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Cruel and Unusual Death

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"If he was a cut above the rest, he'd have picked rock."

"The Council has decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city."
The High Prophet of Truth, Halo 2

Some people die of old age, or gradually succumb to one of a number of illnesses. When death comes, the lucky among us will go out peacefully with dignity. Some of us might go out fighting the good fight, saving the lives of some unfortunate person whom our consciences cannot ignore and force us to help. They'll all die "good deaths" (and in some cases, heroic deaths).

This trope is not about those people.

Some deaths not only suck, they suck beyond the telling of it. These deaths are extremely painful, particularly gruesome, and morbidly embarrassing, so horrific that they leave the deceased absolutely no chance to retain any sort of dignity, forever. These deaths transcend from being merely "bad" into the realm of being "ugly."

This trope isn't about just any unpleasant death. Sure, it's bad to get shot in the head...your blood spills all over the floor and you may void your bladder or your bowels. But compared to... oh, being eaten alive from the inside out, getting shot is a walk in the park. It is worth noting that for the most part, creators reserve these events for use as villainous karmic deaths (where the level of horror involved with the death is often part of the karmic punishment) and to get rid of unpleasant people who are Hoist by Their Own Petards... especially the embarrassing type. If this is done to a sympathetic character, on the other hand, it is usually the point where the killer crosses the Moral Event Horizon, if he or she is not on the other side of it already. If someone kills people like this on a regular basis, chances are they're a Complete Monster.


There isn't necessarily a correlation between the visible gruesomeness of the death and the actual nature of the character's death, some deaths that fall under this trope happen offscreen, and it's the very idea of it that makes it horrific. Deaths with a high horrible factor with less visible content can just as easily fall into scary, though.

Deaths like this tend to fall into two categories: The first one is where the victim is a rather sadistic villain who deserves it, who you really aren't going to feel sorry for (well, maybe a little...). The second one is where the killer fits that description, and the intent is to show the viewers how sadistic they are (more often than not, it's convincing). Occasionally, the two situations happen in the same work of fiction, with the killer in the second type becoming a victim in the first, which is very much a Karmic Death.


Warning: The following contains some serious Nightmare Fuel and Nausea Fuel, with a liberal dosage of Squick. Read at your own risk.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

  • The four animals showcased in this Tearjerking environmentalism PSA suffer manmade (and thankfully not too graphic) deaths that, to add extra heartbreak to it, are all too common in real life. More specifically:
    • A mother rhinoceros who gets her horns cut off by poachers.
    • A whale suffering a Death of a Thousand Cuts via whalers.
    • A pelican drowning in an oil spill.
    • A baby seal who is last seen about to be bludgeoned to death by hunters.

    Asian Animation 
  • The Simple Samosa episode "Samosa Mama" almost has Mayor Royal Falooda punishing Samosa for a kidnapping he never did before Vada proves the judge wrong. The punishment? "You will not be fried, you will not be cooked... no, you will be served!", the idea being that since they're all food, Samosa is about to be eaten. Made worse by the fact that Samosa is just a kid, probably around 8-12 years old. Made worse still since Cham Cham, who frames Samosa for the crime, hates the guy with a burning passion and is never shown reacting negatively to this.

