The villain has the hero incapacitated. Does the bad guy shoot the good guy in the head? Cut his throat? Decapitate him? Stick him in an elaborate, above ground Death Trap? Nope. He's got something far worse planned: he's going to bury the hero. Alive.
Sometimes, he'll tie the hero up before dumping him/her in the coffin. If the villain's a sporting sort of fellow, he'll provide a flashlight or an air canister. If he's even more sadistic than usual, he may force them to dig the hole themselves. Regardless, the villain is going to kill the hero in one of the most appalling ways imaginable.
There's a wide range of reasons a bad guy does this. He might be righteously angry at the hero and is intent on making him suffer for past misdeeds. ("37 years ago you stole my Froot Loops at recess. Now, it's payback time!") It could be a matter of security; there's no murder weapon and you don't have to worry about disposing of the body, since, hey, you just did. Often, however, it's just a matter of the villain being a sadistic prick.
Of course, as with most forms of killing the hero that favor cruelty over efficiency, the hero manages to dig their way out, or a sidekick will pop out of the bushes and dig him up the moment the villain leaves.
Heroes generally don't do this, even to bad guys. It's a pretty awful thing to do to another human being, no matter how evil they are. The exception to that comes when the hero blows up an ancient building or tomb while the villain remains inside. If the bad guy survives the blast and falling debris, he is technically buried alive. Usually this is a Sealed Evil in a Can situation. Another exception is when the villain has already done the same kind of thing to the hero or one of his friends, in which case it can be a form of Karmic Death.
Very popular because it really does touch on something that just creeps the living hell out of people. Claustrophobia is widespread, and the specific fear of being buried alive is just slightly less so.
Occasionally, cases like these will actually pop up in real life, though obviously not with the same frequency as they do in fiction. In the days before modern medicine, it would happen accidentally when the doctors made a mistake about whether someone was really dead.
Compare Sand Necktie, where a character is buried vertically up to their neck, with the intention of death from the incoming tide, dehydration, or nasty animal-related death.
Overlaps with Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere, and sometimes with Quicksand Sucks. A beautiful example of Nightmare Fuel. If this is done to a character because he can't be killed, it's And I Must Scream. This isn't restricted to horror, as you can see in the examples.
- Inadvertently happens to a young woman in this darkly comedic German fashion ad, who accidentally walks backwards right into a roadwork pit while flirting with a guy. The pit is filled immediately after she falls in, with little indicating of her existence afterwards except a small piece of her dress at the surface. Seeing as how she unknowingly causes several other accidents throughout the ad but ignores them all, this could be considered a somewhat Karmic Death.
- One later chapter/episode of Cardcaptor Sakura has Sakura trapped in the bottom of a magically-sealed pit (so no-one else can get to her). Then, plush sheep start to fill in the pit form above, threatening to bury her alive. Thinking quickly, Sakura escapes the trap with relative ease by adapting the Erase card to remove the sheep. It was all just another test to hone her magic skills and help her adapt more Clow Cards into Sakura Cards.
- In Future Diary (Diary of the Future), this trope is combined with Drowning Pit when Yuki's friends, in their effort to rescue Yuki from Yuno's lair, where she has him chained up, find themselves in a Death Trap room that's slowly filling with liquid concrete.
- In the manga Goth, one of the chapters has a murderer who buries his victims alive in his backyard with a bamboo pole connecting the coffin to the air above. Afer keeping them alive for a little while, he sticks a hose into the pole and floods the coffin, drowning the person below. As seen by the number of poles sticking out of the ground in his backyard, you can be sure he's been doing this for a while.
- In Hell Girl, this is how Ai Enma and her parents died. More specifically, Ai once was chosen to to be a Human Sacrifice but managed to escape, and when the villagers found out, they captured her and her parents and then buried the three alive.
- Happens to Sango in her first appearance, though not on purpose. She claws her way out by herself like the badass that she is, though it certainly helped that it was a rather shallow grave because she was buried en masse with a bunch of slaughtered villagers.
- Being through it as a Human Sacrifice is what drove Saint Hakushin to fall in despair and then to join Naraku.
- Mazinger Z: The Dragon and Two-Faced Cyborg Baron Ashura were two persons buried alive for trying to break their Star-Crossed Lovers destinies. One half of each body was destroyed, so he stitched them together to create Ashura. In Shin Mazinger Zero, the readers learn who these lovers were: Tristan and Isolde. Yes, THAT Tristan and Isolde.
- A filler episode has a villain who isn't satisfied just doing this — he holds a funeral where all the attendants have to just stand there while the guy in the casket is screaming his lungs out and pleading for his life. Raiga would recall the "good memories" they shared and "forgive" them for betraying his trust... before proceeding with the burial.
- Gaara tried to do this to Kimimaro. It didn't take.
- Later on, in the second season, Shikamaru uses explosives to dismember Hidan and then buries him in the middle of a forest. Because Hidan's special power is immortality, his head is cursing Shikamaru as it's buried. Kishimoto swings back and forth over whether he's truly immortal or if he'll eventually die, but either way, he's out of the picture.
- Ranma ½:
- EC Comics stories:
- "Jury Duty!" (Crime SuspenStories #6) is a tale of a man who was hanged and declared dead. The twist was that his neck was broken but his spinal cord was not severed — so he was still very much alive. He went on to be a complete bastard to the town that had punished him, because it was impossible to prosecute a legally dead man for any crime. However, some of his enemies decided to use that loophole to their advantage as well, because there is nothing in the world wrong with burying a dead man, either....
- "Chatter-Boxed!" (The Haunt of Fear #15), a story set in December 1941, features an elderly man who suffers from catalepsy, making him appear dead when he isn't. He leaves instructions to be buried with a telephone, allowing him to call for help lest he regain consciousness. Sure enough, he is buried after having an episode behind the wheel and does exactly that, only to find every phone line tied. After futilely trying to get a call through and finally running out of oxygen, the operator angrily snaps at the man's blue-faced corpse for being ignorant of what's just taken place: the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
- "The Thing From The Grave" (Tales From the Crypt #22) has this occur when a Love Triangle forms between a woman and two men, ostensibly all friends. One of the men becomes jealous when the woman starts to favor his rival more than him and elects to Murder the Hypotenuse, then bury him in a shallow grave (the murdered man is, however, very certainly dead and thus does not count for this trope). When the woman still refuses to marry the remaining man, the murderer goes into a jealous rage and decides that he'll just leave her to burn to death in a cabin if she won't be with him. Her screaming actually wake the dead man, who comes to the woman's rescue after she faints, then proceeds to pursue his murderer until they both fall into the open grave from which the dead man rose. The zombie proceeds to bury himself and his killer alive (or technically, undead and alive respectively).
- Clearly the most evil thing Spider-Man's enemy Kraven the Hunter did was to inflict this on the hero during the "Kraven's Last Hunt" storyline (also known as "Fearful Symmetry") the reason it's regarded as the definitive Kraven story. Having been driven completely Ax-Crazy, Kraven confronts the hero, defeating him (using a gun, the weapon he has, up to this point, always hated, shooting the hero while helpless due to a tranquilizer dart) and believing him dead, buries him alive and then impersonates him. Spidey eventually digs his way out, but it takes a week, due to Spidey having to recover from the paralysis that leaves him still conscious and unable to move. Indeed, this experience clearly gave him nightmares for years to come, as every time Kraven was mentioned from that point on focuses on that story.
- In the first Marvel Knights Spider-Man arc, Norman Osborn has Aunt May kidnapped and buried alive as part of a plan to put Spidey in such a blind panic that he wouldn't be paying attention to Osborn's efforts to assemble a new incarnation of the Sinister Six.
- Roderick "Digger" Krupp was a gravedigger gone bad who, as the Horror Host of Tower of Shadows often told his macabre stories to victims while he was burying them alive. He softened a little after becoming a member of the Night Shift, switching to a version of the Sand Necktie to ensure they survived (given that the comics he now appeared in were under Code rules) at least in all witnessed cases.
- This happens in Batman R.I.P. Interestingly, they plan not to kill Batman, but merely wait for him to be permanently brain-damaged, believing that killing Batman's mind is more important than killing his body. Batman escapes. And he is PISSED.
- Happens again in a Batman story arc, done by The Joker to Dr. Hurt. The guy slips on a banana peel the Joker planted, breaks his neck and is paralyzed. He is injected with Joker Venom and buried alive while still under its effects. Oh, and Dr. Hurt is immortal, so he's stuck, paralyzed and laughing at himself forever inside of a coffin six feet in the ground. Though it's not like the Joker didn't WARN the guy first (see Batman: R.I.P.), and to be fair Hurt did kind of deserve it.
- Also happens in Batman: Noel, when, after Batman gets knocked out unconscious by a blast from an explosive rigged in the Batmobile, the Joker (representing the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come) drags him to the graveyard and buries him alive. It takes a vision of a Bad Future to make the Dark Knight realize what a jerk he has been in losing the holiday spirit, and he digs himself out to save the day.
- Happened to Nightwing in the later run of his book. Instead of the usual version of going up, Nightwing went to the side, as the grave was near the edge of a cliff.
- In Death of the Family, a group of thugs tried this on Poison Ivy. It didn't work, because she's a plant lady, and one can't kill a plant just by burying it!note Being Ivy, it's perfectly possible she used nearby plants to help break her out, which makes this example also Shooting Superman — except not quite.
- In Robin Tim gets buried alive alongside Cluemaster by Cluemaster's accomplices purely by accident when their fight leaves them both in the back of an armored truck that is buried in concrete for a few weeks as part of Cluemaster's plan to get away with stealing its contents. Luckily Spoiler was expecting to meet with Robin and manages to rescue them after shadowing Cluemaster's accomplices for a day.
- In an issue of Dazzler, Alison is hired to appear in a music video that was a thinly-veiled copy of Thriller. The preparation for one scene calls for the zombie dancers (including Alison) to be buried alive, so they can crawl out of their graves during the video. However, the director, having arranged a series of accidents to draw publicity to a "jinxed" production, removed the air hose from Alison's plot, hoping to suffocate her. She was not amused, and got a confession from him in front of the news crew he'd invited for the "accident".
- Supergirl stories provide some examples:
- In the first arc, "Public Enemies", of Superman/Batman, Metallo shoots Superman with a kryptonite bullet, and buries Superman and Batman alive. They escape, and Alfred removes the bullet.
- Done in a Sam & Max: Freelance Police comic.
"Buried alive?! I'm alarmed!"
"We're going to shoot you first."
"Oh, thank god."
- In G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero (Marvel), Serpentor, looking to usurp Cobra Commander, let him and Destro lead the invasion of the Joes' headquarters, the Pit, hoping they'd get themselves killed. Hawk sets the base to self-destruct, collapsing it upon itself, barely getting out in time, while the Commander and Destro were Left for Dead. The two managed to be in an area that didn't fully collapse, though, and managed to make it to a Drill Tank that the Joes kept on hand for use as an Escape Pod.
- A The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers story centers around Fat Freddy dying. Turns out he was really under some very powerful drugs, and he bursts out of his grave, not at all happy.
- Michael Myers kills Lisa the protagonist this way in the comic Halloween: Nightdance, putting her in a coffin and burying her in a graveyard.
- Magneto does this to Red Skull in the aftermath of Acts of Vengeance, during which Loki had manipulated the two into working together. Given that Magneto is a Holocaust survivor and Red Skull was Hitler's right-hand man, this had been a rather ill-conceived partnership. Red Skull survives because his Dragon, Crossbones, rescues him from the tomb Magneto had created.
