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Agony of the Feet

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Only a MAD-man would think of wearing magnetic insoles.
Friend: I hope you burn in hell!
Me: I hope you step on a LEGO in the dark.
Friend: (gasps) Take that back!
Quote from Twitter (thread since deleted)

Eyes, teeth, tongues, genitalia, and fingers are all extremely sensitive and fragile body parts... and so are our feet and toes. Just like our other appendages and digits, both the feet and their toes are full of nerve endings and blood vessels, and as such are highly vulnerable to painful things happening to them.

This trope occurs if something painful happens to your characters' toe, toes, foot, or feet, and the situation is used as a dramatic device or a plot point. It's usually Played for Drama and/or for horror or dark comedy. Audience will instantly sympathize with any characters that fall victim to this trope.

Can come about in two ways:

  1. Accident: The character accidentally steps on something, accidentally kicks something hard, or somebody accidentally drops something on their feet or toes. Or the character has no choice and must walk barefoot for a long time in extreme conditions. And stuff like that.
  2. Deliberate: Another person/entity deliberately causes pain on somebody's toes or feet as cruel discipline or torture.

What can happen:

Makes you wince, doesn't it?

Most people in real life can relate to foot and toe injuries since they tend to be very common in everyday life. This makes toenail, toe, or foot severing very hard to watch or read about because it effectively makes viewers feel the character's pain. Also — loss of toes is nastier than people might generally assume, as losing even minor toes can cause serious damage to our ability to balance and walk.

Sometimes the toes or feet can be comedically throbbing. High Heel Hurt is a common sub-trope. Compare An Arm and a Leg, where an entire limb is lost; and Impaled Palm, where the hand palm is pierced by some object. May overlap with Twisted Ankle (any injury which causes a fleeing victim to become slowed, giving his pursuer a better chance to catch up). See also Cold-Blooded Torture, Mutilation Interrogation, and A Taste of the Lash. May result in a Hurt Foot Hop. See Cruelty by Feet for the inversion of this trope.

This happens far too often in Real Life, so No Real Life Examples, Please!

(The trope name is a play on the famous slogan of Wide World Of Sports: "The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.'')

Example subpages

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  • In a Claude the Cat video, Claude puts his paw on part of an electric blanket that is too hot, and smoke comes off the paw.
  • This makes up most of the ire of Grumble from the Freakies. He's grumpy because he has big feet. Having big feet means they always hurt, and the other Freakies always step on them. Most of the time, it's pure accident due to his foot size, though Goody-Goody is the only one to purposefully step on them.
  • In the work safety PSA Will You Be Here Tomorrow?, a woman has her foot run over by a forklift.
  • One Albertsons commercial, featuring Patricia Heaton, shows her going downstairs in her bare feet and stepping on her child's dinosaur toy. This causes her to painfully hop around on one foot, until she sees some Albertsons coupons on a nearby coffee table and sits down to look them over, having seemingly forgotten all about her pain.

    Asian Animation 
  • Mechamato: When Mechamato un-mechanises with a fire hydrant, MechaBot can only hold it briefly before dropping it due to its weight. However, once he does, Amato winces, looks down at his foot under the fire hydrant and screams.
  • Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: In Flying Island: The Sky Adventure episode 44, one of the Elder Stars has a ball and chain as a possible prop for the Elder Stars' show, and he spins it around. The spiky ball on the chain detaches and lands on Wolffy's foot, causing him great pain that he's able to keep under control somehow.

    Audio Plays 
  • During a battle in The Princess Thieves, Robin ends up without shoes and winds up cutting his feet up badly and has them stamped on by an opponent.

    Comic Strips 

    Fairy Tales 
  • In Franz Xaver von Schönwerth's "King Goldenlocks", the main character joins a battle as an anonymous soldier and gets wounded in the foot. Later, the king notices his injury and realizes that he is the nameless knight who saved his life.