    Comic Books 
  • X-Men:
    • In Ultimate X-Men, a lackey failed Magneto. He was unlucky to have an implanted pacemaker.
    • And yet again Magneto: In the X-Men graphic novel God Loves, Man Kills, he catches a group of thugs who have just murdered two mutant children. He tells one of the thugs that there is enough iron in an average human being's blood to make a small nail... and then he shows them.
    • A feat "repeated" by Magneto in X2: X-Men United, the second X-Men movie, with the death of prison guard Mitchell Laurio. Magneto arranged for Mystique to load Laurio's body with extra iron so he'd have enough to escape with.
    • The mutant-hating Corrupt Church the Church of Humanity captured several young mutants, sometime after the Xavier Institute was closed, including Jubilee, Skin, Magma, Bedlam, and several unnamed victims, crucifying them on the lawn of the mansion simply to Make an Example of Them. (See the Real Life section of this trope for details on this horrid execution method.) Jubilee and Magma survived due to Archangel's healing abilities; the others weren't so lucky.
  • Ch'p, a Green Lantern who looked like a humanoid squirrel, died when he stepped onto a road and was hit by a truck. Just think about that for a second and you'll realize why it qualifies for this trope.
  • In the ElfQuest: Shards storyline Two-Edge builds a particularly nasty execution device for the human tyrant Grohmul Djun. It consists of two large urns in the shape of birds with upraised beaks, between which the prisoner is strapped. The urns are slowly filled with water, the weight causing them to tip outward, putting greater and greater force on the prisoner's limbs until he is eventually torn in two.
  • In the middle of The Bronze Age of Comic Books, Moral Guardians made the mistake of forbidding The Spectre, DC's Spirit of Vengeance, from killing anyone, but failed to define "killing". Cue Body Horror, And I Must Scream, Taken for Granite, and the like, as the Spectre began inflicting "nonlethal" transformations on his prey — though any normal person would consider the results either death, or in some cases a Fate Worse than Death.
    • To punish Doctor Light, the Spectre transformed him into a candle, with his head as the wick and his body made of wax. The results were obvious after a while. At other times, he transformed a criminal into wood, and chucked him into a grinder. A pedophile was brutally ripped apart by his collection of dolls. He once judged a country guilty (it had a long history of blood feuds and ethnic cleansings). His answer? Burn it to the ground, men, women, and children included, and leave the two top politicians alive, damning them to rule over the devastated land. He even threatened to do the same to the whole of the state of New York (a convicted criminal, who turned out to be innocent, was slated to be executed; this would mean the people of the State of New York would be guilty of homicide by the Spectre's book).
    • This was always the Spectre's speciality; some classic stories feature, in no particular order: being turned to glass and shattered, being turned into a mannequin and burned alive, melting as if made of wax, drowning in the clutches of a giant octopus; being cut in half by a giant pair of scissors (pictured above), being beheaded by a falling decorative sword, being sliced and diced by a spectral meat cleaver, aging to a pile of dust and simply being reduced to a skeleton in the blink of an eye while being center of attention on a crowded airplane.
  • Lots and lots of EC Comics stories (and other pre-Comics Code horror comics, for that matter), often as Karmic Death for good measure.
  • Hack/Slash Implied. We don’t see Lisa Elsten or Chris Krank body’s, due to them being under the covers, but they were killed by Doctor Gross, and there’s copious amounts of blood.
  • This is the modus operandi of Stardust the Super Wizard, a public domain Golden Age superhero, punishing Asshole Victims that deserve it. An example is in punishing a villain who tried to kill everyone in Washington D.C. by depriving them of oxygen, Stardust grew his head until his body was enveloped by it, flew with him very far into space, and threw him in the direction of a headless space giant that envelops heads where its neck should be.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has Griffin, the Invisible Man. He gets beaten, and then raped to death by Mr. Hyde. When he dies he becomes visible, but we only see the contents of one room (and Hyde) covered in blood. Resident Blood Knight Captain Nemo sees what Hyde has done, and is disgusted by it and wants to execute Hyde for his crime.
  • The Punisher
    • The Punisher has his share of brutal kills, but the one that takes the cake is actually his own Rasputinian Death in "The List", he continues trying to stab Daken after - in less than a half hour - having being shot, hit with grenades, punched around, cut across the chest by Daken, broke a leg, getting his throat slashed, lost an arm and about 3 gallons of blood.
    • Frank himself was probably at his most brutal in the "Slavers" arc in The Punisher MAX. With the Asshole Victims smuggling women into the US to be sex slaves, including an hours-long gang rape on each slave to start out, you don't really feel for them at all when Frank, among other punishments, throws a woman who oversaw this horror into shatterproof glass enough times that finally the frame bends enough for the pane to fall out and she plummets to her death. Or when Frank gets information from a slaver by disemboweling him and hanging his intestines from a tree while still attached. The interrogation is implied to begin at sunrise which makes things worse when Frank casually mentions in the next issue that it took him until NOON to bleed out.
  • Elsewhere in Mavel, the enormously obese Miami drug lord Ulysses X. Lugman, aka the Slug, has been known to asphyxiate a man in the folds of his flesh when he wants to kill someone personally.
  • Black Adam pulls off a few of these during his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and later during World War Three. These include:
    • Tearing a character's face off with one hand (complete with pun about trying to save face).
    • Grabbing Young Frankenstein's arms and tearing them both off simultaneously (which also qualifies as Narm for some).
    • Punching a hole in Terra ala Kung Pow! Enter the Fist.
    • Tearing Terraman in half at the pelvis.
    • And flicking the president of Bialya under the chin hard enough to send him flying into the ceiling with enough force to liquefy his head.
    • Psycho-Pirate's fate in "Infinite Crisis". "No more silly faces."
  • The Joker's had his fair share of dealing these types of deaths like... well, like playing cards. This may be because he has two main beliefs: 1. Do anything for the funny. 2. There Is No Kill Like Overkill.
    • There were two rather cruel murders he committed in the Graphic Novel Joker. The first involved skinning a man alive because he got on the Joker's bad side by insulting his club, eyeing his girl, and then insulting the Clown Prince himself. The second? He shoots a man in the head, while said man is sitting on the toilet. It might not be the most cruel death, but it's certainly embarrassing. Stay classy, Mr. J.
      • His Joker Venom could qualify for this trope, too, considering what it does. First you just start laughing, and you can't stop no matter how hard you try. Then all the muscles in your body begin to seize up, especially in your face, causing you to grin. Then you start to take on the Joker's appearance, white skin, green hair and all. Then the muscle paralysis causes you to stop breathing. THEN you die. Oh, and if you're really 'lucky', he might merely dose you with the non-lethal version, which can cause not only insanity but puts you into a coma...
      • What he did to Alex Luthor. He ambushed him in a dark alley, sprayed him with acid that wound up melting half his goddamn face off, shocked him with an electric joy-buzzer, and finally shot him dead as Lex insulted him for his myopia and lack of foresight in not allowing the Joker to join the Society in the first place. Oh, and Alex? Deserved it.
  • Marvel Zombies runs on this trope.
  • Crossed is made of this trope. Anyone who falls afoul of the titular psychopathic monsters will die an unthinkably horrible death, usually after being raped and tortured for hours. Some of the non-Crossed characters also prove capable of murdering other survivors in brutally nasty ways.
  • Über
    • The American superhuman Colossus tries to take on the German "living battleship" Sieglinde when the Nazis attack Paris. Colossus ambushes Sieglinde and at first seems to be winning against her, knocking her to the ground and strangling her... until she rips both of his arms off and uses her matter-disruption powers to twist his entire body into a gory sculpture of pulped flesh and shattered bone. By the end, he's so mutilated it's almost impossible to tell he was once human. The worst thing of all? He's still alive. His skull is so tough it takes five hours for the Allies to euthanize him with an industrial drill.
    • In another scene, Hitler has another of his "battleships", the Sociopathic Soldier Markus/Siegfried, burn off the face of a disobedient general. The man's death is depicted in loving detail. Similar deaths are suffered by thousands of ordinary soldiers who go up against the battleships.
    • Siegfried is put down this way in Invasion #7, combined with Death of a Thousand Cuts. It takes the combined efforts of a team of Super Speed Zephyr Ubers to slit his throat, his disruption halo backfiring on him to blow up half of his face and the subsequent massive blood loss to finally do him in.
  • Deena Pilgrim in Powers gets hits with Cruel and Unusual Deaths when she goes to confront the now-totally-batshit-insane nearly-omnipotent Captain Ersatz of Superman and Captain Marvel called Supershock. First, he strips her naked and flies her into orbit, exposing her to hard vacuum. He then uses his powers to protect her from the vacuum, but kills her with a heart attack. He brings her back to life, then kills her again with another heart attack. He brings her back to life a second time, and kills her with another heart attack. He then brings her back to life a third time, and because he's a sadistic prick, keeps her alive while physically removing her heart from her chest and letting her see him hold it.
  • A number of characters in Asterix are threatened with things like being roasted alive, crucifixion or (Once An Album) being flung to the lions of the circus. Justified as this is Ancient Rome we're talking about.
  • The Sentry is a terrifyingly psychotic individual, as Ares found out the hard way when the Sentry very literally tears him in half, reducing him to an explosion of bone, blood, and Ludicrous Gibs.
  • X-23 was bred to be a Tyke Bomb master assassin, and she certainly lives up to her reputation — Captain America spent years personally hunting her down after her first mission. Usually she's quick, clean and efficient. At least until her creator/mother had enough with the abuse the poor child had been subjected to and turned her loose on the project which created her. When X caught up with Zander Rice, the psychopathic lead scientist on one of her main tormentors, she went to work on him for ten minutes. With her bare hands. And damned if he didn't deserve every second.
  • Overmastery in White Sand. Sand Mastery dehydrates the user, and when you Master too much, magic reaches for all water reserves in your body, quite literally drying you out to death.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Queen Clea loves doling these out, though her attempt to creatively kill Diana and Steve doesn't work out. She has Diana encased in molten metal while Steve is forced into the arena to be eaten by monsters with not but a small sword so that Di will have to hear Steve die as she suffocates. Things go sideways due to Diana being entirely unaffected by the heat and then breaking out of her restraints and Steve being far more competent with a blade than anyone expected.
  • The French comic Lanfeust has its share of graphic deaths and bloody scenes, but one of the most cruel and unusual is when Thanos forces Cixi to execute his brother Bascrean by boiling the man's blood inside his body, leaving a charred, messy skeleton behind.
  • The Ultimates: Hurricane is liquefied by Quicksilver.
  • The Italian horror comic Dylan Dog gets really creative with this trope. Just to list some, issue #21 has a man being inflated with gas until he explodes like a balloon, issues #28 and #107 follow a Roger Rabbit expy "Pink Rabbit" who kills people in cartoon gag-inspired ways not too unlike The Mask comic, and both issues #41 and #73 follow groups of surreal beings driven by Blue-and-Orange Morality that go around killing random citizens in creatively gruesome ways, which include violent mutilations, hanging, decapitation, skinning, melting and disembowelment.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Incredibles: Syndrome. He was run through a jet turbine. Feet first!
    • Even worse, the same thing happened to teenage super-heroine Stratogale. At least she went in head first.
  • The Lion King (1994):
    • King Mufasa, when he is thrown into a gorge by his treacherous brother, Scar. If the fall didn't kill Mufasa, being trampled to death by a stampede of wildebeests did.
    • Scar, after he attempts to blame the hyenas for his crimes, is betrayed by his former "friends" and eaten alive.
    • Averted with Simba: He barely escapes death by dehydration and exhaustion (after fleeing for days from Pride Rock), and later Scar nearly throws the adult Simba into an enormous fire of dead trees and bushes.
  • Mulan: Shan Yu is hit by a huge rocket that flies towards a pile of fireworks. Impressive Pyrotechnics ensue.
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire: When it senses danger, the Mother Crystal emits a strange energy that transmutes any foreign substance into crystal. Later Milo slashes Rourke with a shard of crystallized glass, and the effect spreads through the bad guy's body, mutating him into a still living, agony-ridden crystal humanoid that's visibly cracking apart as he moves. And then he goes flying into his airship's propellers, causing him to explode in a burst of energy. Given that Rourke was about to wipe out the Atlanteans by stealing their life source after murdering their king, and that said source was sentient and pissed off, he was not getting the easy way out.
  • One cut scene shows what happens to anyone who comes into contact with the mist of The Black Cauldron: one of the Horned King's henchmen, doesn't get stabbed to death by the Cauldron Born, but has his flesh melt instead slowly until he is reduced to a skeleton.
    • The Horned King himself gets a messy death; he's drawn into the Cauldron cursing and struggling, and the power quite literally rips him apart, tearing apart his skin, stripping him down to the bone, and finally vaporizing what remains. It's technically bloodless, but it's still one of the most chilling Disney villain deaths ever. It's also as senseless as it is violent - storm-force winds cannot kill someone in this manner.
  • A Bug's Life: As vile as he may have been, it's hard not to feel a bit of sympathy for Hopper given how gruesome his demise — being eaten alive by birds, and implied to have been ripped to shreds by the chicks in the nest beforehand — is, regardless of it not being fully shown. Even Flik and Atta, the former of whom set it up in the first place to stop him killing them, are both visibly disturbed when he is about to die.
  • The Transformers: The Movie brutally killed most of the old Autobots to promote the new toyline. Possibly most notably, we get a nice view of Prowl's innards burning, and a crippled Ironhide being callously shot point-blank by Megatron's Fusion Cannon in a manner highly reminiscent of an execution. One new character (Ultra Magnus) was supposed to be torn apart, but it was changed to something less traumatizing.note 
  • Padak: The main character, a wild mackarel captured by a Korean seafood restaurant, is eventually served as Ikizukuri. Which means her flesh is cut up into sashimi and served up while she is still alive and aware she is being eaten. Adding insult to injury, the customer sticks a lit cigarette in her mouth as a joke before he tucks in.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In the Book of Judges, an unnamed Levite man's concubine runs away from him and goes to her daddy. Her husband comes to drag her home, and they pass by the town of Gibeah on their way back, where they were offered a place to stay by an old man. Later, the men of the town come knocking on the door (deliberately mirroring the story of Lot and his daughters back in the Book of Genesis), seeking sexual favors from the Levite man. The host offers up his virgin daughter and his guest's concubine, at which the Levite hands over the concubine to protect his own ass. They take her as their new sex toy, and they brutally gang-rape her several times over, until she dies. Then they just leave her body on the doorstep. As if that wasn't bad enough, she doesn't even get a proper burial: instead, her husband hacks up her body and distributes the pieces to his friends to call them to war with the people of Gibeah.
    • Jezebel in the Books of Kings: thrown out a window, then run over by a chariot, and then eaten by dogs.
    • The Four Gospels detail Jesus's infamous death by being nailed to a cross.
    • Though the Gospel of Matthew said Judas hanged himself, it's stated in Acts that he dropped dead with his body bursting open and his guts spilling out. One theory to reconcile this theorizes he hanged himself, then the rope broke, with his fall leading to this.
  • Several of the apostles according to tradition. Peter was crucified upside down (at his own request, since he didn't feel worthy of dying the same way Jesus did), Simon sawed in half (from the crotch up!), Bartholomew flayed alive...
  • Some Irish myths state that Cuchulainn's spear, the Gae Bolg, would sprout long barbs on entering a human body. In the Tain Bo Cuailnge, he stabs Ferdiad with it in the butt and the barbs are so long, they impale Ferdiad throughout his limbs. The spear literally has to be cut out of him.