- Amazo does this to the Detroit-era Justice League at one point, leaving them Bound and Gagged in covered pit. Luckily, Vixen manages to break her bonds before she and her teammates suffocate.
- In Cavewoman: Rain, Meriem is buried by the citizens of Marshville after she is knocked into a death-like coma in a fight with Killer Gorilla Klyde. Of course, it turns out that she was Only Mostly Dead.
- The French comic "Les Maitres de l'Orge" has a disturbing variant: Adrien Steenfort entombs his son's murderer Garcin on the spot of the murder, chaining him to a wall before bricking it up. Every evening, he returns to the wall and removes a brick, giving Garcin just enough food and water to live. This goes on for twelve years, with Steenfort using Garcin as his confident, before Steenfort has a heart attack due to financial problems and ends up unconscious for several days. By the time he's out of the hospital, Garcin is dead, and Steenfort burns his body before shooting himself, expressly likening talking with him as a drug.
- In the short-lived 1990s Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers comic, this happens to the team when they're buried in a box under the sand. Fortunately, the Pi-Rats happen to sail ashore not long after and are able to dig them up.
- When Rudolph Hessenpfeffer aka the Gentleman Killer has Steve Trevor at his mercy he decides to bury him alive by collapsing the cave ceiling on him instead of just shooting him. Wonder Woman rescues Steve almost immediately.
- Yellowjacket: The baddies of the first story in Yellowjacket Comics #4 lock our hero in a steel coffin and drop him in a river, making this an unusual case of being buried alive at sea.
- In the Kim Possible fanfiction "Buried", a two-bit hood kidnaps Kim and buries her alive in order to get a job working for Drakken. Drakken is so disgusted by this action that he has Kim's abductor killed. This story starts dark and stays there as it deals with Kim dealing with the trauma of being buried alive in increasingly self-destructive ways. The sequel story "The Chrysanthemum and the Sword" deals with her recovery.
- In The Lion King Adventures, the immortal villain Shocker is buried alive by the Interceptor. This leaves him in a state of permanent death and resurrection.
- Naruto does this to the demon Doraku in A Growing Affection. Since humans cannot kill demons, Naruto instead pins him to a cave wall and collapses the tunnel on Doraku instead.
- Jack Scanlon endures this during The Green Hornet fanfic The Hornet's Girl when she's hold hostage by a group of gangsters who want to eliminate the Green Hornet.
- The Hogan's Heroes fanfic ''Darkness'' has Peter Newkirk not only encounter ghost lights and Weeping Angels but save a woman who was buried alive by her husband after he got tired of her domineering ways. Even Hochstetter, the die-hard Nazi Gestapo major, is horrified at the thought of what would have happened if Newkirk hadn't been there.
- Variant in Quicken: Emma was already dead when she was buried, but her power brought her back to life when she was lying in her coffin, and she had to dig her way out of her own grave.
- In Glass's sequel/AU, Shattered, once Pegasus has finally had enough of Seto he has him buried alive. Since Seto is already weak from months of inactivity and everyone else on the island is under Pegasus's thumb, there's no escape.
- This almost happens in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; the Queen figured that once Snow White was apparently dead, her protectors, the Dwarfs, would accidentally ensure her real death by burying her alive. Fortunately, they don't have the heart to do so, instead putting her in an above-ground glass coffin.
- The title character of Tim Burton's Vincent, in the throes of one of his Vincent Price/Roger Corman/Poe fantasies, believes he's buried his wife alive, and digs up his mother's flower bed trying to "retrieve" her.
- In Justice League: Doom Bane does this to Batman after ambushing him and rendering him unconscious. As an added bonus, Bruce is buried in his father's coffin. And his father's skeletal corpse is still inside.
- Jafar in Aladdin combines this with a Drowning Pit by sticking Jasmine into the bottom chamber of an enormous hourglass and letting the sand pour down.
- Clyde Shelton from Law Abiding Citizen does this to the defense attorney who had secured an extremely lenient plea deal for his wife and daughter's murderer. The lawyer was kept unconscious with a sedative IV and was hooked up to enough oxygen that police could have saved him had they followed Clyde's demands to the letter. They're delayed by an Obstructive Bureaucrat warden so the lawyer suffocates.
- Pretty much the whole point of the movie The Vanishing, and its Dutch original film and book, which are Spoorloos and Het Gouden Ei, respectively. It's only revealed at the very end, too.
- Possibly one of the most disturbing invocations of this trope is seen in Megan Is Missing. At the end of the film, Amy, who has been kidnapped and put through hell by a truly sick internet predator, is promised by her captor to be released and reunited with her family, only to be stuffed into a barrel with the decomposing corpse of her best friend Megan, taken out into the woods, thrown into a hole and buried alive, all while she screams and pleads for her life. She's 14.
- Budd does this to the Bride in Kill Bill: Volume 2. She escapes, though not without difficulty. What makes it really creepy, however, is that the entire Buried Alive scene is shown from the The Bride's POV. Which means that several minutes of the movie consists of heavy breathing, the sound of sand falling onto the coffin, and total darkness. Interestingly, Budd gives her a flashlight when he does so as a sign of respect (and maybe knowing it could help her escape?)
- Roger Corman's film adaptations of Poe's stories often played with this trope. His version of The Fall of the House of Usher had Roderick bury his sister alive, to keep her from marrying and perpetuating their cursed, criminal family line. Corman's version of The Pit and the Pendulum featured a character driven mad by the idea that he may have buried his wife alive accidentally. And his take on The Premature Burial ends with the main character seeing his worst fears realized.
- In the film The Serpent and the Rainbow, an anthropologist goes to Haiti to explore the phenomenon of real-life "zombies": people who have been drugged into catatonic states, buried, and then resurrected to work as slaves. He gets an uncomfortably up-close and personal lesson on what the experience is like.
- In Romeo Is Bleeding, this is the fate of the mob boss. He's also forced to dig his own grave.
- In The Prestige Robert Angier does this to Alfred Borden's assistant both for revenge and to keep him busy digging, instead of going after him.
- There were two Buried Alive movies, each one beginning with one spouse near-death by poisoning. A subsequent rushed funeral apparently skips autopsy and embalming (the killers veto the autopsies to make sure no one discovers how they died). Later, the intended victim wakes up, digs their way out, and plots elaborate revenge.
- At the end of the first film, the male protagonist buries his cheating wife alive in his grave, alongside the body of her boyfriend and the money they were trying to steal. He avoided getting embalmed because his wife wanted him in the ground as soon as possible.
- In the second film, the female protagonist is saved from her grave by the first film's protagonist (who later dies for real due to health problems caused by the poisoning). Miraculously, she avoided getting embalmed because of a machine malfunction despite her husband's orders. She gets her revenge on her conniving husband and his girlfriend by entombing them in a boat and sinking it. The film ends with the two, still trapped in the boat and still alive, uselessly screaming for help.
- In the movie Dirty Harry, Scorpio demands ransom from the city of San Francisco after he kidnaps a teenage girl. He claims his prisoner only has enough air to last until 3:00 a.m. the following morning. When he gets the ransom, he says "I changed my mind. I'm going to let her die." When Harry Callahan catches up to Scorpio on a football field, he uses the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique to make him give up the girl's location, but when the police dig her up, it turns out the poor girl's already dead.
- The movie Ghost Story begins with characters telling a scary story about a man buried alive and scratching at the inside of his coffin, yelling out "Still aliiiive...". And as it turns out, the titular ghost was killed when she was pushed and hit her head on the side of a fireplace. Her body was put inside a car, and the car dumped in a river... and then she woke up and started screaming for help just before the car was fully submerged. Even worse, out of the group of men responsible for her death, the one guy who tried to rescue her was held back by the other murderers.
- In The Burrowers, the title monsters paralyze their victims and bury them up to their noses in dirt.
- Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan: "I've done far worse than kill you. I've hurt you. And I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you, as you left me... as you left her. Marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet — buried alive!" Little does Khan know that Kirk is playing him and that leaving him there is the best way to guarantee that Kirk survives.
- The Val Lewton film Bedlam. After Sims the evil master of Bedlam House is killed by one of his patients, the other patients resolve to wall up the body and make out as if Sims ran away. However, the final shot of Sims behind the wall shows his eyes flying open, revealing that he is still alive, right before the last brick is put in the wall.
- At the end of The Candy Snatchers, a woman is buried alive... and a child with Down's Syndrome accidentally shoots her captors before they can either dig her up or inform anyone of where she is. Then the child walks away, quickly forgetting what just happened, condemning her to death. A rare effective Diabolus ex Machina.
- In the movie Oxygen a kidnapper (played by Adrien Brody) buries a rich woman alive and demands ransom from her husband within 24 hours.
- In Blood Simple., Ray does this to Marty, more out of panic — he's discovered that Marty's still alive after assuming Abby shot him to death — than sadism.
- In Casino, Frank Marino and company do this to Dominic and Nicky after beating them senseless with baseball bats.
- In A Lonely Place to Die five mountain climbers hear a voice yelling from inside the forest, and eventually find a breathing tube coming through the ground and dig up a young Serbian girl and get caught up in a kidnapping plot.
- The '70s Made-for-TV Movie The Screaming Woman concerned a wealthy woman who hears screams emanating from beneath the grounds of her estate and realizes someone has been buried alive there, but cannot get anyone to believe her.
- Ashley Judd's duplicitous husband does this to her in Double Jeopardy. As she tries to follow her "son" through a cemetery, her husband comes up behind her, knocks her out, and drags her into a mausoleum. When she comes to, she is horrified to realize that she's been placed in a coffin.
- The entire point of the film Buried, in which Ryan Reynolds plays a civilian contractor in Iraq who has been kidnapped by insurgents and, well, buried. The film follows his various attempts to secure a rescue via a cell phone with a dwindling battery.
- Hellraiser: Hellworld A vengeful father has dosed the party-goers with a powerful hypnotic, and buried them in a row of coffins. He leaves them ventilation tubes so he can influence and listen in on their nightmarish hallucinations.
- One of the victims in Uncle Sam is knocked unconscious with spray paint, has his leg broken, and is knocked into an empty grave, which is then filled in.
- Imhotep was wrapped up and buried alive in The Mummy (1932) for attempting to raise the dead Anck-Su-Namun. The Hammer Horror version has him get his tongue cut out first. The 1999 remake takes it further by burying him alive with flesh-eating scarabs.
- Taken Up to Eleven in The Mummy. Ahmanet's elaborate and fancy "tomb" is, in fact, a Tailor-Made Prison, where she is interred as punishment for murder. Given her dark powers, quite a lot of effort is made into building it in order to hold her. (And naturally, the actions of the movie's protagonists result in her escaping.)
- This accidentally happens to the doctor's wife in Tremors when one of the Graboids drags the car she is hiding in underground.
- This is averted in What Did You Do in the War, Daddy?. Captain Cash is mistaken for a German Colonel who is believed to be dead, and while he is unconscious, he is put in a coffin for burial. But when the Germans bury the coffin, it falls through into the catacombs beneath the city, the coffin breaks, and Captain Cash wakes up and climbs out unharmed.
- Rawley, the main villain of Lone Wolf McQuade, orders his mooks to bury the badly beaten main character alive, using his own truck as his coffin. But McQuade manages to escape his earthly prison by showering himself with bear and engaging the Nitro Boost in his car.
- Played entirely for laughs in the South Korean romantic comedy My Sassy Girl. When Gyeon-Woo mentions that Koreans like melodramas and brings up the classic short story "Sonagi" ("Rain Shower"), the girl comments that "the ending sucked" and suggests her own. In the original story, the female lover requests to be buried in the dress reminiscent of her love. In the girl's version, she requests to be buried "with her loving friend," and we are then treated to a scene in which the male lover is carried, kicking and screaming, to the grave before he's thrown on top of the coffin. His attempts to crawl out are met with a shovel to the face. Can be seen here.
