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Dismembering the Body

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What if I were to cut you up
And mail each part to a different town?
It would take the most brilliant private eye
The rest of his life just to put you together
A piece in each mailbox all over the planet
From Moscow to Tokyo to Guadalajara.
Voltaire, "Ex Lover's Lover"

A subtrope of Disposing of a Body, this comes into play when a corpse is deliberately dismembered post-mortem. The reason can vary; sometimes it's the only way to make sure the corpse stays dead, other times this is part of a judicial sentence, and a pragmatic killer may have noticed that it's easier to hide the body if it's in smaller chunks. Let's not forget those occasions when the person/people doing the dismembering are just that angry at the late whomever. May not work if the deceased was capable of Pulling Themselves Together.

Falls solidly into Older Than Dirt territory, as one of the earliest known examples comes from the myth of Set's murder of Osiris. Character-wise, if it isn't done for pragmatic reasons it usually demonstrates the dismemberer is really pissed off at the corpse, or the dismemberer is a total scumbag for Desecrating the Dead. Or maybe the corpse was a scumbag and/or is being punished for a severe crime.

For this trope to be in effect, the body must end up in at least two pieces (more is fine). Compare Half the Man He Used to Be and Off with His Head!, where the dismemberment happens pre- or mid-mortem. Simply stabbing/hitting a corpse isn't sufficient, those examples should go under Pummeling the Corpse. This may lead to a Sealed Evil in a Six Pack scenario if the dismembered has some way of coming back from the dead.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Case Closed case "Mountain Villa Murder", the culprit first murdered Chikako, dismembered her with an axe, then transported the pieces under his shirt to the nearby forest for disposal.
  • Chainsaw Man:
    • At the beginning of the story, Denji is killed and chopped into pieces by the minions of the Zombie Devil and his remains are tossed in a dumpster. He gets better.
    • After killing the Control Devil with a surprise attack, Denji carves her body into small, digestible pieces as part of his plan to bypass her ability to regenerate from all damage taken from attacks as he reasons that consuming her flesh as an act of love will bypass the condition.
  • This is what happens to Miki Makimura near the end of nearly every incarnation of Devilman. After the existence of demons is exposed to the world at large, a mob comes after Miki for her connection to the titular character. Despite her fighting them off, they manage to surround her and chop her to pieces. Akira arrives to see the crazed mob parading her body parts in front of her burning house, with much focus on her severed head on a pike. This causes Akira to snap out and butcher the mob for what they've done to his love. The same ugly fate also sometimes befalls her little brother Taro depending on the version.
  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex: "JUNGLE CRUISE" deals with the re-emergence of a war criminal Batou encountered during World War IV: an American Empire Navy SEAL who was ordered to partially skin civilian victims in a T-shirt shape as a terror tactic. He cracked as a result of committing these acts and is now a Serial Killer using the T-shirt skinning as part of his M.O. In a Shout-Out to Strange Days, he forces the victims to watch themselves being skinned by linking them to his own visual feed, and then sells the recordings.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind: For trying to discover the Boss' identity, Sorbet and Gelato were dismembered and then sealed into glass cases that put them back together when lined up in the correct order, then shipped to La Squadra as a warning. Sorbet was alive during most of this, leading Gelato to swallow his gag.
  • Maria no Danzai: After Maria kills Kowase, she chops up his body before burning what's left of him in a barrel.
  • In Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt Stocking, revealed to be a demon, cuts Panty up in 666 pieces.
  • In Psycho-Pass, Tōma Kōzaburō was a Serial Killer who dismembered his victims, turned their body parts into plastic via plastination, and arranged them for his "art". One of his victims is Mitsuru Sasayama, an Enforcer under Kougami who was an inspector at that time. When Kougami discovers what remains of Sasayama, this causes his Psycho-pass hue to go dark, leading to his demotion as Enforcer. Despite Touma being apprehended, his modus operandi is inherited by a high school student named Rikako Oryo, who butchers her classmates, uses plastination on their body parts, and assembles them to mimic her father's paintings.
  • Succubus & Hitman: Shouya targets a yakuza gumi that are in the middle of executing three civilians who antagonized them, including Playful Hacker Kururi whom he recruits. The yakuza make the other victims watch as they dismember them one by one so the body parts will fit through the rebar grid laid ahead of a concrete pour scheduled the next morning.

    Comic Books 
  • The Sandman: Orpheus was a son of the titular character, and his head remained alive as an Oracular Head after being torn apart. He begs for his father to give him a Mercy Kill, and Dream eventually doing so is the impetus for his eventual suicide.
