In the center of the chest (and tilted slightly to the left) lies the heart: an extremely important muscle that happens to be the sole thing responsible for moving blood throughout the entire body. As such, causing severe enough damage to it is one of the surest ways to kill someone. In real life, police and military personnel are trained to fire at the center of mass (read: chest/heart) specifically for this reason: it incapacitates or kills a target much more consistently than aiming for extremities.
Along with throat-slitting, decapitation, and shots to the head, this is one of the classical ways of killing someone in media. Generally speaking, any character that takes a direct hit to the heart will either die instantly or drop dead after just a few seconds.
Sometimes overlaps with Impaled with Extreme Prejudice or Inertial Impalement. If the attack actually removes the heart from the body, it can result in Beat Still, My Heart or And Show It to You. See also Heart in the Wrong Place, if a wound is treated as destroying one's heart even though it's not in the center of the chest. Supertrope to Wooden Stake, where impaling through the heart with wood specifically kills vampires.
Since this is a Death Trope, EXPECT UNMARKED SPOILERS!!!
- Red Sprite: Tatsu kills Shepherd by stabbing him in the heart with his sword, but only penetrating up to the pericardium so he can electrocute it with his Thundercore powers. The resulting convulsions cause the heart to implode and crush itself.
- Tokyo Shinobi Squad: Jin kills a yakuza gang member by flinging the gangster's knife back at him and using it as a lightning rod to electrocute him.
- Assault on Precinct 13 (1976): In infamous scene, a member of the Street Thunder gang kills a little girl by shooting her in the middle of her chest at point-blank range.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: Both Superman and Doomsday are stabbed through the heart, simultaneously. Superman got better.
- Terminator Salvation: Marcus has a human heart despite being a Hollywood Cyborg. Towards the ends of the film, a Terminator attempts to destroy his heart because it's his only vulnerable spot.
- Smokin' Aces 2: Assassins' Ball: Katlyn Tremor is shot twice in the heart, and finished off with a shot to the head.
- Star Trek: The Original Series: In A Private Little War, Spock is shot through the center mass by revolutionaries on planet Neural. He only survived because his Vulcan heart is located where the Human liver is.
- Star Trek: The Next Generation: Captain Picard has an artificial heart as a result of an incident in his youth, he proudly antagonized a Nausican, who then stabbed him through the heart. Since then, he's been a much more mellow individual.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: After overhearing Ziyal's confession of freeing war prisoners, Damar summarily executes her by shooting her in the heart with a phaser.
- Drawn to Life: To defeat the Giant Robosa, The Hero must first take out its mechanical eyes; when that's done, you must destroy their giant mechanical heart. Fittingly, it's the most heavily guarded part of the robot's inner body, but is also exposed enough to allow for constant attack.
- Subverted in Kid Icarus: Uprising. While being forced to travel inside of Hades after being eaten, Pit has a run in with the Lord of the Underworld's heart which serves as the boss for the chapter. The heart explodes upon defeating it, but Hades ends up being no worse for wear despite his heart being destroyed.
Hades: That really hurt. But hey. At least I'm not dead!
- In Red Orchestra, a gunshot to the center of the chest is a One-Hit Kill with a unique kill icon, just like a headshot.
- Transistor: Red kills the Spine by walking inside and destroying its heart.
- Heavy Rain: In one of Jayden's possible deaths, he's killed by having a katana run through his chest. The Origami Killer can also die this way, via gunshot to the heart.
- In Videogame/Lugaru, Turner always throws his knives at the heart.
- RWBY: Cinder Fall kills Phyrra Nikos this way, by shooting her through the heart with an arrow.