- The Big Bad in the movie Gunmen (played by Patrick Stewart) is shown having a woman buried alive at the beginning of the film, and he meets the same fate halfway through.
- In 1990, Universal produced the made-for-TV movie Buried Alive, in which Clint Goodman (Tim Matheson of Animal House fame) is imperfectly murdered by his wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and her doctor lover (Ghostbusters' William Atherton) and... He claws his way out of his coffin, only to turn the tables on her, by burying her alive with her dead lover in his own grave. The film was successful enough to inspire a gender-flipped remake, Buried Alive II (1997) with Ally Sheedy as the unfortunate not-quite-a-corpse and Matheson both directing and reprising his role as Clint Goodman.
- In Highlander III: The Sorcerer, the villain Kane and his two immortal companions are buried inside Nakano's cave when it collapses after his death, with only Connor escaping. Since they're immortal they don't die however, and are incredibly pissed off when they are released centuries later.
- In Cabin by the Lake, the serial killer in the movie who drowned numerous women escapes the authorities unpunished for his crimes and implies that he wants to start another murder spree where he buries women alive. In the sequel Return to Cabin by the Lake, he buries the director Mike Helton in a coffin six feet under while he relaxes in a chair seated on the ground on top of his victim while lighting some fireworks.
- In Kiss of the Tarantula, after Walter ends up paralyzed after a fall down the stairs, Susan (who pushed him down said stairs in self-defense) drags him into the basement and stuffs him into a sealed casket (she lives in a funeral home), which also turns out to be soundproof.
- In Crackers, Joey does this to himself after accidentally getting Bomber killed. He gets out shortly after.
- In The Last Witch Hunter, this is what almost happens to 36th Dolan. Thankfully, Kaulder manages to realize that the man is cursed, not dead, before the funeral.
- Faust: Love of the Damned: After John Jaspers refuses to aid the villain's plans, he has Jaspers captured and buried alive in an open grave.
- By the end of The Houses October Built, four of the five protagonists are trapped in coffins buried in the middle of nowhere, with no chance of rescue.
- In Don't Say a Word, Patrick is buried alive in the New York cemetery when several tons of dirt collapse on him.
- In The Nun, it's pointed out that the old-fashioned graves at the convent included a bell on a wire that the occupant could ring to call for help if they had the misfortune to wake up underground. Sure enough, this becomes a plot point when Father Burke gets buried alive and tries to signal with the bell. Unluckily, the bells on all the other graves start ringing too, forcing Irene to use her psychic abilities to locate him.
- The Ghoul: If you believe the doctor, Morlant was never actually dead, but merely in a cataleptic trance, and thus was entombed alive.
- Tales of Terror: In "The Black Cat", Montressor shackles Fortunato and Isabel to the wall of the cellar and then bricks them up alive.
- The Gravedancers: During the Grave Robbing scene, Kira is imprisoned inside a coffin that is then slowly sucked into the earth. Later, when Harris attempt to deposit Emma's skull in the grave, he is pulled in as well and covered with dirt. Allison and Victor manage to dig him out.
- In the English Fairy Tale "The Buried Moon", as you can predict, the Moon is trapped on earth by evil spirits and buried in a nasty bog.
- Some versions of the Bloody Mary legend had Mary as a girl who was buried alive after being mistakenly pronounced dead by a doctor when she took sick and fell into a deep coma, the truth only being revealed when the family dug up her grave and found Mary dead, but with numerous scratches on the inside of the coffin lid and her fingernails bloody from trying to claw her way out of her coffin.
- Stories abound in Europe of "The Lady With the Ring", about a woman who was prematurely buried after falling into a coma. She was hastily buried wearing a valuable ring, and her burial place was raided by a grave robber who tried to cut off a finger in order to get the ring... only to die of fright when he woke the not-quite-dead woman! In some versions of the story, the robber merely flees in terror, and it's the woman's husband who dies of fright upon answering the door to see his recently-buried wife.
- Happens to Sindbad the Sailor in the Arabian Nights account of his fourth voyage. He'd won over and wed the princess of a faraway kingdom, but when his bride died unexpectedly, Sindbad was sealed up in the catacombs so he could join her in death. (Not buying into this local tradition, he looted the burial vaults and escaped.)
- In Book 15 of the Lone Wolf series, The Darke Crusade, High Warlord Magnaarn traps Lone Wolf inside an underground temple, which he then brings down on the hero. Lone Wolf isn't killed by the collapse but is buried alive and has to tunnel a way out during sixteen days with only the food and water he was carrying. He still survives thanks to his Magnakai powers and determination, but is severely weakened by the ordeal.
- Edgar Allan Poe was fond of this:
- "The Premature Burial", for one, published back in 1850. In fact, it was so common in the bad horror literature of the time that this story is actually a parody. It ends with the reveal that the narrator freaks out over waking up in a confined shipboard bunk, then stops reading "bugaboo tales -- such as this" and gets a life. His catalepsy turns out to be all in his head. However, the story scared readers so much, caskets were built with a button that could be pressed to cause a flag to pop up in case someone was indeed buried alive!
- "The Fall of the House of Usher", which had the insane Roderick Usher accidentally entombing his sister alive in the family vaults.
- "The Cask of Amontillado", in which the narrator uses this method to exact a Disproportionate Retribution upon Fortunato.
- "Berenice", in which burial alive is not the worst thing which happens to the title character... considering she is dug out and found to be alive, not consecutively.
- In "The Black Cat", the protagonist ends up murdering his wife in a fit of fury directed at the title cat, and "buries" her in his basement wall. When the police inspect his house, they're led to the tomb by the cat's screams, the protagonist having buried it alive with her without noticing it.
- In the second novel of The Shadow, one of The Shadow's helpers is buried alive by the villains despite the fact that the villains have killed and buried all previous visitors to their house. Harry is rescued by The Shadow, who tunnels sideways into the grave from a nearby tomb.
- David Eddings had his sorcerer Belgarath do this, near the end of the The Belgariad: Zedar the apostate was Buried Alive for eternity in the center of the earth for a millennia-long life of crimes, the last one being the brutal murder of Belgarath's daughter's beloved mate Durnik. Belgarath later said "Whenever I wonder if I went too far with him, I remember what that bastard did to Queen Ilessa of Nyissa".what he did He also mentions in his own spin-off books that details his origin that if he could ever confirm his suspicions that Zedar was involved in the suicides of two of their fellow Aldur followers, he would put him somewhere even less pleasant than where he is now.
- Jack Vance's Dying Earth novels mention the Spell of Forlorn Encystment, which keeps its victims alive indefinitely inside solid rock some sixty kilometers underground. A few victims are accidentally released and found to be in near-catatonic states.
- Exploited in the third Artemis Fowl book. Mulch Diggums, a dwarf whose entire race can dig through the dirt using only their jaws and hands and breathe while doing so, convinces two dumb henchmen to do this to him. Needless to say, he has a good laugh about it afterwards. Hell, he has a good laugh during the burial, which he passes off as "shaking in fear". Right, Mulch.
- This happens to the main character of What Happened to Cassie McBride, though if it is meant to kill her or torture her is up to reader interpretation.
- The protagonist of the Stephen King story "Dolan's Cadillac" (found in Nightmares & Dreamscapes) does this to the title character as revenge for the murder of the protagonist's wife. Directly inspired by Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado", to the point that the antagonist breaks down screaming "For the love of God!", which the protagonist then quietly repeats. Dolan, however, is far more deserving of his fate than Fortunato.
- In Tanya Huff's Blood Books series, vampire Henry Fitzroy started his unlife buried alive for three days before his sire could dig him up. Several hundred years later, this is still a Very Unpleasant Memory.
- In The Sharing Knife: Horizon, Fawn Bluefield is buried alive when the talisman that protects her from malices burns through so much of her life energy that she appears dead to anyone without groundsense. (Less traumatic than most instances, since she's unconscious the whole time.) However, one person with groundsense may have realized she was alive and allowed her to be buried out of jealousy. The others were just trying to give her a proper burial.
- In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean arranges for himself to be buried alive in order to get out of the convent in which he's hiding. Due to unforeseen circumstances, it doesn't go as smoothly as planned; he passes out from lack of air and freaks out the gardener who's agreed to dig him up.
- In David Gemmell's The Swords of Night and Day, Queen Jianna buries an advisor alive inside a large stone chamber after he speaks his mind too freely. She later decides to reverse the decision, but by the time he's dug up he'd found a way to hang himself.
- The short story "The Extension" deals with a man who's so afraid of being Buried Alive that his funeral arrangements include a phone line to his crypt in case the coroner misdiagnosed him. His worst fear comes true, and the whole story has him desperately calling everyone, trying in vain to convince them that he's Not Quite Dead. Ultimately, Fridge Logic hits and he asks the operator how long they'll keep the line connected, and is assured the service will remain indefinitely. He realises this is probably his personal Hell, but also that he's got to keep calling and trying to get out...
- An interesting take on this trope came from The Count of Monte Cristo when Edmond makes his escape from the prison. He plans to switch places with the body of his friend and mentor and once he is buried in the shallow grave, dig himself out. He has to change his plans rather quickly when, instead of burying him, the guards proceed to chuck him over a cliff into the ocean.
- Part of the backstory of the Dr. Gideon Fell novel The Hollow Man/The Three Coffins by John Dickson Carr was a jailbreak by Buried Alive. There was a plague epidemic going on in that prison, and the escaper counted on the burial detail being in too big a hurry for little details like nailing the coffin lid tightly or shoveling very much dirt on top.
- The Criminal Minds book Killer Profile mentions a serial killer whose MO was burying his victims in homemade coffins, which had pipes leading to the surface, so they could breathe. The guy also enjoyed giving his victims false hope by leaving them with a bit of water and hammer they could try and escape with.
- Used in the Mary Higgins Clark book Moonlight Becomes You, which starts out with the protagonist buried alive and desperately pulling one of the aforementioned bells to signal for help. The story then flashes between the present and to several weeks earlier, showing how she came to this fate and leaving the reader to decipher who her would-be killer is, all the while inserting her frantic efforts to remain conscious until help arrives, which it does at the last minute.
- Dutch novel The Golden Egg has a girl undergo this treatment when travelling Europe. Her boyfriend spends the rest of the novel trying to find out where she is until at the end he meets his girlfriend's killer, and says he'd do anything to find out what happens to her. The killer proceeds to drug him and bury him as well.
- A variation of the trope occurred in The Light Fantastic. One particularly old wizard was not at all interested in a close encounter with Death, so he'd holed himself up in a box that nobody and nothing could get into once it was shut. Including light and, more importantly, air.
Death: Dark in here, isn't it?
- Windle Poons from Reaper Man got a taste of this trope, but only a small one, as he was a zombie when his University colleagues buried him. Lack of oxygen wasn't a bother, but he got so bored and fed up with the situation that he soon dug his way out again.
- Nearly happens to Ptraci in Pyramids, when she's condemned to be entombed alive in the crypt of Pteppic's father. She was intended to be entombed with him dead, the better to serve him in the afterlife, but refused to drink the poison offered by the funerary priests.
- It's off-handedly mentioned in The Discworld Companion that the Big Bad of Witches Abroad "has buried three husbands, at least two of whom were already dead."
- A variation of the trope occurred in The Light Fantastic. One particularly old wizard was not at all interested in a close encounter with Death, so he'd holed himself up in a box that nobody and nothing could get into once it was shut. Including light and, more importantly, air.
