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Diagonal Cut

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Now that's what I call a splitting headache!
"Aaaand, the split... Any minute now. Damn that must have been a smooth cut, he ain't falling... apart."

A swordsman strikes an opponent or other object with a mighty blow. At first, the strike appears to have done nothing and the person or thing looks perfectly intact. A few seconds later, though, the top half of the object begins to slide off the bottom half: through great strength, great skill, an Absurdly Sharp Blade, or the involvement of some kind of magic or Applied Phlebotinum, the sword has made a cut so clean that the object stays together until acted upon by an outside force, such as gravity, a gust of wind, or the victim trying to use their body normally. The initial seam created by the cut might not even be visible to the the naked eye: if it's a person their clothes may look intact, and the wound will not start to open up or bleed until it's revealed to the audience.

A person thus unwittingly cut in half may feel fine at first and laugh at their attacker for missing, until the moment of shocked realization when the two halves of their body slide apart and possibly spout High-Pressure Blood. Although not mandatory, the person who delivered the fatal blow might say "You Are Already Dead" and/or finish sheathing their sword with an audible "click" as the cue for their foe to suddenly fall to pieces.

This trope name comes from the fact that in Japanese media, which furnishes numerous examples, the go-to method of inflicting it on a person is a diagonal downwards strike from shoulder to opposite hip. Setting aside the fact that diagonal sword strikes are Truth in Television for certain practical reasons, a diagonal seam is what allows the target to separate in the most aesthetic way in the context of this trope. For the sake of argument, assume that the sword merely severs the physical connections in its path without disturbing the position or inertia of the two halves it creates. A perfectly horizontal cut would turn the bottom half of the target into a sort of table top which the upper half would stay balanced on instead of falling off, whereas a diagonal cut makes the lower half act as a ramp for the upper half to slide down under gravity. At the same time, a diagonal cut still gives you a clearly distinguishable upper and lower half so that friction on the ramp makes the slide slow enough for dramatic effect, in contrast to a perfectly vertical split where the left and right halves would have no force to slow their separation and would tend to fall apart in a less elegant way.

Please don't take the name too literally, though: a cut that's vertical, horizontal, or indeed any angle qualifies here as long as the effect of the cut is delayed. Conversely, a cut that literally follows a diagonal path but causes immediately visible damage or disassembly is not an example. Something might count as a downplayed case if the severing is immediately obvious, but still causes less of a structural collapse than expected: for example, if a person is instantly killed by beheading, but the head is moved so little by the blow that it remains balanced on top of the neck.

This trope has a lot of Artistic License – Physics and sometimes Artistic License – Biology associated with it. For example, as long as the edge is sharp enough the actual thickness of the blade is totally ignored. A BFS several centimeters thick can leave a cut as invisibly thin as monomolecular Razor Floss, even though logically it would have to displace a lot of material in order to pass through it. Likewise, the actual depth of the object that's being sliced never affects the outcome of this move. It's possible to cut all the way through items whose thickness greatly exceeds the length of the swordsman's blade, such as cars, giant sequoias, or in extreme cases entire buildings. See the Analysis section for a discussion of the mechanics.

The Diagonal Cut frequently happens in a Single-Stroke Battle with blades, although it also happens to inanimate scenery, especially if a warrior receives an Absurdly Sharp Blade and decides to test it on whatever target comes to hand. A regular Clean Cut is when you have an object neatly sliced apart without the delayed reaction. Razor Floss and other Sharpened to a Single Atom weapons tend to deliver a Diagonal Cut once per show for extra shock value and/or bonus awesomeness, with Clean Cuts used the rest of the time.

For a plentiful source of video examples, check out this "Cut/Slide" reel compiling many clips of the diagonal cut being inflicted on people in action and horror films. Be warned, however: four minutes of people getting sliced up and then slowly falling apart while still conscious can be pretty stomach-turning. However, it may also be a hilarious demonstration of how this trope is harder to show convincingly in live action than in animation. Further, it shows that something used too often can lose its effect very quickly.


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  • Sprint has this trope as the focus for their cut your bill in half promotion. Made explicit in the logo at the end of this ad.