    Fan Works 
  • In Blessed with a Hero's Heart, Aqua gets angry when one of Izuku's slave girls, Liza, calls her "dummy", so she replies by trying to kick her in the leg. For context, Liza is a Gator-girl whose limbs are reptilian and covered in scales harder than stone, so all Aqua gets for her trouble is hurting her foot.
  • Cabin Fever (Southern Hearts): After escaping the Fire Nation's waterbender prison, Katara's bare feet ache from walking on rough terrain — not helped by her malnourished state and the fact that she has been locked up in a cage for years.
  • In Ditzy Doo's Dismally Derpy Day , Ditzy is kicking clumps of dirt and mistakes a half-buried rock for one. She cracks a hoof up to the quick.
  • Dirty Sympathy: Machi tries to get Klavier to release his arm by stomping on the man's foot. It doesn't work as Klavier is wearing motorcycle boots and ends up hurting his own feet.
  • Fate: Kill: Akame gets injured in battle and later wakes up in bed. When Selka and Elaine imply Shirou was injured, Akame frantically jumps out of bed and runs around town looking for him, forgetting to put her shoes on (or any other clothes besides the hospital gown she woke up in). By the time she finds Shirou, her feet are dirty and have blisters. Fortunately, Shirou quickly heals her.
  • In Hatch Ya Later Mepple stomps on Kabaton's foot for stealing his egg.
  • There's an old Hetalia: Axis Powers fanon that has Taiwan subjected to foot binding during the time she lived with Imperial China. It has sometimes popped up in fan fiction and fan art.
  • In Pursuit of a Single Ideal: In his fight with Diarmuid, Shirou stomps on his foot hard enough to break it.
  • This is a running gag in fan comics of Jana of the Jungle by the DeviantArt user YiYo666.
  • Junior Officers: Captain Barnacles slams his cane into Humphrey's hoof to keep him away from Deborah.
  • Asuka ends up getting shot in the foot in Advice and Trust, and it's mentioned that she might end up losing a toe. She doesn't particularly care since she's more concerned with the fact that her boyfriend and most of their friends were hospitalized during the same incident.
  • Discussed in The Loud House fanfiction A Load of Bulk when Lynn notes that because Lana has grown really beefy, the only way she could hurt herself with the weights is if she dropped one on her foot.
  • Pokémon Wack: The Plastic-type move Lego Trap involves setting up the titular product on the opposite side of the field as an entry hazard, hurting all non-airborne Pokemon when they switch in. This is a nod to how painful stepping on Lego is in real life.
  • Rise of the Minisukas: When someone annoys one Minisuka, she summons her mini-lance and aims for the shin or the ankle.
  • The Simpsons Dinner has Homer injure his feet twice, first when he drops a hammer on them and later when he slams the foot on them when going home.
    Homer: Not again on my foot.
  • In Stay Tuned, Ratchet's captors force him to walk on a red-hot grill in one of their videos to Optimus.
  • In This Bites!, after Wapol ate himself until only his chin remained, Cross gets the idea to kick the helpless Wapol like a football. Unfortunately for Cross, the compressed Wapol still weighs as much as the real Wapol, meaning Cross only managed to hurt his own foot.
  • Vow of the King:
    • During their fight, Ichigo uses Yūrei no Ken to nail Rukia's feet to the ground, only to then hit her hard enough for her feet to be torn free.
    • During their fight, Renji stomps on Ichigo's foot and breaks it. After he wins, Ichigo pays him back by stomping on both of his feet and breaking them.
  • There's a real lovely moment in Warbound Widow where Jane Crocker gets all the flesh on the sole of her feet melted off while being subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture.
  • Wed Locked: While learning to dance, Marinette accidentally repeatedly steps on the feet of her dancing instructor.
  • What If Goku Won Against Master Roshi?: When Goku and Jackie Chun have their climatic Cross Counter, Goku bites Chun's foot, lessening the force of his kick. Consequently, Goku remains conscious long enough to declare victory.
  • The Wrath of Avelina: After putting her curse on him, Avelina steps on Camilo's foot on purpose while fleeing.

  • In GrailQuest 4: Voyage of Terror, when Pip is given the option to pick a lock or kicking the door open, kicking is a bad choice:
    That hasn't done your foot any good. Didn't you remember you were only wearing light little sandals? Deduct 3 from your current LIFE POINTS and limp a little.

  • In the last verse of Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville", the singer steps on a discarded pop-top pull tab, having previously damaged and discarded his flip-flop footwear. His heel is cut, and he returns home to drink more margaritas.

    Music Videos 
  • Although it can't be seen in the finished video, the behind-the-scenes for Lindsey Stirling's "Elements" shows it was rather painful to make; she wore thin sandals in a forest full of prickly plants, and had to dance and spin barefoot on a salt flat.
  • Seen in the Reagan / Chernyenko bout in Frankie Goes to Hollywood's "Two Tribes."
  • Duran Duran burned their feet while recording the "Save a Prayer" music video since they couldn't wear shoes while visiting the Buddhist shrine. They managed to hide their pain in the final video.
  • In the video clip of "In Time to Voices" (Blood Red Shoes), the singer is arm wrestling with a barefoot man and she stomps on his instep with her heel and digs a hole in his foot, winning the competition.

