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Ear Ache

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Sometimes it's the only way to deal with a writer.

Willow: The coroner's office said she was missing an ear. So I'm thinking, maybe we're looking for a witch. There's some great spells that work much better with an ear in the mix.
Buffy: That's one fun little hobby you've got there, Will.
Willow: Or maybe an ear-harvesting demon that — it's, like, building another demon completely out of ears. Or... Ooh! Thought! We're just assuming someone else cut off the ear. What if it was self-inflicted, like van Gogh?
Buffy: So... she brutally stabs herself, dumped the body, then cut off her own ear?

This trope describes damage or painful actions done to the ears:

  • Someone's ear is cut clean off
  • Someone's ear is otherwise sliced
  • Someone's ear is pulled, yanked, or twisted
  • Someone's ear is bitten (and sometimes torn off)
  • Someone's ear has something sharp stuck into it
  • Someone's eardrums burst
  • Something like a virus/parasite forces itself into someone's ear (do not confuse with Ear Worm)
  • Someone's ear comedically throbbing.

Compare Eye Scream, for similar nasty things happening to a character's eyes, or Fingore and Agony of the Feet, when the targets are the fingers and toes.

See also Shell-Shock Silence, its aversion Steel Eardrums and Loud of War.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • At the very beginning of Arashi no Yoru ni, a wolf actually gets his ear bitten off by an angry mother goat while protecting her kid from him and the rest of his pack before they finally kill the mother goat, who before her death tells said kid, Mei, to run away for his own safety.
  • Blade of the Immortal seems to like this. Giichi got one of his ears cut off by Sousuke, and Kagehisa gets his ear sliced by Habaki.
  • In Bleach, Mask de Masculine uses his fingers to poke out his own eardrums to render himself immune to Rose's sound-based Bankai.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • We have battle nuns who, in order to counter Index's spell, sticks pens into their ears to break their eardrums.
    • Later, Shizuri Mugino rams a screwdriver into Shiage Hamazura's ear. It renders his ear canal bloody, but fortunately didn't go in deep enough to break his eardrum.
  • Eyeshield 21: Yamabushi does this to Ikkyu when he's being tactless.
  • In the Fairy Tail manga, Erigor use his wind powers to slice Kageyama's ears when the latter made a mistake.
  • At the beginning of Fushigi Yuugi: Byakko Ibun, the mysterious traveler Nirusha helps a young girl named Reipin fight off a rampaging tiger who used to be her evil older brother. He loses one of his ears in the fight, but he just uses a Paper Talisman on the still bleeding stump. At the end of the chapter, Reipin (now named Neiran) keeps the ear as one of her two Tragic Keepsakes.
  • In Gamaran, Zenmaru manages to chop Sasuke's ear along with some flesh around it. In sequel series Shura, Sasuke's lover and Beninuki's proper master Kitaro carries the severed ear around as a memento and eats it to prove his love.
  • A flashback in Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin shows that the old hunter Gohei gained his signature scars and missing ear when Akakabuto, his bear nemesis, swiped the left side of his face with its claws.
  • In Haruhi Suzumiya, Haruhi occasionally bites on Mikuru's ear, though it's more like foreplay than injury.
  • In Hunter × Hunter, Meruem is annoyed his opponent continued a game they were playing, despite it being obvious he had won it many turns ago. When the other player stammers too much in fear and is unable to answer, Meruem jabs at him with his needle tipped tail and rips his ear off, then kills him when the man tries to run away.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo, during his battle with Secco, Bucciarati blows up a car tire which was sucked into the earth thanks to an earlier attack by Oasis, and the blast reverberates through the liquid like concrete and blows out Secco's eardrums, disabling his hearing senses.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, an angry Roura pulls one of Link's long, Hylian ears in one scene.
  • In PandoraHearts Retrace LXXXI, Uncle Oscar gets part of his ear shot off when he redirects the bullet that Oz (under Jack's control) aimed at him.
  • In Peacemaker Kurogane, Yoshida cuts Tetsunosuke's ear during their battle. It's later shown bandaged.
  • Pokémon:
    • A running gag in the anime was that Misty would yank on Brock's ear whenever he hit on a girl, which was often. When she made a reappearance in Hoenn and went through the routine again, Max quickly picked up on it.
    • Ash himself gets pulled on the ear by Shaymin in the movie Pokémon: Giratina and the Sky Warrior.
  • The Promised Neverland: To initiate their plan of escaping the farm, Emma cuts off her right ear holding the tracking device and tosses it in a fire to distract Isabella. Afterwards, she covers the wound with hair decorations.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: After Kenshin disables Enishi's sense of balance with a supersonic attack, Enishi decides to reduce the effect by pulling out his own eardrum. Ouch.
  • Saint Seiya:
    • In the first episode, Seiya actually does this to Cassios, cutting off his left ear during their first fight.
    • Siegfried applies this to himself, piercing his eardrums to not fall victim to Sorrento's Magic Music.
  • A Silent Voice
    • As a grade schooler, Shouya tore off Shouko's hearing aid. It was bloodier than he expected.
    • When Shouya's mother Miyako went to apologize to Shouko's mother Yaeko for Shouya's bullying, Yaeko tore out Miyako's earring in anger. Afterwards, Miyako's earlobe was torn and bleeding. Years later, Shouya briefly remembers his mother's torn earlobe and feels guilty for what his actions put her through.
  • After her husband dies in Uzumaki, Shuichi's mother develops a phobia of spirals, because she always sees her husband in them. When she finds out that there's a spiral in the ear (the cochlea), she drives a pair of scissors through her ears to get them out.
  • When Taizo Kuzuki from The Voynich Hotel is captured by yakuza from the group that he escaped from, one of the many Cold Blooded Tortures he's put through is getting one of his ears amputated. His Violently Protective Girlfriend, Elena, not only bloodily kills their enemies but also reattaches almost all his missing body parts back, his ear included.

