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Death by Gluttony

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If I eat one more piece of pie, I'll die!
If I can't have one more piece of pie, I'll die!
So since it's all decided I must die,
I might as well have one more piece of pie.
Chomp — Gulp — 'Bye.
— "Pie Problem", A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein

Big Eater is a common trope in fiction, but in real life, even this behavior is not without its dark side. Forcing oneself to eat way too much in one sitting can cause one's stomach to rupture, which has very unpleasant consequences. In real life, chances of survival are 50-50 but in a fictional work, it's usually portrayed as being lethal.

Sometimes in fiction, the person's body bursts, spilling out their stomach contents and entrails. This grossly exaggerated variation is usually Played for Laughs and by extension not always lethal.

Compare Balloon Belly and Food Coma. May turn into a case of Death by Irony, particularly since the entire point of eating is to keep oneself alive. For an extremely unsympathetic gluttonous character this may be used as a Karmic Death as a way to have their biggest vice bite them in the ass, so to speak. Going to Give It More Energy is similar, where the eater devours too much energy.

When it is their Greed that does them in, see Death by Materialism. When it is their Lust, see either Out with a Bang or Sex Signals Death. With Pride leads to Bullying a Dragon, it's Death by Mocking.

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


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Narrowly averted by Beelzemon in Digimon Tamers, who spends most of his tenure as Arc Villain eating virtually every single Digimon he can find to increase his power. By the climax of his final showdown with the heroes, he's been overeating to such a degree that upon eating Taomon and Rapidmon's data, parts of their bodies burst out of him in the digital equivalent of his stomach bursting open, nearly killing him before he manages to force them back in.
  • Yakon from Dragon Ball Z dies when eating too much of Goku's Super Saiyan energy. In a bit of a twist on the trope, Yakon didn't so much eat himself to death as Goku took advantage of how Yakon was consuming his energy by drastically increasing how much energy he was outputting, overloading Yakon all at once.
  • This fate is narrowly adverted in Drifters. After liberating the starved and enslaved dwarves, Oda Nobunaga hears how they've begun to feast and quickly issues orders to slow them down and prevent them from gorging, as he seems familiar with refeeding syndrome.
  • Gluttony from Fullmetal Alchemist almost dies when he eats Ed, Ling, and Envy, and they get out. He gets better. Then he dies at his brother's gluttonous urge.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, Giorno kills Polpo by turning one of his guns into a banana. When Polpo sticks it in his mouth, he accidentally pulls the trigger and gives himself a case of Ate His Gun.
  • Naruto uses his Shadow Clone Jutsu to induce this on a large snake that had eaten him.
  • This is the eventual fate of Legravalima from The Promised Neverland. After getting almost killed, she eats a ton of corpses to regenerate the damage; problem is, eating so much "food" in such a short time ends up straining her organism to its limit, leading to an Assimilation Backfire.

    Comic Books 
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: According to Carl Barks, Gladstone Gander's incredible luck runs in the family - in fact, his parents died of overeating at a free picnic. Don Rosa, who usually cleaves very close to Barks' backstories, decided that they died another way, if only because that particular method of death isn't the sort of thing you could depict in a comic read by children.
    • Also, one of Scrooge's ancestors, Sir Roast McDuck, "died of overeating after robbing the king's pantry".
  • In a Dylan Dog story, he and six other people representing the Seven Sins are invited to a creepy mansion. The Gluttonous victim literally explodes after eating a mint candy after a gigantic meal. Justified, as Dylan put a bomb in that candy.
  • The Tales From the Crypt story "Telescope" has a starving man on a desert island who tries to eat a rat when it's busy eating a gull that swooped down for a fish. Shortly thereafter he's eaten by a shark. The final panel, when some fishermen catch the shark, explains the title as the head of each creature is hanging out of the mouth of the one that ate it!
  • Judge Dredd: Competitive eating is a very popular type of competition in Mega-City One, performed by the settings iconic "Fatties"; civilians so grossly overweight that the biggest require support wheels for their guts and butts to get around properly. While advanced medical science prevents them from dying from obesity-related reasons, this trope still happens on occasion, the most famous example being a high-ranked Pro Fattie who ate the furniture in his apartment after taking an appetite-increasing drug, dying from his stomach rupturing afterwards. Another example is one Fattie who choked to death while trying (and succeeding) to become the worlds first One-Ton Man.