  • Mechamato: Ninjamera uses a sword to slash at Mechamato, who ducks. The fountain behind Mechamato gets cut through, and after a few seconds its top half falls off.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Afro Samurai:
    • Done often. It's probably best demonstrated in the movie in which Afro faces off against a band of mooks, he slashes at them with his sword rapidly then puts it back in its sheath. Moments later, blood starts spraying from the mooks' wounds before they fall into pieces.
    • Justice sets himself up as a major badass by pulling one of these off with a revolver, holstering it after doing some Gun Twirling for extra Cool. Subverted, in that he actually used a sword, held with his hidden third arm. Still badass, though.
  • Bleach: Tite Kubo is very fond of this trope. Almost all the characters that fight will, at some stage, perform a diagonal cut, be it on their opponent or some scenery around them. Most of the characters will go on to perform diagonal cuts in later fights, too. In fact, it's practically a default cut in this manga. Yoruichi and Byakuya have each seemed to be the victim of this trope...except that Yoruichi's advanced form of Flash Step (which she taught to Byakuya) allows them to somehow leave afterimages that bleed as if they were cut. Kenpachi has one of the more notable examples, where his slash after releasing his Power Limiter cuts down a skyscraper.
  • Choujin Sensen: Sasamura attempted to kill Kaminashi this way, only to fail due to the sword being phased through.
  • Claymore is a very festival of Diagonal Cuts and Single-Stroke Battles.
  • Code Geass:
    • Suzaku in his upgraded Lancelot Albion does this to Bismark (a.k.a. the Knight of One). He bifurcates Bismark's BFS in the process, which is remodeled into a pair of (barely) smaller swords afterward.
    • Way before that, Mao does it. With a chainsaw.
  • In the fourth episode of Diebuster Nono does one of these to a planet from the inside.
  • Digimon Adventure has WarGreymon taking on the giant mecha dragon Machinedramon. WarGreymon rushes forward with his Dramon Destroyer claws swinging wildly, Flash Steps to behind Machinedramon, and de-digivolves to Koromon with a cut on his own forehead. Machinedramon appears untouched and turns to boast about the heroes' apparent loss, only for Koromon to reveal that during the charge Machinedramon had been sliced "like an onion." Machinedramon's body then collapses into three clean-cut pieces — a fitting end to a huge Jerkass.
  • Dragon Ball:
    • Yajirobe's fight against Cymbal in the original manga. Yajirobe quickly draws his sword, slashes, and resheathes it. Cymbal starts laughing when suddenly his upper half slides off his body.
    • (Future) Trunks does this to Frieza in Dragon Ball Z, although it is a vertical slice instead of diagonal, and after Frieza slides apart, Trunks then slices those two halves into about a dozen smaller ones before blowing them away. Amusingly, the camera briefly shifts to Frieza's point of view just after he's cut in half, with the screen splitting in half as he is (thus making it look like it was Trunks who was sliced).
    • In the seventh movie, Future Trunks battles Android 14, their fight comes to an end when their blows collide with Trunks using his sword, Android 14 comes out seemingly unscathed he runs out at Trunks and his body splits in half just before he reaches him.
  • Fist of the North Star:
    • The Nanto Seiken martial art is based almost entirely around cutting things using one's fingers and bursts of air. Rei and Huey are best known for creating multiple diagonal cuts on foes before they finally break into pieces.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, during their final battle, Sôsuke did this do the head of Gauron's AS. With a machete the size of a car. Too bad Gauron had auxiliary sensors so he didn't have to fight blind.
  • Get Backers: Kuroudo Akabane frequently slices victims — sometimes like this, sometimes far more elaborately, sometimes several at once — and they don't realize it until long after he's finished, come to a stop, and said something to another character. Then Ludicrous Gibs occur almost explosively. If you see Akabane, and then suddenly are not sure where he went, chances are that you've been dead for several seconds and haven't fallen apart yet because Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress.
  • In Gundam:
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny:
      • In Episode 12, Shinn does this to the bridge of a battleship. It helps that he's in a Humongous Mecha Dual Wielding BFSs at the time.
      • Later, after Shinn receives the Destiny, he uses his new Gundam's BFS (a standard weapon on this one) to do this to a giant enemy mobile suit. The Destiny drops down through frame incredibly fast, and doesn't seem to have done anything at first, until the enemy machine's two halves slide apart, a fraction of a second before it explodes. Admittedly, this is a vertical cut rather than a diagonal one, but otherwise a classic example.
      • During the same battle, Shinn orders that the twin BFSs from his old mecha be launched for his two companions to use, so that they can also slice up the other, identical giant enemy Gundams.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray:
      • Lowe also pulls this off, once he gets the Gerbera Straight. At one point, an enemy Mobile Suit comes after him with his friend Kisato strapped to its head. Lowe's attack not only does this to the mecha, but catches part of Kisato's sleeve too (despite being about as thick as she is wide). As a Technical Pacifist, Lowe is quite adept at doing this so that the targeted mecha will fall apart without harming the pilot.
      • He does the same thing in a Gundam SEED Astray mini-OVA, but that time does a double diagonal cut, forming an X-shaped pattern that causes the enemy mobile suit to fall apart in four pieces (and the pilot to fall out of the cockpit unharmed). He did this using the severed head of a dog-like BuCUE mobile suit that he'd rigged to fit over Red Frame's right hand like a gauntlet holding a double-bladed beam saber.
    • Mobile Fighter G Gundam:
      • Schwartz Bruder does this to a large tree...with a dulled and rusty sword. This is to demonstrate that once Domon completes his training, the quality of the blade will be irrelevant; it's just a focal point for the swordsman's spirit.
      • Domon's Bakunetsu God Slash has this effect as well, but since it's used on the Mandala Gundam, it has the effect of making all the balls that make up its arms and waist pop off like a broken pearl necklace.
  • In GUN×SWORD, Vaan dispatches the Claw in this manner.
  • Referenced/parodied in the opening titles of .hack//SIGN, where some of the game characters walk on, swing their swords, momentarily split diagonally and then return to normal.
  • In the third episode of Hellsing Ultimate, Alucard pulls a few of these off on a SWAT team with his fingertips.
  • In the first episode of Interspecies Reviewers, this is how Stunk kills the monster that was attacking Crim. After a jump and two sword slashes, he lands and sheathes his sword behind the immobile monster, which then loses an arm and ends up bisected at the torso.
  • Inuyasha:
    • Inu-Yasha kills Hiten like this. Cutting through the haft of Hiten's halberd and Hiten's head and shoulder.
    • When demonstrating to Jaken what Tenseiga's power is, Sesshoumaru performs a diagonal cut on him. Subverted because Tenseiga is incapable of cutting living or physical objects, so Jaken wasn't really injured. However, when Sesshoumaru later kills spirits with it, he'll often kill them via a diagonal cut. In particular, when he slashes Magatsuhi's true body, he does this to Magatsuhi's face.
    • Kaijinbou, when possessed by Toukijin, does this to Jaken.
    • Parodied in a filler episode where Shippo and Soten both score one... using kendamas!
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: This is how Jotaro Kujo meets his end. In Stardust Crusaders, Boingo's Thoth Stand predicts that Jotaro will die from having his face split open, which ends up happening to his older brother, Oingo, from stepping on a tangerine laced with a bomb. Cut 23 years later to Stone Ocean, however, and Enrico Pucci unleashes a Flechette Storm of knives in Jolyne Cujoh's direction, so Jotaro, determined to save his daughter, pushes her out of the way, causing the knives to diagonally swipe at his face, slicing it open and killing him on the spot.
  • Done to high-rise apartment building in Kaze no Stigma. Everything else starts out with such a cut but quickly gets diced in the follow up.