    Comic Books 
  • Annihilation: Thanos tears off Moondragon's ear and mails it to her father Drax to lure him into a trap. Fortunately for Moondragon, the scientists of Titan are able to grow a new ear for her.
  • During the Reads arc of Cerebus the Aardvark, Cerebus gets his right ear mostly cut off during a sword-fight.
  • The Losers: Aisha used to collect them from dead Soviet soldiers while she was growing up in Afghanistan as a Child Soldier. She had three-dozen at one point... until a wild dog ate them all. But then she ate the dog.
  • Secret Six: Scandal Savage bites off an enemy's ear in battle; when the enemy cries out for its return, Scandal nonchalantly replies, "Sorry, I've swallowed it."
  • In Time and Time Again from the Superman comic book titles of 1991, Shrinking Violet of the Legion of Super-Heroes goes inside the ear canal of Dev-Em the Daxamite and claws at his eardrums to give him an earache so painful that he collapses, thus stopping his mad rampage on the Earth's moon.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (IDW): To break free of Zeena's Techno Path control, Gemerl smashes his wireless receiver. Said receiver's function and position on his head meant basically had it function as an ear.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): When Circe brainwashed Superman into mindlessly and ruthlessly attacking Wonder Woman the first retaliatory attack on her part to properly stagger him and give her a chance to recover her lasso is when she smashes both of her fists against his ears.