  • White Water has the Bigfoot Hot Foot, where a lit match between Bigfoot's toes is used to distract him, allowing the player to sneak into his cave.

  • In the Myths and Legends episode on Mulan, Jason describes foot binding in China is akin to this.
  • Near the end of season 3 of The White Vault, Simon falls back from being punched and impales his ankle on a guanaco bone. Eva pulls out the bone and is able to perform some degree of first aid, but shortly afterwards, he is trapped alone in the antechamber cave for about a week. By the time he is rescued and brought back to where he can receive medical help, the wound has become so infected that his foot has to be amputated.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In February 1995, there was a battle royal on WWF TV. During the match, Jerry Lawler went over the top rope and landed on one foot (the rule is a wrestler has to go over the top rope and have both feet touch the ground to be eliminated). Lawler hopped around ringside on one foot avoiding the other wrestlers until Bret Hart came down to ringside and stomped on Lawler's foot, causing him to put his other foot down and officially be eliminated. For weeks afterwards, when Lawler was appearing on commentary, he was shown with his one foot bandaged.
  • On Saturday Nights Main Event, Jake Roberts faced Kamala. During the match, Jake repeatedly stomped on Kamala's bare feet.
  • A quick comedic moment came on the third Ring of Honor show Low Ki and then-newcomer AJ Styles tried to kick each other at the same time and instead sent each other's ankles together, causing them both to stagger.
  • "A barefoot match" is a rare gimmick match usually played for laughs. LLF Noche Extrema Vol. 8, which featured a tag team extreme rules barefoot match was played a bit more seriously though.
  • In a 2005 match, Jushin Thunder Liger tried a Vertical Suplex on Samoa Joe, but seemingly couldn't lift him. Then Liger stomps on Joe's foot, and when Joe jumps up in pain, Liger uses that momentum to lift him for the suplex.
  • Stomps and punches to the toes are calling cards of Fred Yehi, who spends most of his matches attacking the very weakest parts of the body. If the promotion in question doesn't slap him for small joint manipulation anyway.
  • In a 2014 match, Joey Ryan pulled off Matt Jackson's shoe and then dropped him onto a pile of thumbtacks.
  • One time, Randy Orton dropped a sledgehammer on Eric Bischoff's foot.
  • At Mystery Vortex IV, The Young Bucks stomped on Matt Riddle's bare feet, and even Superkicked his foot. The damage made Matt hurt himself when he tried to kick them. In other matches, pragmatic opponents will often attack his feet. One time, Marty Scurll snapped his toe.
  • Fallah Bahh wrestles barefoot, so his opponents will often stomp on his feet, and Sami Callihan even bit his foot.
  • At Fyter Fest 2019, Jon Moxley pulled off Joey Janela's shoes and socks and then dropped him onto a pile of thumbtacks.

  • In Bleak Expectations: Protagonist Pip Bin is meeting with the King of England and having a nice conversation when the king suddenly yells out in pain. It's his foot... Actually, it's both of them.
    King: Arrgghh, the pain, the damnable pain! Sorry, it's just this gout, it feels exactly like a child stabbing me in the foot with a fork.
    Pip Bin: Umm... Sire, you do have a small child stabbing you in the foot with a fork.
    King: Yes, I know that. The gout is in the other foot. The child is to equalize the pain across both feet.
    King: Arrrgggh, the pain, the damnable pain! Sorry, it's just this child stabbing me in the foot with a fork. Feels just like gout. Aaaaggghhhh, the gout! Aaagggh the child!
  • The Suspense! episode "Too Hot to Live"note  follows the ex-soldier Jefferson, who gets falsely accused of murder on a scorching summer day. Having earlier dropped off his worn-out shoes at a repair shop, his runs from the law subject his feet to burns from the pavement, and cuts from jagged rocks. Jefferson's narration provides first-person descriptions of the pain.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In addition to caltrops, several spells have the ability to turn the ground spiky, making the terrain difficult to travel through (unless, of course, you can fly) and do damage. These include spike growth (makes plants spiky) and stone spikes. Then there's the exceedingly hilarious transmute rock to lava.
    • Also, it's canon in-game that when Dwarves and Gnomes fight giants, they smack them on the toes with their melee weapons unless they're using polearms, in which case they aim a bit higher.

  • Played for Drama despite the semi-comic singing of the scene in The Magic Flute. Monastatos brags about having captured Papageno and Tamina, as they were escaping, and Sarastro "rewards" him with "only seventy-seven strokes on the soles" (a reference to foot-whipping, a real-life torture practice).