  • Killer Killer:
    • When Hijirihara confronts the killer behind the "Monk Idol" case, and the killer lunges at him with a deadly weapon, Hijirihara draws his knife and Flash Steps behind the killer, having carved a tight grid pattern of cuts into the killer's face on the pass. The trope is surreally inverted because right away the killer has visibly been cut into little cubes that are somehow still holding together, but then the pieces reunite into a seamless whole as if someone was playing a film of a Diagonal Cut in reverse. The confused killer says "what... I'm fine...?" And then suddenly explodes into little pieces. Hijirihara calls this attack "Super Dismemberment".
    • This trope ends up being used defensively in the final chapter. Hijirihara decapitates Asano to remove her bomb collar, with her head landing perfectly on her shoulders as if nothing happened. Thankfully, she gets better.
  • Kill la Kill: The Scissor Blade can do this to pretty much anything, at almost any distance, up to and including skyscrapers.
  • Lupin III, Goemon does this frequently. Things rarely fall apart until he has resheathed his sword, and at some point he will say, "Once again I have cut a worthless object."
  • Micaiah of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid managed to do the vertical version with a bokken in Chapter 45. It had appeared that her Attack Hello on Sieg was harmlessly deflected by the latter without effort, but after the two had a conversation that lasted a few pages and Micaiah started to walk away, the Modesty Towel Sieg was wearing suddenly started to fall apart.
  • In the MegaMan NT Warrior manga, Mega Man Protosoul debuts by combining this with both Implausible Fencing Powers and an energy attack-based Out of the Inferno, slicing through not only Bass GS' newest and most powerful attack yet, but through the dark-energy dragon he summoned to use the attack as well.
  • Happens all the time in Murder Princess.
  • Mikoto's sword Miroku in My-HiME.
  • Likewise, almost all Otome in My-Otome who use swords as weapons.
  • Subverted in Naruto: when Sasuke is fighting Deidara, he cuts clean through Tobi, who falls over a second later, but to Sasuke's confusion Tobi gets back up, seemingly unharmed, shortly thereafter. "Tobi" actually phased through the attack entirely, then pretended to be injured before Deidara would notice to keep his cover.
  • Setsuna of Negima! Magister Negi Magi does this occasionally. She has a technique explicitly made for cleaving solid rocks in two and having them fall seconds later, though less dramatically. Because of the nature of the series (at least before volume 20), she doesn't do this much (unless a paper bird falling apart in mid-flight counts).
  • One Piece:
    • Any and all fights in which Zoro takes part will feature this trope to excess. Most notably when he sliced through the Sea Train wagon during the Enies Lobby arc.
    • In the battle against Don Krieg, Mihawk slices Krieg's entire ship in half like this. While Mihawk's sword is big, but not that big; he has some as yet unexplained (and given the nature of the series, it probably never will be) ability to slice through things without his blade actually have to touch them. During the timeskip, Zoro learned this trick from him.
    • During the Marineford battle, he actually slices through a frozen tsunami. Why? He tried to slash Luffy and missed.
    • Brook manages this a few times during the Thriller Bark arc.
  • Panzer World Galient: The titular mecha does this all the time to finish an enemy.
  • Parasyte: A parasite's organic Absurdly Sharp Blade can cut through a human so cleanly and fast that they'll have time to get scared before they realize they are already dead.
    • In Chapter 3, a parasite performs a Clean Cut all around him which causes the humans in front of him to fall to pieces right away, but the woman behind him is seemingly left standing. She raises her hands to her head and screams, only for her head and hands to belatedly separate from the rest of her.
    • In Chapter 6, Tamaya kills The Chikan who came back to get revenge on her with a single cut. At first his hand comes off and the sight of it makes him freak out, then he turns his head to see the wound opening in his neck, and as his head falls off his eyes are transfixed on the bleeding stump of his neck as if he can't believe what hit him.
  • Pokémon:
    • This style has been known to be used in Pokémon: The Series, and in the handheld battle scenes the animations for attacks such as Slash and False Swipe end up looking a lot like it. Farfetch'd was able to do this with a green onion.
    • Pokémon Adventures has Mewtwo using his psychic powers to do this on a building. This is visualised by Mewtwo transforming his "psychic weapon", aka, a spoon, into the biggest katana you will ever see.
  • Kunô does this to a tree with a bokken in an early episode of Ranma ½.
  • Rurouni Kenshin:
    • Even though the protagonist is a Technical Pacifist during the series, he vanquishes several inanimate objects this way. At one point, he uses his Diagonal Cut to slice a vegetable... which he then is able to stick back together because the cut was just that clean, as a proof of the blade's sharpness. His style, Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu, even has a name for this technique. He actually did this using a KITCHEN KNIFE, rather than his own sword, although it was to test the quality of a prospective sword supplier's work.
    • Used in the movie version, in which a character is shown partially unsheathing his sword, there is a flash, and then a confused-looking sailor takes a drink from the bottle of wine he is holding, which falls in half minutes later. Yes, minutes.
  • During the Poseidon arc of Saint Seiya, this is how the Bronze Saints take down the seven Ocean Pillars, using the weapons provided by the Libra Gold Cloth.
  • In the manga and anime Samurai Deeper Kyo, when Kyo is just about to end the battle and waste the other guy, all he does is one slash. Then he sheathes his sword, tells everyone to haul ass because they need to get to wherever they're going, and starts walking away. Then the enemy tries to move and slides in two. (It's more vertical usually but it's still along the lines of a Single-Stroke Battle.) At one point you don't even see him move. Not even any movement lines. Just his sword clicking as he puts it away.
  • Sgt. Frog: Dororo seems to be a master of this.
  • Spy X Family: In chapter 34, Nightfall challenges Yor to a tennis match. Yor attempts to serve the ball, only for it to just fall to the ground. Nightfall initially assumes that Yor simply missed... and then the tennis ball falls to pieces, having been sliced apart by the racket's wires because Yor hit the ball too hard.
  • This is how Kagato is defeated in the Tenchi Muyo! OVAs. Tenchi himself suffers a similar cut in the exchange with Kagato, but is so charged with power that it heals instantly. Kagato's own previously-established Healing Factor, on the other hand, was negated by the sheer power of Tenchi's literal Infinity +1 Sword. Also, rather than the halves of his body sliding apart, Kagato disintegrates after a few seconds, giving him enough time to congratulate Tenchi on his victory. Of course, it's only after the girls show up that they realize he also Diagonally Cut the whole space fortress. Which was in some unexplained way linked to Kagato's body.
  • Although This Is a Drill and not a sword, the way the Giga Drill Breaker from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann goes off — Gurren Lagann passes through the victim, swings its right arm back while retracting the drill, followed by the victim exploding — is stylistically identical to the archetypal Diagonal Cut Single-Stroke Battle.
  • Almost all monsters of the week were killed this way in Voltron.
  • Technically performed in the anime adaptation of Witchblade, where the main heroine performs a vertical cut on a demon. After a few seconds nothing has happened and she begins to walk away. The demon cries "Hey, I'm not finished with yo-" and is cut off by his own explosion.
  • Yaiba: Main character Yaiba's Kaminarigiri (Lightning Cut) attack sometimes results into this. He also uses the non-lethal variation against machines, weapons and clothes.
  • Hiei from YuYu Hakusho is rather fond of this, most notably having done it to Seiryuu the Blue Dragon in the first arc (although he went a little beyond the trope to cut him a total of sixteen times at various angles, and the guy still had time for a final line), and Kurama has been known to pull something similar from time to time. With a whip.