  • Sin City: After Miho kills "hero cop" Jack Rafferty and his friends, Dwight realizes that they have to use a car to get rid of the bodies. Because the friends' bodies won't fit in the trunk as they are, Miho chops them into pieces.
  • The Thessaliad: Osiris is a member of a quartet of gods who put out a hit on Thessaly. After Thessaly gets the upper hand on them, she takes a cue from mythology and chops him into pieces, except that she scatters the pieces around the universe.

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 8 Heads in a Duffel Bag starts with a mob courier transporting the decapitated heads of eight victims in a duffel bag. After a Suitcase Mix Up, Hilarity Ensues.
  • Asylum (1972 Horror): In "Frozen Fear", Walter murders his wife Ruth and hacks her body into pieces and hides the parts in a new freezer in the cellar. Later the individual pieces start moving around on their own to extract revenge on him and his lover.
  • Black Mirror: Bandersnatch: One of the endings has Stefan kill his father and chop up the body in an attempt to cover up the murder, a sure sign that he's gone off the deep end.
  • Dr. Lamb revolves around its titular Serial Killer necrophile-paedophile masquerading as a cab driver, who murdered four women, all of them drunk hookers, when they boarded his vehicle over the course of several weeks. Smuggling their bodies into his apartment to pleasure himself with their carcasses, Lamb would have them disposed off after they reached rigor mortis by dismemberment and disposal in multiple duct-taped cardboard boxes. While severing their breasts which he then keeps in jars of liquid formaldehyde as his Creepy Souvenir collection, at the end of the movie which he has eight bottles of his four victims.
  • Ebola Syndrome has a Villain Protagonist, Kai who fled from Hong Kong to Johannesburg after committing murder. After finding work in a Chinese restaurant, overhearing his employer's plan to have Kai executed when Kai contracts Ebola, Kai murders the employer and his wife, before dismembering the bodies, having the bones and spare parts shoved into dumpsters and turning the flesh into meat patties.
  • Fargo: Carl gets hacked to pieces by Gaear, who then feeds the body parts into a woodchipper.
  • Goodfellas: After Jimmy has Morrie Kessler murdered for nagging him over his share of the Lufthansa Heist money, he leaves Tommy and Frankie stuck with the job of chopping up the body and disposing of the car where the murder took place. In a darkly comedic twist, Frankie then gets out of the car with the intent of chopping up Morrie in the middle of a public parking lot, only to be yelled at by Tommy, who irritably clarifies that they're supposed to do the actual dismemberment at Charlie's place.
  • Combined with And I Must Scream in the 2019 reboot of Hellboy. After the immortal sorceress Nimue's defeat in the 5th century, her body is chopped up into half a dozen pieces, sealed in iron chests and hidden throughout the world, with much of the film's first half concerning the fairy Gruagach's efforts to retrieve the pieces and revive her. Unfortunately for Nimue, her head remained conscious the whole time it was locked in this dark and quiet box for well over 1,500 years, and she's understandably far from happy upon being made whole again.
  • In Jumanji, after Alan Parrish's disappearance into the titular otherworld, one nasty rumor that started flying around was that his father chopped him up into little pieces and hid them throughout the house.
  • A Lamb In Despair is a deranged Serial Killer movie with a Villain Protagonist, Ted, who abducts and tortures young hookers, before having their bodies chopped up for burial in a number of locations. At one point, Ted is tormenting a hooker in a cabin when a young boy tried peeping through the windows, causing Ted to give chase, eventually having the child suffocated using cling wrap and forcing the hooker he's tormenting to dismember the boy's carcass for him.
  • The Last King of Scotland: Idi Amin has this done to Kay, The Unfavorite of his wives, after he finds out that she cheated on him with Garrigan and got pregnant. Worse, he then has her put back together, with her arms where her legs used to be and vice versa. Garrigan discovers her corpse on an autopsy table, and vomits in horror and disgust. (This was how the real Kay died, though in real life the culprit has never been identified, and the motive was made up for the movie.)
  • Little Shop of Horrors: After the death of Dr. Orin Scrivello, Seymour chops his corpse into smaller pieces so that the still-growing Audrey II can devour him more easily.
  • The Military Policeman and the Dismembered Beauty: The plot involves the murder of a woman whose body was cut to pieces, stuffed in a haystack, and dumped down a well.
  • Santa Claus Is a Stinker: The poor elevator technician, carved by Felix and Josette. Then, they wrap the members to make them pass for Christmas presents.