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • AstroLOLogy:
    • In "Pinheads", Gemini disguise themselves as a woman to mess up Taurus while he's about to bowl, causing him to drop the ball on his foot.
    • In "Hot Christmas", Scorpio hides mousetraps in the snow to catch whoever keeps rebuilding his snowman. The next day, he sees that they still did and he ends up stepping on a mousetrap himself, falling over and onto the others.
    • In "Leo's Many Faces", Leo's training involves stepping on hot coals.
    • Another Scorpio example in "You Won't Like Scorpio When He's Mad", where he Hulks Out after stepping on a plastic brick.
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "Happy Trails Part 2", Giggles gets stung by a jellyfish while spearfishing. This causes her foot to swell up to four times her size, killing her from infection.
    • In "Ski Ya, Wouldn't Wanna Be Ya!", Flaky steps on a wooden board with an exposed nail that impales her foot and splits it in half. When chased by an incoming avalanche, she is forced to impale her second foot on the board in order to escape.
  • Homestar Runner: In the Strong Bad Email "the process", the Cheat not only gives Bubs a hotfoot ("Ooh! Hot mama!"), he sticks Bubs' other foot in a nest of angry bees. ("Yeow! Hot bees!")
  • In the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Digital Series short "Too Hot to Handle", Pinkie Pie tries to bring snow cones to her friends at the beach. As she does, she runs into many obstacles along the way. One of which being to figure out how to cross the hot sand while barefoot.
  • In the premiere of DEATH BATTLE! season 6, Boomstick gets stabbed in the foot with the Trident of Neptune by Wiz after quoting Bane. What makes this even more callous from Wiz is that Boomstick only has one foot.

    Web Original 
  • In chapter 5 of Scrambled Egg, Snorrv bludgeons Trellorv's left foot with a spiked club. This causes Trellorv to drop the boulder he's carrying on his right foot, breaking his toes.
  • In Worm, Skitter cuts off several of Bakuda's toes, as she was using toe rings to set off her bombs.
  • Skipjack has Captain Jackie step on her glasses and get her heel pierced by an intact lens, making her the only casualty from what should've been a devastating depressurization incident.
  • An online T-shirt company at one time had a Fun T-Shirt featuring soldiers shoving a giant LEGO brick under the bare foot of Godzilla.

    Web Videos 
  • The Atari 5200 episode in The Angry Video Game Nerd has James picking up an old TV. The cord for the plug gets caught in the radiator valve and as soon as he pulls it away from the window...
  • One episode of Critical Role has Vax fall unconscious with his foot submerged in molten lava, which burns off several toes and requires many rounds of daily healing from the party cleric before it's functional again.
  • In LOLNEIN's song "Battle of the Shampoo Bottles", the titular shampoo bottles seem hellbent on targeting showerers' toes when they fall. This is in turn based on an earlier comic he did with the same concept.
  • Pirates SMP: A deliberate but sympathetic variation occurs on Day 62 of the SMP; when Martyn starts dozing off from the effects of some cursed gold he collected on a quest, one of the rats he keeps in his boots (i.e. his stream chat) bites him hard enough to wake him up and keep him conscious for the rest of the voyage back to the Faction Isles. It's invoked on the rats' part, who'd rather their Captain not succumb to the curse's effects and become a zombie.
  • In Smosh "Playing With Guns" Ian shoots Anthony's foot by accident, Ian tries to stop the bleeding by hammering it with a chisel. Then the whole thing was just a theoretical tale by Anthony to which he would only let Ian give him a piggyback ride if it happened. Ian then does it.
  • Shawna Howson, AKA Nanalew, likes going barefoot and eschewing footwear. Unfortunately, on the first of a trip to the Bahamas with her friend Naomi, where they walked barefoot across a beach and the nearby crags, Shawna slipped while standing atop one of the rocks bordering the ocean and it cut the bottom of her foot. The two had to go to a nearby drugstore and find the closest thing to disinfectant, rubbing alcohol, so Shawna's cut wouldn't be infected. Surprisingly, the rubbing alcohol didn't sting or burn when she swabbed the cut. Shawna's cut did not stop her from enjoying a proper walk across pleasantly soft sand later on the trip, and she updated viewers that it was healing well. Ironically, in this follow-up video, Naomi kicked off her uncomfortable sandals on the path to a second beach and complained that she wore the wrong shoes for the walk and removed them earlier than planned on the beach, where Shawna removed hers to enjoy the sand and do some gentle rock climbing. Of course, Shawna and Naomi later used common sense and donned protective sneakers for a beach made out of glass.

Alternative Title(s): Agony Of De Feet



"Ow, my foot!"

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