    Comic Books 
  • In one issue of G.I. Joe, Snake-Eyes demonstrates his "subtle cut" against a practice dummy. When the dummy doesn't fall apart, the following comments pop up in the background:
    Air-Tight: Are you kidding? That cut was so subtle it missed the target!
    Random Joe:note  Just keep watching.
    [Snake-Eyes stomps the floor, and the target's head slides off]
    Random Joe: True subtlety is having to remind the target it's been cut.
  • One of Iron Fist’s counterparts from other mystic cities, Dog Brother #1, uses a variant of this in a solo story. The cut’s almost perfectly horizontal, and the victim gets a chance to speak afterwards. It’s only when Dog Brother #1 finishes him off with a normal punch to the face that he falls apart into slices.
  • Happens in the fourth book of Scott Pilgrim, in which the victim is actually able to get a few words in before sliding apart.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • There's a scene in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar where Aladdin has been framed for murder and is going to be executed. An assistant grinds the execution sword and hands it to the executioner for inspection. The executioner is pleased with it, and promptly slashes the sword through a rather large piece of wood. The wood is at first unaffected, but a second later splits neatly in two. All in front of the intended victim, who is next in line. And this is in a show for kids!
  • Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children:
    • Done to many, many skyscrapers in the climactic duel of and to a lot of other objects (guns, a motorbike in mid-flip) earlier in the film. It helps that Cloud's weapon is basically a sharpened industrial girder.
    • At one point during the climax, Sephiroth cuts a piece of a falling building along two axes simultaneously. The implication is that he used magic, since the cut edges were also on fire.
  • At the end of Highlander: The Search for Vengeance we have a decidedly one-sided battle, after a beat-down Colin gets one final boost of energy to jump up and slice Marcus right across the face. Cue smug looks from Marcus until his head falls off. Funny enough he's still talking after his head is separated from the body, though he's not the first person in the series to do this.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the final showdown of Azumi, the Big Bad takes a swing at Azumi with his sword only to have his body spin a good 360 degrees — twice — while his head remains stationary.
  • In one of the first scenes of the live-action version of Blood: The Last Vampire.
  • The climactic swordfight in The Court Jester has Ravenhurst take a swipe at a row of candles, which all fall apart, severed. Giacomo then does the same thing, but the candles don't move ... until he nonchalantly turns his head and blows a puff of air at them, whereupon their upper halves all clatter to the floor.If one looks closely, one can see that each of the candles has a diagonal cut (and they don't line up), implying that Giacomo's slash was not a simple horizontal sweep, but a separate cut for each individual candle, performed too quickly to be seen.
  • The first trap seen in the movie Cube seems to do nothing except go "schinggg" — until the hapless victim collapses into a pile of meat dice.
  • Thena performs several at once on the sentient Deviant Kro during the climax of Eternals.
  • Equilibrium does a perfect diagonal cut/slide apart in live action as part of its climactic fight sequence, and the victim is even courteous enough to turn his head to the side so the audience can see his face sliding off. It looks exactly as awesome/stupid as it sounds.
  • Happens in the prologue of Ghost Ship. When the cables tear across the Antonia Grazia, dismembering everyone on-board, most cuts are horizontal as the victims are standing. The captain is dancing with a little girl and bends in an odd pose to protect her and, after a few seconds of delay to look around at the carnage, the girl watches the cut form across his head.
  • A vertical cut in the Russian film Guardians (2017). Several vehicles full of heavily-armed men are converging on Khan in the desert. Khan accelerates and uses his curved Absurdly Sharp Blades to slice through an SUV right in the middle. The car and the guy sitting in the back seat stay together for a moment longer before falling apart. He then proceeds to slaughter everyone else in a matter of seconds.
  • In Hellboy (2004), Kroenen cuts a stone statue imprisoning Sammael this way.
  • Ichi the Killer. Admittedly the cut is vertical, not diagonal, but the effect is the same: the victim delivers one final line, and his two halves slowly separate.
  • While not a full diagonal cut, The Ice Pirates does have the momentary delay. A brief sword fight in a Bad Guy Bar has a man beheaded, but he doesn't realize it until he tilts his head back to laugh at this weak attack, whereupon his whole head falls off.
  • Interview with the Vampire
    • In the movie adaptation, Louis slashes at a rival vampire with a scythe as the latter capers past. The foe pauses for a few puzzled beats, as it appears Louis has missed — until a diagonal section of the rival's upper torso falls off.
    • And in Queen of the Damned, during the fight at the concert, Lestat slices through another vampire's neck with a long curved knife before kicking the body, causing the head to fall off.
  • Done in Johnny Mnemonic with a monofilament whip.
  • In John Carpenter's Vampires, when the head vampire Jan Valek is introduced he takes a swipe at Caitlan one of the vampire hunters with his claws and after a pause he splits in half from the head down.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service there is a rare example of a vertical cut having the same effect. Gazelle slashes the unfortunate Kingsman, waits for him to fall apart — then walks through the space where his body used to be.
  • A rare Western example of the aftermath of this is seen in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, where a British soldier falls apart like a chopped cucumber.
  • Done once in Ninja Assassin in the first scene, which contains most of its gorn. The guy getting sliced was holding a shotgun in that moment, which was sliced through, too, making this also a perfect example of absurdly sharp blade.
  • In Piranha 3D, the piranha cause a wire to get loose from the stage and it slices through two girls, one of them dies instantly while the other appears to be unscathed with the only damage being her bikini top being cut off. After feeling herself to make sure she's all right, her upper half from her shoulder down to her torso slides off her body.
  • Used to the nth degree (though not with swords) in the first Resident Evil (2002) movie. A small group of characters are trapped in a short hallway with deadly lasers that cut them apart, while characters outside try desperately to deactivate them. On the last pass, the only surviving character is facing down what turns, to his horror, into a GRID of lasers. The outside characters manage to deactivate the lasers apparently in time, until the trapped character starts oozing from a grid of a thousand cuts — and then falls apart in a fine dice.
  • Used to patently ridiculous effect at the end of Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2. Witness: Ricky swings a wood axe, and this is the result. Words fail.
  • In the Director's Cut of Sin City, Miho slices Manute in half with a spear. This scene was not in the theatrical cut or the comic.
  • Happens with a redneck in Slither, after the Big Bad's tentacle whips at him. The cut is not diagonal but perfectly vertical. And yes, it takes a few seconds for him to realize that he's already dead.
  • Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace: When Obi-Wan cuts Darth Maul through the middle with his lightsaber, the Sith falls into a bottomless shaft with his body seemingly intact, and tumbles once or twice before he separates into top and bottom halves on his way down. His all-black clothing probably did something to obscure the wound.
  • Done vertically front to back in Thir13en Ghosts, when a razor-edged glass barrier slices completely through a man standing in a doorway. For an instant, it's not clear what's happened because his eyes keep roaming side to side; then gravity takes over and his front half slides downward, exposing a grisly interior view of the back half of his body, still adhering to the glass.
  • In the first Underworld (2003) this happens during the final duel between Selene and Viktor. With his head no less. And it takes forever to fall off. Also note that it's done with a big, thick claymore, which should have made this much messier than it was.
  • Played for Laughs in Without a Clue: Reginald Kincaid (aka. Sherlock HolmesIt Makes Sense in Context) tries to show off in the middle of a climactic fencing duel by slicing some candles. He seems to miss, but a while later the candles get shaken and their top halves fall off. Kincaid's expression screams "See? See?" but his opponent Moriarty doesn't stop to admire it.
  • Yukio's introduction of the centuries-old katana Danzan in The Wolverine qualifies, as she draws, fluidly cuts, and resheathes the blade before either the bar stool or the beer bottle being held by a bar patron comes apart.
  • The blind swordsman Zatoichi is the undisputed champion of this. The Takeshi Kitano version cuts a stone garden statue this way.
  • Early in Zorro (1975) the antagonist demonstrates the sharpness of his blade this way. He swipes his sword, then drops it on the table, and the candles fall down cut across. Near the end Zorro outdoes him: he waves his sword and taps on the floor — all candles, but one, fall cut. He taps again, and that candle falls, cut lengthwise.

