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Dismemberment Is Cheap

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In the real world, losing a limb is a life-altering event. There is the emotional trauma, the physical therapy, and the stares of children. There is the difficulty of simple tasks like walking or grabbing objects, a lifetime of tarnished beauty, and possibly a forced career change.

Not so in this fictional universe. Through magic or advanced science, they have Artificial Limbs that are as good (or better than) the original or can regrow lost limbs, just like a lizard. Dismemberment becomes a mere temporary inconvenience, even an opportunity to get an upgrade covered by health insurance.

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When a normal person (for the setting) loses a limb and gets a replacement from doctors or healers with no loss of function and minimal angst, it's this trope. If the replacement is inferior to the originals, otherwise a burden, or the recovery was grueling, the dismemberment wasn't exactly cheap. If Cybernetics Eat Their Soul, it counts as life-altering. If a character can shrug off limb loss because of their Healing Factor or Appendage Assimilation, it's Good Thing You Can Heal. If they have/gain super powers that make up for their new disability, it's a Disability Superpower or We Can Rebuild Him.

See also Death Is Cheap, Immortal Life Is Cheap. Like those tropes, it's a way to show things are serious without having to disable your characters permanently.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: Zig-zagged with regards to Guts' lost forearm. Theoretically, his prosthetic is very rudimentary, as the fingers don't move (except when wearing the Berserker armor) and it just has a magnet in the palm to help handle his sword. However, Guts suffered no visible loss of dexterity in his swordsmanship, and the freaking cannon in the arm makes it a net positive, ability-wise. Emotionally, Guts doesn't explicitly make much of his loss of limb, but he's not a very open person to begin with and had bigger loses from the same incident distracting him.
  • Some of the eponymous warriors in Claymore can easily regrow lost limbs (and occasionally even more important organs, though not the brain), while others can reattach their severed appendages with no lasting consequences whatsoever. The most extreme case happens to Clare, whose arm is cut off and mangled beyond repair by an enemy; she ends up having to graft another warrior's arm onto her shoulder joint to restore her fighting capacity.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Inverted in Part 2. When Joseph Joestar gets his left hand cut off by Ultimate Kars, the scene is played with the appropriate level of shock and horror. After a Time Skip leading to Part 3 Joseph becomes the grandpa to the new protagonist Jotaro Kujo, and receives a prosthetic hand. That new hand is often cut apart and destroyed for laughs, and constantly replaced.
    • Played straight in Part 4 and Part 5, where the two resident protagonists (Josuke Higashikata and Giorno Giovanna) have the ability to heal others. At one point in part 4, Josuke actually heals someone FROM a hand.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Star Wars: Prosthetic limbs are easy to acquire and tend to work just as good as the original, so exceptions to this (such as Skelly from A New Dawn, thanks to a mixup) are rare.
    • Anakin loses his hand in Attack of the Clones, but has a prosthetic by the end. Unlike his son's, it has an obviously mechanical appearance but otherwise works the same, leading him to protect it with a glove. His next experience with dismemberment in Revenge of the Sith, on the other hand, is rather more dramatic...
    • Luke has his hand cut off in the climax of The Empire Strikes Back, but gets a cybernetic replacement shortly after. Other than a couple wistful glances, it's functionally and visually identical.
  • Ash loses his left hand in the second Evil Dead film, then engineers a clockwork replacement in the court of King Arthur. It's groovy.