  • Scream VI: In the film's opening, Jason, after killing Laura Crane while donning the Ghostface costume, returns to his apartment to find his roommate and wannabe Ghostface partner Greg hacked to pieces and stuffed in the fridge by the real Ghostface.
  • Shallow Grave: David draws the short straw and is tasked with dismembering Hugo's body in order to conceal his death and allow the three flatmates to keep his money.
  • Snatch.: When Brick Top arrives at Sol and Vinny's pawnshop, he finds them haplessly trying to dispose of Franky Four-Fingers' body, and provides the pair with some friendly advice: since it's so tricky to lift a corpse, it's simpler to cut it up into six pieces for later disposal — Brick Top's method of choice being to feed the pieces to a pack of hungry pigs. Sol and Vinnie are nonplussed... up until Brick Top reveals that the bookies they robbed last night belonged to him. Outside, a gang of thugs armed with hacksaws are ready to dismember Sol and Vinny's bodies while they're still alive.
  • In Theres A Secret In My Soup (a film based on a real-life case called the "Hello Kitty Murders"), a teen hooker who's unable to repay her debts gets subjected to several days of torture and abuse until she succumbs to her captors. Who decides to have her body parts dismembered and disposed in various containers — the film's title comes from their attempts to get rid of her head, too big for whatever containers they have, at which point they tried boiling her cranium as soup.
  • In The Untold Story, the Villain Protagonist Wong Chi-Hang is a chef who murdered his employer's entire family after his boss caught him cheating at mahjong. Taking over the restaurant, Wong then had his victims' remains butchered into itty-bitty pieces and dumped into Victoria Harbor while having the extra meat baked into pork buns. The film is kicked off when a curious child playing at a beach uncovers a garbage sack and sees a severed hand inside.
  • The Untold Story 2, revolves around a murder case where a nerdy restaurateur had an affair with a prostitute who's secretly a sadist; when the restaurateur's wife caught them in the act and starts nagging at her husband, the prostitute reveals her true colours by suddenly stabbing the wife In the Back, before coercing the man she had an affair with to assist in the body's disposal, again, via chopping the wife into bits and dumping her into a drain, while using the extra meat as an ingredient for the restaurant's char siu noodles.
  • In Very Bad Things, Boyd uses a chainsaw to cut up the bodies of the stripper and the security guard in the hotel bathroom. This makes it easier to transport the bodies to the desert where they are buried.

  • Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves: When Ali Baba went looking for his brother Cassim, he went to the Forty Thieves' hideout where he last told of his brother of their wealth. He discovered his body quartered at the entrance by the thieves, where he returned him home in pieces. He tried to keep his death a secret, recruiting his brother's slave, Morgiana, in helping him hide the body and hiring a professional tailor to sew his brother's body back together.
  • In American Fuji, Cody Thorn's heart was removed from his body after his death, despite his express wishes to be cremated intact in accordance with his Buddhist beliefs. This was an act of malice by his sponsor, Marubatsu, who believed that Cody did not deserve to die as a Buddhist because he was American. Plus, Marubatsu made a tidy sum by selling the heart to a hospital and forcing Cody's father to pay to have the body shipped home.
  • This is standard procedure for powerful vampires in Anita Blake Vampire Hunter. After being 'killed', the head and heart are taken from the body and all burned separately and then the ashes scattered over different bodies of water.
  • Books of the Raksura: The standard procedure for disposing of a Fell Ruler's body is to remove and bury the head so as to prevent its Psychic Link from attracting more Fell.
  • Discworld:
    • Stoneface Vimes, The Kingslayer, was given this treatment after his execution. In Jingo, Sam Vimes thinks at one point that his ancestor would be turning in all five of his graves.
    • Granny Weatherwax threatens a vampire (vampyre) with dismemberment in Carpe Jugulum. Since vampires are immortal, it won't actually kill him, but being staked, burned to dust, scattered to the winds, and left as a cloud of atoms floating through space for billions of years is close enough for the townsfolk.
    • In Small Gods,the Omnian Quisition took parts of the heretic Koomi of Smale to every town in Smale to demonstrate the fallacy in his arguments. There were a lot of towns, so they had to cut him very small.
  • Justified in Dracula, where after Lucy Westenra dies, Van Helsing stabs her in the heart and cuts her head off so she stops being a vampire. Dracula's death may or may not have included a full decapitation, as No Immortal Inertia kicks in and the body crumbles to dust.