  • Book of the Dead (2021): Using a combination of a magical blade and high Skills, Magnin cuts Rufus in two so cleanly that Tyron doesn't know what's happened at first, until he sees a drop of blood start to run down Rufus' forehead. The two halves fall apart a short time later.
  • The vigilante does this twice in Dance of the Butterfly. The first time is to a large, demon-possessed man. It nearly decapitates him. The second time is to a monstrous demon.
  • The Devil's Dictionary has several examples Played for Laughs:
    • Under "A" we have:
      "ACEPHALOUS, adj. In the surprising condition of the Crusader who absently pulled at his forelock some hours after a Saracen scimitar had, unconsciously to him, passed through his neck, as related by de Joinville."
    • "SCIMITAR, n." has the story of a Japanese executioner who accidentally decapitates himself and doesn't realize it until forty minutes later:
      "Several kinds of spike-tailed brass lions!" he cried; "I am a ruined and disgraced swordsman! I struck the villain feebly because in flourishing the scimitar I had accidentally passed it through my own neck! Father of the Moon, I resign my office."
      So saying, he grasped his top-knot, lifted off his head and advancing to the throne laid it humbly at the Mikado's feet.
  • Discworld:
    • In Carpe Jugulum, this is done, not diagonally, but straight across the neck, using a double-headed axe. Considering the victim is a vampire, he actually doesn't die, but has to walk very, very carefully after that...
    • A humorous example in the novel The Truth. The vampire Otto Chriek receives a killing slash from the villain and the two halves of his undead body thrash around trying to find each other so as to re-unite.
  • The first chapter of the Zombie Apocalypse novel Empire has Death himself do this to a zombie with his Sinister Scythe. It is explicitly noted that there is at first no visible wound, only for a paper cut-like effect to appear and the zombie falling apart.
  • In Dan Simmons's Illium, the older Odysseus has a vibrating sword with so much cutting power that it does this, once to a tree and once to a quasi-mechanical creature.
  • Happens in William Gibson's short story "Johnny Mnemonic", as per the Film entry above (it's not so much a monofilament whip as a monomolecular one).
  • In a rare book example, in the novel The Lone Drow by R.A. Salvatore. King Obould kills an elven warrior with precisely this trope, right down to the delay between the cut and the torso sliding away. He does it again in The Pirate King, this time with an erinyes.
  • In The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen, a legendary sword is so sharp that a light slash with it cuts a thick tree trunk so clean in two that it remains standing.
  • Technically a straight downward, not a diagonal cut, in the German ballad "Schwäbische Kunde" by Ludwig Uhland. An unlucky Turk gets halved by the hero.
  • In James Clavell's Shogun, the westerner Blackthorne is accepted as a samurai and issued an old heirloom sword as a mark of Toranaga's esteem. While riding in the country with other samurai, they encounter a peasant oil seller who does not step aside to let them pass. The warlord Oni respectfully asks to borrow Blackthorne's sword, and performs the diagonal cut on the hapless peasant. He hands the sword back, explaining that a new sword must be bloodied for good luck...
  • Shagga son of Dolf brags to Tyrion that he has performed such a feat with his axes in A Clash of Kings.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the final episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, one of the Bringers does this to Anya from behind.
  • An even more unlikely Western example is in CSI: NY. The villain of the episode manages this on a man's neck. Downplayed in that the head fails to fall off (until Detective Taylor lifts it up), greatly confusing the investigators until they determine the weapon is a katana.
  • Game of Thrones: The Hound cuts two people in half during the battle of Blackwater, one like this, one clean across the belly.
    • House of the Dragon: The Crabfeeder gets Killed Offscreen by Daemon Targaryen, but from the look of the half of his body that Daemon drags outside his cave it's pretty clear he was bisected diagonally.
  • Kamen Rider
    • Kamen Rider 555: Takumi's BFS Faiz Blaster Blade Mode finalizes a Monster of the Week during Faiz Blaster's debut with such a cut...and a second later, a nearby train car said monster was nearby slides apart, too. And explodes into a grand fireball.
    • In Kamen Rider OOO, the OOO Bash is one of these. Not only does it slice the Yummy in half with a short delay, it cuts ALL OF REALITY as well. Thankfully, the Yummy is the only thing that doesn't return to normal afterwards.
  • In a shockingly dark death for what's supposed to be a goofy Disney Channel sitcom (albeit one that's offscreen and laughed off by the protagonists), the series finale of Lab Rats ends with the show's final antagonist, Giselle, attempting to kill the protagonists with her laser whip. All three manage to dodge it, and it ends up wrapping right around her. At first, it doesn't look like anything happens, which is lampshaded by Bree, but then offscreen the sound of her screaming and then the noise of multiple body parts thudding to the floor can be heard. This is further punctuated by some of the other protagonists arriving in the room and cringing at what they see before them.
  • In the Japanese gameshow Ken-chan's Masquerade, best known for the "Matrix Ping-Pong" clip, a sketch depicts a samurai in a tall grass field, which rotates around him, to reveal a bamboo grove and three ninja from the shadows. He makes his slashes, then sheathes his swords — then the ninjas, the bamboo grove, and the moon slide apart, in that order.
  • Samurai Sentai Shinkenger pulls these off whenever possible, in the spirit of its Jidaigeki theme.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Worf lands one of these on a holodeck-generated training dummy, complete with the top half slowly sliding off before the whole mook fades away.