    Literature 
  • Played With in Bill the Galactic Hero. Bill loses his left arm and gets it replaced with his dead buddy Tembo's right arm, which upsets him until he realizes he can now salute with both hands. Later on, he shoots off his own foot to get out of a particularly onerous duty, and ends up with a series of replacements notably including a giant chicken foot.
  • In The Hunger Games, Peeta loses a leg after his first round in the arena. It is replaced with a very good prosthetic and never mentioned again. The movie just left this out completely.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe book Darth Maul: Shadow Hunters, Pavan gets his hand cut off by the titular Sith Lord. He's quickly rescued, put in a hospice, and told he'll get a replacement, so he's not sad about that at all. Too bad Maul bursts in and then kills him immediately.
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    Live-Action TV 
  • In Doctor Who, the Tenth Doctor loses a hand, but regrows it as he had just regenerated from the Ninth. This hand becomes important later.
  • In Legends of Tomorrow, Snart is chained on Cronos' ship and freezes his hand solid and smashes it to escape. It's regrown at the end of the episode thanks to the Waverider's future tech.
  • In the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 3 finale, Director Coulson catches a tainted Terrigen Crystal before it can shatter and disperse its toxin. Unfortunately, the crystal turns any non-Inhuman (which Coulson is) to stone. Before it can spread past his hand, Agent Mack chops it off to save his life. Later, Coulson is fitted with several prosthetic hands, each with its own special purpose. During the sixth season, Deke Shaw is captured by Sarge, a genetic clone of Coulson. Shaw stabs him in that hand, proving that it isn't Coulson back from the dead.

    Video Games 
  • One of the main tools in Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice is an advanced prosthetic arm that not only perfectly replicates the main character's original arm, but contains an assortment of useful gadgets, even though the game takes place in Sengoku-era Japan.
  • Played with in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, as the game deals with how much the body should be tampered with in terms of prosthetics. There's also a gang in-game that deliberately replaced their organic limbs with augmented ones.
  • Played with in Kenshi. A wide range of prosthetics are available, with modern Hive-produced prosthetics being generally inferior to natural limbs while Old Empire-era robot limbs are stronger and more durable, with varying other benefits/drawbacks depending on type. Because the only universal negative effect of robot limbs is to the Swimming skill, many players in the mid- and late-game will endeavour to deliberately dismember their characters in order to create an army of Cyborgs.

    Webcomics 
  • Questionable Content. Marten ponders the perverse incentive of the existence of really cool Artificial Limbs.
  • In Schlock Mercenary, as long as they're stabilized in time, characters can even survive decapitation. In one notable example, a character cuts his own teammates' heads off so they can fit through an almost blocked teleporter! And it takes only a few days to clone them new limbs so long as their health plan covers it.
  • In Team Fortress 2 Comics #1: Ring of Fired, Soldier loses his hand then gets it reattached a scene later (at a veterinarian office) all for a quick gag.
    Soldier: Miss Pauling! Pyro cut off my hand!
    Miss Pauling: Pyro, don't cut off people's hands.

    Western Animation 
  • Finn from Adventure Time ends up losing his arm trying to prevent his father from escaping the Citadel. Aside from being in a depressed funk for a few episodes, the loss doesn't affect him that much. Later, the flower that grew on his stump matures into a tree before breaking away to reveal a new arm, with a green thorn in the palm. When he loses his arm again a few seasons later, Princess Bubblegum swiftly replaces it with a robot one, and he goes on like nothing happened - to himself, at least.
  • In DuckTales (2017) Della Duck loses her leg when she crashes on the moon and builds a replacement. She seems no worse for wear, and the missing leg rarely actually comes up.
  • Characters get mutilated semi-regularly in Futurama, up to and including decapitation. However, even the hilariously incompetent Dr. Zoidberg can reattach limbs and make them fully functional in a minute. Cloning new limbs doesn't take long either, as evidenced by Fry visiting "Handcrafters" after a dinosaur-feeding accident.
  • In Star vs. the Forces of Evil, Pony Head's horn is forcibly ripped off by Meteora during her rampage, but after one episode of angst she's next shown with a prosthetic that looks just like her old one.
  • On Wander over Yonder, after spending most of an episode mocking Wander for having his finger stuck plugging a black hole, Lord Hater ends up plugging said black hole himself. Being a skeleton, he just detaches his arm to escape and is shown back on his ship getting a mechanical replacement.

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