    Comic Strips 
  • Humorously attempted by Jon Arbuckle with his pet Garfield when he gives him so much food to eat that he would burst. Of course, this being Garfield, the cat survives unaffected and he even asks Jon if he's going to eat whatever food he's eating at the moment.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Art of the Dead, Murphy, a guard at the gallery, is affected by the Gluttony painting and starts gulping down water straight from a hose until his stomach bursts.
  • At the end of Bad Girls from Valley High, Mrs. Witt (the old woman who Danielle was meant to be caring for) shows up and reveals that she was Charity's grandmother. Also, while she had been briefly unable to speak due to a stroke, she had very good hearing and sight and overheard Danielle bragging about Charity's murder. Witt then reveals she poisoned the chocolate box (knowing that the girls would eat it) with an aging chemical (thanks to her late roommate's husband that worked with biological warfare technology); Brooke wasn't dying as she demonstrated self-control while Danielle and Tiffany had eaten most of the poisoned chocolate.
  • The serial killer in the Australian gorn flick Feed (2005) kills his victims via this method, except he uses his plus-size pornography business as a front. A pretty convoluted way to go about it, we dare say. It turns out that he's reliving the day he murdered his mother, who was also obese.
  • In the 1973 film La Grande Bouffe (The Great Feed), four friends eat themselves to death on purpose.
  • In Snoop Dogg's Hood of Horror (yes, he produced another horror flick), a redneck couple is forced to live with some black war veterans in a parody of houseguest reality shows. The vets finally have enough and force-feed the wife caviar (using a vacuum cleaner), causing her stomach to burst. (The husband is dispatched by other means.)
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Mr Creosote REALLY shouldn't have had that last thin mint, even if it was just "wafer-thin". He survives, somehow.
  • The Gluttony victim in Se7en is forced to eat spaghetti until he passes out, at which point the killer kicks his stomach and it bursts.
  • In Spaceballs, Lone Star and Barf learn from a news broadcast that crime lord Pizza the Hutt (to whom they owe 1 million space-bucks) recently became trapped in his limousine and ate himself to death. Since he's an anthropomorphic pizza alien, make of it what you will.
  • In Tamara, Tamara psychically forces the bulimic Kisha to gorge herself to death. Chloe and Jesse manage to drag her away from the buffet before she can do so, but not before she has gnawed several of her fingers down to the bone in the process.
  • In Theatre of Blood, Lionheart feeds the extremely overweight Merridew his two pet poodles (who he regards as his children) baked into a pie, as a revenge based on Titus Andronicus. He then finishes Merridew off by Force Feeding him the rest until he chokes to death.

  • An twentieth-century Chinese folktale tells the story of four friends who travel from China to America to better their lot and help their families. Three of the men are given jobs as a tailor, cobbler, and baker, while the fourth (who repeatedly told his friends to take the better jobs at his own expense) ends up as a personal assistant — and virtual slave — of a cruel, rich, gluttonous businessman who gives him countless thankless tasks for next to no money. One day, the rich man commands his servant to get him a new suit, new shoes, and delicious bread for a feast; his friends happen to run into the poor man, discover his pain, and immediately agree to provide the needed items for free. The suit and shoes are an absolutely perfect fit, while the bread is so incredibly tasty that the rich man can't stop eating it. As he stuffs his face, he gradually swells up bigger and bigger — but his new clothes are so well-made that they won't tear or expand, which eventually makes him explode in a happy ending for all.
  • In Krakow, the old capital of Poland, there is a legend about a dragon who was killed that way - a cunning hero (there are several versions of who it was) tricked the dragon into eating a sheep stuffed with sulfur and the heartburn caused the monster to drink from the river until it burst.
    • The Cracovian legend was presumably taken from the Biblical story of Bel and the Dragon, a part of the book of Daniel still in Catholic Bibles, though not in most Protestant ones.
    • Also the legend of Saint Margaret of Antioch has her being eaten by a dragon or a serpent, then bursting out alive from its stomach thanks to her prayers and her cross pendant.
    • A similar legend is the Lizard of La Malena from Jaén, Spain. In one version, a giant lizard that lives in a pond and eats every person or animal that comes close to it, is tricked by a cunning man into eating a sack of gunpowder, and explodes. In another, it is tricked into eating a sheepskin full of tinder and burns to death. It is believed that the legend was inspired by a caiman skin that someone donated to a local church shortly after the conquest of the Americas.