  • In the novel Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein, "Jock" Dubois makes a Heroic Sacrifice against a Martian who takes the protagonists by surprise in their hotel room. Dak Broadbent and Lorenzo Smythe then have two bodies to cut up so that the pieces can be disposed of in the bathroom oubliette. Dak finds himself unable to cut up the body of his good friend Jock, so Lorenzo has to do it for him.
  • Eclipse (2007): Standard procedure for werewolves who have just killed a vampire is to rip the vampire into pieces, then burn the pieces.
  • The Grace of Kings:
    • A rebel army disinters the reviled Emperor Mapidéré's body from his ostentatious mausoleum and allow an angry mob to tear it apart.
    • The warlord Mata Zyndu kills himself at his last stand. There's a hefty reward for whoever delivers his body; five people collect it separately.
  • Inspector Morse: In "The Riddle of the Third Mile" a body is found in the river with the head, arms and legs removed, making identification almost impossible. The missing parts are gradually found over the course of the book.
  • Johannes Cabal and the Fear Institute: In the Dreamlands, the spirit of Miss Smith realizes that Johannes, a fellow Necromancer, broke her body down for parts after her death by mob. She doesn't mind that, only that he saw her naked. In The Fall of the House of Cabal, the specimen jars are found empty after her spirit drinks the Elixir of Life, implying that it worked.
  • In one of the Judge Dee novels, this trope was granted as mercy. The letter of the law called for the criminal in question to be cut to pieces while still alive, but due to a posthumous plea by his father (a noted court official), the criminal was allowed a quick death with the dismemberment coming afterwards.
  • In the backstory of The Lord of the Rings, the dwarf king Thror was captured by orcs who decapitated him, threw his body down the steps of Moria, then cut up his remains and fed them to crows. His heir launched the brutal War of the Dwarves and Orcs in vengeance.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey: In "The Nine Tailors", the murdered man's hands were removed after death so he couldn't be identified by his fingerprints.
  • A Memory Called Empire: The Teixcalaanli find the Lsel custom of cremating their dead and eating the ashes to be somewhat... disturbing. They prefer to pump the body full of preservatives.
  • In the fourth book of Tales of the Magic Land, Urfin Jus, in order to motivate his army, claims that a garrison they left in a conquered province was slaughtered, with the bodies cut apart and fed to pigs. As soon as the army enters the province, they see their supposedly dead comrades alive and playing volleyball with the "murderers", causing Urfin's reign to collapse within about three minutes.
  • The Saga of the Noble Dead: Vampires are beheaded and burned to prevent their return as just staking and burning them is quickly discovered not to keep 'em down.
  • The novel The Skinner by Neal Asher has the titular character existing mostly as a severed head, the rest of his bits being scattered everywhere. He's still an "I accidentally the whole planet" big bad even with this handicap.
  • Stardoc: Jorenians sometimes declare ClanKill against particular enemies, in which case they eviscerate them with their claws after defeating them.
  • The Steerswoman: Among the Outskirters, a proper Due to the Dead involves chopping the body to pieces and then "casting" the pieces across the Outskirts. Biochemical differences mean that decomposition poisons the soil and kills the plants that grow in it, allowing Earthly plant life to take hold later, as part of the Outskirters' eternal war against the Outskirts.
  • In the Sword of Truth series, the only way to reliably stop a screeling (a demonic/undead assassin sent by The Keeper) is to hack it apart.
  • Happens in the Erast Fandorin's homage to Edgar Allan Poe, the short story Table-Talk, 1882: Fandorin solves the mystery of what happened to a murdered girl's body by deducing that she was dismembered and smuggled out of her home in small boxes.
  • In Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart, the Villain Protagonist dismembers his victim's body and hides it under the floorboards. This does not stop him from imagining/hearing the corpse's heart beating while the police are visiting, driving him to expose his own crime.
  • In the Carl Hiaasen novel Tourist Season, the Big Bad feeds his victims to a crocodile that eats them up, with parts left for the authorities to find.
  • In the Xanth book "Crewel Lye", Threnody does this to Jordan's body to ensure Magician Yang that he won't pull himself together. She did make sure to know where each piece was, so she could gather all of them once it was safe, and then Jordan's Healing talent would bring him back to life.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel:
    • Played with when Angel fought a surgeon who could dismember himself at will. Angel figured that if he could keep the body parts from reassembling, they would deteriorate eventually.
    • Implied in a flashback to when the Hyperion Hotel was haunted by a paranoia-inducing demon. The manager ordered the bellhop to hide the body of a suicide victim. The next scene had the bellhop confirming he hid the body in a crawlspace that was so small he had to "make him fit".