  • Death Metal is flooded with this trope. Done by the most evil people on innocents, though the token Asshole Victim shows up from time to time.
  • The traditional Irish song "The Two Sisters" (covered by several musicians over the years, including Tom Waits, CLANNAD, and Bob Dylan) recounts the tale of a girl who is drowned by her own sister out of jealousy over a man both girls fancy. The song ends with a line that notes that the murderess is punished by being boiled in lead.
  • Happens quite alot with GWAR.
  • While not the official video,Child's Play has the lyric imply this, as the person killing her cut out her eyes, cut off her lips, and then cut off her foot, in addition to cutting her hair out of jealousy because the man she was infatuated with loved the victim. The official vid vaguely states what had happened but it is not clearly shown and the relationship between the two girls is unclear but it is safe to assume that they are sisters like "The Two Sisters" example or that they are very close friends.
  • The album Benji by Sun Kil Moon is full of these, but the one instance that sticks out the most is in "Carissa" when Carissa burned to death after throwing out her trash and there just so happened to be a can full of pressurized gas inside the trash. Unfortunately, that isn't the only time it happens, since it happens again in "Truck Driver."

  • The Cool Kids Table game Creepy Town is a slasher movie, so naturally some of these occur.
    • Ethan is bisected by a chainsaw.
    • Spencer drowns in the floor.
    • Walter and Veronica get pulled into the wall.
    • Frank is dragged into the fog by the Devil.
    • Stacey is drowned by a giant Creepy Doll that looks like Dianne.
    • Will is torn in half by the monster in the form of Ethan.
  • All the deaths in Sequinox episode "Inferno" are bad, but the way that Sid is killed takes the cake for the worst one. She is crushed underneath Chell's body, who is being used as a make-shift weapon by Scorpius.