  • In Monday Begins on Saturday by the Strugatsky Brothers there is "A model of a Human unsatisfied by gluttony", which eats whatever it can reach (including two tons of fish) until literally exploding into pieces.
  • In the novel The Natural, Roy has an insatiable appetite that finally comes back to bite him; after devouring 6 cheeseburgers for a midnight snack, his stomach finally gives out (it's unclear what exactly happened, but it doesn't seem like it actually ruptured). He was rushed to the hospital and ended up surviving, but it severely hurt the team's chances of winning the final game.
  • While the manner of Ungoliant's death in The Silmarillion is uncertain, the text suggests that, given her gluttonous nature, she probably died trying to eat herself.
  • In the fourth book of the Sword of Truth series, Kahlan recalls a dignitary who loved his food with certain spicy sauces which made him ill. He refused to stop until the very end.
  • Tales from Jabba's Palace: The Gamorrean guard Jubnuk falls victim to the rancor shortly after eating scraps of food that had been hexed by one of Jabba's many would-be assassins.
  • Played with in The Zombie Survival Guide. Since zombies don't digest the flesh that they eat, it will eventually force itself out the other way or, usually, burst out of their stomach. Of course they're already dead, but still.
  • In the poem "Pie Problem" from A Light in the Attic (quoted above), the narrator, who has eaten too much pie, faces a dilemma: Another piece of pie will certainly kill him, but he will also die if he can't have it. He decides that, since his death is inevitable, he might as well enjoy the pie rather than go without.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die:
    • A bulimic model dies this way in one episode.
    • Another episode had an imprisoned terrorist who starved himself so he would be thin enough to slip through the bars. He then pigged out at a celebratory feast and died of refeeding syndrome (see Real Life below).
  • Happened to a man in CSI who had a medical condition known as 'Prader Willi Syndrome' that prevented the signals his stomach sent to say it was full from reaching his brain, making him feel starving all the time even with a full stomach and caused him to literally eat himself to death.
  • On Dead Man's Gun the episode's Villain Protagonist is repeatedly warned by people that one of his vices will kill him. However, he ends up being a Karma Houdini until in the end gluttony does him in. With no friends or loves ones, he spends all his time eating and becomes morbidly obese. He dies of a heart attack and a wall has to be removed to take his body out for burial.
  • Kamen Rider Double does this in a somewhat more metaphorical way with Arc Villain Shinkuro Isaka, who represents the sin of gluttony among the theming of the show's villains. In addition to his enormous appetite for food, Isaka devours other superpowers by using people as incubators so that he can add them to his already lottery-winning power to control the weather. When his primary power is destroyed, however, he can no longer control the other powers he absorbed, which quickly devour him alive.
  • MythBusters investigated an Urban Legend about this happening when one eats Pop Rocks and Cola, by feeding them into a pig's stomach mounted onto a model human skeleton. Normal quantities had no appreciable effect. Larger quantities produced a lot of gas (which would result in bloating and discomfort), but since the gas has... avenues of escape, no explosions. The only way to have this happen from Pop Rocks and Cola? If the stomach is clamped up at both the esophageal and duodenal end... which normally doesn't happen in Real Life. So, at least this variation is busted.
  • In the finale of Brazilian soap Saramandaia, Dona Redonda (literally "Ms. Round"), a character who is constantly seen eating, finally swells up and explodes, leaving behind a rainbow-colored crater.
  • In "The Reichenbach Fall", the season two finale of Sherlock, children are forced to eat mercury-laced candies or starve.
  • Played for horror in the Supernatural season 5 episode "My Bloody Valentine". The Horseman Famine compels a town full of people to eat and drink themselves to death in truly horrific ways. A young couple eat each other to death while having sex. One man binges on Twinkies until he can't swallow anymore, at which point he starts shoving them down his throat with a toilet brush. Another man wants fries so badly he shoves his hands and then his face into a fryer where the fries are still cooking. Even Castiel, an angel who doesn't feel hunger, is compelled by Famine's presence to devour raw meat off the floor. Eventually Famine itself is defeated the same way: When he fails to tempt Sam with the blood of several demons, Famine eats the demons himself. Sam then exorcises the demons, ripping them right out of Famine's guts.