    • Beheading is a precautionary step taken after someone has been bitten and dies, but might rise again.
    • Angel fought a demon who after being cut in half managed to crawl back and reattached his legs to continue the fight. Angel cuts him in half again, but chains his two halves on opposite sides of the room.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The gang had to separate the parts of at least one demon to prevent it from coming back.
    • The Judge had had this done to him in the past, Spike and Drusilla put him back together again by reuniting all the pieces. Then Buffy blew him away with a missile launcher.
  • Children of Dune: A dead Fremen girl is found with her hands and head cut off. Another character has done this to pull off a Dead Person Impersonation.
  • Fairly common in Criminal Minds, either as a forensic countermeasure, ritual compulsion, partialism (the sexual attraction to individual body parts), or some combination thereof. For example "Rule 34" features an UnSub who carved up a victim into his arms, legs, and a bifurcated chest, and mailed them to various addresses, keeping the head for himself.
  • This often turns up in CSIVerse as a method of disposing of a body, but there have been a few instances where it was ritualistic or for intimidation.
    • CSI
      • In "Snakes" a guy hacks someone up based on a song to try to look cool and gain street cred with his fellow gang members.
      • A killer hacks up a body and disposes of the pieces in a bunch of garbage containers at the ends of driveways in a neighborhood. Cue gruesome shots of gore being collected by the team.
      • Another episode features a man who was 'zippered': essentially, the killer fired a fully-auto gun back and forth across the victim's waist until he was cut in half.
    • CSI: NY:
      • In "Sláinte", a body is dismembered and strewn around: legs on a bench at a bus stop, arms in a newspaper box, torso dumped in a garbage pile. Mac plots the locations on a map and discovers that they are three of the four corners of the neighborhood formerly known as Hell's Kitchen. When he and Jo search the last corner, they find the victim's head.
      • In "Rush to Judgement," a wrestling coach is murdered, dismembered, and the pieces scattered in various places. Identification is made from his fingerprints once a hand is located, but the cause of death isn't confirmed until all the parts are found.
  • Daredevil (2015): When Wilson Fisk killed his father after he hit his mother one time too many, his mother told him to "bring the saw". Next thing we're told is that it took them a week to dump the body in the river. The implication being that they cut the body into pieces and threw it in the river one by one so they would not be exposed.
  • In Desperate Housewives, this is revealed to have been the fate of Deirdre's body. Mary-Alice cut up Deirdre's body in order to fit it into the trunk so she and Paul could bury it under their swimming pool.
  • Dexter:
    • Dexter perfected dismembering corpses into an art form. Since he is an intelligent Serial-Killer Killer raised by a Dirty Cop, every step of the process is planned out in advance. A key part is Dexter using a surgical saw to cut up the corpses of his victims into six even parts and wrapping them up in garbage bags before dumping them out at sea.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "The Girl in the Fireplace", the Doctor discovers that a group of clockwork androids killed and dismembered the crew of a damaged ship after taking the instructions to repair the place with anything available a bit too literally, hacking up the bodies and harvesting the organs as substitutes for electrical parts.
    • In "Resolution", a group of opposing 9th-century armies defeat a Dalek recon scout in an Enemy Mine situation, hack up its body into thirds, and hide the fragments in disparate parts of the globe to make sure that it never has a chance of being resurrected. One carrier is killed before he can bury his piece, allowing a team of archeologists in 2019 to accidentally revive it. The piece then summons its missing two-thirds to restore itself, kicking off the plot.
  • In Freud, policeman Alfred Kiss kills two mooks in self-defense at his home. In order to cover up the mess, he and his partner Poschacher chop up the bodies, wheel the pieces in a barrow to the local river, and dump them there.
  • Hannibal:
    • Hannibal Lecter is fond of displaying his victims' bodies in creatively macabre ways, sometimes in multiple parts. Beverly Katz is arranged in thin vertical slices between panes of glass.
    • Lawrence Wells, an old serial killer, assembles the body parts of his victims into a totem pole.
  • There was a variant in an episode of Jonathan Creek. The masked villain carried the unconscious victim into an old garage and was surrounded by witnesses as he closed the garage door. When the door was reopened after the police showed up, the victim lay passed out on the floor with the killer nowhere to be found. Turns out the victim was the masked villain. She (in her mask) carried a foam dummy into the garage and, while the door was closed, she cut the dummy into pieces and hid them (along with the mask and costume) in empty paint cans left in the garage, then pretended to lay down, knocked out.