  • In Moonrise, this happens to quite a few characters. Most notable is Shadestar of BrokenClan, who was brutally killed by a tiger via being torn open and viciously shredded, taking all of her remaining lives.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Killer Game Masters of Dungeons & Dragons are quite fond of devising some pretty nasty ways to go, usually in the form of Death Traps.
    • The players can get pretty creative, too. The expansion book Stormwrack has sample rules for holding your enemies underwater until they drown, for instance.
    • Some of the spells in the Book Of Vile Darkness (a book all about evil characters) cause this. Examples include "death by thorns" (which causes giant thorns to burst out of the victims skin and organs and leaves them to writhe in agony for a few rounds before dying,) "Seething eyebane" (which makes their eyeballs explode and possibly kill them) and "Plague Of Nightmares" (Which makes the victim have horrible nightmares every night until they go insane and die).
    • Even the seemingly innocuous spell "Heat Metal" can cause this. Being forced to drop your white-hot weapon is... unpleasant. Use it against someone wearing plate armor and you can, in essence, cook the target alive inside their armor, as it takes 5 minutes to doff plate armor according to the 5e Player's Handbook.
  • GURPS: Ultratech has a weapon that releases nanites into your blood. After a few minutes your blood explodes.
  • A Blood Magic spell in a Rifts supplemental is called Carnivorous Blood. Your imagination can handle the rest...
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Rather than just kill his foes, the Daemonic Herald Skulltaker from Warhammer, Warhammer: Age of Sigmar and Warhammer 40,000 prefers to cripple them, so that they lie helpless on the ground, before taking their head in his hand and burning the flesh from the still living victim’s skull with hellfire.
    • Warhammer:
      • The Chaos Dwarfs sacrifice their victims to their god Hashut, by herding them into a massive brazen bull where they are burned alive.
      • The 'good guys' are no strangers to inflicting these either with one Dark Elf sorceress being forever gnawed on by the serpent god after being sacrificed by the Lizardmen.
    • Warhammer 40,000:
      • Half the stuff that can kill you in the setting counts as this. From flesh-eating worms to bio-acids that melt the skin off your bones, to razor-sharp shards of psychically charged material which will not only tear you to pieces but make you feel unimaginable pain, to guns that flay you apart molecule by molecule, or open a portal to what is essentially hell and suck you in.
      • The Orks' Shokk Attack Gun teleports a tiny goblin though hell, driving it psychotically insane, and causing it to reappear inside you, at which point it rips you apart from within.
      • The Dark Eldar civilisation revolves around inflicting this on people, and they are terrifyingly good at it. The basic Dark Eldar ranged weapon is a gun that fires poisoned projectiles designed to kill the victim as painfully as possible (or incapacitate them as painfully as possible so they may be taken alive and subjected to even worse torture). Their more exotic wargear tends to be even worse, such as weapons that spray flesh-eating acid, burn out the victim's nervous system, turn them into glass statues or instantly drain all moisture from their bodies, leaving behind a mummified corpse that disintegrates to dust. Now consider that despite all the horrible ways Dark Eldar weapons can kill you, the most famous quote associated with them is "pray that they don't take you alive"...
      • Speaking of the Dark Eldar, there's this from the 5th edition codex:
      Asdrubael Vect tricks his would-be rival Archon Kelithresh into opening a casket that has ostensibly been presented as tithe. Held precariously in the collapsing field of the casket is the unstable essence of a black hole. Kelithresh's entire realm is plunged into a howling, yawning vortex.
      • Pretty much every single weapon in the Tyranid arsenal causes this. Flesh-eating acids, necrotic viruses, tunelling worms fired like bullets, sprays of worms that slowly devour your nervous system, shards of poisoned crystal, seeds that explode into hardened vines the moment they touch blood, you name it. Possibly the most merciful death you can expect when fighting them is being stomped flat by a Carnifex.
      • Dark Heresy and its spinoffs has the critical hit table, which consists entirely of cruel and unusual injuries and deaths. Examples include having your head blown off by an energy weapon and your headless corpse catching on fire and running around (possibly igniting anything flammable, like other characters, in the vicinity), your body split open and everybody within D10 meters having to take an agility test or slip on all the blood gushing everywhere, and having every bone in your body pulverised by the force of the impact you took. The psychic phenomena table has some rather unusual ways die, with having your soul devoured by Daemons being the worst.
    • The Eldar Harlequins have the Neuro Disruptor, a weapon from an unknown alien species. It is a psychically attenuated crystal attached to a pistol grip. It has no firing mechanism or any moving parts however. The Eldar user simply aims it at the target, thinks, and the target has their brain activity shut down. No armour can protect, only extreme mental fortitude. The nickname for the use of this weapon is "cutting the strings". The evil robotic Necrons have a similar weapon, the Synpatic Disintegrator, which causes neural tissue to disintegrate.
  • New World of Darkness has several extremely horrifying deaths for the very unfortunate humans that run foul of its supernatural denizens. Certain vampires can restrain a human while eating his flesh, then wear it as a cloak to protect from sunlight. Abyssal entities can do all sorts of unpleasant things to people. The grand prize, however, has to go to the Shartha, or the hosts, who can possess humans by getting into their bodies and slowly eating their hearts or brains.
  • Paranoia: Many traitors are simply lasered to death in the heat of battle, but the really unlucky ones get to serve Alpha Complex one last time by getting assigned to nuclear reactor shielding duty. No, they don't get to repair the shielding, they get to be the shielding.
  • Planescape. If the Lady is displeased with you and wants to publicly voice said displeasure she lets her shadow fall over you. The victims die from having the skin and flesh flayed from their bones while still alive and capable of feeling every last moment of it, with the end result being little more than a ragged pile of leaky meat.
  • While not nearly as bad as some of the ones above, in BattleTech, if you're an infantryman, you can look forward to the following attractive deaths: being stomped to death by a 50+ ton mech, having your limbs blown off by a gauss rifle, vaporizing in the middle of a huge person-wide laser beam, being sliced in half by a smaller beam, kicked so hard by a giant mech that if you aren't killed by the blow, you will be when you hit a wall flying 80 KM/H. A pilot in a BattleMech can look forward to having his limbs torn off by jagged pieces of metal as he ejects, being sliced open by jagged pieces of metal as he ejects, accidentally auto-ejecting into the vacuum of space, without a space suit, and those are when you eject. Inside the mech a pilot risks becoming brain-dead following their neurohelmet zapping their brain with so much biofeedback, that the worst Black ICE in Shadowrun would be jealous.
    • The worst fate would be being on a jumpship that improperly jumps. Let's just say that some of your molecules jump with the ship, while others don't.
  • Exalted: There are a lot of means to kill someone in cool and fascinating way, but the Abyssals make an art out of it with Illustrative Overkill Technique: you kill someone in such a gruesome and nauseating way that anyone watching it will start running away from you, most likely while vomiting their bowels out.
  • Psionics: The Next Stage in Human Evolution gives you several ways to inflict these on opponents. These include, but are not limited to, telekinetically crushing people or ripping them apart, raising their temperature so high that they boil in their own skin, making their heads explode, forcing them to commit suicide, and atomizing them.
  • The Arcania of Legend: Blood Magic magic and spell supplement for Mongoose Publishing's fantasy roleplaying game Legend deals with the topic of using physical pain and blood sacrifice - including human sacrifice - to power spells and placate cruel gods. The dangerous spell casting methods include self-harming, exsanguination, cannibalism and soul consumption to activate and fuel spells, enchant items and summon demonic entities. The themes of the book's spell list include pain, suffering, sacrifice and death. Several of the listed spells can inflict cruel and unusual deaths such as Boil Blood, which is self-explanatory; Haemoptysis, which causes the victim to begin coughing up blood; Heart Seizure, which induces heart failure; and the Sorcery spells Extract Heart, which causes the victim's heart to literally leap out of his chest, and Transmute Blood, which turns the blood in the victim's veins into some other substance such as potent acid, ruby or molten iron.

  • Heracles' poisoned shirt from The Trachiniae seems to meld to him, eat away his skin, and just be very painful and terrifying in general. Instead of waiting for it to properly kill him he asks to be immolated asap.
  • William Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus sees its main character slice the throats of his rival's sons, bleed them before letting them die, and bake them into a pie which he then serves back to their unknowing mother.
  • Another Shakespearean example is Mark Antony's clumsy drawn-out suicide in Antony and Cleopatra.
  • In Christopher Marlowe's Edward II, the title character is impaled (onstage) through the anus with a red-hot poker — see also the Real Life section. His (fictional) assassin, Lightborn, has a speech describing his expertise in Cruel And Unusual Death. Although the real Edward II probably didn't actually die this way, the legend no doubt arose because it was seen as a Karmic Death, given Edward's homosexuality. Marlowe (who was probably gay himself) writes Edward as a fairly sympathetic character, and the scene in the play is absolutely horrifying.
  • The stage musical adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (both the Broadway and West End productions) goes further with this trope than any previous incarnation of the story, particularly with Violet Beauregarde and Veruca Salt. Violet explodes after she turns into a blueberry and Veruca is sent down the nut chute with her father to an incinerator, leading to a Dwindling Party. Mr. Wonka doesn't care though. While he mentions that Violet could be put Not Quite Back to Normal, he pretty much implies Veruca's toast.
    Mr. Wonka: [regarding Veruca's demise] We mustn't mourn. That's not what Veruca wanted. And Veruca always got what she wanted, didn't she?
    • The 2017 Broadway version production goes further with this trope with both demises. Violet Beauregarde explodes offstage onto her dad and Veruca Salt gets dismembered and decapitated by squirrels. Wonka does mention Veruca could be put back together with a gluestick by the Oompa Loompas and Violet could be scooped out of the pulping pond before she ferments, but he still shows some apathy if they don't recover. This could be part of the reason of casting of adults in the roles of the four bratty children. Imagine these things happening to ACTUAL children.