  • This is one of the many deaths suffered by Sambo in the schoolyard song "More Work for the Undertaker":
    Sambo had an uncle, an uncle very rich
    One day he said to Sambo "I'll give you two and six"
    Sambo feeling thirsty, went in to a shop
    Ten lemonades and ten ginger beers, and then he went off pop.
  • This is inverted in Vitalic's "Stamina". Customers of a new weight loss drug are found dead while exercising; the lead detective of the case tries some himself, and soon finds himself hallucinating junk food: the same fate which killed the victims (One woman died reaching out for jelly beans while on a stationary bike; another man saw Twinkies and plunged to his death). The detective resists temptation, then gets into a fistfight with a malevolent burger man.


    Video Games 
  • In Blade Strangers, this is Lina's ultimate fate in her story. Having just devoured a bunch of clones sent by the motes to stall her, she then proceeds to defeat Solange and eat her... only to implode on herself and literally crash the entire world.
  • Conker's Bad Fur Day:
    • Marvin the Mouse explodes into Ludicrous Gibs after Conker feeds him too much cheese. Somehow he still turns up alive at the end of the game.
    • Count Batula. After having a vampirized Conker drop townsfolk into a giant meat grinder for him to drink the Ludicrous Gibs, he drinks far too much and becomes so overweight he falls from the ceiling he was hanging from right into the same meat grinder.
  • Darlene Fleischermacher, one of the seven psychopaths in Dead Rising 3, epitomizes the sin of Gluttony. She is an optional enemy, challenged only because she is defending an all-you-can-eat restaurant to the death. However, this proves to be Darlene's undoing when her motorized scooter tips backwards, pinning her beneath the handlebars. Her irritable belly, already engorged to impossible size, rebels from being shaken up, and the scooter prevents her from freeing herself. She ends up choking to death on her own vomit.
  • Never overeat in The Dungeon Of Doom. Really, don't.
    "Too much!!! Your stomach explodes!!"
  • Fallen London: One event card tells of an Irregular Scholar who allegedly died from eating "a surfeit of prunes." Given that Death Is Cheap in this setting (people regularly come back from everything short of a Rasputinian Death), the card notes that it had to be "one hell of a surfeit."
  • One of the ways to die in Fatal Labyrinth is to eat too much. There's a food counter on the screen, and you really need to stop picking up food if it's high enough, because if it goes over 99, it's Game Over. If it only goes over 80, you only get much slower and can save yourself by walking until the counter goes below 80 again, but you never know how much food is on the ground until you actually pick it up. If your counter is relatively high already, and decide to pick up some more food just in case, you might get unlucky enough to skip the "overweight" part and kick the bucket right then and there.
  • In the HD version of Ghostbusters: The Video Game, the first ghost you fight committed suicide this way. His profile states that he won a Thanksgiving dinner for twelve at an auction, they arrived to the dinner alone and demanded to be served the entire meal. His last words before his stomach ruptured were, "My compliments to the chef." When the police searched his apartment, they found a note stating that he considered it A Good Way to Die.
  • One of the enemies in Insaniquarium is immune to shooting. The only way to kill him is to feed him food pellets until he explodes.
  • In the Atari 2600 game Mangia, one way to lose the game is to eat so much your stomach explodes. This is quite easy to do, what with your mother relentlessly serving more food to you.
  • In NetHack, eating anything, no matter how insubstantial, when satiated carries the risk of choking to death over your food. Also for the sake of puns, polymorphing into a metallivorous creature and gorging on too much gold makes the cause of death "eating too rich a meal."
  • Melvin Underbelly from Overlord. Not so much at first, but in the expansion, you find in trapped in an Ironic Hell where he's given food until he explodes and can't control himself to stop, only to be revived over and over again. Using Melvin as a walking time bomb is crucial to the puzzles in said abyss.
  • Psychonauts 2: Throughout Compton's Cookoff, Raz is instructed with gathering ingredients to make increasingly complex dishes to feed to the Gluttonous Goats, the bosses of the level. Their boss fight requires the player to gather ingredients and then receive a cooked dish from Compton in return, and Raz feeds it to the goats. The goats have eaten so much that by this point, they can't handle eating any more, and two out of three of them explode from overeating.