  • NCIS has used this several times, mostly in early seasons:
    • In "My Other Left Foot", a former Marine is murdered, after which the killer cuts up the body and disposes of the pieces in several different small rural towns.
    • In "The Meat Puzzle," Ducky has the unenviable task of sorting through the tiny pieces of not one, but three mutilated corpses that are all mixed up together.
    • In the season 4 episode "Skeletons", the team finds several dismembered and partly-decayed bodies secreted in an empty tomb in a military mausoleum.
  • Nip/Tuck: Merrill Bobolit accidentally kills a girl while performing back-alley liposuction on her in the back of a nail salon. The salon owner picks up a surgical saw and calmly says, "We can hide her easier if she's in pieces." When Christian comes to see Merrill later, he's nervously stuffing a foot into a suitcase.
    • When the salon owner sees that Christian may be a problem, she walks away muttering that she needs to find more luggage.
  • Oz: Some of the prisoner backstories include murders that they tried to cover up by hacking up the corpses.
  • The Sopranos: The Soprano crime family uses a bunch of different methods to clean up murders that they generally do not want to become public (unless that's the point). Most commonly, they dismember the body and bury the pieces in different places. Ralphie Cifaretto and "Fat Dom" Gamiello, both of whom were murdered over personal beefs instead of business reasons, had this happen to them.
  • The Ferengi of Star Trek usually arrange for their bodies to be diced up and auctioned off postmortem in keeping with them being a race driven almost solely by the acquisition of profit. Part of their mythology is that the deceased bid on their next lives using the money that they've earned in life, so even a tiny bit of extra cash can be useful in being successful the next time around.
  • Tales from the Crypt: In the episode "Two For the The Show", the protagonist hacks up his wife's corpse and stuffs it in a suitcase after murdering her. He then boards a train, intending to get rid of that suitcase by throwing it out of the baggage car. Unfortunately, things don't go according to plan.
  • In episode 50 of Ultraman Leo, Commander Black and Alien Bunyo torture Ultraman Leo by sawing him off into pieces while still alive. Then, poor Tohru is forced to bury his body parts. Fortunately, Ultraman King resurrects Leo by reassembling him so he can defeat Alien Bunyo and save the day.
  • In The X-Files episode "Born Again", Mulder realizes that a little girl is the reincarnation of a cop who was killed this way (his right eye gorged out and his left arm severed) by the Triads as revenge for a drug bust. However, he was actually killed by two of his fellow officers when he refused to be in on their scheme to take the Triad money for themselves (and possibly fear he'll report them) and made it look like a signature Triad execution. Thus, he/she exacts his/her revenge on them and almost killed a third cop involved in the scheme.
  • Yellowjackets: In "Sic Transit Gloria Mundi" Misty comes in to help her teammates dispose of Adam's body. She assigns Taissa and herself to clean up the resulting mess, and Shauna and Nat to cut up his corpse. She later instructs them to bury his torso in a park while she has his head and hands incinerated.
  • You (2018): Joe Goldberg frequently divides up the bodies that he kills into pieces and then disposes them separately to better cover up his tracks. The ways he cuts up the body actually vary quite a bit, and he has even used a meat grinder before.

  • Roy Brown: The song "Butcher Pete" is (at least ostensibly) about the titular maniac and his habit of "hackin' and whackin' and smackin'" his victims.
  • Voltaire sings about cutting up his ex-girlfriend's new lover in the song "Ex-Lover's Lover", and mailing each body part to another city around the world.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Greek Mythology:
    • When Jason and his crew were fleeing king Aetes (who wanted to reclaim the Golden Fleece and his daughter Medea) on the Argo, Medea murdered her brother Apsyrtus and started dismembering him, throwing the chunks overboard one at a time. As she'd expected, her horrified father slowed down to pick up the pieces, letting the Argonauts escape.
    • Most versions of the Greek legend of Orpheus end with him getting torn limb from limb by the Maenads for offending Dionysus and thrown into the sea.
    • In The Iliad, Achilles attempts to do this to Hector's body after defeating him (out of rage for Hector killing Achilles' best friend/possible lover Patroclus and attempting to mutilate the body of Patroclus), dragging Hector's body behind his chariot for 12 days straight. It gets so bad that the Greek Gods, for all their petty wrath and vengeance, get offended and step in to stop Hector's body from being desecrated.
  • Egyptian Mythology: Set tried disposing of Osiris' corpse by throwing it (sealed in its casket) into the Nile. When the casket washed ashore, Set called upon this trope as Plan B and tore the body apart, scattering the pieces across Egypt. While Isis was able to collect most of the bits, her inability to find everything meant Osiris could only come back as the ruler of the dead.