    Visual Novels 
  • In The Fruit of Grisaia during Amane's flashback we see the results of a bunch of middle school girls trying to survive a bus crash. It doesn't go well: One girl dies wallowing in her own filth because she was too embarrassed to say anything and couldn't get out because her legs were broken. One girls lacerated stomach became infected and began leaking pus and other various fluids. The flashback cuts out when the narrator ran from the group, but we get the second half of the story in The Eden of Grisaia with deaths every bit as gruesome, including two stabbing based deaths and one girl's broken nose beginning to leak not just blood but intercranial fluid. However, these deaths all still contained more dignity than those in the first flashback, perhaps because the girls had largely given up their hopes of escaping alive.
  • The deaths in Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors can get exceedingly gruesome, but the worst is what happens to the Ninth Man. The nine main characters have been forced to swallow an explosive that has already passed into their intestines, and the Ninth Man is used by the game to demonstrate that this is no idle threat. The bomb goes off in his gut while he is crying and screaming about his impending death, and the game goes into a disturbing amount of detail as to just what his shattered and twisted remains look like.
  • The sequel, Virtue's Last Reward also has its share of nasty deaths, but the worst may be what happens to Dio in one route. He is locked in a medical pod as a way of holding him on suspicion of murder. The characters later return to find that his oxygen supply was cut off, and he suffocated within the pod, clutching his throat in his final moments. He likely also saw his murderer as it happened, unable to do anything about it. Couldn't have happened to a less nasty guy.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Each of the "executions" in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is specifically tailored to the guilty party. For example, the guilty party of the first case, Leon Kuwata, is a baseball player who is chained to a post and bludgeoned to death by baseballs. As for the rest, biker Mondo is strapped to a motorcycle in a "cage of death" that goes so fast his body is pulverized, goth Celestia starts out being burned at the stake but is instead smashed with a fire truck, computer program Alter Ego is crushed by a dozer, Kyoko in the bad ending is stuck to a desk and slowly brought via conveyor belt to a trash compactor and crushed to death, and the Big Bad Monokuma/Junko goes through all of the above and more.
    • The sequel Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has even more unfortunate deaths, thanks to the twist that the events of the game take place in a virtual world. Ultimate Chef Teruteru is covered in egg and breadcrumbs and fried alive in a volcano. Swordswoman Peko Pekoyama is forced to fight her way through a horde of samurai robots (and accidentally slices out the right eye of her friend/master Fuyuhiko when he tries to rescue her). Mikan, a nurse, is sent into space on a rocket shaped like a giant arm (and she has a phobia of big things); animal breeder Gundham is trampled to death by wild animals; and gamer Chiaki and Monomi are crushed to death by Tetris blocks. Some of the murders also count. Pity poor Ibuki, who gets strangled to death and then hung, then Nekomaru gets dropped from a great height and smashed to pieces (thankfully in his robot body, not his human one), not to mention what happens to Nagito: he tricked another student into poisoning him after he'd tied himself up, stabbed himself in the legs, arm, and then hand, and rigged up a spear attached to a rope and weight to stab him in the stomach when he lost consciousness from being poisoned.
    • From Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, the executions are much more brutal this time to the point where Leon's execution looks a lot more peaceful in comparison. Kaede, the Ultimate Pianist and the initial protagonist, is stoned and asphyxiated to death by a rope while playing a giant piano with her body, and her corpse is later destroyed when the spiked piano cover closes on her (it's even worse when you learn she wasn't even the culprit). Maid Kirumi is forced to climb a thorny vine, lacerated by buzzsaws, and falls to her death after reaching a dead end in an attempt to escape the school. Anthropologist Korekiyo is boiled alive at ridiculously high temperatures before his ghost is pelted with salt and melts by Monokuma and the ghost of his sister, ceasing to exist, and entomologist Gonta is stung in the face by wasps, impaled by a much larger insect, and incinerated with a flamethrower. Yeesh.
      • However, this trope is actually averted for Kaito as he died peacefully and his execution was much Lighter and Softer compared to the game's other executions. Also a subversion since he was meant to undergo one of these, but his virus killed him mid-execution, much to Monokuma's chagrin. It’s also averted for Tsumugi and Monokuma who just quickly get crushed by debris, and Keebo who makes a brave and dignified Heroic Sacrifice to end the Immoral Reality Show.
      • Kokichi and Ryoma also died very gruesome deaths; the former was shot with crossbow bolts, poisoned, and crushed by a hydraulic press, while the latter was drowned and Stripped to the Bone by piranhas. The worst part? They allowed themselves to die in such a manner, but for different reasons: Ryoma was a suicidal Death Seeker, while Kaito wanted to save Maki from being executed after she poisoned Kokichi, so Kokichi agreed to let Kaito murder him as a part of his plan to derail the killing game and to atone for causing the deaths of Miu and Gonta.
      • The Monokuma Kubs died pretty unpleasant deaths as well, but the standouts are Monokid (body crushed and decapitated by the spiked piano cover that destroys Kaede's corpse) and Monophanie (stomach burst open by a massive robotic wasp with scythes).
  • Not even fan games are safe from it. In Danganronpa Another and its sequel Super Danganronpa Another 2, things get even Bloodier and Gorier than they did in canon.
    • In the first game, soccer player Mitsuhiro is chained to a giant flaming soccer ball and burned to death as he's kicked around by giant Monokumas, runner Ayame is sliced to pieces and then ground up by a buzzsaw machine, priest Kinji is nailed to a cross and then launched into space before crashing back down and being crushed with a tombstone, and clown Satsuki is shoved in a barrel and stabbed with multiple daggers.
    • In the second, boxer Hajime is trapped in a boxing machine and has his face beaten to a bloody pulp before being shredded and turned into a doll, actress Emma is launched into a facility reminiscent of The Cabin in the Woods and is torn apart by a swarm of monsters, twin musicians Kanade and Hibiki are given a joint execution that involves Hibiki being decapitated and Kanade being slowly hanged to death (after Hibiki smashes her face in with a microphone), and journalist Nikei has one of his hands blown off by a malfunctioning gun and then falls to his death in a vain attempt to escape. Many murders also qualify; Setsuka is stabbed to death and her body is sliced into pieces and put on display, while Shinji has his throat slit twice before he sets himself on fire to prevent anyone from becoming the Blackened.
  • Inspired by the abovementioned Danganronpa, Your Turn to Die's executions can get pretty grisly, from being impaled by giant IVs that drain all of your blood to having vines painfully erupt out of your body. No wonder one participant slated to die opts to slice their own wrists instead.
  • Pick a dead end in any Nasuverse Visual Novel. Almost any dead end will do. Some of them are so implausibly over-the-top that they cross the line into Narm territory... And it only gets better when the Tiger Dojo or Teach Me, Ciel-sensei segments come next.
    • Just from Fate/stay night.
      • Death from blood loss because your feet were pulverized when you used them to crush evil magic bugs.
      • Soul trapped in doll for eternity.
      • Dissolved by manifestation of all evils in this world.
      • Stomach punched out with Kung Fu.
      • Melted to death, despite already being fatally wounded by swords spontaneously stabbing out of your own body... due to falling from a third floor window.
      • Murder/suicide by best friend.
  • Phantasmagoria. Carno's murder of his wives ranges from Narm (how can someone's head be twisted 360 degrees before the neck snaps?) to absolutely horrifying (ever wonder what death by force-feeding looks like?)
    • The sequel isn't much better. We've got a guy getting the shit beaten out of him, crucified with exacto knives, his mouth stabled shut, and finally being cut open with a box cutter, another guy getting his head beaten in with a sledgehammer, another character beaten stabbed, and electrified using her own blood, a woman getting melted down into a human pizza, and finally the main character's best friend is strangled with wires. (which is, oddly enough, the tamest death)
  • In Corpse Party, any death in Heavenly Host Elementary is going be gruesome, undignified, unsettling, and sometimes heartbreaking. Among the countless people who died there, some of the those who got it the worst include —
    • Poor Mayu Suzumoto ends up being levitated by three malevolent ghost children, who then launch her into a wall at supersonic speed, leaving nothing more than a stain on the wall and a pile of meat and organs.
    • Kensuke Kurosaki survives being stabbed and kicked into a hole downstairs, his "best friend" Yuuya Kizami finishes him off. We don't actually see him do it, but we see the results. It's not quite as bad as Mayu's, as we can still tell it's him, but it's still rather messy.
    • Nana Ogasawara gets her legs chopped off, and then dragged to a dissection room. She is strapped to a table, where her tongue is ripped out. Even then, it would be a bit before she succumbed to shock and blood loss.
    • Miyu Shinohara first gets one of her Achilles tendons severed, then is sodomized by a tentacle monster before being subsequently beheaded.
    • A lot of the Wrong Ends, while nowhere near as gruesome, still count. As does Seiko's death. And then there's what happened to the aforementioned ghost children, whose deaths (long before the events of the game) easily qualify as horrific.
  • Hatoful Boyfriend has some pretty impressive bad endings, and some equally nasty offscreen fates for the other characters. Anghel and Yuuya presumably get experimented on and dissected by Dr. Shuu unless you go on their routes and rescue them. On the "Bad Boys Love" route, the heroine's death by suffocation is revisited in a flashback, as is Nageki's suicide by setting himself on fire.
  • Doki Doki Literature Club!'s first act ends with the player character finding Sayori after she has died from self-inflicted hanging caused by Monika's Mind Rape and Gaslighting. What qualifies for this trope are the details: if you look closely at the CG, Sayori has blood on her hands. Monika later brings up in the third act that Sayori didn't jump high enough to snap her neck, and instead slowly asphyxiated. The blood was from her attempts to tear herself free, whether out of having second thoughts or survival instinct kicking in.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, if a chapter's spirit is destroyed instead of pacified, then its grudge will remain and kill the protagonist's companions in a multitude of grisly ways. In contrast to Death Mark, where said deaths were offscreen, this time there are CGs showing exactly how gruesome their deaths are:
    • Seiji is the only companion who only has one possible death. He's possessed by Kubitarou, lured to her haunting spot, and decapitated there, after which she sticks a sapling through his head and leaves it for Akira to find.
    • Kaoru can be killed by the Urashima Woman, who attacks her while she's having a shower and leaves her bloody body there for Akira to find, turtles spewing out of her mouth. Otherwise, she can also be decapitated by Kubitarou, her head remaining alive just long enough to have a brief conversation with Akira over the phone.
    • Ban is killed by the Screaming Author when it wraps its razor wire around his body and yanks him into the attic. He's strangled, impaled, his neck is broken, and his arm is severed before he finally gives out. Otherwise, he can be literally split down the middle by the Killer Peach.
    • Rosé's death by the Screaming Author is even more horrible; the spirit believes her to be a bird, since she used her voice to mimic a bird cry earlier, so it grabs her with wire and forcefully yanks her body until it's distorted at all joints, resembling a morbid crane. In particular, her neck is extended in a hideously inhuman way. Her death by Killer Peach is comparatively 'nicer', but it still has her naked and gored through the stomach with a katana.
  • In Sable's Grimoire: Man and Elf, Sable can cast a mind destruction spell on the Big Bad. This destroys her brain from the inside out, making her thrash and spasm so violently that she breaks her bones and ruptures her internal organs.
  • When They Cry:
    • Higurashi: When They Cry: A large number of deaths happen in ways that are virtually indescribable.
    • Its sequel, Umineko: When They Cry, is even more sadistic.
      • Four words: Happy Halloween for Maria. If you for some reason want a more detailed explanation: The first twilight of the second arc resulted in six people (Maria's uncles and aunts: Krauss, Natsuhi, Eva, Hideyoshi, Kyrie and Rudolf) locked in the chapel, arranged around a table elaborately spread with a Halloween feast. Their stomachs were ripped open and stuffed full of delicious candy, and the aforementioned note to the resident Creepy Child was scrawled on the door in blood. It was so gory the Japanese TV networks had to censor it.
      • The very premise is that Beatrice plans to keep killing the same people over and over in new and interesting ways until she can make Battler surrender, but in the third round the new Beatrice gets impatient and starts reviving people as soon as she's killed them just so she can find another few dozen ways to do it again.
      • The time when another witch, Eva-Beatrice, decided to join the "let's kill people gruesomely over and over" game. Her victims? Maria and her mother Rosa, who get to fly (and then fall to their deaths), drown in jelly, and get crushed by a giant cake. It was in such bad taste that even Beatrice was all "What the...?". The Visual Novel had a few more deaths: being turned into a butterfly and eaten by a spider, falling into a pot of boiling chocolate, and getting baked inside an oven.