- In The Girl Who Played with Fire, this happens to Lisbeth Salander after she survives being shot in the head. She digs her way out with a cigarette case and then shoves an axe through the face of the man who put her there.
- In Michael Crichton's The Great Train Robbery, the characters exploit the fear of being buried alive for their benefit. Because it was a serious concern at the time, coffins were rigged with bells and escape latches and such which would pop open if the person moved around inside the coffin. They fake a dead body and have the coffin open on the platform, grossing out the police inspector who otherwise would have searched it and found the hidden man.
- In one Stephanie Plum book, Stephanie is trapped in a coffin by the bad guy. The coffin isn't actually buried but Stephanie doesn't know that and reacts as such.
- Ambrosio keeps Antonia in a tomb for a while in The Monk to secret her away before he rapes her.
- The villain in the young adult novel The Executioner attempted this on the protagonist in revenge for his brother's death, but was stopped by his father before he could finish.
- In Völsunga saga, evil King Siggeir has Sigmund and Sinfjotli entombed alive in a gravemound.
- In Reprisal, Danny Gordon. In Crisscross, set in the same Verse, the villainous upper echelons of the Dormentalist Church have been burying cult members alive worldwide at the Otherness's behest.
- It happens a few times in Galaxy of Fear. People are repeatedly killed in Eaten Alive by the ground swallowing them. In City of the Dead there's an interesting version of this trope - Dr. Evazam, experimenting with zombiemaking, injected a still very alive Zak with the revival serum and a poison designed to put him into a coma so deep it looked like death.
- 1066 and All That implies this happened somehow to Edward I, who "died of suffocation at a place called Burrow-in-the-Sands."
- Idlewild sees Maestro do this to Halloween. In Maestro's defense, he claimed that it was intended to break Halloween's problem with authority and that Maestro would release him later.
- In Rogue Male it looks as if this will be the fate of the hunter-turned-hunted protagonist when he is tracked down and trapped in the secret den he dug as a last refuge, scarcely bigger than a coffin.
- In Trigger Mortis, a villain with a knack for making people choose their fates with a deck of cards has James Bond being put into a box and buried alive. Luckily, he managed to sneak a knife with him, which allows him to dig his way out of the slow suffocating death.
- Warrior Cats has quite a few:
- Oakheart in Into the Wild.
- Hollyleaf in Sunrise, though she is later revealed to have survived in The Forgotten Warrior
- Tallstar's Revenge mentions, though never shows, the death of Leafshine in a collapsing tunnel, and later Sandgorse is killed in a collapsing tunnel while trying to save Sparrow.
- The book Elephant Run by Roland Smith has the very rare voluntary version, where Nick's father is buried alive with a hollow cross to breathe through to keep him hidden from the invading soldiers. He puts on a brave face for his children, but staying so long like that has clearly rattled him.
- Egil's Saga: When King Herlaug of Namdal hears that Harald Finehair is preparing to conquer Namdal, he, together with eleven of his men, enters a newly-built gravemound, and "[t]he mound was closed after them." The End.
- The short story "One Summer Night" by Ambrose Bierce involves a man who's been Buried Alive (albeit pretty chill about it), a couple of students from a nearby medical college, and the cemetery keeper they've hired to dig up corpses for them to experiment on...
- Recommended by the Dead Man as a potentially-effective execution method by which the contagious Serial Killer curse might be stopped in Red Iron Nights. Averted when Garrett finds another solution that prevents the curse from jumping into a nearby potential host when its bearer is killed.
- This was the Queen's goal in Fairest of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen. She'd put Snow White into a death-like sleep then have her buried alive. Alas, the Queen's plans went wrong.
- In Ollie's Odyssey, Zozo is buried when the Tunnel Of Love collapses on him. When it kills him, he's ultimately reunited with the spirit of the ballerina that he loved.
- Miles Taylor And The Golden Cape: This happens to General Breckenridge in "Rise Of The Robot Army" when his base comes down on top of him.
- In Ken Seibert's Night Burial, the protagonist Terry, with the aid of his friend, decides to spend the night in a makeshift coffin buried in a cemetery, initially excited at the thought. Unfortunately, things go not quite as planned: it's quite hot in the coffin and he put on too many layers with no way to get rid of them in the uncomfortably tight space he has to spend the night in with no way to get out unassisted. The story ends with a stranger mistakenly thinking that his tube to the surface — which provides him with air — is a makeshift flower vase and stuffs it with flowers out of respect for what she believes to be a newly passed-on soul.
- This trope is often seen on soap operas. Several examples have the villain—or just plain bad luck—trapping the victim in certain situations such as a building collapse, or a cave-in, rather than using a coffin.
- A rare example of a hero doing this to a villain on All My Children, which had the evil Dr.Madden buried alive while the voice of his unseen abductor tormented him, refusing to release him until he revealed the location of a missing child. This went on for several days before the man finally drowned when a rainstorm flooded the vent that had been providing him with oxygen.
- In 1993, on Days of Our Lives, crazy Vivian hated Carly so much that she injected Carly with some Chinese herbs, forcing her into a seemingly dead state, had an open casket funeral with all Carly's loved ones, buried her with a radio to taunt her, some water and enough oxygen to prolong the slow torture and the rolled over her grave, laughing. Carly was saved just in time, though she seems quite traumatized by it all to this day. Not that we can blame her.
- General Hospital: Ryan Chamberlain faked his death to escape from the asylum.
- Passions: Sheridan Crane's death was faked (to escape criminals who were pursuing her) and she was buried to continue the ruse. Unfortunately, plans to rescue her immediately were hindered when the criminals in question kidnapped her would-be saviors, leaving her in considerable peril (Sheridan's claustrophobia didn't help matters much). Although she was ultimately rescued at the end of the "day", the scenes played out for over a month.
- Early in the seventh season of 24, Jack and Tony are working undercover with a mercenary organization to discover who hired them, but are found out by FBI Agent Walker. To keep their cover up, Jack fakes killing her, but they're still under watch and on orders to get rid of the body, so he and Tony have to do this to her to keep suspicions down.
- 1000 Ways to Die: In "Dung For", this accidentally happens to a farm hand after he is caught having sex with the Farmer's Daughter.
- Alfred Hitchcock Presents:
- The classic episode, "Breakdown", has Joseph Cotton paralyzed in a car accident and taken for dead. He is saved at the last minute when an alert coroner notices a tear glimmering in his eye.
- The '80s version of the show had an episode where a woman tried to escape from prison by hiding in the coffin the next time someone at the prison dies. Unfortunately, the next to die is the man who was supposed to dig her up. Worse yet, she doesn't find out until after they're buried. This one is a remake of an episode from the original series, with Roddy McDowall as the prisoner.
- In the final episode, Sloane, who has become somewhat immortal due to a Rambaldi thingy, has this happen to him. He's trapped in a cave with his legs pinned after Jack (a good guy) blows himself up.
- Sydney herself had this happen to her as well in a previous episode, leaving Marshall to find out her location before she suffocates.
- This was done to a previous occupant of Cordelia's apartment. In the apartment walls!
- Connor welds Angel into a metal box and drops him to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean at the end of season 3. This doesn't kill Angel, since he's immortal and doesn't need to breathe, but instead makes him weak and insane from hunger. Of course, this was kind of the point.
- Are You Afraid of the Dark?: "Tale of the Dream Machine" features this happening to one of the characters.
- In Being Human (US), being buried alive is used as a form of punishment for vampires. Their nature means they won't suffocate or be crushed by the soil, but they will grow very weak and slowly go insane from hunger. Suren was buried alive for over 80 years, and Season 2 ends with Aidan buried alive.
- The original series really takes this up to eleven. Ghost Alex is trapped in her own coffin by [ The Devil and buried alive as the cliff-hanger to the final episode. However, as it's her own coffin, she is trapped in their with her own body, which is in the state you'd expect given she died a year ago. Yikes.
- Big Wolf on Campus. When Merton discovers that Corey Haim is a real vampire, Corey knocks him out and buries him. Merton phones Tommy, whose werewolf senses are sharp enough to pick up where he is.
- Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins are buried alive in a car by a kidnapper/serial killer called the Gravedigger.
- They'd previously helped identify the remains of twin boys who'd died after the Gravedigger left them buried alive inside a metal tank. As the name implies, this villain's M.O. was to subject victims to this trope, then demand a ransom in return for information on where they were buried.
- One episode of Boomtown featured the body of a dead fraternity pledge wrapped in plastic and hidden within the walls of a house. Investigation of former friends eventually reveals that he was knocked out dead during a hazing ritual and his freaked-out friends wrapped the body in plastic and hid him inside the walls. Only near the end of the episode is the awful truth revealed: The man was alive when they hid him inside the walls and the last shot of the episode shows a flashback from his POV, waking up inside the walls, wrapped in plastic and unable to have his screams heard because of the loud rap music
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the Season 1 episode "Nightmares", the residents of Sunnydale have their nightmares literally come true, so Buffy is buried alive. Rumor has it that this trope is one of Sarah Michelle Gellar's greatest fears. Apparently, Joss Whedon does not settle for merely tormenting his characters. In season 6, Buffy is brought back to life after already being buried, but since her friends think the spell didn't work, they don't bother to dig her coffin up. She has to dig her way out, something she clearly finds traumatizing.
- Also, since vampires die when they are sired before they rise again, they are often buried and forced to dig themselves out when they wake up.
- Happens to Nick in CSI. He is rescued, though not until he's suffered quite a lot.
- One episode of Carnivàle has this happen to Ben after he is robbed by some backwoods hicks who turn out to be his cousins. They hastily dig him up after realizing their error.
- Cold Case had a similar episode where a teenage boy had been buried alive. The killer in question walks into the station 20-something years later to confess to the murder—and reveal that he has just buried another victim. The episode is spent trying to determine his motives for both attacks and find the second victim before he suffocates (fortunately, they find him).
- Also the MO of serial killer "John Smith", who kills his victims (after weeks of psychological torture) by entombing them in the cells where they've been held.
- Criminal Minds:
- In the episode "Scared to Death", there was a killer who, under guise of "getting you over your phobia," trapped you in your worst fear and then waited until you scared yourself to death. The final victim was a bit more direct cause of near-death — and this was the trope to do it, too. Instead of the usual way of doing it (in a grave), he drops the victim down a shaft and then pours bags of potting soil down it. The soil eventually went over her head, leading to this.
- In the episode "Revelations", the killer forced Reid to start digging his own grave so he could bury him alive. The BAU saves the day, though.
- One episode of Crossing Jordan involved a serial killer who buries his victims alive — with a walkie-talkie so he can hear their dying pleas. Shudder.
- Dark Shadows:
- Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Barnabas Collins bricks the witch-hunter Reverend Trask up in a wall a la "The Cask of Amontillado". This comes back to haunt him (literally) a century later when his ghost breaks free.
- Barnabas himself was trapped in his chained-shut coffin back in colonial times by his father, who couldn't bring himself to drive a stake through his vampiric son's heart. Presumably Barnabas wasn't conscious during the intervening centuries, as he isn't a raving basket case when a would-be tomb robber unchains him.
- Done in EastEnders. There were widespread complaints due to this going out pre-Watershed, which were upheld by Ofcom.
- The Following: In the penultimate season 1 episode, Debra Parker is tied up and thrown in a coffin by a couple of cultists, who proceed to bury it while she screams for help.