  • The Bible: In Judges 19, a gang rape/murder victim is dismembered, and a part of her body is sent to each of the twelve tribes to send a message about the depravity of the crime. The tribes are appropriately outraged.
  • Japanese Mythology: Izanagi kills the fire god Kagutsuchi in a fit of rage after his birth leads to Izanami's fiery death, cutting him into eight pieces that become new gods.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Dismembering a body and scattering the pieces made bringing back the person with a Raise Dead or Resurrection spell impossible. It was still possible to do so (e.g. with a Wish) but much more difficult. This was also a reasonably effective way to keep a body from being reanimated as undead: a necromancer can't get much use from a zombie that lacks a head or arms.
    • One way to permanently destroy a vampire involves cutting off its head.
  • Geist: The Sin-Eaters: A form of Precautionary Corpse Disposal in The Underworld. Any dead body left there inevitably returns to the mortal world stuffed full of ghosts unless it's cut into eight equally-sized pieces and submerged in an Underworld river, like Osiris.
  • Munchkin has a Go Up a Level card called Mutilate the Bodies, which can only be played after a combat (but not necessarily a combat the user participated in). The art depicts a dwarf adventurer hacking several dragons into pieces.
  • In Warhammer when the great necromancer Nagash was slain, the skaven not only dismembered him but burned his remains with warpfire and then sent bits of ash in separate packages for their agents in different parts of the world to scatter. And the bastard still came back.

    Video Games 
  • Betrayal at Krondor: There is a type of enemy called a Black Slayer, who has sworn a special oath that essentially makes them immune to death unless their bodies are hacked to pieces and the pieces burned. Though there's a spell that can permanently destroy their corpses, too.
  • Castlevania: After Dracula's defeat, his corpse was separated into five pieces and scattered across the land. In Castlevania II: Simon's Quest, Simon Belmont has to reunite the pieces and destroy Dracula in a ritual meant to undo a curse the vampire cast.
  • The Cleaner, a microgame by Ben Croshaw, features the titular Cleaner, a cleaning lady with a grudge who uses heavy trash bags accelerated at high velocity to kill people. This serves a twofold purpose: like her their presence is Beneath Notice and the full bags are traveling quickly enough to explode the victim through kinetic force alone. This is both a complication (now you have murder evidence to clean up before you are caught) and a benefit (unlike an intact corpse, the gibs are small enough to be stuffed into trash bags and allow you to smuggle the remains out of the building for disposal). Canny players will set up scenarios that allow them to kill their marks and then hoover up the bloody bits for quick disposal.
  • Fate/Grand Order: In Lostbelt 6, after they killed Cernunnos through treachery, the original Six Fairies ripped apart his Priestess' body and used the dismembered parts to create humans for their land as she was the only human to have survived Sefar's rampage across the world.
  • Grand Theft Auto V:
    • Trevor Philips, being the absolute maniac that he is, does this on a routine basis. One of his transition scenes treats you to the lovely scene of him trying to stomp a human leg down the toilet.
    • The horrible, horrible fate of actress Leonara Johnson in 1975. Collecting all the pieces of her murderer's confession letter will unlock a mission where you finally confront the perpetrator: Peter Dreyfuss.
  • Warcraft III: Corpses that have been targeted by the Cannibalize ability can't be targeted by resurrection or Animate Dead spells.
  • In Warframe, enemies killed by slash damage will often be ripped to pieces. This is actively encouraged by the existence of Nekros, who can generate additional loot by disintegrating the individual pieces of his victim's corpses.
  • Yandere Simulator: A dead body can be hacksawed into pieces so it fits in a cello case for concealment and likely disposal. Doing this, though pragmatic, is seriously messed up and will take a toll on Yandere-chan's Sanity Meter.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry: After killing her father's cruel girlfriend and her Yakuza lover, Rena dismembers their corpses and tries to hide them. Her friends catch her in the act. Luckily, Mion herself is yakuza related and thus was able to help hide the bodies for Rena. This happens several other times in the series as well. The first death of the series of deaths during the cotton drifting festival involved the dam foreman's body getting chopped up into multiple pieces, and in arcs involving Natsumi, she dismembers her grandmother after killing her.
