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And I Must Scream

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A spirit trapped within a tree, no mouth to scream or eyes to see.
A cage of bark, a prison of wood. A thing of rage where nature stood.
The Grand Oak on the Sylvans, Dragon Age: Origins

A character suffers from an extremely horrifying Fate Worse than Death. Suicide is not an option; even death never comes to free them from it. They are immobilized or otherwise contained, unable to communicate with anyone, and unlikely to be removed from this situation — not even by death — anytime in the foreseeable future.

This is often a variation of Taken for Granite in which the victim remains conscious, and the worst-case scenario for tropes such as Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere, Forced Transformation, Phantom-Zone Picture, and Who Wants to Live Forever?.

Usually, when this arises, it is eternal unless they're freed by outside forces, but a "mere" years-long or centuries-long fate is possible. For instance, a robot with a 100-year battery life getting buried underground. In fact, this is a very common sci-fi trope involving artificial intelligences who are potentially immortal due to being made of software. Unfortunately, if a victim is rescued, they may well have been driven insane from the experience. (Some of the listed examples show exactly that.)

It's also very common for the afterlife to involve this trope. Hell is often represented as a place where those who were evil in life, or who followed the wrong religion, suffer for eternity with no hope of ever getting out. In other cases, often involving The Nothing After Death, everyone is doomed to this fate when they die.

Horrifically, this trope is a common symptom of several diseases in Real Life. Locked In Syndrome for example is a condition where someone lays in something similar to a coma, unable to utilize their limbs or speak, but they are fully conscious. Stephen Hawking would have suffered an And I Must Scream fate from his Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, if it weren't for the computer that allowed him to speak.

Sometimes appears as a Backstory, if a Sealed Person in a Can was aware while sealed away. Can overlap with Go Mad from the Isolation if the character's separated from other people rather than among them but unable to interact. Also a handy way to punish the villain with a horrible fate, while still leaving a door open for them to return someday.

Examples subpages:

Alternative Title(s): Inescapable Fate Worse Than Death


Picky-Wicky Pockets

Anita tricks Doctor Doctor into sucking the entire universe into the Trousers of Doom. Since Doctor Doctor happens to be wearing them at the time, she's forced to float through the void all alone where no one can hear her.

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