  • Bad Moon Rising shows Cruel and Unusual Deaths to be the norm when it comes to the Headmasters of Sokolov Academy.
  • Dead of Summer has a lot of deaths, being a Zombie Apocalypse story. One among them stands out, though. Getting your eyes torn out, then having a huge electrical wire jammed into your mouth.
  • Girl Genius:
  • Goblins has quite a few of this. Examples (all contain spoilers) include this, this, and this.
  • In El Goonish Shive, Grace plays Fallout: New Vegas and gets so incensed by Caesar's Legion's propensity for this trope that she abandons her Pacifist Run in order to annihilate them.
  • Homestuck has had quite a few unpleasant deaths during Act 5 Act 2, but Neophyte Redglare's takes the cake. She either a.) didn't know about or b.) severely underestimated Mindfang's mind control abilities. As a result, Mindfang manipulates the angry mob at her trial into lynching Redglare and hanging her with one of her own nooses. Given that the story is written from Mindfang's point of view, it is highly unlikely Redglare survived the encounter.
  • Looking for Group's very own Heroic Sociopath, Richard, revels in this trope. This appears to be mainly because Richard, being an ageless, undead warlock, as well as a sadist without equal, needed something to keep him going throught the centuries, but also due to his inability to distinguish "going too far", and "going much, MUCH further than merely 'too far'".
    Guard: General! Our scouts have returned.
    General: Report.
    Guard: The invaders march upon the city faster than anticipated. On foot and wings. Word has also reached us of a disaster that has befallen Bertu. Every last citizen; slain. At times, in very peculiar and imaginative fashions.
    Richard: You like my work?
  • From The Order of the Stick, one word: Implosion.
    • What Redcloak does to Tsukiko just a few strips later is even worse.
      • Xykon kills Dorukan in similiar way in Start of Darkness and considering how his body looked at the end of lethal series of Energy Drains makes you glad what Redcloak did happened mostly off-panel.
    • Nale brutally kills Malack by taking advantage of his vampire weakness to sunlight, causing him to be reduced to ash.
  • Every death during the "KITTEN" arcs from Sluggy Freelance.
  • The Asperpedia Four in Sonichu. After a deeply biased trial, Alec, Evan, Mao and Sean are sentenced to death. Alec is strapped to an electric chair, as each of the main characters tell him to go to hell as he is reduced to ash without a sponge to direct the currents to his brain. Sean is killed by firing squad and his entire body is riddled with bullet holes. Mao is torn apart by Chris's psychic powers, and worst of all, Evan is chained up and brutally tortured to death, by an eight year old girl, nonetheless. And this is after Chris criticised Asperchu for its excessive violence.
  • TREVOR: Colin is gutted & torn in half by Trevor as he yells at Purdy to RUN.
  • In the world of Zombie Ranch, someone dying from the zombie bite itself is considered one of the worst, most painful ways to go, and a horrible act of cruelty to let occur. At least one outlaw gang is known to use this as a ritual punishment.
  • The Zombie Hunters has three variants of zombies that are especially notable in this respect.
    • Spitter zombies spit acid at people instead of biting them. Unlike with a zombie bite, their acid zombifies somebody instantly.
    • Berserker zombies are almost as intelligent as the living, are insanely strong, and insanely sadistic. They are known for torturing their victims.
    • Basilisk zombies have a glowing red eye effect that paralyzes anyone who sees it. Anyone affected by it will be forced to lay there, fully conscious, while it slowly eats them.