- The "king" of Qarth in Game of Thrones gets this ending. He's locked in a rather spacious treasure vault with his girlfriend, and no food or water. This is a rare heroic version of it, as they both truly deserved it. He sold out his honored guests to someone who not only killed the town leaders, but tried to steal their dragons (and either kill them or keep them there forever); she betrayed the mistress she'd sworn to serve for life by helping him do it. They did all of this under the guise of trying to help the heroes, when they really wanted was riches with which to fill said vault)...making this very much a Karmic Death.
- In an episode of Good vs. Evil, Chandler is buried alive by Morlocks, and spends most of the episode talking to Henry on his cell, going over the details of the previous night, hoping to figure out where he is. He's being used as a hostage, so that the Corps will release a Morlock prisoner: Emmanuel Lewis.
- In a rare example of a hero doing this, Hiro assures the other heroes that the immortal Adam Monroe will never hurt another person. Cut to Adam screaming in a coffin, buried in the same cemetery where Hiro's father who Adam killed, was interred.
- Also, as retribution for all the crimes he had committed against not just the world, but Parkman's wife only minutes before, Parkman locks Sylar in his own mind, alone and powerless. Not only that, to prevent anyone from finding him and trying to help, he seals Sylar up behind a wall in his basement. Not only THAT, while Sylar was trapped in his own mind doomed to wander New York City alone forever, his super fast brain had an increased perception of time, making every second he spent in reality feel like days. Even though he got better and was really only buried alive for about half an hour, over three years had passed in his mind.
- In the final seasons, Samuel buries Claire and Noah together in an RV underground, so that Claire can watch Noah suffocate and die.
- A couple of implied instances in Highlander:
- Nefertiri took poison and was mummified after the death of Cleopatra. As far as the audience knows, she stayed unconscious for all 2000 years until set free by Duncan MacLeod.
- Quentin Barnes was executed for murder 30 years ago and was accidentally freed by a construction project. It turns out Barnes was the split personality of Duncan's friend Michael Moore. Moore experienced those years as a nightmare.
- Another Immortal, a Nazi, was "killed" with a pitchfork, wrapped in chains and tossed into a river during World War II. It took him 50 some years to free himself and come back for revenge.
- Due to the nature of the show, there are several more where someone "died" and was buried, only to recover once they're in the ground.
- Hotel Beau Séjour: Kato is buried alive near the climax, although it is unclear whether the villain did this deliberately, or whether he tried to kill her first and she just got better.
- In The Incredible Hulk, David Banner faced one of his most horrific situations when he is confused for a lookalike gangster and rival gangsters capture him, ignore his protests that they have the wrong man and take him to a construction site. There, they force him into a shallow grave, put a sheet of clear plastic on him and pour concrete on him to bury him alive. When you see that kind of murder method, you're on the edge of your seat until the very last image of Banner just before his head is covered is his eyes going green to start his change into the Hulk.
- JAG: Mentioned in the 3rd season episode "Vanished". The villain orders one of his underlings to kill the hostage and bury them in the woods. The underling seems to interpret this literally by asking if they are to be buried alive. The villain replies by saying hes not heartless and he can shoot them first.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
- A copycat serial killer kidnaps the only surviving victim of the original killer. He locks her in an old fridge with an air tank and holds her for his bargaining chip when the detectives finally catch him.
- In another episode, a pedophile buries the little girl he has kidnapped just before the SVU investigators catch up with him. They dig her up just in time.
- In "Harm" a cop turned defense attorney tells Casey Novak that the case that ended his police career involved a young girl being buried alive. (Specifically, he had tortured the suspect for the girl's location, and as a result, all the evidence was thrown out in court. However, as the girl was found alive, he makes it very clear he still believes he did the right thing.)
- In The League of Gentlemen, Herr Lipp buried Justin to stop him telling anyone about his peculiar habits. Don't worry, he left him a straw.
- Parodied in the second season of Le Cur a ses Raisons when Brett survived more than an entire week in an underground coffin. He managed to single-handedly escaped thanks to his "manly tote bag".
- Parker did this to herself once as a child to cure herself of a fear. She thought it was a normal thing to do. The team told her it was not.
- Then in the season 4 episode, "The Grave Danger Job," as the Leverage crew investigates an embezzling funeral director, Hardison is buried alive in a cemetery by a Mexican drug cartel to whom the funeral director has been selling ID information stolen from the deceased who go through her funeral parlor.
- On Lost, Nikki and Paolo are buried alive, but it's because the Losties think they're dead after being paralyzed by a poison.
- The Mentalist: The victim in the episode "Red Rover, Red Rover" was killed by being locked in a locker at an abandoned factory. Jane later buries the suspect alive to force a confession (actually part of his plot to fake a mental breakdown to set a trap for Red John).
- Midsomer Murders: The Victim of the Week in "Saints and Sinners" is buried alive in an archaeology trench.
- In the British sci-fi drama Misfits, we have a rare case of this trope being played (mostly) for laughs. And it happens to the main character, no less. Nathan, after suffering a brutal death some days before, turns out to have the power of Resurrection. He's thrilled to find himself alive and starts gloating ridiculously about his newfound power, actually uttering the phrase: "Who's laughing now?!" When it sinks in that he's been buried alive (yes, he's a bit of a dumbass), he gets furious and starts hurling hilariously futile abuse at no one in particular. Then he just lies back and begins casually listening to his iPod. And this happened in the season 1 finale. In the second season opener, a telepath visiting his grave overhears him masturbating and arranges for him to be exhumed.
- Done twice in the Mission: Impossible episode "The Cardinal". Barney and Willie use an underground tunnel to enter a monastery, but a cave-in traps them in front of a vault door that must be opened from the inside. Meanwhile, Rollin, impersonating the Cardinal, has allowed himself to be captured by the Big Bad, who plans to suffocate him in a sarcophagus sealed with a 600-pound lid. Which is exactly what he expected, carrying equipment very specific for escaping the sarcophagus in his cross pendant. In "The Council" the team digs up a freshly buried mobster (sentenced for embezzling from the bosses) so that they can interrogate him on one of his boss' mannerisms (so that Rollin could better impersonate him).
- This happens to Monk on more than one occasion, with attendant freak-outs.
- They checked out if surviving this was possible and deemed it Busted. First, they found that human beings couldn't punch their way out of a cheap pine casket, much less a top of the line one; indeed, any coffin flimsy enough for a person to realistically bust apart would also be crushed by the weight of earth above it. Plus, they found that even if a human could break out, there was no way a human being could dig their way up through six feet of dirt, especially within the half hour or so they'd have before they ran out of air. Basically, anyone buried alive would be crushed by the weight of the dirt or suffocate.
- A much earlier episode highlights how unlikely this is to occur accidentally - at least nowadays. Modern undertaking practices include draining all of the blood from the deceased, ensuring that if you weren't dead when you came in, you most certainly were by the time you were buried.
- The victim in the NCIS episode "Left for Dead" was buried alive.
- NCIS: Los Angeles has Sam being buried alive in a prior mission, along with a partner of his, by Croatian soldiers. He was the only one who survived the event. Because of this, when a girl is buried alive by two boys whose uncle is an ex-con, Sam takes up the mission without hesitation, focused on it with resolution like no other, and is fully ready to beat them up when demanding where she is, due to this being a very personal traumatic experience and a very huge Berserk Button for him. Luckily, she manages to be dug up before she runs out of air.
- There was an especially vindictive instance of this in Oz, where the preacher for the Christians was beaten, tied up, sealed behind a brick wall in the cafeteria and then there was an industrial sized freezer placed in front of it, and the whole deal was orchestrated by his former second in command. After being freed after an explosion (though as a charred, barely alive husk) he was shown to have stood up, as if rising from his grave, still covered in 3rd degree burns, after seemingly appearing to other inmates and making them try to kill the one responsible, and then he disappeared. Guess where they found him a few episodes later? Sealed behind another wall, only this time dead for real.
- This also happened to Mark Mack and another Aryan Brotherhood member when they tried escaping out of Rebadow and Busmalis' hole.
- In an episode of Pacific Blue, one of the heroes is buried in an RV with a phone that can only take incoming calls, and a time bomb/escape-rigged gas canister.
- The Pretender used this twice.
- The victim in "Back From the Dead Again" was buried alive.
- In "Red Rock Jarod", the villain of the episode buries a hostage alive in a remote location — with an air pump, but if he doesn't get what he wants before the pump runs out of fuel...
- Pretty Little Liars: Alison's autopsy makes it clear she was buried alive after being knocked out by a blow to the head in the incident that kickstarts the series. Eventually, it's revealed that Alison is actually alive, but she was buried alive after a blow to the head and escaped with help from a friend. Later that night, Bethany Young was knocked out and buried alive in the same grave Ali had been buried in; upon discovery, her body was misidentified as Alison's.
- Red Dwarf: Rimmer is buried alive by the hidden psychopath in "Cured".
- Riverdale: In "Silent Night, Deadly Night", the Black Hood holds Archie and Betty at gunpoint. He orders Archie to lie down in a pre-dug grave, then orders Betty to fill it in. Fortunately, when the Black Hood gets distracted, Betty is able to smack him with her shovel, then quickly dig Archie out and escape.
- In Roswell, this happens to Laurie Dupree. Luckily for her, the attacker specifically wanted to keep her alive, so set it up that she could breathe.
- This is darkly explored in The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes: The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax, in which Holmes and Watson foil a con artist's attempts to bury a drugged woman alive. Unfortunately, the woman is so mentally scarred by the experience that she becomes a veritable vegetable.
- In "X-Ray", Psycho Lesbian Tina Greer does this to Lana. Clark frees her after she passes out.
- In "Obscura", Chloe is also buried alive, but Clark manages to rescue her. She is later shown to be traumatized by the event. The man who did it was a cop who wanted the credit of finding her. Whether he would have done so before or after she died is unclear.
- In "Harvest", an angry mob of crazed villagers do this to Clark, who has lost his powers from blue kryptonite exposure. Fortunately, the soil shields him enough from the kryptonite to give him back some of his strength, allowing him to break free.
- During a Dream Sequence in the "Doppelganger" episode of Stargate Atlantis, Sheppard begins to bury Ronon alive. Ronon wakes up at that point.
- An episode of the Tales from the Crypt TV series, which was adapted from a comic, has a magician do this as his final trick. A doctor had transplanted into him the organ that gives cats nine lives, so he could die and just come back. After using this to make a small fortune at a sideshow, his final stunt was to be buried alive in front of hundreds of witnesses. Only once he's in the ground does he start reminiscing about what an interesting life he's had, before he realizes he didn't count the death of the cat among his lives. He's on his ninth, not his eight....
- In the finale episode of series two, Jack's brother Gray has Jack buried alive sans coffin; bear in mind Jack can't die. Or rather, he does die, but returns to life a few minutes later. So Jack spends 2000 years choking to death on soil over and over again!.
- It sorta happens again in the Children of Earth story. Under orders to neutralize Jack, and after proving he can survive being blown to smithereens, an arm of the government encases him in extremely quick-drying cement, where he presumably suffocates over and over again. Luckily, his team manages to rescue him before the day is out.
- True Blood:
- Russell Edgington is sealed in concrete at the season 3 finale and is dug up in the season 5 premiere.
- Five years of live burial is also a punishment dished out by the magister to vampires who kill their own species although he can sometimes be more creative.
- One of the news anchor jokes on The Two Ronnies told of England's most notorious practical joker, who was buried today. "He's not dead, it's just the neighbors getting their own back."
- In The Vampire Diaries, similarly to the Angel example above, Silas locks Stefan in a safe and dumps him down a river. His lungs explode but, being a vampire, they regenerate... so that they can explode again. He remains dying and regenerating for three months before he's rescued by Qetsiyah.