    Fan Works 
  • The trope is Discussed in Episode 33 of Dragon Ball Z Abridged. Bulma grabs Yamcha by the ear when he suggests she shouldn't be where Freeza is arriving on Earth.
    Bulma: Anyone want to explain to Yamcha here what ten pounds of torque does to a human ear?
    Gohan: Rips it off?
    Bulma: Very good, Gohan.
    [several of them chuckle, in a brief break of the tension]
    Krillin: [sigh] We're gonna f*cking die.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: In Strategy Meeting, when Ami is removing a frog clamped to her ear, there's some slight pain:
    Ami sighed, busy with removing the fat frog from her ear. The animal had clamped down on one of her small blue earrings, which added some pain to the general discomfort of being attacked by a slimy amphibian.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Virtual Smurfality", Smurfette pulls on Brainy's ear to get him to leave his Imaginarium fantasy setting before the Imaginarium crystals are destroyed.
  • Fates Collide:
    • Jeanne D Arc shares an embarrassing story of a time Jaune Arc tried to get his ear pierced, but it got infected.
    • When Astolfo accuses Weiss Schnee of not caring about Ruby Rose, Marie Antoinette angrily grabs his ear and makes him apologize to Weiss.
  • The Miraculous Ladybug fic Name Drop:
    "I..." Plagg swallowed heavily as Tikki's foot tapped against the wooden floor (he knew he screwed up when she descended from her usual floating state just to make it clear how annoyed she was). "Okay... I can explaiowowowowstoppullingmyearstoppullingmyear—oomph!"
  • In The Power of the Equinox, Scootaloo is bitten in the right ear by Brutus Meadows and dragged from it so hard that its top half becomes torn. When Zecora is healing Scootaloo, the torn part of the ear has become necrotic, forcing Zecora to remove it in a painful process.
  • RWBY: Epic of Remnant: Bay Lupin gets shot in the ear with a crossbow bolt.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Batman: Assault on Arkham, when a nurse takes away Harley's iPhone because Harley is supposed to be focusing, Harley responds by biting the woman's ear off.
  • In the scene where the Beast takes a bath in Beauty and the Beast, the coatrack tugs on his ear to bring his head closer.
  • In Big Hero 6, Aunt Cass pulls Hiro and Tadashi by their ears to the family station wagon after they're released from jail following their arrest at a bot-fight.
  • In Brave, The High Queen Elinor breaks up a fight by simply Strolling Through the Chaos and dragging the instigators (her husband and the three clan lords) out by their ears.
  • In Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Alex's father gets part of his ear blown off by a shotgun while attempting to rescue him from poachers.
  • During the scene with the frog hunters in The Princess and the Frog, Darnell accidentally smacks his Pa in the ears while trying to get Naveen and Tiana.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 68 Kill, Liza murders Ken's wife by stabbing a hunting knife into her ear.
  • The ABCs of Death:
    • A horde of spiders erupt from the man's ear when the eggs the spider laid hatch in the "E" segment.
    • ABCs of Death 2: In "M is for Mastication", the man bites the ear off the bystander he knocked down.
  • As in real life, in All the Money in the World, the kidnappers cut off J.P. Getty III’s ear. They hope that the mutilation will convince his family to pay his ransom.
  • Walter in The Big Lebowski bites off a nihilist's ear and spits it high in the air.
  • The Big Red One (deleted scene). The Goums (French native cavalry) cut off the ears of the German soldiers they've killed and swop them for American cigarettes. The Sarge tells him men to stop this trade because the Goums are cutting ears off dead American soldiers as well.
  • Billy Madison gets this from Veronica pulling him out of the classroom by his ear and scolding him for mocking a classmate who can barely read. Billy insists that he's deaf from ear abuse and having the hots for her.
  • Blindsided: the Game has Walter slice off a mook's ear when they, against his suggestion, try to grab their gun from the floor. Then, he tells him he "should have listened better".
  • When the killer in Blood Hook tries to catch yet another victim with his fishing rod, his throw misses and he rips the guy's left ear off instead.
  • In Blue Velvet, the plot is set off by the protagonist finding a severed ear.
  • In Cabin Fever, Fenster, a Hillbilly Henchman, dies when a screwdriver is jammed in his ear.
  • In Circus, Bruno displays his displeasure with Arnie by biting off Arnie's ear. Later on, Troy drives a point home to Leo by grabbing Leo's ear and twisting it while they are both standing naked in the sea.
  • In Collateral Damage, Gordon Brewer (Arnold Schwarzenegger), while prisoner and trying to escape the FARC terrorists, bites one of his captors. Then he spits out the ear.
  • In Cradle 2 the Grave, Jet Li's character rips an MMA fighter's earring off.
  • One of the earliest cinema examples of ear-cutting is probably the original Django, where some outlaws slice off a man's ear and make him eat it. That scene got the movie (which is otherwise no more violent than the average Spaghetti Western) banned in several countries. It's probably the most sadistic scene in the entire Western genre, and makes the violence in Sergio Leone's movies look tame.
  • Subverted in Don't be Afraid of the Dark, but only because the unsuspecting father stops listening at the grate and turns away before the evil faeries can shove a sharpened piece of wire into his ear.
  • In the film Ever After, Rodmilla grabs Danielle hard by the ear and throws her into a chair when angry with her.
  • In Face/Off, Agent Loomis's left ear is partially sheared off by a bullet during the hangar gunfight between the FBI and Castor Troy. Later, when Sean Archer visits the Walsh Institute about a proposed undercover mission where he takes Castor's face, Dr. Malcolm Walsh demonstrates the Institute's capabilities by showing them using laser surgery to rebuild Loomis's left ear.
  • In A Fairly Odd Summer, Timmy Turner tries to listen to a seashell, but it has a hermit crab inside which pinches his ear.
  • In The Fly, one of the earliest parts of Seth's transformation is losing an ear.
  • A recurring trope in Ghostbusters:
    • In Ghostbusters, as the heroes are looking at the ghost in the library and wondering what to do:
      Peter Venkman: Could you come over here and talk with me for a second, please? [grabs Ray Stantz by the ear and pulls him over]
    • Venkman does it again in Ghostbusters II, painfully grabbing Ray by the ears to get him to tell who he and Egon are investigating a disturbance for.
  • In Grim Prairie Tales, the dying Indian bites Colby's ear and tears a big chunk out of it.
  • In Howard the Duck, when Cherry Bomb's manager tries to attack Howard with an ice pick, Howard grabs it from him and uses it to pin the manager right to the bar's counter through his looped earring, causing him to scream in pain. Howard then threatens to "pierce" the manager's other ear unless he pays the band their money and releases them from their contract with him.
  • The Taiwanese Revolution-era fiilm Huge Brother has a villainous traitor being punished by the La Résistance by having his ears cut off. The whole thing.
  • In John Wick, Viggo references that time John killed three men with a pencil. We finally see John do it on camera in John Wick: Chapter 2, by ramming it lead-end first into the victim's ear. Ouch.
  • During the final battle in The Kingdom (2007), Janet Mayes bites the ear off a Giant Mook terrorist who is constantly throwing her around. During filming, Jennifer Garner accidentally did bite hard on the man's ear.
  • During their final fight in The Kunoichi: Ninja Girl, Karasagi breaks the hold Shimotsuki has on her by grabbing his ear and twisting it violently.
  • In the movie Last Man Standing, one of the two crime bosses, Strozzi, does this to his girlfriend, Lucy Kolinski, after he learns of her affair with the protagonist. It's implied that this is when Smith decides that both of the gangs he's dealing with are better off dead.
  • Played for laughs in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. After Merry and Pippin set off one of Gandalf's fireworks without his permission, he lifts them up by the pointy tips of their ears and glares down at them like they are misbehaving children.
  • In The Magnificent Seven (2016), Faraday shoots off Earl's ear to teach him a lesson.
  • The kung fu movie, The Mighty One has a hardcore example in the ending. The main villain, Abbot Lung, gets a sword entering one ear, through his brain, and coming out of another. And it somehow doesn't kill him! That was actually part 1 (of between 5 to 8) of his excessively long Rasputinian Death...
  • A Nightmare on Elm Street:
    • In Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare, Carlos gets a giant cotton swab shoved into his ear, and then has to wear a killer hearing aid.
    • Happens to Freddy in Freddy vs. Jason when Lori grabs him by the ear and accidentally brings it to the real world.
  • In Only God Forgives, Chang brutally interrogates a henchman by shoving a metal rod into his ears but only after stabbing needles into his arms, thighs, and eyeballs. Unsurprisingly, this scene was highly controversial for its disturbing violence.
  • In Parker, Carlson gets his ear shot off when Parker deflects Ross' shotgun in the back of the getaway car.
  • Villain Protagonist Porter from Payback is a Combat Pragmatist who loves using tactics like ripping out piercings. Early in the film he rips out a bodyguard's earring when the bodyguard won't let him see the guard's boss, the guy spends the rest of the movie walking around with his entire ear covered in bandages.
  • In Pineapple Express, Dale has part of his ear shot off by Matheson.
  • Junior of Problem Child gets dragged out of the cafeteria by his ear after his salisbury steak (which he'd thrown up to the ceiling to keep from eating) lands on the face of a nun. This gets the nuns to petition Mr. Peabody for getting rid of him.
    Junior: OWWW! Hey, lady, hands off the merchandise! I've gotta hear out of that thing! OWWW!
  • Mr. Blonde cuts off the captive policeman's ear with a razor in Reservoir Dogs. While singing and dancing to "Stuck in the Middle with You". And then he starts singing into it.
  • In the 2017 French Rape and Revenge movie Revenge, one of the men gets behind the heroine and shoots her in the head with a high-powered rifle. However we then see the shot took off an earlobe instead of killing her.
  • At the beginning of Scanner Cop II, Sam Staziak causes a hostage taker's ear to melt off by scanning through his earpiece.
  • Scary Movie parodies a scene from Scream 2 by having a character getting his head trespassed near a glory hole. He still appears intact at the end of the movie, just with a bandage over one ear.
  • The first victim from Scream 2 gets stabbed in the ear through a bathroom stall.
  • One of the villains in Slashers is killed by being stabbed in the ear with a wooden stake.
  • In Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the mind-control parasites enter Chekov's and Terrell's heads through their ears.
  • Tamara: Under Tamara's influence, Roger cuts his own ear off, Van Gogh-style.
  • Tian Di: The film's Action Girl and lancer, Wu Jun, after being captured alive by Paul and his mooks and threatened with rape, instead chose to end her own life by shoving a chopstick into her ear, all the way into her eardrums and brain, with gory results.
  • In Who Am I? (1998), Jackie Chan's character grabs one of the Co-Dragons by the earring, and keeps twisting it around and around. This causes such crippling pain that the guy surrenders afterward.
  • In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Eddie Valiant repeatedly grabs Roger Rabbit by his long ears and swings him around.
  • In Windtalkers, Nicolas Cage's character has a badly shaped left ear from a grenade explosion when holding the lines during the beginning of the film. He continues fighting while taking painkillers instead of taking medical leave.
  • In The World Is Not Enough, Elektra King reveals to James Bond that during her kidnapping they cut off part of her ear. She actually did it herself and is now in league with the kidnapper.
  • During a tense negotiation in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold, the Pecos Kid makes his point by shooting Tortuga's earring off (along with a chunk of his ear).