    Web Original 
  • The whole point of Madness Combat. Happens more in later episodes
  • Some of the deaths in Dumb Ways to Die include your head exploding in outer space, getting your private parts eaten by piranhas, being electrocuted until you're reduced to a skeleton, and having your eye bitten by a rattlesnake.
  • In the fifth episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, Duck Guy gets his organs removed and eaten alive.
  • Three Words: "Happy Tree Friends".
  • Dick Figures has Lord Tourettes getting shot in the chest, taking a meat cleaver to the head, hit by an anchor, and eaten alive by sharks while drowning in "Captain Red Rum & The Pina Colada Armada".
  • King Womp's death in the Klay World movie, where he gets an axe in the back, falls on top of a communication structure, is electrocuted, and explodes.
  • Death Battle has lots of these:
    • Renamon being stabbed through the throat with a bone.
    • Every ninja turtle that wasn't Leonardo.
    • Felicia getting split in half by Taokaka.
    • Doomguy getting reduced to giblets by Master Chief.
    • Zelda's head getting obliterated by Peach's kick.
    • Raiden getting smashed in half by Thor before being hurled into the sun.
    • Batman having his torso slingshotted off by Spidey.
    • Blanka eating Pikachu.
    • Shao Khan ripping M. Bison in half and consuming his soul.
    • Ivy Valentine getting turned into a frog by Black Orchid, then being squashed flat.
    • Quicksilver gets punched across the world and impaled by a samurai statue.
    • Venusaur getting its plant violently torn right off, then burned alive while writhing in agony, clearly terrified, and Charizard getting its wings torn off and then having water sprayed down its throat to the point where it explodes like a balloon.
    • Gaara being crushed to death rather messily by Toph compressing his Sand Armor.
    • Donkey Kong using his thunderclap to splatter Knuckles.
    • Gamera gets him arm ripped off and then his entire body obliterated by Godzilla's atomic ray.
    • Dan swallowing a capsule containing a jukebox and exploding once it opens.
    • Ramona Flowers getting smashed flat by an arcade cabinet.
    • Hulk gets impaled numerous times and then decapitated by Doomsday.
    • One of the video examples is the ending of Shredder vs. Silver Samurai, where Super Shredder chops one of Harada's arms off, then impales him through the face with his own katana, then slices his head off by dislodging said katana, and finally crushing Harada's disembodied head with one hand. Yikes. And THEN, during the aftermath Silver Samurai's soul is seen in hell, getting flattened by the Soulcutter, resulting in Harada being rendered Deader Than Dead.
    • After Wally West travels forward through time to when Archie Sonic's Ultra form runs out, he punches Sonic so hard — with a Speed Force-enhanced Infinite Mass Punch to boot — that the Fastest Thing Alive glitches out of reality, flickering through various alternate versions of himself extremely fast before dissipating into nothingness; implying that he, as a person, ended up being totally erased from multiple planes of existence. That's even worse than the likes of Lobo, Dr. Strange, M. Bison, and Venom — who also died through having their souls consumed or erased — ended up suffering, and Sonic's agonized screaming implies that the process was definitely not painless.
  • The fate of the last guard in Arrival In Hell. The Beast scatters his body parts and blood all across the room once he gets ahold of him. Thankfully, the protagonist and the player only get to see the aftermath.
  • It seems to be a point of pride among Protectors of the Plot Continuum to do the most unpleasant and appropriate things to their victims, though the oldies have recently been insisting that the point of the business is more "have fun writing" than "try to outdo everyone" (and they're right). The Sues still suffer an impressive range of nasty deaths, from being eaten by Flesh-Eating Slugs to being given to the Discworld elves.
  • Being a site based around the concept of Anyone Can Die, Survival of the Fittest occasionally falls into this trope when the Ax-Crazy characters get "creative". At times the scenes can turn into Narm either because it isn't possible in real life or just because it wasn't written well. Other times, though, it works. An example from v4 would be the majority of Sarah Atwell's kills, one of which involves rigging up a death trap where if the poor victim even moves, he gets shot in the head, which he decides not to take part.
  • In the Creepypasta "Blueberries", the protagonist's punishment is effectively a drawn out self-inflicted execution. He has to eat an entire varnished oak desk (to add insult to injury, he claims he didn't even commit the crime for which he received this punishment). He is given a hammer to smash the desk into smaller pieces, and tries to endure the ordeal by imagining that each wooden chip is a blueberry. The pasta goes into loving detail about the damage he is inflicting on himself with each chip he swallows. Then the guard takes away his hammer so he has no way to make the bigger pieces of wood bite-sized. After nearly mutilating his throat trying to swallow a big piece of wood, he notices that he had only split the desk in half with his first blow. The hammer was basically a cruel Hope Spot.
  • The protagonist of Worm, Taylor, inflicts a particularly nasty one on Alexandria, by using her bug-control powers to cram insects down her throat and into her lungs so that she suffocates, as it was the only way Taylor could bypass the woman's Nigh-Invulnerability.
    • The Sluaghterhouse Nine love to do this to people. Bonesaw's poisons are designed for cruelty rather than efficiency, and she sometimes vivisects people until they die. Siberian has a nasty habit of eating people alive by holding them down and taking bites out of them (she is human-shaped, so this presumably takes a while). One victim, killed by an unknown member, had his arms and legs cut off at the knee and reattached by lengths of chain, and was then hung up inside an empty building and left to bleed to death.
  • The titular vigilante in The Flying Man is easily strong enough to just snap criminals' necks, but seems to prefer dropping them from a great height. He also throws one under an oncoming train at one point.
  • In Pyrrhic, Tina is killed by drinking from a water bottle that contains chloroform, while her sister drinks her blood, thinking herself to be a vampire. Sonny is killed by Helmut in self-defense with a revolver, but his body is slowly eaten by army ants.
  • In Ten Little Roosters, the two Gavin Frees are killed by being chewed apart by mousetraps. Lindsay Jones is also torn to shreds by a puma in a later episode, Miles Luna dies of exhaustion after being forced to run on a treadmill for several hours without rest, and Barbara Dunkleman is murdered by getting shoved into an exact replica suit of a Creeper from Minecraft and be forced to explode. However, there's a subverted case with Ryan Haywood, as he's able to escape from being Buried Alive.
  • RWBY: Cinder doesn't just like to kill her victims, she likes to do it ways that enforce her superiority, resulting in sadistic murders. At the end of Volume 3, she uses Emerald to trick Pyrrha into inadvertently destroying Penny. Later, she shoots an incendiary arrow through Pyrrha's heart, burning her to death from the inside out while she gasps for breath; once dead, Cinder then burns her body to ash. The graphic death is a Traumatic Superpower Awakening for Ruby's innate abilities.
  • The SCP Foundation has so many examples, they really could not possibly all be listed here, but one standout example is SCP-823, which is an Amusement Park of Doom with an unexplained anomaly that has a tendency of killing the people in it in horrific ways. This includes mass decapitation via roller coaster, suffocating a costumed mascot with costume stuffing, Psychic-Assisted Suicide by forcing one of the Foundation's soldiers to disassemble and swallow the parts to their gun, and quite possible the most bizarre, "Cause of death: suicide caused by forced sexual entry through left eye, resulting in unsurvivable brain trauma."
  • While Critical Role contains many violent deaths, usually at the hands of the party's goliath barbarian, and lovingly narrated by DM Matthew Mercer, perhaps the most satisfying brutal occurs in episode 68 to Dr. Anna Ripley, after she kills Percy. Each member of Vox Machina contributes in their own way: Vax removes her prosthetic hand by cutting it off her arm, Scanlan carves the de Rolo crest into her forehead, Grog cuts her across the stomach, Keyleth takes it further by ripping her in half with a grasping vine, and Vex finishes her off with an arrow through her heart and her mouth.
  • In Jerma Rumble - Live Action! the Magician enters the ring, and he seems to be another goofy, one-off character. And then he starts pulling the other wrestlers' organs out of his hat. ...Yeah.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Season 1 has a case Played for Laughs that later gets a Retcon to be a false memory: Tex ripped Pvt. Jimmy's skull out of his head and beat him to death with it (all while he screamed "This doesn't seem physically possible!"). Though Private Jimmy's actual death, as shown in Season 14, is somehow even more horrific - namely, he was forcibly lobotomized against his will so as to become an Empty Shell for the Alpha A.I. to inhabit.
    • Parodied in Season 14's "The Brick Gulch Chronicles", where Donut dissolves into nothingness while screaming in supposed agony due to getting dropped into a beaker of hydrochloric acid... but still somehow makes an Unexplained Recovery less than five minutes later and is perfectly fine.
    • The Big Bad of Season 15, Mark Temple, killed off at least 10 Freelancer agents by luring them in his basement, locking them in their armor, and leaving them to slowly die of starvation and thirst. The longest record for surviving this nightmarish fate was 8 days and 11 hours.
    • The Shisno Paradox has poor Huggins - a "sentient lens flare" - get shoved into a black hole by Genkins. What makes it even worse is that this is supposedly how her parents had already been killed off.
  • In Twilight of the Red Tsar Valko Chervenkov, the former leader of Communist Bulgaria, is subjected to beatings, electric shocks, peeling off fingernails, knocking out teeth and had his eyes gouged out before being burned alive by Mossad agents for his participation in the Soviet Holocaust. Said agents regret that they didn't think of castrating him before setting him on fire.
  • Hunters in The Jenkinsverse like eating the meat of other sentients - sometimes while they are still alive. Just so nobody feels sorry for them when they encounter deathworlders like humans and get messily disassembled. Or, as it happened with the last surviving member of the hunter party that happened upon the eponymous Kevin Jenkins, beaten to death with one of their own legs. Or pulped by two ice hockey teams so thoroughly that the biologists complained that there was not enough left to properly dissect.
  • The Walten Files has no shortage of these:
    • Brian Stells had both of his eyes gouged out and either one or both of his arms torn off after being caught by Bon, judging by both his original design and his post-Bunnyfarm redesign.
    • Rosemary Walten was dismembered by Bon before being stuffed into the Sha animatronic.
    • Ashley Parks was caught and stuffed into the Billy animatronic by Bon (along with her eyes being gouged out), with her screams of agony all but confirming it was not a pleasant experience.
    • Susan Woodings seemingly had survived her skin being stretched over the Banny animatronic's exoskeleton (with her eyes implied to have also been gouged out), only to end up starving to death, unable to get out of the Bon's Burgers restaurant.
    • Charles had his lips ripped off before being stuffed into the Boozoo animatronic (seemingly whilst still alive, going by the shot of Boozoo's bloody and empty head breathing in Bunnyfarm).

