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Agony of the Feet

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Magnetic insoles = BAD idea.

Friend: I hope you burn in hell!
Me: I hope you step on a LEGO in the dark.
Friend: [gasps] Take that back!

Eyes, teeth, tongues, genitalia and fingers are all extremely sensitive and fragile body parts... and so are our feet and toes.

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, or 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:

  • Toes broken (one by one for extra effect);
  • Toes cut off, shot off, bitten off, ripped out or eaten;
  • Toenails torn off, pulled out or spiked with long sharp objects;
  • Toes or feet injured by broken glass or other sharp objects;
  • Toes or feet exposed to frost, extreme heat or dangerous chemicals;
  • Toes or feet crushed between heavy objects or machine parts (bones get crushed and flesh gets mangled)
  • Foot whipping/beating (hitting bare feet as torture or punishment);
  • All Women Love Shoes but damn, they hurt badly if they're too small or too tight (especially heels);
  • A toenail is broken.
  • Stepping on a LEGO brick!

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.

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.

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.

    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 
  • Mickey Mouse: In a scene from "Mickey Mouse in Death Valley" (that was written by Walt Disney himself), Peg-Leg Pete tries to attack Mickey from behind with an axe. However, a mysterious figure known as "The Fox" lops off the blade with scissors, causing Pete to instead hit himself on the toe with the handle.
  • The "too-small shoes" variant is used in a Herman strip, showing a man with his feet in a bucket of water being told "I told you not to buy size ten!" by his wife.
  • The page image comes from a one-page comic in MAD, drawn by Tom Bunk and written by Michael Gallaghernote . A man buys magnetic insoles for his shoes, but they end up being so powerful that they pull an entire drawer full of sharp knives down, causing every knife to impale itself through his feet. Followed immediately by the fridge crashing down on him.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: On one Christmas Eve strip, Calvin and Hobbes hear a loud thump from downstairs and the latter thinks it's Santa coming down the chimney. The last panel reveals the sound came from Calvin's father who dropped a huge present for Calvin on his foot.
    Mom: Quiet, dear! Calvin will hear you!

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There's an old Axis Powers Hetalia 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.
  • This is a running gag in fan comics of Jana of the Jungle by the DeviantArt user YiYo666.
  • 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.
  • Cabin Fever: 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 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.

  • 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 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.
  • In the videoclip 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 weel 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.

    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 new comer 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).

    Web Animation 
  • 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.

    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.
  • 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...
  • 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, a.k.a. 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.

    Real Life 
  • The notorious practice of Foot Binding in China, where young girls' feet went through a lengthy and **extremely** painful binding process that not infrequently involved breaking bones, mutilation, and even actively encouraging gangrene, in order to make the feet permanently small enough to fit into "Lotus Shoes". The method and severity of the binding process and deformation varied heavily, and contrary to popular belief women with bound feet could generally walk, dance, and even work in the fields-though not anywhere near as well or as safely or effectively as people with normal feet. It was of course a sign of wealth, beauty, and grace, and suited traditional views on women's place and proper behavior in society (e.g. a saying that it prepared girls for the pain, suffering, and restrictions of being a wife and mother).
    • The practice was outlawed and rigorously stamped out after the Communist Revolution, though that unfortunately included forcing women to un-bind their feet and keep them unbound. Without the support of the bindings, the women had to suffer immense pain all over again. There are a handful of elderly women still left who have bound feet, and there even used to be a dance troupe.
  • Professional dancers are known for putting their feet through the wringer, routinely continuing to practice or perform with all manner of foot injuries. Ballet in particular is infamous for destroying dancers' feet, with the unforgiving en pointe technique a common cause of the Career-Ending Injury. Read any interview with a ballerina, and broken toes and bleeding toenails are likely to be casually mentioned.
  • As the description notes, foot-whipping/beating is Corporal Punishment, and the only other area people usually get whipped is on the back. This is because whipping ANYWHERE else has a huge risk of crippling or death. Foot whipping was historically common in Latin America (where it was called bastinado) and is still reportedly used by "security services" in the Middle East as a form of torture against political and social dissidents.
  • Punji sticks/stakes are sharpened wooden or bamboo stakes which would be driven into the ground on trails frequented by enemy soldiers. They were commonly used in Southeast Asia. Experience with them during The Vietnam War prompted the Americans to develop combat boots with steel plates in the soles.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Agony Of De Feet


Lego Movie 2 [Mom Steps on Legos]

Scene from the 2019 film, The Lego Movie 2 The Second Part. Near the end we find out most of the conflict of the film was from Finn and his sister, Bianca in the real world arguing over how to play with the Legos. Eventually their mother intervenes, though should've remembered bare feet and toys don't mix well.

How well does it match the trope?

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