  • Zero Time Dilemma: Junpei ends up falling victim to this in the Pantry escape room. Though various, initially unsuspecting, limbs are shown and used throughout the puzzles in the area, clearing the puzzles reveals who they actually belong to. Akane and Carlos are rightfully horrified and believe each other to have killed Junpei for a password to open the X Door, leading to one of them dying after confronting each other. Later, it is revealed that Mira had killed Junpei offscreen by order of Zero II.

    Web Animation 
  • Red vs. Blue: Agent Washington destroyed Agent South Dakota's body thoroughly with multiple explosives and a flamethrower, though in theory at least, he was doing this to destroy all armor and equipment on the body to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.

  • In Schlock Mercenary, the hacked security drone that assassinated General Xinchub then spent fifteen minutes methodically incinerating his head so his brain couldn't be preserved and put in a clone body. It's still not enough.
  • Sluggy Freelance: Vorpyr and strakoi vampires are only incapacitated by a stake through the heart, looking like a desiccated corpse up until the stake is removed. To permanently kill a vorpyr one typically cuts off their head after staking and stuff their mouth with garlic, though Aylee forgot the procedure and just tore a bunch of vorpyrs into pieces. Strakoi need their head cut off and the body burned.
  • Team Fortress 2: In "Blood In The Water", Miss Pauling shares some advice on Disposing of a Body with the Sniper, telling him dismembered bodies decompose much faster and take up less room in graves. She's had practice, what with making use of all those bags of Corpse-Grade Quicklime.
    Ten minutes with a hacksaw will save you thirty with a shovel.
  • Unsounded: A side story reveals that Starfish gained his name when a coworker skinned his feet and he had to crawl away from work. He later murdered the man and his family and chopped up their corpses before tossing the pieces into the ocean.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • When St. Stephen I of Hungary defeated a rebellious claimant to the throne called Koppány/Cupan, he quartered his body and displayed his parts on four strongholds around Hungary.
  • A person sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered was facing this trope. The last word should be taken literally — after everything else was done, the now-headless corpse would be cut into four pieces. Normally those pieces (and the head) would be put on display at various places around the country as an example of the fate awaiting anyone who committed treason. While the linked article only talks about drawing and quartering in England, the sentence itself was passed in many other countries as well.
  • Under Confucian rules of filial piety dismembering a body was one of the most horrific acts to do to a person, hence the seriousness of the penalty of Lingchi or "Death by a Thousand Cuts" (as seen in the Judge Dee example).
  • One of the most horrific cases in Greece: the murder of little Anny. A man, according to his own confession, "upon finding the body of his 4-year-old daughter, he cut her in pieces, boiled her, and threw the pieces all over the trash bins". And that was just the beginning of the horrific details. Hell, according to some, this trope may be subverted and they sliced her up while she was still alive.
  • In the late 1880s in London, the Thames Torso Murders were an unsolved case where a series of female body parts were found in different locations around the Thames River. The murderer and the identities of most of the women remain unknown. Parts that turned up include torsos, arms, legs, and feet. Many of these cases were in the same years that the Whitechapel Murders took place. There were also earlier and later cases of dismembered humans being found in the river.
  • Dr. Crippen, the first criminal to be captured with the aid of wireless telegraphy, was tried and executed for the murder of his wife, whose body he dismembered after he killed her. The police only ever found the torso, which he had hidden under the floor of his basement. What he did with the rest of her body, and why he had successfully disposed of the other parts but not the torso, remains a mystery.
  • Notorious Gambino Family caporegime Roy DeMeo and his crew apparently got this down to a science. Known as "the Gemini Method" (after the club most of the murders took place in), it was a production line in all but name. From the actual murder to exsanguination, followed by efficient dismemberment, packaging, and disposal across the Five Boroughs. Underworld legend (and informant testimonies), over two hundred people ended up vanishing this way, from contracted hits, "business" disputes, potential rats, or simply bad luck (De Meo and his crew were feared even among the New York Mob for being unpredictably violent, willing to kill anyone not connected to another family for literally any reason).
  • Tibetan sky burial: a traditional funeral practice where the corpse is disassembled and placed on a mountaintop to be eaten by vultures. This saves a lot of firewood.
  • Elizabeth Short, known posthumously as the Black Dahlia, was found dead in Los Angeles with her lower half separated from her body and parts of her flesh missing. Her corpse was displayed in public by an assailant who has never been identified. And those are the least disturbing details of the case.
  • A murderer who killed two women and placed their body parts at different places in Leipzig was convicted of murder and desecration of corpses at first. The second point was overruled by the Federal High Court of Justice since the murderer dismembered the bodies not out of disrespect but for the convenience of easier transportation.