  • Robin of Sherlock has Portly Friar Gorbachetnik. As a semi-random event in that location, he munches down a 31st venison burger and explodes. The character doesn't seem otherwise relevant but follows one typical method of closing off options in text adventures of the time.
  • A now-fixed bug in The Sims 3 would occasionally cause a Sim participating in an eating contest to spontaneously drop dead. Of starvation.
  • Sonic 2 XL: This will happen to Sonic if he eats too many Onion Rings without walking off the fats. All it takes is 30 of them to render poor Sonic immobile and trigger a fatal heart attack.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Munch can die this way in Tribal Hunter if you have him eat until he exceeds his fullness capacity. While eating too much food is the most common way for Munch to explode, other obstacles such as slimes forcing their way into his mouth, enemies and hazards that can fill him with air, and ghosts that possess him can all make Munch grow bigger and explode as well if he gets overstuffed. There are a few quick ways to burn off Munch's excess weight such as using his magic while sitting or consuming an item to burn it off.
  • Blood worms in World of Warcraft feed on blood until they explode, healing people nearby in what is undoubtedly the game's most Squicktastic healing mechanism.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: In "Ghost Princess" Clarence commits suicide via spray-cheese overdose and explodes.
  • The Angry Beavers episode "Food of the Clods" featured a fictional horror film about two alien Viking women who can't stop eating radioactive lava because they're competing for the right to be the bride of the radioactive volcano. Eventually, the Viking women eat so much lava that they explode. When Norbert and Daggett eat too much food while watching it, they just get huge stomachaches.
  • On Animaniacs, Wakko still looks fine (if bulbous) after his 501st meatball, but The Grim Reaper stamps "Kaput" on his forehead and walks away with him.
  • Exaggerated in Bratz where Burdine Maxwell instantly grows so fat that she explodes by eating a single burger.
  • The Brak Show: Brak accidentally kills Thundercleese's goldfish, Mr. Tickles, by feeding him three entire hams after misinterpreting his oddly specific directions.
  • Futurama: This also happens to Bender in one of the Anthology of Interest episodes when Prof. Farnsworth makes him human, and one week later he finally eats himself to death.
  • In the Gravedale High episode "Goodbye Gravedale", Max Schneider's students get rid of their substitute teacher Mr. Gross by tricking him into overeating until he explodes.
  • Implied in the 1951 Chuck Jones Looney Tune Chow Hound: After the dog stuffs himself silly on the contents of a meat market, the cat and mouse show up at the end and inform him "THIS time, we didn't forget the gravy!"
  • Mighty Magiswords: The Warriors perform a Super Teamwork Combo with Cheese Magisword and Excaliburger Magisword, creating a giant foodstuff that makes the Carnivorous Plant explode from eating it.
  • In the early Warner Bros. cartoon Pigs Is Pigs, a young pig is captured and fattened up to obscene proportions. He tries to escape, but when he sees more food laid out as a trap, he greedily goes to continue overeating. He immediately explodes, but it's All Just a Dream. When he wakes up, he goes right back to massive eating.
  • Happens in The Real Ghostbusters in the Slimer! short "The Not-So-Great Outdoors", when two talking rabbits eat a bunch of Slimer's dehydrated food pills. It turned out they were very spicy and then ran to drink from a river, making them inflate very quickly until they exploded. Naturally, in the very next take, they were perfectly fine.
  • In one of the sketches from Robot Chicken, the Keebler elves kill the Cookie Monster by stuffing him with cookies until his stomach bursts.
  • The Simpsons: This happens to Homer Simpson a few times during the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes.
    • One episode has a pair of vampires suck on Homer's blood, but they suck up more than they can handle and die not just from having too much blood but sucking up all the fat and bad cholesterol that Homer had.
    • Another one, however, has Homer in Hell, forced to eat all the donuts in the world as a sort of ironic punishment. Not only does he eat them all, but he still wants more afterwards!
      Demon: I don't get it. James Coco went mad after fifteen minutes!
  • In the obscure Nickelodeon interstitial, Weird Answer Kommand, Bonnie almost suffers this after successfully eating every single potato chip the world has to offer.
  • A variation is also seen in one of the oldest Woody Woodpecker shorts after he ingests a rather strong drink. Somehow it also propels him upwards like a rocket...