  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks enter your head via the ear canal, secreting a painkiller so it doesn't hurt.
    • In a later book, after the sixth Animorph, David, turns traitor there's this little gem from Rachel:
      I grabbed his head with one arm and jammed the fork against his ear. I fought a nauseating urge to twist the fork, to make him scream in pain.
  • Early into Annie on My Mind, a girl named Sally decides to give cheap ear piercings in the girl's bathroom. She tried to be hygienic but still gave multiple girls infections. This caused both her and the student president Liza to get in trouble. Sally later becomes quite repentant.
  • In the Stephen King novella The Body (source material for the film Stand by Me), Teddy Duchamp has nasty scars where his abusive father held his ears to a burning stove.
  • Discworld: In Going Postal, Moist passes by some fighters preparing for a bar-room brawl in the Mended Drum, one of whom recommends clapping a dwarf on the ears to stun them.
  • In "The End of the Pier Show", Richard, Vanessa and Fred are hassled by a group of Skinheads at a roadside diner. Vanessa deals with one by grabbing the ear of one and twisting it till he falls out of his booth.
  • Fate/Requiem: When Erice Utsumi was a small child, her grandmother gave her a haircut, but accidentally nicked her ear with the scissors. She has a scar from it.
  • Fault Line: Kip tries to grab Becky during an argument, but he instead ripped out one of her earrings out.
  • One of Sully's ears gets blown off with a gun in Firstborn when he is mistaken for his brother Blue Boy.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Filch, upon spotting Malfoy being out in the Hogwarts corridor in the nighttime without invitation to Slughorn's party, drags him by the ear to meet Slughorn. To Filch's disappointment, Slughorn lets Malfoy stay without applying any disciplinary actions on the latter.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Snape does this to George. The required "I lost an ear" humor happens the moment the victim awakes.
  • James Bond:
    • In Colonel Sun, the eponymous Torture Technician starts Bond's evening of pain by prodding his ear canals with a metal spike.
    • Chagrin in Devil May Care, when he was still working for Viet Minh, popped the eardrums of kids who listened to French priests back in Indo-China by slamming chopsticks into their ears, permanently deafening some of them in the process. Bond almost becomes a recipient of this procedure.
    • After Bond crashes his car in the Young Bond novel Double or Die, Wolfgang Smith checks the burning wreck to see if he's in it. The heat from the fire then sends a spark plug flying out of it, tearing Wolfgang's right ear off.
  • Joe Pickett: In Free Fire, Nate drags Amoral Attorney Clay McCann out his cell by grabbing his ear and dragging on it hard enough to draw blood. Later, he makes good on a threat, and literally tears McCann's ear off during an interrogation.
  • In Mark Pfetzer's My Everest Story, Mark's father develops a nasty infection in his ear. It eventually becomes cancer, but he successfully gets it treated...until it turns out that the doctors Failed a Spot Check, and now realize that he has brain cancer, which ultimately does him in.
  • In A Night in the Lonesome October, Snuff practically rips the vicar's ear off after he abuses Graymalkin. Snuff himself has scars on one ear from a past encounter with (implied) a voodoo-animated zombie.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Selvi's threat to Gwen, a half-elf, who has Pointy Ears, when Gwen snarked that the librarian might by afraid that Selvi, a half-orc would rip all the pages of their library books:
    Selvi: I prefer ripping ears. Pointy ones make for good handholds, too.
  • Red Moon Rising: The Kihuut cut homesteaders' ears off.
  • Revanche Cycle: Felix's exceptionally unwise decision to challenge the mayor of Winter's Reach to a duel ends with her sawing his left ear off. Adding insult to injury, she tosses it to the audience as a souvenir.
  • In the book Savage Sam, the sequel to Old Yeller, little Arliss bites off the ear of an Indian who kidnapped him. And swallows it (accidentally).
    Arliss: You reckon I'm part Injun now?
  • Sherlock Holmes: "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box" sounds like a fairly innocuous story (not nearly as ominous as "The Devil's Foot" or The Valley of Fear, for example), until you discover that the titular box contained a couple of severed ears.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: When Vargo Hoat tries to rape Brienne, she bites off his ear. The wound becomes infected and drives him mad. In general, the ear is a common victim of various fights that break out through the series.
  • Survivor Dogs:
    • In the second book, Lucky challenges Snap to a fight so he can rise in the pack and take over as a hunter. Snap turns out to be stronger than she looks, but Lucky wins through taking advantage of this trope. He bites her ear so viciously that Snap has to call mercy for him to stop. Later in the fight, he gains the advantage by biting at her injured ear and pinning her down. Lucky wins because Snap's legs aren't long enough to reach his underbelly and push him off.
    • The Dobermann's bite Fang's ears in a crude attempt at cropping them.
    • When giving Mulch a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Alpha and Sweet in particular target his long ears.
  • In one of the Wayside School books, one of the kids tells a story of a hippie who got his ear cut off by a barber.
  • James Carlos Blake's Wildwood boys
    • Riley Crawford made himself a necklace from severed Yankee ears and wore it all the time.
    • Arch Clements accidentally bit a chunk of someone else's ear off. He at least said he was sorry.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One The Amanda Show skit featured a boy's ear accidentally being cut off while he was getting his hair cut. The barber then puts it into a barrel full of the ears of past customers that were accidentally cut off.
  • Angel:
    • In the episode "Redefinition", Darla and Drusilla enter a demon fight club to recruit the fighters as minions. When one says he's never heard of them, Drusilla rips both of his ears off, and Darla quips, "Now you never will."
    • In "A New World", after Connor returns from hell, he sees a girl about to get raped by a drug dealer. Connor beats up the drug dealer, then cuts off his ear to keep as a trophy.
  • Battlestar Galactica
    • Cally bites off part of an attempted rapist's ear.
    • Gaius Baltar is tortured at one point by a device inserted into his ear.
  • Boardwalk Empire: It's a signature M.O. of Nucky's season 5 bodyguard Archie Ortiz to cut off a single ear of those who he kills. Such is the fate of Tonino Sandrelli when Archie kills him on Nucky's orders as revenge for Tonino's assisting Gyp Rosetti in blowing up Babette's.
  • In season 4 of Bosch, a lawyer is murdered while preparing to represent a man suing the LAPD. The client falsely confessed to a murder when a cop jammed a sharpened pencil in his ear.
  • Mike from Breaking Bad gets the tip of his ear shot off when hiding inside a meth truck that a rival cartel attacked with a spray of bullets.
  • The saga of Moe's ear in Brotherhood. Granted, he really had it coming.
  • In Castle, Detective Beckett has a tendency to yank Castle's ear when he irritates her by listening in on conversations, getting close to her, and generally annoying her. Which is often.
  • Copper: In "Home Sweet Home," Eva jumps on to Buzzy Burke's back and bites a chunk out of his ear.
  • In an early episode of The Cosby Show, Theo rebelliously gets his ear pierced. As he had it done by a non-professional, his ear gets painfully infected.
  • Criminal Minds: The Serial Killer of the week of the episode "A Real Rain" was a vigilante who murdered people who got away with murder by stabbing them through the ear canal and straight to the brain with a stone knife.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In season 1's "A Man a Mile," one miner bites part of another's ear off during a fight. Danny says he got "Tysoned."
    • The younger brother of the victim in the "Danny gets locked in the rich guy's panic room" episode (season 2's "Trapped") got his ear cut off when he was kidnapped as a child; it was later sent to his family, who kept it in a jar. After the parents both died in an accident, the older brother held onto it.
    • A victim in a later season had cauliflower ear due to having been a wrestler.
    • The female victim in "Sanguine Love" had part of her ear bitten off as well.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "First Dance," the Victim of the Week is murdered by being stabbed in the ear with the wire in her floral headpiece.
  • Firefly: In "War Stories," Adelai Niska cuts off Mal's ear after Zoe rescues Wash, because the ransom she paid was "too much for just one man."
  • In Friends, Phoebe stops a Cat Fight between Rachel and Monica by grabbing them by their ears.
  • Game of Thrones:
  • The Handmaid's Tale: June cuts the tag from her ear with scissors as part of going on the run.
  • In Hannibal at the end of the first season, Will Graham vomits up a severed ear. Due to his increasing mental instability, it's not immediately clear to the viewers whether this is real or a hallucination. It turns out the ear belongs to Abigail, who had recently gone missing, and it kicks off The Reveal that Hannibal has been gradually planting evidence to frame Will as the serial killer.
  • On How I Met Your Mother, Barney pierces his own ear as part of a bet. Throughout the episode it becomes more and more infected, until he moans in agony that "it hurts so much I can hear it! I can hear my own ear!"
  • Hyde's first outing in Jekyll results in the prolonged beating of a man who'd humiliated Jackman earlier that day — biting off one of ears as a finishing move. For added horror, Jackman wakes up the next morning to find the severed ear in his pocket.
  • Jessica Jones: At one point while Jessica is under Kilgrave's control, Kilgrave commands her to start cutting her ear off. He makes her stop before she can finish cutting it off. In the present day, Jessica still retains the scar from that wound.
  • Kamen Rider OOO: Hina Izumi is prepared to pull on or yank Ankh's ear when he gets out of the line too much. This is Call-Back to her precedessors with same goals, Akiko Narumi with Shoe Slap Of Doom and Hana who used punches.
  • In the first series of Luther, Alice Morgan does this to Luther's wife, Zoe.
  • In the Malcolm in the Middle episode "Bride of Ida", Grandma Ida subjects Malcolm and Reese to the Ritual of Pain, which consists of tying strings to their ears and pulling. The boys are surprised at how painful it is.
    Malcolm: I didn't think anything above my waist could be so sensitive!
  • Midsomer Murders: The third Victim of the Week in "Blood Wedding" is killed by having a hatpin thrust into her ear.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "This One Goes to Eleven", three victims are murdered by having a long sharp spike (similar to a carpenter's awl) thrust into their ears. Crabtree muses on what an unpleasant way to die this would be.
  • New Tricks: In a flashback in "Last man Standing - Part One", a young Gerry Standing is forced to watch as a London Gangster cuts the ear off a rival.
  • The Outer Limits: In "Afterlife", Stiles and the aliens have an ability to emit a high-pitched sound is painful for humans.
  • Person of Interest. In "Aletheia", Root is being tortured to gain access to the Machine. When Root says the Machine is talking to her directly, Control does a stapedectomy without anesthesia, making Root deaf in one ear and making it clear the other will follow if she doesn't cooperate.
  • In Salem, John Alden shoots off part of the magistrate's left ear before he and Isaac escape from having witnessed the witches performing a ritual.
  • Silk Stalkings: In "Going to Babylon'', a High-Class Call Girl is murdered by having a hatpin shoved through her eardrum.
  • Star Trek: the Ferengi have very sensitive ears, which gives them keen hearing, but are also a big weakness if someone thinks to use them to inflict pain, such as when Lwaxana Troi grabs Quark by his ear in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine while grilling him over a stolen brooch.
  • In the Tales from the Crypt episode "For Cryin' Out Loud", the bad guy tries to silence his conscience (voiced by Sam Kinison) by using cotton swabs to clear out his ears, but pushes them in too deep and destroys his ear drums. To add insult to injury, he becomes totally deaf, but can still hear the voice.
  • In Wild Boys, 'Mad Dog' Morgan claimed he got his nickname because he once bit a man's ear off in a fight. later in the episode, he actually does a bite a man's ear off, indicating that this may be a regular thing for him.

  • This is on the cover for the Butthole Surfers album Electriclarryland, complete with blood.
  • During the big fight with his father in Johnny Cash's "A Boy Named Sue", the protagonist loses a piece of his ear when the father pulls a knife.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • In the Old Testament, a Hebrew servant would have his ear pierced through with an awl as a sign that he is now a bondservant for life.
    • In the New Testament, Peter cuts off the ear of a Roman soldier's servant with a sword when they try to take Jesus away. Jesus heals the guy.
  • Japanese Mythology: In the story of Hoichi the Earless, the eponymous Hoichi was a minstrel who was haunted by a ghostly samurai who was forcing Hoichi to play for his dead master. Hoichi had a priest friend of his cover his body in protective sutras to render him invisible to the undead. However, the priest couldn't properly paint the sutras on Hoichi's ears, which were cut off and taken by the samurai's ghost.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The earliest known example of this trope in pro wrestling happened in 1952, when Yukon Eric lost part of his ear as the result of a botched knee drop by Killer Kowalski.
  • Mick Foley had lost part of his ear during a wrestling match with Vader. The ropes were wound too tight already, so when Vader tied Foley up in the ropes and his ear was part of that? You can figure out the rest.
  • Pippa L'Vinn sometimes holds onto an ear while performing a snap mare.
  • Delirious bit Adam Pearce's ear in retaliation for Hang Men 3 stapling his mask to his skin and hanging him with a chain.
  • During Tracy Taylor's defense of the WXCW and PGWA title belts against Nemesis, there were at least two calls from the audience for her to punch Nemesis's ear.
  • Kyle O'Reilly suffered an injury that resulted in his ear needing regular draining, an injury Adam Cole, Gedo and Kazuchika Okada made a point to aggravate. Cole just because he hated O'Reilly, the latter two trying to win the Ring of Honor Tag Team Title belts.
  • Sakura Hirota is an opponent that requires headgear. Take her 5/13/18 match in Marvelous against Natsumi Maki. Level 5 may be underhanded, but not even that they considered grabbing a downed opponent's head and scream into her ear legitimate offense.
  • On July 17, 2018, Randy Orton assaulted Jeff Hardy, which included Orton dragging Hardy around by his ear and then mounting him and pulling on it. During their feud, Orton would repeatedly attack Hardy's ears. At Hell in the Cell 2018, Orton stuck a screwdriver into Hardy's earring hole and twisted it several times.
  • At Clash of Champions 2020, during a ladder match, Sami Zayn attached Jeff Hardy's ear to a ladder with handcuffs.

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo's vampiric superpower grants him enhanced senses. This works against him when a fire alarm is so loud that it causes his ears to bleed.

  • The Sound and the Fury — the infamous 1997 rematch between Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, which ended in Tyson's disqualification after twice biting Holyfield's ears, with the second time tearing off the upper part of it.

  • In Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet's father, the late king. tells Hamlet that his brother Claudius, Hamlet's uncle and the present king, usurped the throne by pouring poison in his ear while he was asleep. Doesn't make much sense from a medical perspective, but it allows Hamlet to say things like "the ear of Denmark is much abus'd".

    Video Games 
  • One of the NCR quests in Fallout: New Vegas involves collecting the ears of Legion soldiers as trophies.
  • At the start of Far Cry Primal, Takkar the caveman's hunting party is attacked by the Bloodfang Tiger, who kills two of his friends effortlessly. Takkar runs up to the Bloodfang Tiger and sticks a spear in its ear, but the Tiger just shrugs it off and lashes out at Takkar.
    • Takkar's friend Sayla the gatherer has a tendency to collect the ears of Udam warriors whenever she kills one. Apparently, she's Hearing Voices of her loved ones who the Udam killed before the game takes place, and collecting ears soothes the screams. Sayla's obsession with ears is Played for Laughs when Takkar brings Warchief Ull's children back to the Wenja village, and she complains that their ears are too small for her to collect.
  • My Friend Pedro: The blood on the area at one end of Pedro as shown on the page image of the game drops the disturbing implication that the vigilante erased his memory by jamming a banana far into his ear.
  • In Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Lara wins a battle with a jaguar by jamming her makeshift machete inside its ear and into its brain, killing it.
  • In a cutscene near the end of the first chapter of True Crime: Streets of L.A., Nick Kang hurls a chopstick right into a Triad thug's ear.
  • The Crones in The Witcher 3 are paid tribute in the form of a severed ear, which the Whisperess keep on a necklace around her neck.
  • In World of Warcraft while questing on the Borean Tundra, killing any hunter from the Nessingwary Expedition may yield one or two of their ears. Give 15 of these to the head of D.E.T.H.A. and he'll cast a temporary status buff on you.

    Web Comics 
  • Anya of Double-U Tea F is one to pull on her children's ears when they act out of line, or as a Lame Pun Reaction. Of course, this pain never sticks. This even works when she tries it on Skreel, Khran's Superpowered Evil Side, who was kowtowed by an ear pull just as easily as Khran is.
  • In the last panel of a Ears for Elves page, Elon grabs and pulls Myari's ear quite hard because he's angry at her/worried about her, and has finally found where she was hiding.
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ysengrin is missing his right ear. The side story Coyote! reveals that Coyote tore that ear off in anger after Ysengrin was mean to Renard, long before the Court was fully formed.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Miranda chomps the ear of the driver of a van carrying a kidnapped Carl.
  • In Ménage à 3, Zii pinches DiDi's ear (link SFW, but NSFW webcomic) as a form of "Be Quiet!" Nudge, while trying to convince Kiley that the both of them are lesbians.
  • Rusty and Co.:
    • When Madeline the Paladin tries to convince the reluctant Roxy and Presti to go save their Monster Adventurer friends, she notably grabs Roxanne's elven ear and twist hard.
    • Madeline tries this again in Level 9 on Y.T. the lamia, who'd rather lounge than help, but the paladin gets more than she bargained for when she apparently rips the ear off. Fortunately, Y.T. is a snakewoman and she is shedding, so it's just dead skin.
  • The friendly demon Buwaro in Slightly Damned is introduced with a bite taken out of one of his ears. Eventually, a flashback explains how he got it — his foster sister bit him, blaming him for the apparent death of their parental figure.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: Onni gets his ear hurt while fighting ghosts in the mage-space in Chapter 10 and his host's children accidentally cut his ear in real life due to deciding to cut his hair while he's in trance.
  • In Weak Hero, Ben performs a dramatic version of the otherwise comedic 'ear yank' version of this trope: when he finds Alex beaten down by Forrest, he grabs Forrest by the ear with a grip like a vice and demands to know if he was responsible for the beating.

    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Cobra Kai: In "Take a Right," Johnny yanks out the ear gauge of a pool-playing douchebag who thought it would be a good idea to make fun of Tommy's sickly condition. A Bar Brawl ensues.
  • In the second installment of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared, the teacher of the video silences a dissenting student by screeching louder and louder until the student's ears begin to bleed.