  • Star Trek: Picard: In "Absolute Candor", Tenqem's head stays on his shoulders for a second or two before falling off as a testament to just how sharp Elnor's blade is.
  • In the pilot episode of Under the Dome, an unfortunate cow happens to be standing directly under the Dome as it slams into place. The cow is split in half lengthwise, with its two halves sliding down the transparent Dome at slightly different speeds so the bloody edge of the far piece can be gorily seen.
  • The Wheel of Time (2021): Two guards are killed by Fades this way in episode 8.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Older Than Print: In certain versions of the 12th-13th century epic Nibelungenlied after Kriemhild killed Hagen, Hildenbrand slashes her waist. Initially Kriemhild, who is still on a revenge high, laughs off the attack. Hildenbrand then drops his sword and calmly asks her to pick it up, and as she does so, she falls to pieces.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition: A possible way to simulate this effect in-game is with the "Mosquito's Bite" skill trick, which can make a flat-footed opponent not realize he's been wounded until the next turn. Especially when combined with a Iaijustu Focus move and/or sneak attack.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Cross, this is Fargo's Level 7 Tech, "Invincible". Used merely as a visual effect, though, since it just deals physical damage instead of instant-kills.
  • This can happen in the Dead Rising series when you fight the zombies with a sharp weapon such as a sword or chainsaw.
  • In Devil May Cry, Vergil and his Dark Slayer style of swordsmanship is a god of this trope. His sword Yamato seems specially able to grant smooth and stylish cuts to whoever wields it, as shown by Dante who also knows Dark Slayer, and Nero who doesn't. What's more, enemies die only the moment Vergil clicks his blade back into place.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Squall's first limit break in Final Fantasy VIII, "Rough Divide", does this. His last one, "Lion Heart", also ends this way.
    • Likewise, the special attack "Zantetsuken", used by the Summoned Beasts Odin and Yojimbo in the many games they appear in.
    • Cyan from Final Fantasy VI can learn a similar move as his final bushido, and its hit rate is even higher than Raiden's.
    • At one point in Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer does this to Odin.
    • And if Odin's successor Gilgamesh misses on a Zantetsuken blow, he does this to everything except the enemy combatants.
  • In Dissidia, diagonal cuts are as common as air, though the only thing being bisected is a player's Bravery gauge.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, if Chrom marries a certain character such that Lucina has a sibling, a support conversation between Lucina and her sibling features the sibling wondering if they're able to use the Falchion, which Only the Chosen May Wield and becomes completely dull otherwise. They decide to test this by trying to cut a log with it. The log is completely unscathed, so they walk away disappointed. Chrom later comes across the same log to find it cleanly split in two, implying that the sibling accidentally caused this trope and is chosen after all.
  • Johnny in Guilty Gear specializes in these. Most of his special attacks come in the form of diagonal cuts, and his Instant Kill turns the opponent into a playing card, which he cuts diagonally, whereupon it slides apart.
  • The Gundam Vs Series, starting with the Mobile Suit Gundam SEED-themed games, has enemy machines split in half at the waist as part of their death animation if you finish them off with a melee attack. This vanishes in Gundam Extreme Vs, where defeated machines breaking apart pretty much randomly and regardless of what finished them.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • In the final stage of Kingdom Hearts II, a series of skyscrapers springs out of the ground to block Sora's path, who, using a reaction command, charges through every one of them and emerges at the exit, despite the fact they only slide apart several seconds later. Also, Sora's keyblade is round. It still cuts absolutely smoothly through objects several times its own length.
    • Sephiroth opens the fight this way. If you don't press triangle you basically just die.
    • Luxord dies this way, though the cut is directed onto a barrier of cards he put up at the last moment rather than onto himself, even though he still takes mortal damage.
    • In Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep, Terra has the unique attack "Zantetsuken", which takes a moment to wind up, but has a chance of instantly killing enemies.
  • Kirby Super Star has Dyna Blade do this to the background in the intro sequence.
  • Every game in the Mega Man Zero and ZX series has this happening to mooks (and most bosses) if a saber or similar bladed weapon deals the finishing blow. Then again, said mooks and bosses are all mechanical, so no censorship is required. Some large bosses several times the size of the blade used still get sliced in half.
    • Earlier in the series, in Mega Man X2, the Maverick boss Wire Sponge will be cut in half and explode if X deals the final blow with the Sonic Slicer.
    • In Rockman 4 Minus ∞, this is how Shadow Man kills the third Chimerabot in Wily 4 in if you achieve the secret condition.
  • This is pretty much what Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is about. The cover to the standard release shows Raiden bisecting a mech with a diagonal Clean Cut, but in the game proper they often have time to wobble around before realizing they're scrap metal.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Shaolin Monks, this happens when fighting the lesser enemies with a sword. This also happens with some of the finishing moves, especially Kung Lao's.
  • In Ninja Gaiden (the modern reboot), Doku inflicts one of these on Ryu at the end of Chapter 2, but the falcon spirit revives him.