    Real Life 
  • Real snakes have done it attempting to swallow large animals.
    • For example, the snake that swallowed an alligator and exploded (or got ripped apart from the inside out).
    • It's also possible for a snake to die by trying to eat itself. The snake will catch its tail in its mouth and not realize that that's its tail. Meaning they're literally Too Dumb to Live.
    • Another Indian python inadvertently disemboweled itself on the horns of the antelope it was in the middle of swallowing.
    • At least two fossils show this trope, too: one being the (in)famous "fish in a fish" specimen of Xiphactinus from Cretaceous Kansas, that had got some internal organs punctured in the process of swallowing its smaller (human-sized) relative, Gillacus, and another being a specimen of the lizardfish relative, Cimolichthys, that died when, after swallowing a giant squid, Tusoteuthis, tail-first, it suffocated on its victim's tentacles upon reaching the head.
  • Death by overeating is a leading cause of death in new goldfish that are lucky enough to get habitable tanks.
  • It was once commonly believed that Swedish king Adolf Frederick died of digestion problems after having consumed a huge meal, consisting of lobster, caviar, sauerkraut, smoked herring, and champagne, topping it off with 14 helpings of semla (a Swedish pastry) for dessert. However, modern historians have since cast doubt on this claim as propagandist.
  • Deep-chested and/or large dogs that scarf down huge meals, then roll over quickly during play, can potentially cause their overloaded stomachs to twist too far, fatally obstructing blood flow to their digestive tracts. This is known as bloat, twisted stomach, or gastric torsion.
  • Due to comparatively abundant, high-calorie food that is cheap and readily available in most developed nations, health complications from gluttony are also comparatively common, but it's a slow death that saps lifespan by inches for the most part. Stomach-bursting episodes happen but are thankfully rare.
  • During the Siege of Leningrad in WW2, this was a real problem. Many undernourished people (especially children) died after being rescued because they were allowed to eat too soon after evacuation; the technical term is refeeding syndrome.
  • This (mummified) baby gecko.
  • An already old crocodile was constantly fed live animals by a group of villagers in Bangladesh, because they believed it would bring them good luck. The poor croc grew extremely fat and eventually died from its obesity-related health issues.
  • There is a species of deep fish called the Black Swallower that can swallow prey over twice its size and ten times its mass. If they swallow prey that’s big enough, then the fish’s digestive tracts will not break it down fast enough before it begins to decompose, causing deadly gases to build up in its stomach, killing the fish and causing it to float to the surface.
  • This was intentionally invoked by 18th-century French Serial Killer Pere Gourier, aka "Le Diable Gourmand". An extremely wealthy landowner and very Big Eater, Gourier's chosen killing method was to befriend his victims, invite them out to fine restaurants and encourage them to indulge as heavily as they liked, insisting on paying the bill himself, then watch them eat themselves to death over the next few months. It was well known what he was doing — in fact, he openly bragged about it — but as buying somebody dinner obviously wasn't a crime, there was nothing the authorities could do. However, Gourier eventually overreached himself when he chose a man named Ameline, whose constitution was at least as strong as Gourier's own, as his latest victim. Ameline had learned of Gourier's hobby, and secretly fasted and purged between meals. Gourier, increasingly astonished by the man's seeming ability to put food away without dying, and increasingly determined to kill him, made their meals more and more extravagant to the point that he was pushing his own limits, ultimately dropping dead himself in the middle of a steak banquet.


Video Example(s):


Darlene Fleischermacher

Flips her scooter on the pools of vomit, pinning herself under its weight. Unable to shift her own immense girth, Darlene can only lie there as her belly starts to quake from her upset stomach, and... that's all she wrote.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / DeathByGluttony

Media sources: