bed, "I did not know that any man could suffer such pain!"
  • General Duroc, one of Napoleon's closest advisers and friends, was hit in the belly by a ricocheting cannonball near the end of the battle of Bautzen in 1813, and although it is clear he had a slow and excruciatingly painful death, the length of his agony is not quite clear — one witness says it took him thirty hours to die.


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