  • In No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle, this is how Travis finishes Chloe Walsh: by slashing her horizontally seven times from her neck down her torso. He then turns around and strikes a pose while she falls apart from her cuts.
  • In Ōkami, just about every time the Power Slash technique is used, a diagonal or horizontal slice appears, then the sliced object splits apart slowly (Sliding down for diagonal, tipping over for horizontal).
  • In Persona 5, Yusuke's Follow-up attack involves him doing this, with the enemy Shadow exploding into mist the moment he finishes sheathing his sword (provided it isn't a boss).
  • The moon at the start of the fourth case of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Justice For All. It was cut by the Nickel Samurai.
  • Whenever you use the blade or claw powers in [PROTOTYPE], enemies have a tendency to get grievously bisected like this.
  • Both Samurai Shodown and The Last Blade play this trope if the last blow is a strong slash with both characters standing.
  • A partial parody of the samurai genre, in Shadow Warrior (1997) the sword often kills using the trope in textbook form. Typically followed by an appropriate Bond One-Liner.
    "Oh, split personality!"
  • In Shining Force II, if Slade is equipped with a Gisarme, occassionally he will perform a diagonal cut and insta-kill the enemy. When this happens, the message "<enemy> is cut off!" appears.
  • In the PS2 remake of Shinobi, enemies don't suffer Critical Existence Failure even when their health runs out — they simply stop moving until you run out of enemies to kill or take too long to get to the next one, then they all fall apart messily, accompanied by a cutscene if you've chained four or more kills together. Let's not even go into the fact that Hotsuma's demonic sword can slice a Type 90 main battle tank in half like this.
  • Starcraft II:
    • In Wings of Liberty, when Zeratul and Kerrigan fight, he breaks free of her telekinesis to cut her with his psi blade, and then leaps away. The cut is invisible at first, and her left wing stays attached for several seconds, until the part above the cut starts to slowly slide off the bottom and it falls to the ground. Then it turns out that she somehow wounded him in the arm as well. She quickly regenerates her lost wing, while Zeratul cannot do the same.
    • In the early Legacy of The Void mission, "The Growing Shadow", Amon takes control of the Khala on Aiur and uses it to dominate the mind of Artanis, causing him to attack Zeratul. Their fight ends with both of them charging at each other with psi blades, and passing each other as they cut. After a dramatic pause, the invisible cut that Zeratul made through Artanis's nerve cords opens up and the braids fall to the ground, causing excruciating pain but freeing him from Amon's corruption. Meanwhile, Zeratul belatedly collapses from a mortal wound, using his last words to tell the heartbroken Artanis to get the keystone before Amon destroys everything.
  • In Super Robot Wars Z, one of Asakim's attacks is this: he cuts straight through, nothing appears to have happened until he casually taps his victim, who promptly falls in two.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, one of the reveal trailers shows Galeem on the receiving end of the trope, courtesy of Sephiroth and his Masamune. Now keep in mind that Galeem is powerful enough to wipe out the whole universe and rebuild it In Their Own Image, so for him to get sliced in half so easily clearly establishes Sephiroth as the bigger threat between the two.
  • In Taipan!, an English merchant in Japan refuses to bow for a passing samurai, pointing out an Englishman bows to no one except Queen Victoria. The enraged Japanese teaches him manners with a partial diagonal cut that chops through his chest and belly. A doctor manages to save his life and stitch it all together again, but the stitches burst on his wedding night owing to "exertion" and he bleeds to death.
  • If you're following the Genocide Route in Undertale, after Undyne defends Monster Kid from you and receives a mortal strike (prior to turning into Undyne the Undying), her upper chest, neck, arms and head begin to slide off the rest of her body. That's right, you hit them so hard you managed to inflict a diagonal cut.
  • In Valis II, Magus does this to the defeated Shadow Panther Gillan.
  • One of the mini-games in WarioWare: Smooth Moves has the player perform a diagonal slash with the Wiimote. The starting position is called "The Samurai."
  • In Wii Sports Resort, one of the minigames consists entirely of doing this as fast as you can, using the direction indicated onscreen (left to right, diagonal cut, vertical cut etc). This includes cutting hilarious items such as giant sushi, giant hard boiled eggs, a giant LED timer that stops and shows the timing when cut, and giant human-sized diamonds. You can even work in a few extra iai slashes before the next item loads, if that's what you're into.
  • In World of Warcraft, Treants will randomly die as if from a Diagonal Cut, no matter what they were killed with. Yes, even with sticks.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
    • The climax of the fight between Tigerzord and Gundam Epyon features one. After the Epyon uses a full-powered beam sabre on the Mega Tigerzord, the latter mecha falls down in one piece, only for its upper torso to slide off and explode a few moments later.
    • A combination of this, Ludicrous Gibs, Wrecked Weapon and Delayed Causality happens at the end of Sasuke VS Hiei where Sasuke and Hiei perform a Single-Stroke Battle with Onyx Chidori/Chidori Blade and Susano'o for Sasuke and the Sword of Darkness Flame for Hiei where while both suffered significant injuries from it Hiei survives with Sasuke's Kusanagi falling to pieces followed by Sasuke himself.
  • Happens quite often in Happy Tree Friends, seeing that almost everything the characters interact with is an Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • Inverted in Super Mario Bros. Z, when Axem Yellow attempts a Diagonal Cut against Mecha Sonic... only for his weapon to fall apart three seconds later, with Mecha Sonic totally unharmed.