    Western Animation 
  • The American Dad! episode "Every Which Way But Lose" has Steve losing an ear during a baseball play.
    Roger: Steve, before the game, how many ears did you have?
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
  • In Batman Beyond, Terry defeats Shriek in their first encounter by throwing a batarang onto his suit, amplifying its range making him hear everything in the city at full blast, effectively turning him deaf.
  • Beavis and Butt-Head:
    • In the episode "Pierced", the duo destroy each other's ears with a drill in an attempt to get them pierced.
    • Later on during the Mouse Trap montage of "The Rat", Beavis somehow manages to snap the trap onto his ear.
  • In Code Lyoko's "Plagued", Jim, thinking a random student just walked into the library willy-nilly, grabs the person's ear and tells him that they have a couple hours of detention, only to realize that it was Mr. Delmas, the school principal.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • In one of the Oh Yeah! Cartoons shorts, Wanda pulls Cosmo by the ear after he catches him flirting with Vicky as part of the plan to get Wanda's wand back.
    • In another short, the Tooth Fairy picks up Jorgen by the ear at the end.
  • Family Guy:
    • The 150th episode has a scene with Brian trying to pierce Stewie's ear, and getting the pin lodged inside his ear canal and getting it stuck.
    • Another episode had Stewie show Brian he was missing an ear because he was walking home with a bag full of burgers and "a lot of hungry deer were walking around this time of the night". A deer bit off his ear and Stewie mentions he was able to pull the ear out of the deer's mouth and put it into a cup with some ice he got at a 7-Eleven.
      Stewie: So, when you're ready to apologize, just talk into this cup.
    • Yet another episode had Brian cut off his own ear under the influence of psychedelic mushrooms because he thought doing so would prevent World War II.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?", after Homer insults a chef's cooking, he attacks Homer with a meat cleaver. Homer thinks all his strikes missed, only to discover he has a chunk cut off one of his ears.
    Homer: Uh, not bad. If Lasagna is Italian for pile of puke!
    Chef: I choppa you good!
    Homer Well, I hope you cut me better than you did these string beans!... Hmm, I seem to be missing part of my ear... Touché!
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Sing a Song of Patrick", after SpongeBob and Patrick play Patrick's song for a radio station, they're shown getting thrown out and SpongeBob mentions that the song turned the producer's ears inside-out.
    • In "Drive Thru", one of Pearl's friends decides to prank Squidward by taking her order with a megaphone, which, going through the drive-thru's Tin-Can Telephone that Mr. Krabs added in lieu of proper sound equipment, blows out Squidward's eardrum. He's then shown sticking Mr. Krabs with the bill for the surgery to replace it.
  • Star Wars Resistance: In "The Triple Dark" and "The Children from Tehar", Tam grabs Kaz by the ear when she's annoyed with him.

    Real Life 
  • John Paul Getty III was kidnapped in 1973. His grandfather, then the world's richest man, American multi-billionaire oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, refused to pay his grandson's $3 million ransom. Subsequently, one of the boy's ears was cut off and sent to a newspaper.
  • Probably the only universally known fact about Vincent van Gogh was that he cut off an ear. Which is kind of ironic, given he didn't. It was only the lobe, and it probably wasn't him that did the cutting.
  • A common punishment for runaway slaves in the Antebellum South was to have an ear chopped off.
  • The War of Jenkins' Ear, the Anglo-Spanish and naval part of the War of the Austrian Succession, gets its rather odd name from a very odd bit of history indeed. In 1731, Robert Jenkins was captain of the British merchantman Rebecca when Spanish coast guards intercepted and boarded it, suspecting that Jenkins was a British privateer (they had been plaguing Spanish traffic for some time at this point). Despite not finding any evidence of piracy, the Spanish cut off Jenkins's left ear as a kind of message to Britain. This incident didn't amount to much at the time, but when tensions between Great Britain and Spain increased in the late 1730s, Jenkins came out with his story once again, presenting the shriveled ear to a committee of Parliament as evidence of Spain's misdeeds. This, with a few other similar affairs, led to the British declaration of war in 1739, and one of the most amusing casus belli of all time.
  • The notorious "Tiger Force" Special Operations unit was accused — among other things — of collecting "trophies" from the corpses of those they killed during the Vietnam War, including entire necklaces of ears.
  • Predating this was the practice of collecting the severed ears (among other body parts) of Japanese soldiers in the Pacific theater during World War II, to the point that Franklin D. Roosevelt was given a letter-opener by a Congressman that was carved from the arm of a Japanese soldier.
  • The punishment for counterfeiting money in Colonial America was to have your ears cropped — that is, have the fleshy bits around the "shell" sliced away. (You also got branded on the temple.) Ouch.
  • It's pretty hard to discuss Mike Tyson without running into this trope. In his 1997 rematch with Evander Holyfield, Tyson was disqualified for biting both of Holyfield's ears, first taking off a chunk of the guy's right ear and then scarring his left. Nowadays, any mention of Mike Tyson will probably elicit references to this incident.
  • The old cliche of parents/teachers/other authority figures leading troublesome children around by the ear.
  • A common chronic injury to the earlobes is "cauliflower ear". That's where the ears have been bruised so often that they become brittle. Continued impacts to cauliflower ears could lead them to swell and bruise rapidly, or even burst bloodily. This kind of injury is common these days in mixed martial arts; less often in boxing due to more heavily-padded gloves.
  • Gallus Mag, the legendary 19th century lady bouncer at the Hole in the Wall pub in New York City (as mentioned in The Gangs of New York), was said to rip the ears off particularly troublesome customers and keep them preserved in a jar of alcohol.
  • If you suffer from hyperacusis, Note  you've probably experienced a few ear aches from a few ignorant folks.


Video Example(s):


Beavis & Butt-Head

The boys try to pierce their own ears by themselves.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

Main / EarAche

Media sources:

Main / EarAche