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies: Too many instances to count, particularly for Wile E. Coyote and Sylvester the Cat.
    • Perhaps Wile E.'s most famous death making this trope comes in the final segment of the extended (infamous) catapult gag in "To Beep or Not to Beep." After trying in vain to unjam a stuck, loaded catapult (this after he has already been crushed five times by the boulder), which he hopes to use against his longtime nemesis the Road Runner, Wile E. finally does get it freed, but doesn't realize it until he sees himself fast approaching a large rock formation. After an Oh, Crap!, Wile E. and the boulder smash through the formation, crushing the still conscious Coyote; the boulder eventually hits a network of high-voltage power lines and, while he somehow avoids electrocution, Wile E. and the rock are slung all the way back on top of the catapult's arm, which then plops him to the ground, and the boulder finally smashes him.
    • The death that most fits this trope is probably for that bad ol' puddy tat, Sylvester in "Satan's Waitin'," where a satanic version of Hector the Bulldog, exploiting the notion that Cats Have Nine Lives, goads the cat into chasing Tweety into the most violent of situations. He falls from a tall building, is crushed beneath a steamroller, gets scared to death in a fun house, is shot multiple times in a shooting gallery, and slams into a low-clearance entrance of a roller-coaster tunnel. With just one life left, Sylvester decides that chasing Tweety isn't worth it and initially avoids the trope-fulfilling death. Unfortunately, he decides to move into a double-enforced bank safe on the day two crooks use nitroglycerin to blow open the safe and rob it of its contents. After the explosion, Sylvester and the crooks are seen going to Hell. One of the crooks tells his partner that he used too much nitro. "Now he tells him!" mutters a battered and disgusted Sylvester.
      • Other cartoons have Sylvester being beaten to death by an army of bulldogs and mauled to death by lions.
    • The fate that Bugs Bunny humorously faces if he fails his mission in Knighty Knight Bugs. The King threatens to have him "put to the rack, burned at the stake, and beheaded." Bugs laughs at first, but then starts crying when he realizes the king is serious.
    • Other characters - both the regular Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies gang, and one-off characters have also suffered cruel deaths. One example of the one-time character suffering this fate was the villain taking a (presumed) Karmic Death in the 1951 short "Chow Hound." Here, a cruel, merciless bulldog uses a cat and a mouse as unwilling patsies in a scheme to obtain dinner from various masters. After holding the cat and mouse hostage for weeks to elicit large rewards for their return to various "masters", the dog purchases a butcher shop and proceeds to eat everything in sight until he is severely bloated and unable to move. At a veterinarian clinic, after two doctors diagnose the case as "a distinct case of overeating", the cat and mouse march in to begin enacting the trope. The cat speaking for the only time in the film menacingly says, "This time, we didn't forget the gravy!" (referring to all the times the cat was forced to obtain dinner only to get smacked because it didn't include gravy); the mouse places a large funnel into the dog's mouth and smiles as the cat begins to pour the contents of an institutional-sized canister of gravy into the funnel. The nervously perspiring dog mutters "no" several times but is helpless to stop them as the picture irises out over the sound of the dog gurgling. It is presumed that sometime after the iris out, the dog slowly suffocates to death. Or pops, this is a cartoon after all.
  • South Park: Chef's death, from the episode "The Return of Chef" is solid terror and fits firmly into this trope: first burned by fire, then falling onto some rocks, then being impaled on a stick, then a bear and a leopard begin to dismember his face and body, ripping an arm and a leg off. Worse, in an attempt to save him, the Super Adventure Club members shoot him accidentally. Plus Chef craps himself.
  • Blurr's death in Transformers Animated. He was crushed into a cube for crying out loud! And that was after he found out that his "boss" so-to-speak, was a double agent. Worse, concept art showed the cube with a still-glowing Spark.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), Spy Roach gets hit by an energy drill, causing him to expand until he explodes.
  • In Invincible (2021), Omni-Man's first victim is his teammate Red Rush, who he kills by crushing his head with his bare hands. Unfortunately for Rush, his powers work by slowing his perception of time to a crawl, meaning what was already a horrible way to go out was made even worse as he could feel his skull slowly collapsing around his brain and his eyes bursting out of his face as his futile attempt to escape resulted in his hands being shattered into a broken mess against Omni-Man's torso.
  • Though there were quite a few different deaths in the One-Episode Wonder Korgoth of Barbaria, nothing matches the death of a Giant Mook named Scrotus, who gets interrupted in the middle of a wonderful To the Pain/Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon speech. After the title character is unimpressed by the overly long speech, he proceeds to dish out a brutal murdering by ripping half of the mook's skin off from the ponytail straight down, tossing a full glass of alcohol into the godawful wound, then setting the alcohol on fire.
  • Many instances to Master Shake and Carl in Aqua Teen Hunger Force, especially Carl.
    • Some of Carl's deaths include getting his arms sawed off, his skin ripped off, shot by lasers, shredded alive by an electric toilet bowl, squeezed until his head pops off, and mauled by vampire bats.
  • Superjail! is all about this trope. Just watch any episode for really horrible, cruel and unexpected deaths.
  • The Legend of Korra: Season 3 really ramps up the disturbing deaths.
    • The Earth Queen's is breathtaking: Zaheer murders her by pulling the air out of her lungs, essentially suffocating her. Viewers are even given the lovely imagery of the Queen's eyes bulging and going bloodshot from lack of oxygen while she gasps for breath.
    • P'li's death is mind-blowing: While Lin distracts her, Su metalbends a piece of armor around her head, just as P'li's about to use her combustionbending. Effectively, Your Head Asplode, but given a Gory Discretion Shot. At least she went quickly, unlike the Earth Queen.
    • Ming-hua's is positively shocking: Mako electrocutes her to death with lightningbending when it becomes clear he has no choice but to use lethal force.
    • Ghazan's really brings the house down: After he realises that he can't beat Mako and Bolin together, he elects to collapse the entire cave they're in rather than go back to prison, being crushed by boulders and/or melted by his own lavabending.
  • Many of the deaths on Celebrity Deathmatch count as such. Having your entire skeleton pulled out through your mouth, being sliced to pieces by a giant bladed rotary fan, being burst open like a pinata, being cut up into paper dolls, having your nipples ripped off before having your internal organs squeezed out through the holes that were once occupied by them, having your eye stabbed out by someone's erect penis... the list goes on. They can get away with the level of violence by always pointing out in the disclaimer at the beginning of the show, "It's just clay!"
  • This was averted in Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero but it's hard to overlook the fact that Professor Evil Professor intended to have the heroes dropped in acid, disintegrated by a disintegration ray, reintegrated by a reintegration ray and pressed into decorative cubes.
  • Also averted in Wander over Yonder albeit nearly played straight. The finale really drives Dominator's sadism home by having her plan (and very nearly execute onscreen) a horrific death for Sylvia: namely impaling her with the massive drill she uses to destroy planets.
  • In the Family Guy episode "Mr. and Mrs. Stewie'', Stewie's new Affably Evil friend Penelope kills a kid that pushed Stewie by giving him a piece of taffy laced with superglue, which glues his throat shut and make him choke to death. Once he's dead, Stewie chimes in with simply "Don't push".
  • In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The Spectre takes minor criminal Professor Achilles Milo, turns him into cheese, and releases the group of rats he had mind-controlled. Do the math.
  • The Perils of Penelope Pitstop in general is a very lighthearted show, but it’s premise The Hooded Claw trying to kill Penelope in very juicy, gruesome ways. Among them are: feeding her to crocodiles, mummifying her alive and impaling her on a harpoon. Of course these attempts always fail and the worst that comes from them are Amusing Injuries.

Need something to take the edge off now?

Video Example(s):


Springlock Failure

Although seen only in the form of an 8-bit minigame, a springlock failure is still a horrific way to go, with an animatronic endoskelton crushing your entire body, until you inevitably bleed out.

The victim in this video is William Afton who, in the middle of running away from the ghosts of his victims, put on the Spring Bonnie suit, and then accidentally started a springlock failure.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / CruelAndUnusualDeath

Media sources:

Main / CruelAndUnusualDeath