- Walker, Texas Ranger: Several episodes have featured one of the main characters or an underage person, usually children buried by the villains, and Walker and the Rangers racing against time to stop the bad guys and locate the victim. Three such episodes aired within months of each other in 1996 alone:
- "Deadline": With the state facing a budget crisis, state senator vows to disband the Texas Rangers as a cost-cutting move... then won't allow Walker to help find his daughter when she is kidnapped and buried alive by a gang of bank robbers. Only when Walker does find her does the senator realize the value of the Rangers.
- "Miracle at Middle Creek": Walker and a young boy are trapped in an underground crevice forced there by a band of bank robbers. Why? To ensure cooperation by the boy's father when the heist does take place. This time, Trivette saves the day.
- "Cyclone": A sadistic extortionist and his band of thugs hijack a school bus full of children — the bus just happened to be driven by C.D., and Alex was the chaperone — after a trip to the museum. The bus is driven to a landfill, parked in a ditch, and then buried with everyone inside in tons of dirt and fill. Walker and Trivette race against time and a threatening storm system to rescue the kids before the bus crumples under the weight of the fill and/or the air runs out.
- The fate given to Joan. A rare example dished out by a heroic character, though given this series' use of Grey and Gray Morality, precisely how heroic they are generally depends on the episode.
- The X-Files:
- "Apocrypha". A bodysurfing alien uses Alex Krychek to get back to its spacecraft, which has been left in an abandoned missile silo. The episode ends with Krychek locked inside the silo, eighty stories down, hammering on the door and screaming to be let out.
- Also happens in the end of the episode "Fresh Bones" to an evil Marine sergeant in charge of a Haitian refugee camp, who turns out to be using the Haitian's native Voodoo to incapacitate/kill whistleblowers who were going to expose his ordered abuse of the refugees.
- And technically, even Mulder himself was buried alive during the episode "Deadalive".
- Done on Ray Bradbury Theater, when a young girl overhears the screams of a woman whose husband buried her alive. The woman is rescued eventually, but only after an awful lot of people dismiss the girl's claims.
- Avenged Sevenfold has a song called "Buried Alive". Guess what it's about?
- Referenced in the Scissor Sisters song "I Can't Decide" (where what can't be decided is "whether you should live or die"): "Or I could bury you alive / But you might crawl out with a knife / And kill me when I'm sleeping".
- Referenced in "The Mariner's Revenge Song" by The Decemberists:
Find him, bind him
tie him to a pole and break his fingers to splinters
drag him into a hole until he wakes up naked
clawing at the ceiling of his grave...
- The Creature Feature song "Buried Alive", as a tribute to Edgar Allen Poe, is unsurprisingly about this concept. It isn't the only song that mentions this. They also have it on "Such Horrible Things" (My Brother Was Quite Dull/So With Laughter In My Skull/Pushed Him In A Hole/Then Buried Him Alive) and in "A Gorey Demise", a parody of Edward Gorey's poem "The Gashlycrumb Tinies" (E is for Erik who was buried alive).
- Lupe Fiasco's "The Cool" has this happen to the main character in the first verse, and he digs himself out during the second.
- A subversion bearing the trope name: the traditional song "Buried Alive" as performed by musicians like the Dropkick Murphys is not about someone doing this to someone else deliberately, but the occupational hazard inherent in being a coalminer.
- "Dynamite Mine" by Murder By Death (the band), also about the occupational hazards of being a coal miner who pissed someone off in the past.
- Several My Chemical Romance songs off of Revenge and Bullets reference crawling out oh holes in the ground. Presumably buried alive, unless you're gonna run with the story line involving a guy killing 1000 evil men for the devil in order to get his life back.
- In the Music Video for the song "Buried Myself Alive" by The Used, Bert is on his way to being buried alive.
- The Creepshow have a song called "Buried Alive", which is about just that.
- The final disc of Thrice's The Alchemy Index has "Child of Dust", a funeral-like dirge which ends with the last two lines muffled and the sound gradually receding into unsettling silence. The group actually buried their microphones while recording the song, presumably to give the listener the sensation of being buried.
- The Blue October music video for their song "Dirt Room" involves a woman coming home, realizing her house is being robbed, knocking the burglar unconscious and restraining him before pushing him into a freshly dug hole, and finally calling the police and presumably having him arrested.
- In a skit during "Legend of the Fall-offs", Busta Rhymes plays a metaphorical hip-hop Grim Reaper burying a has-been rapper alive.
- WWE wrestler The Undertaker has fought in several Buried Alive matches, where a grave site is created near the stage area of the arena, and the objective is to bury one's opponent alive. Usually these end with Undertaker buried, and disappearing for several months, only to come Back from the Dead (hey, he's practically The Grim Reaper; he can do that) with a new look, thirsting for revenge.
- In the Vampire: The Masquerade, the Sabbat use this as part of their embracing ritual when there's a need for a large surge of Sabbat shock troopers. They beat the would-be vampire senseless, turn them, bury them alive en masse with other candidates, and see which ones come up. The ones that don't? No need to waste time digging them back up, they weren't even worth the blood to embrace. A popular Sabbat pastime is to go out, find a grave with a failed inductee, dig them up and try to kill them. Since the released vampire is both insane and probably in frenzy, this is not a safe form of entertainment.
- In the GURPS supplement GURPS Ultra-Tech, the result of being teleported into a mountain is this. A 2-cubic-meter column of stone appears in the teleport chamber as a form of Equivalent Exchange.
- Dungeons & Dragons:
- The "Imprisonment" spell, which was inspired by Jack Vance's "Spell of Forlorn Encystment" (see above). It buries a victim in suspended animation deep below the surface.
- This is how a Living Wall comes into being in the Ravenloft campaign; when an evil person walls up a victim and leaves him to die in such a manner, and the victim curses the one responsible in such a way that the Dark Powers hear him and respond, then when the victim dies, his spirit merges with the wall itself, turning it into an abomination that assimilates the bodies and souls of anyone who comes near.
- A non-official sourcebook introduced the "Entombment" spell, which buries alive a creature on the spot. If a saving throw is passed, the subject is only buried to the waist... but if the spellcaster memorized the spell twice and casts it a second time, then the victim no longer has a saving throw.
- Geist: The Sin-Eaters:
- There's mention of a geist, the Gravedigger, who in life did this to his murder victims (hit them with a shovel, bury them alive, listen to them scream). He met his end when he didn't hit one hard enough — the man woke up, retrieved the shovel, knocked the Gravedigger out and buried him alive (upside down, to boot). Fortunately for everyone, although the Gravedigger came back as a geist and hooked up with a miner who'd eaten his coworkers to survive a cave-in, the first krewe they met instantly pegged them as bad news and destroyed them.
- This is also what's necessary to activate the Oracle Manifestation using the Grave-Dirt Key. It allows the user to astrally project, but they need to effectively be suffocating from their burial. Once they get back into their body, however, they erupt spectacularly from the ground with all the damage from suffocation healed up. At the highest understanding of the Oracle, a Sin-Eater can effectively wander freely as long as they want; the corebook makes reference to an urban legend amongst the Bound about a Mafioso who was buried in wet cement while knocked unconscious and has been using the Oracle for decades to keep his body in suspended animation.
- Older Than Feudalism: According to Sophocles' Antigone, the eponymous heroine was walled up in a crypt to die after being sentenced to death. Her crime? Burying her dead brother so his soul could have an afterlife instead of suffering eternal unrest. Creon's a Jerkass like that.
- In a cruel twist of fate, Creon (upon the advice of a prophet) chooses to reverse Antigone's sentence less than an hour after issuing it, but Antigone, not wanting to endure the slow death by starvation that Creon had planned, has already killed herself.
- In The Mikado, this is the punishment for women whose husbands are beheaded. (It's such a stuffy death!)
- Aida: The titular character and her lover Radames fate at the end of the opera/musical. In the opera, she sneaks into the tomb to join him, in the musical, they're placed in there together, but in both instances, it's their punishment for treason.
- The Allied ending of Command & Conquer: Red Alert had Stavros bury Josef Stalin in the rubble of his ruined Kremlin, after gagging him.
- Tomb Raider
- In the original Tomb Raider and is remake Tomb Raider: Anniversary, Natla is locked up and buried underground by the other two Atlantean rulers, Tihocan and Qualopec, as punishment for her betrayal. The events of the game are kicked off when a nuclear test unearths the pod, releasing her.
- In Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation, this occurs when Werner Von Croy attempts to steal the Isis and its death trap mechanism activates. An unspecified amount of time later he manages to escape with his prize and a leg injury. At the end of the game, Lara herself gets buried under the collapsing Tomb of Horus, leading to her memorial service in the sequel and her hardened personality in Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness.
- In the Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas mission "Deconstruction," you have to stop a nearby construction company from screwing with your newfound gains. Smashing up their portables would have been plenty, but C.J. goes the extra mile by also trapping the foreman in a porta-potty, pushing it into a hole, and filling it up with concrete, all while listening to him scream "OH GOD WHY!" Stone. Cold. And the reason C.J. did this? The guys who were working for the man called Kendl, C.J.'s sister, a hooker, and C.J. wanted to teach them some respect.
- Baldur's Gate II:
- There's an optional subplot about finding some evil criminals who are robbing guys and burying them alive.
- Not to mention the Protagonist is threatened with a magical version of his by a loony Harper — Imprisonment is a spell which basically traps a person underneath the earth and rendered immortal during this time.
- And the various demiliches, mages and superpowered imps who show up in the expansion or as Bonus Bosses and who have "Imprisonment" as an at-will ability. Whack 'em quick, or you've got a 1 in 6 chance of an instant game over per round.
- "Premature entombment of a non-dead individual" happens to Stan in Monkey Island 2, where Guybrush has to get Stan to jump into one of his own coffins and nail the lid shut so he can steal a key from his office. Stan subsequently stays shut in the coffin until the sequel, where Guybrush can finally open Stan's casket after the two are shut in the same crypt together.
- Dwarves in Dwarf Fortress have an amusing tendency to do this to themselves. Due to a quirk in how they build walls, they will always prefer to build them from the west side. This occasionally results in them walling themselves into an enclosed area and dying of dehydration.
- Eternal Darkness:
- The game has the quicksand variant as a hallucination effect — every so often, your character will sink into the ground, whether it's sand, dirt, or solid concrete!
- On a more serious note, Roberto Bianchi is commissioned to aid in the construction of a monument. At the end of the chapter, he and several other architects are chucked down into an oubliette-styled hole. And then the concrete pours in. The end of the chapter's final shot is Roberto's face and body as he tried, in futility, to escape his end.
- That's one of the ways to die in Lode Runner. To be buried alive inside bricks.
- You survive this, and two bullets in the head, at the start of Fallout: New Vegas thanks to a certain robot.
- Happens to the Player Character in Def Jam: Icon after he's ambushed and shot in the face by the Big Bad. Fortunately, he's rescued by his best friend, the Gooch.
- In Pokemon X, Lysandre activates his Doomsday Device, which will grant everyone in the immediate area immortality but kill everyone outside of his Elaborate Underground Base. However, due to the PC and Xerneas, the base collapses instead. The PC and friends make it out; Team Flare doesn't. Professor Sycamore speculates, and it's implied, that everyone in the base is still alive, immortal, and trapped under thousands of tons of rock for all time.
- Saints Row 2: After making the MASSIVE mistake of picking a fight with Gat during Aisha's funeral, Ronin leader Shogo is given an utter ass beating by Gat. Gat then drags him to a coffin, dumps out the corpse already in it, and tosses Shogo inside, burying him alive, as he screams for mercy. Even The Boss is unnerved by this, though not too much that he/she doesn't grab shovels.
- Though this never happens in-game, the Nameless One in Planescape: Torment is warned by one of his past incarnations of the extreme danger that being buried (alive or dead) held for him. Given his immortal nature, he would be doomed to an eternity of terror, suffocation and amnesiac reawakening.
- Heiankyo Alien revolves around digging holes to trap aliens in. Once an alien is trapped, the hole has to be filled back in.
- If you pursue the Light Fingers ambition in Fallen London, a villain will eventually threaten to do this to you if you continue, if you get caught continuing you will in fact end up buried alive in 'a small velvet lined box' from which the only escape is usually to kill yourself (but Death Is Cheap so it's just a temporary inconvenience).
- Pirate 101 has a rare case of a hero doing this to a villain, although by accident. El Toro buries Captain Blood he thinks that he had killed him in a duel. The problem was the "dead" man had literally cheated death and become immortal. This resulted in a an accidental creation of a Sealed Evil in a Can that gets opened many years later when the clockwork armada tries digging up the grave looking for a key that might be on the body. The broken bodies surrounding the now open grave indicate they did not expect to be greeted by a angry, powerful, and very much alive pirate.
- A mild example happens in Dragon Quest V when Bianca Whitaker is kidnapped by skeleton ghosts and is stuffed inside the queen's grave during your exploration at the Uptaten Tower. She's quickly freed and doesn't seem to be bothered at all.
- Clive Barker's Undying: An ancient warrior is buried alive at the Standing Stones to seal the Undying King. Also, Lizbeth.
- The Matrix: Path of Neo has Neo do this to the Smiths during the alternate courtyard fight, instead of The Matrix Reloaded's Dog Pile of Doom and Neo flies off ending.
- Banjo-Kazooie ends with Gruntilda crushed under a boulder too heavy for her to lift. By the time her sisters succeed in lifting the boulder in the sequel, she's a skeleton.
- In the 2012 reboot of Twisted Metal, this is Sweet Tooth's fate after his wish to find his daughter Sophie because she escaped him when he tried to kill her is granted by Calypso. Sophie had committed suicide ten years before the game began. Sweet Tooth ends up in trapped in his daughter's coffin face to face with her desiccated corpse. To add insult to injury, some time after Sweet Tooth suffocated to death, Calypso revives Sophie and gives her a Monster Clown makeover of her own.
- During the scalled/forest arc of Outlast II, at one point Blake is buried alive by Laird and Nick in one of their attempts to have him be reborn. Luckily for him, the hole wasn't deep, allowing him to be able to escape.
- As the title suggests, this is a primary factor in the plot of Dark Tales: The Premature Burial, based on the Poe story of the same name. It's eventually revealed that the Big Bad of the game specifically marries women with catalepsy, agitates them into a coma, has them declared dead, and buries them in his personal mausoleum. He's on wife #3 at the time of the game.
- The culprit of Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon collapses the entrance to an abandoned mine in an attempt to inflict this trope on Nancy.
- Happens to Yoshiki in one of Corpse Party's Wrong Ends.
- Grisaia no Kajitsu: At the end of her route Michiru gets buried alive by Yuuji, in order to make her realise the value of being alive. Though Yuuji ensures air to flow through the coffin and doesn't bury that deep to make sure she can escape easily, if she really wants to, she still spends three days down there.
- Red vs. Blue:
- Sarge once allows himself to be buried for his funeral when his obsessive dedication to orders causes him to think he died and was replaced. He survives due to the ground giving out beneath him and landing him in an underground cavern before he runs out of air.
- This happens earlier to him in an April Fool's Day episode when Grif mistakes him for dead in a Warthog explosion. He survives because, as he put it, "I ate my way out! The soft earth was like a delicious butterscotch brownie to me."
- Homestar Runner:
- In the Old-Timey style cartoon "That A Ghost", Homestar Runner and his friends encounter what seems to be the ghost they're hunting, but turns out to be Sickly Sam. Apparently he buries himself alive every Tuesday.
- In the Strong Bad Email "different town", one of the things Strong Bad would do to make his town different would be to bury the King of Town alive in a crate of peas.
Strong Bad: The King of Town
Would be underground
In a box filled up with peas!
King of Town: I hate peas!
Strong Bad: I know!
- One Penny Arcade strip featured Gabe doing this to Tycho as his latest April Fool's joke. The previous two were telling him his birth father wanted to meet him, and creating a billboard identifying him as a pedophile.
- Bug Martini tells us that if this happens to you, you may be getting older.
- This happens early on in The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon, to the title character. He gets out of it.
Jack: Oh, what, that underground thing? I just punched my way out.
Craig: What? What?! That doesn't make sense!!! You were over there when I buried you!
Jack: Right, yeah, I punched in your direction.
Craig: In my direction?!
Jack: It's not my fault if I can hear your incredibly nasal voice underground.
- A terrible incident in Daniel that leads to even more (vampire-related) terrible things.
- Deus Ex Machina. Plague deliberately built a pipe to the surface so that he could still breath. He managed to stay down there for four days before he escaped. Lots of bad people died when he escaped.
- "Why there is no moloch13"
- The Creepypasta "Sarah O'Bannon":
Coffins used to be built with holes in them, attached to six feet of copper tubing and a bell. The tubing would allow air for victims buried under the mistaken impression they were dead. In a certain small town, Harold, the local gravedigger, upon hearing a bell one night, went to go see if it was children pretending to be spirits. Sometimes it was also the wind. This time, it wasn't either. A voice from below begged and pleaded to be unburied.
"Are you Sarah O'Bannon?" Harold asked.
"Yes!" The muffled voice asserted.
"You were born on September 17, 1827?"
"The gravestone here says you died on February 20, 1857."
"No, I'm alive, it was a mistake! Dig me up, set me free!"
"Sorry about this, ma'am," Harold said, stepping on the bell to silence it and plugging up the copper tube with dirt. "But this is August. Whatever you are down there, you sure as hell ain't alive no more, and you ain't comin' up."
- Or, if you prefer the Glorious Mother Russia version:
In Russia, coffin has pipe for air, and bell with string. If man is true Soviet, he does not die. When buried, yells for undertaker and rings bell. Bell rings. Is no wind.
Undertaker asks - "Are you Lady Gorbochev?"
Voice says "Da!"
"Born winter of 1927?"
"Gravestone says 'Died 20 February, 1957'"
"Nyet, am still living!"
"Am sorry, but is August. In June, ground will thaw. You must wait for June."
And woman is true Soviet, waits for June.
- Or, if you prefer the Glorious Mother Russia version:
- My Dad's Tapes: The ultimate fate of Chris's girlfriend, at the hands of Uncle Don and donotcontinue, when Chris rejected their proposal.
- From a Black Humor collection: Parodied version.◊
- Brock Samson from The Venture Bros., in the episode, "Dia de Los Dangerous!", is buried alive, after being shot with at least 20 apparently lethal tranquilizer darts and hit by a van, all while keeping a brutal death grip on a poor enemy soldier. Nonetheless, he still manages to dig himself out, with the only side effect of all of this being Brock's extreme rage and being really thirsty.
- Total Drama:
- Done to Gwen on Total Drama Island, as part of a challenge where the campers have to face their worst fears. Trent forgot to dig her up on schedule, causing a rift in their budding relationship.
- Chris, being the utter prick that he is, does it again in Total Drama: Revenge of the Island by having Gwen guest star and buried along with Sam as part of a challenge. Needless to say, she's not happy about this.
- The Simpsons:
- In episode "Make Room for Lisa", through a freak series of events, the sensory deprivation tank where Homer is floating is found by Flanders, who mistakes it for a coffin and buries it. Fortunately, it is right on top of a water pipe, and Homer's struggle causes it to fall through, being sucked into the sea and washing ashore where a vacationing Chief Wiggum finds it, mistaking it for litter, and sends it back to the New Age store.
- In "The Boys of Bummer", Bart asks Lisa if they're going to visit his pet bunny Fluffy. Lisa tells him that he died and Homer buried him in the backyard ("though not in that order").
- Happens to Hans Moleman in one episode where he points out to the gravedigger that he's still alive just as the casket is lowered into the grave. Apparently he didn't want to be a bother.
- In "C.E.D'oh", Mr. Burns shoots Homer with a tranquilizer dart and tries to wall him up a'la The Cask of Amontillado (he even quotes the story: "Brick by brick, I sealed his fate!"). However, Burns is so feeble that the wall is only ankle-high by the time Homer wakes up and he just steps out over it while Burns carries on placing bricks.
- A Freaky Stories plot involved a man who was deathly afraid of being buried alive, a fact his wife learned when he had a panic attack from the rice being thrown at their wedding. She promises him that if he died, she'd install a hot line phone that linked directly to the house, where she would wait for a year so he can call her to get him out if he's still alive. The rest of the plot involves her actually going through with this promise after her husband dies suddenly. Her friends finally convince her to go out for the evening on the 365th day. Just after she leaves, the phone rings.
- In the Justice League episode "Only a Dream", telepathic psychopath Dr. Destiny (John Dee) does this via a nightmare to Hawkgirl (she's claustrophobic) while her friends get visions related to Power Incontinence. While the others get over their fears, Hawkgirl doesn't and is rescued only when Batman kicks Dee's ass. Then again, you can't really blame her for being scared given the circumstances.
- In "The Boardwalk Booby Trap" episode of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop, the Ant Hill Mob buried Penelope in the sand at the beach. Unknown to any of them, the Hooded Claw had mixed cement into the sand, hoping that the Bully Brothers would flatten Penelope with a steamroller.
- An episode of Jimmy Two-Shoes had Heloise about to do this to someone, only for her to be distracted by seeing Jimmy with Jez.
- It's also what "being grounded" means in Miseryville.
- General Fong of Avatar: The Last Airbender decides the best way to induce the Avatar State in Aang, to be used as a weapon against the Fire Nation, is to bury his friends and make him fight to save them. Instead, this induces the Avatar State as a weapon against the dumbass who thought this was a good idea.
- Villain Jambalaya Jake does this to Darkwing Duck at one point, using a box and lots of see-ment.
- Occurs in Thomas the Tank Engine, for some value of "alive". After Henry refuses to budge from a tunnel, he gets bricked into it "for always and always and always", a fate that the narrator encourages us to believe that he thoroughly deserves. Fortunately for him, "always and always" lasts only a few weeks.
- In Beware the Batman, Magpie does this Katana in the episode "Attraction".
- This happens to Woldoor in the season 2 opener of Drawn Together, after he hangs himself. However, he wasn't committing suicide but "taking his afternoon noose nap", and wakes up in a coffin. In a parody of Kill Bill, he proceeds to punch his way out, then cuts to him digging his way to the surface a la Dig Dug.
- The Looney Tunes The Old Grey Hare takes us into the far distant future year of 2000 where a decrepit old Bugs and Elmer are still playing hunter and prey. As usual, Bugs puts on a fake death scene and, having dug his own grave, stands in it as he exchanges tearful goodbyes with Elmer, manages to switch places with him, and quickly shovels the dirt over him, laughing manically. Then, just to rub it in a bit more, he pops into the ground and gives Elmer a big kiss on the face and a burning stick of dynamite!
- Happens twice in Batman: The Animated Series.
- First in the episode "Deep Freeze" to a villainous Walt Disney-expy who's obsessed with immortality and has Mr. Freeze help him undergo the same cryogenic process Freeze had. By the end of the episode, he's been frozen inside an iceberg at the bottom of the ocean, trapped forever.
- Also happens at the end of "Avatar" to an immortal, undead sorceress. She was technically already buried alive, but by the end, her tomb caves in on top of her. Assuming her immortality kept her alive through that, she is now trapped in a Fate Worse than Death.
- In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Dawn of the Dead Man!", Gentleman Ghost buries Batman alive in a booby-trapped coffin and he uses Astral Projection to get help from Deadman, Speedy, and Green Arrow.
- In American Dad!, the first time Hayley broke up with Jeff in the episode "Bullocks to Stan", Stan tried to help him toughen up to win her back. Part of this involves burying him in the backyard.
Jeff: I can't breathe!
Stan: Plenty of air out here, Jeff. I'm filling my lungs with it now.
Jeff: Mr. Smith, please!
Stan: Real men stay calm under pressure, Jeff. By the way, you only have five more minutes to learn that lesson. Two if you panic.
- In "With Friends Like Steve's", Barry buries a sleeping Francine under the Smiths' yard when he turns Faux Affably Evil from not taking his medication.
- In "Merlot Down Dirty Shame", Roger and Francine have an Accidental Kiss while drunk; Roger is so afraid of destroying his newfound friendship with Stan that he buries Francine alive to stop her from just confessing. When Stan finds out (about the burying, not the kiss), he goes ballistic and Roger buries him. The episode ends with a fake preview for the next episode showing Stan, covered with dirt from digging himself out, beating the everloving shit out of Roger.
- In SpongeBob SquarePants, the titular character and Mr. Krabs bury a health inspector they allegedly killed earlier. The rain washes him out of the ground later, however.
- One Robot Chicken sketch features the Shirt Tales fighting in World War II, where they're mistaken for Axis allies by the American pilots and shot down. Their shirts are laid on their graves and they all change to "R.I.P.", except for Bogey's, whose reads "I'm Buried Alive!"
- In Steven Universe, Lapis inflicts this on herself using the ocean, and she describes how awful it is.
Lapis: You do realize that I spent the last few months trapped under the ocean, right? It was an endless, crushing darkness. Wet and bleak and suffocating. Water was the tomb I lived in for those months.
- This was a very real fear in the 18th and 19th centuries. Back in those days, most civilizations had unreliable ways to identify death, and so stories of the recently buried screaming for help were not uncommon. We can't know how often people were in fact buried alive, but the sheer horrific quality of being buried prematurely led to the creation of Safety coffins, which were essentially coffins with a bell or flag stuck above ground to give the recently buried a method of communication with the outside. One of these can be seen in the movie The First Great Train Robbery.
- Mary Roach's Stiff includes a section on live burial, the bizarre methods doctors once used to try to distinguish death from mere unconsciousness (e.g. an automatic tongue-pulling device!), and so on. She notes that the "coffin bells" never once saved a person who'd been prematurely buried, although some were disinterred when the corpse's decomposition caused its weight to shift and sound a false alarm.
- Similarly, fears of accidental live burial in German-speaking countries led to the creation of "waiting mortuaries", where corpses were kept above ground until they showed clear signs of decomposition. Again, there is no recorded case of a person actually reviving in one.
- These days, accidental live burial would only be possible if the person's body was neither autopsied nor embalmed. In most jurisdictions, one if not both procedures are required by law for the majority of human burials. If you were unlucky enough to get to the mortician or the coroner while still alive, the autopsy and/or embalming process will definitely kill you (or wake you up) before you are buried.
- In most US jurisdictions, neither embalming nor an autopsy are required for the majority of human burials. Only about 20% of US deaths are even subject to investigation by coroners or medical examiners. Of those, less than 25% are subject to autopsy. State laws and FTC rules prohibit the requiring of embalming. The FTC rule says, "Except in certain special cases, embalming is not required by law." A "special case" would include a funeral with viewing .
- Alfred Nobel was so afraid of being buried alive that he left instructions that the doctor who pronounced him dead were to cut open his neck arteries as well, just to be safe.
- Mary Roach's Stiff includes a section on live burial, the bizarre methods doctors once used to try to distinguish death from mere unconsciousness (e.g. an automatic tongue-pulling device!), and so on. She notes that the "coffin bells" never once saved a person who'd been prematurely buried, although some were disinterred when the corpse's decomposition caused its weight to shift and sound a false alarm.
- In 1968, the young heiress Barbara Jane Mackle was kidnapped, drugged, placed in a coffin and buried alive as her captors demanded for a $500,000 ransom from her family. After three days, she was found weakened yet still alive. She wrote a book about it named 83 Hours 'Til Dawn; it was turned into a Made-for-TV Movie.
- In the infamous 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping (likely the inspiration for the "Walker" example in the "TV" section), A gang of kidnappers in the American Southwest actually did this to an entire school bus full of children. Thankfully, everyone escaped.
- On his deathbed, George Washington requested that his body be kept unburied for two days to make sure he was actually dead. This is actually still common practice in the form of the wake. A wake, for those who do not know, was when the family and friends of the deceased would place the corpse, in the coffin, in a prominent place in their home. The said family and friends would then sit up with the dead in case they woke up. This was done for 1 to 2 days before burial.
- Harry Houdini:
- He once tested an escape in which he was buried six feet deep without a coffin, and had to dig his way up. Once. He lost consciousness just after his hand broke the surface, and had to be pulled out.
- He also spent over an hour in a sealed, underwater coffin to demonstrate that it could be done, to disprove another performer who claimed to use mystical powers to accomplish the feat. There was another buried alive escape planned, but it's not clear if it was ever performed prior to his death. Rather ghoulishly, the coffin that was to be used in the escape was instead put to use transporting his remains.
- 33 Chilean miners buried alive for 69 days in 2010. Their rescue was watched by the world in awe at the things humans can achieve when properly motivated.
- Beaconsfield miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb did it first, gaining international fame after surviving for a month underground. There was a play planned for the event, A Symphony in a Flat Minor.
- The "Baby Jessica" incident, when 18-month-old Jessica McClure fell down a 22' deep, 8" wide well shaft in 1987. Three days' efforts to rescue her constituted one of the first major around-the-clock news stories covered by then-fledgling network CNN, and was accused of being a media circus. Jessica survived the experience relatively unscathed (one of her toes was amputated due to gangrene and she also got a scar on her forehead), and at age 25 she received full control of the trust fund to which thousands of people sent donations after viewing the story. Other than that, she's led a more or less normal life.
- There's a Snopes article about it, which includes a story from 1994.
- In the wake of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, a number of rescue personnel were trapped for days in the rubble of the fallen towers. The plight of two trapped Port Authority Police officers was portrayed in the Oliver Stone film World Trade Center.
- Subverted with Anthony Spilotro, on whom the character of Nicky Santoro from Casino was based (see the entry in Film above), and his brother Michael. While sand was allegedly found in their lungs, indicating live burial, it was confirmed years later that they had been murdered in a basement before being buried in the cornfield.
- In an interview, J. K. Rowling said that her own boggart would be her being buried alive.
- In Ancient Rome, supposedly the punishment for a Vestal Virgin that had broken her vow of chastity was being walled up in a crypt and left to die. This was because it was forbidden to spill the blood of a Vestal Virgin. Why they didn't just strangle them is their own secret. However, it was also used a kind of trial: they were left with a small amount of bread and water so that the goddess Vesta could save them if they were truly innocent.
In fact, one version of the story of Romulus and Remus claims that their mother was a Vestal Virgin seduced by Mars, and she was sentenced to this fate by her uncle, who also orders the death of the twins by exposure. Both means would avoid his direct blood-guilt, but her sons are luckier; the servant tasked with killing them can't bring himself to do so, and leaves them by the banks of the Thebes, where they are found by Lupa.
- And British statesman Lord Chesterfield wrote in Letters to His Son: "All I desire for my own burial is not to be buried alive; but how or where, I think must be entirely indifferent to every rational creature." (letter 311)
- In the First World War, the sheer ferocity of the artillery barrages was sufficient to dislodge large enough volumes of earth to cover over some of those it did not blow apart. Fortunately for quite a few soldiers thus buried, trench warfare being what it was meant that there was always an immediate and plentiful supply of willing hands to dig you out and shovels with which they could do so. Some people survived this treatment more than once.
- Then there was the underground war, where (predominantly but not exclusively) British and German diggers tunneled under the battlefield to lay explosive charges and undermine each other's trenches. This sort of warfare was slow, laborious and terrifying, especially when Your Tunnel met Their Tunnel very suddenly.
- During the first Gulf War, US tanks equipped with plows were used to fill in trenches manned by Iraqi soldiers, rather than send in soldiers to clear the trenches with hand-to-hand fighting.
- This was a common punishment for women in Medieval Sweden, usually for theft. Men were hanged instead. The reason for this was because women might kick and thrash about with their legs when hanged, and then onlookers might get to see something inappropriate. This type of punishment was called "Kvick I Jord" which literally means "(Lying) Conscious In The Earth".
- Prairie dogs, gopher-like colonial rodents of the North American plains, have been known to fight back against burrowing predators such as black-footed ferrets by filling up the carnivores' tunnel entrances when they're sleeping or suckling young underground. The predator can normally dig itself out again, but wastes time and energy doing so while the prairie dogs can forage in safety.
- According to the Roman historian Tacitus, this was the punishment for men caught having sex with other men among the German tribes. Literally burying your gays...
- A not very common, but not exactly unheard way to execute Christians, whose victims included: Saint Daria (apparently a former Vestal priestess) and her husband Saint Chrisanthus, Saint Paulina and her mother Saint Candida, Saint Irene of Egypt and her brother Saint Athanasius, Blessed Maria Dolorosa van Brabant, Saint Andronik of Perm, Saint Elizabeth of Russia, etc.
- The brothers and Sikh martyrs Sahibzada Fateh Singh and Sahibzada Zorawar Singh were two kids under 10 condemned to be bricked up alive inside a wall for not converting from Sikhism to Islam, during the persecutions of the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb. In a subversion, the boys' executioners entombed them up to their shoulders and then beheaded them, presumably out of pity.
- Dublin man buries himself alive, live-streams from the "grave"
- In the 1995 Sampoong Department Store disaster in South Korea, large portions of the building collapsed into the store's multiple basement levels, trapping anyone who had been in those levels under massive amounts of rubble. Several were found alive, a few after more than a week, with the last survivor being pulled from the wreckage an astonishing 17 days after the collapse. However, evidence suggested that others who survived the initial catastrophe died before they could be rescued.
- In 1977, Holly Maddux disappeared after returning to her abusive ex-boyfriend's apartment to collect her things. 1.5 years later, her remains were found stuffed in a trunk which was itself stuffed in the back of his closet. The position of her body—arms outstretched—indicated that despite the severe bludgeoning he administered, she was still alive when he placed her in the trunk and died trying to get out.
- In 1964, three civil rights workers disappeared in Mississippi. When their bodies were discovered in an earthen dam several weeks later, one of they had clay in his lungs and clenched in his fists, indicating that he was still alive when placed in his grave.
- In 2013, 29-year old ship's cook Harrison Odjegba Okene survived a maritime version of this trope when the tugboat on which he was serving capsized and sank off the coast of Nigeria. With his ship resting on the floor of the Atlantic ocean, Okene survived for more than 60 hours in a small air pocket that had somehow not been filled with water, with a bottle of Coke as his only source of food or hydration until he was discovered by divers who had been sent to the ship on a salvage operation. Sadly, the 11 other men on board on the ship were not so fortunate.
- Following the Battle of Guandu, Cao Cao took many of Yuan Shao's soldiers prisoner. When he learned a number of them tried to escape to rejoin Yuan, Cao had them buried alive as punishment, as well as a warning to the other prisoners.