    Web Videos 
  • Ninja Charlie does this to Demon Rupert in the KateModern episode "The Wedding Video".

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Roger has stolen Steve's roosters he had saved from being slaughtered as chicks to be used for cock fighting. At one of the matches, when Steve arrives, one of his roosters recognizes him and runs towards him, only for its opponent to slash its throat; a few seconds later the rooster's head falls off.
    • In the Halloween episode Toshi fights and kills the serial killers, the second one he slices down the middle a couple seconds later he splits in half from the head down.
  • In the Animaniacs episode "Rest in Pieces", Walter Wolf and Sid Squid had set up a trap for Slappy so that if she were to step on a platform she would get cut in half by an angel statue holding a sword. When it doesn't work, Sid steps on it and the angel's sword slices through him and the floor he's standing on. He checks himself over and seems fine, only for him to split in half.
  • In an episode of Mary Shelley's Frankenhole, Dr. Frankestein slashes at his childhood self with a meat cleaver. A few seconds later, his head falls off.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In episode "The Mime", the eponymous villain inflicts a diagonal cut all the way through the Eiffel Tower with his power. Complete with the few seconds of delay before the top starts to slide down along the cut.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Lair of Grievous": A droid bisected by Jedi Knight Nahdar Vebb manages to get off two more shots before it falls in two.
    • "Mystery of a Thousand Moons": Anakin fails a spot check and destroys multiple approaching battle droids without realizing they've been reprogrammed and are actually a welcoming party. The eighteenth droid takes a little longer to succumb.
  • In an episode of Super Robot Monkey Team Hyper Force Go, Nova does this to a tree. Which is odd considering her usual choice weapon is her own fists.
  • In the second episode of Transformers: Prime, Megatron fights the recently resurrected Cliffjumper who is now a mindless zombie, he charges at him while Megatron slashes him with his arm sword seconds later the zombie Cliffjumper splits in half.


Video Example(s):


Mike Shadow - KatanaLv3

The Katana Lvl.3 attack involves Mike cutting through the machine diagonally as the screen goes black, plus the cut goes through something else as well.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / DiagonalCut

Media sources: