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Erotic Asphyxiation

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Sex Addiction Therapist: Most likely, you'll end up going the way of David Carradine and Michael Hutchence: auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Kenny: Auto-erotic asphyxiation? What's that?
Therapist: I don't want to go into too much detail, but... you choke yourself with a belt around your neck while masturbating, dressed up like Batman or something, then you pass out from lack of air. And apparently, it makes your orgasm super awesome.
Kenny: Really?!
Butters: Oh, no! I don't wanna have to buy a Batman costume!

"Intentionally cutting off oxygen to the brain for sexual arousal", to quote The Other Wiki. A general term for sex acts that involve either restricting one's own breathing for intensified sensations during masturbation or one party restraining the breathing of another. Needless to say, this particular paraphilia includes all the risks associated with asphyxiation, including fatalities. Thus it's generally considered to fail the "safe" part of Safe, Sane, and Consensual, particularly when it involves constricting the throat as it is usually portrayed in fiction. Sometimes it will be a plot point that what at first appears to be a masturbation session gone wrong is actually a disguised murder. In the case that the death is just purely accidental, fully expect it to be portrayed as an Undignified Death; a sort of post-mortem Caught with Your Pants Down.

Not to be confused with Marshmallow Hell. Related to Out with a Bang, if you do it wrong. note  Possibly related to Too Dumb to Live, in any case. Sometimes used to promote the idea that Bondage Is Bad.

For clarification, auto-erotic asphyxiation is doing it yourself, typically via some form of hanging, as opposed to getting someone else to do it to you. It should go without saying that this is a terrible, terrible, terrible idea — to the extent that many of the more famous deaths from it have happened that way. On the other hand, if you do get someone else to do it and things go wrong, it is liable to get them convicted of murder or manslaughter even if they manage to convince the court that it was consensual. Also, being drunk or under the influence of drugs that affect alertness (whether by making you feel more alert than you are or by lessening awareness and consciousness/depressing the central nervous system) increases the odds of dying, especially if combined with doing it solo.

If you survive it, you can put yourself at risk for chronic traumatic brain damage (in the same way people who suffer from repeated mini-strokes or concussions do — cutting off oxygen to the brain for any amount of time damages it, even if the damage is not noticeable immediately, brain damage is cumulative), a major stroke that may be delayed due to damage to the arteries in the neck/dislodging fat or a clot in one of them, and/or weakening or breaking the bones in your cervical spine, causing anything from chronic pain to death when/if the wrong one breaks. The risk of both stroke and broken neck vertebrae is also multiplied exponentially if you do anything else — from playing football or hockey to headbanging or having your hair done in beauty salons a lot — that inflicts trauma to the region.

In short, Don't Try This at Home. Or anywhere.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the "Voodoo Mansion" back-up story in Lori Lovecraft: Into the Past #1 (which takes place in the same continuity as Lori's adventures), it is revealed that one of the souls residing in the mansion is Patrick, who accidentally strangled himself while attempting autoerotic asphyxiation. To avoid shame, his family removed the pornography before reporting his death. His death was ruled a suicide and his body turned into an anatomy skeleton.
  • In Starman (DC Comics), the ghost of the Black Pirate describes the sensation of being hanged and says you start to feel sleepy, but everything's awake below the waist. Jack admits that he's actually experienced this with an ex-girlfriend. The ghost then asks if Jack's experienced what happens next, when everything goes to sleep, and Jack obviously hasn't.
  • In Strangers in Paradise, Katchoo is often seen doing this to Darcy in various flashbacks.

    Fan Works 
  • Back For Good: The plot is kicked off with Professor Professor preparing to attend a funeral for an old professor who accidentally killed herself while engaging in auto-erotic asphyxiation.
  • Sword and Shield has Mewtwo and Brenda investigate one of these gone wrong. Mewtwo is disturbed, while the rather jaded Brenda finds it darkly amusing.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the focus of one of the segments of The ABCs of Death.
  • Compulsion (2016): Sadie enjoys erotic asphyxiation, her lovers choking her during sex. Later on she does it to Francesca as well while they have sex, nearly strangling her once. In her next book, she writes the protagonist as having earlier killed her lover accidentally doing this.
  • In The General's Daughter, Elizabeth Campbell got up to all kinds of kinky stuff, this included.
  • James Bond
    • In The World Is Not Enough, Elektra King mentions that a man being throttled to death will get an erection and straddles Bond's waist as she turns the screws on him.
    • Also used by Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye, who mixes it with Murderous Thighs as kills her victims with her own legs and during sex.
  • A very explicit and disturbing example in Ken Park.
  • Killing Me Softly, a grade B sex-drama, featured Joseph Fiennes tying Heather Graham into a rig that used yards and yards of silk to induce erotic asphyxiation. Of course, this was him getting off on strangling her while they screwed, not her getting off on getting strangled...
  • Hayden Christensen's character Sam in Life as a House tries to do this at the beginning, and also talks about it.
    Sam: Do you have any idea what its like to jack off in an armoire?
  • Lost Girls and Love Hotels: Margaret likes being choked during sex, saying it's all that gets her off. It's implied this is due to having a death wish too, and enjoying the sensation as a result.
  • The Mechanic (2011). Bishop kills an Arms Dealer this way to Make It Look Like an Accident, strangling him with his own belt, then hanging him up with some porn playing on a laptop in front of him. His protege Steve then makes the mistake of trying to copy this method on his first target — unfortunately his victim is a very fit and powerfully built hitman.
  • Naked Obsession: William Katt plays a city councilman who takes a trip into the seedy side of his city and has sex with a stripper who is into erotic asphyxiation. He strangles her unconscious and is afraid that he's killed her, but she wakes up. The next time he visits her, however, she's been strangled to death, forcing him to clear his name.
  • While a couple is having sex in The Remake, the girl tells her boyfriend to choke her a little.
  • Occurs in Rising Sun, where a floozy who likes to be choked during sex winds up dead on the board room table of a Japanese Mega-Corp. It turns out that she was strangled unconscious by a governor, only for agents of the Mega-Corp to finish the job and use the murder to both eliminate their rivals and blackmail the governor.
  • The Ruling Class begins with a lord's family having to cover up the fact that he died in such an incident. In a tutu. Also dressed up (above the waist) like Napoleon.
  • In World's Greatest Dad, Lance Clayton's son dies this way. (Not much of a spoiler, since every single article about this movie talked about it).

  • In one incident in The Comfortable Courtesan, a minor member of Lord Raxdell's set dies in this way, and it is initially suspected to be murder. When the truth comes out, it is publicly reported as an unfortunate accident while trying to invent a new cravat knot.
  • A Darkness More Than Night: The murder victim in the David Storey case is found nude with a scarf around her neck in a pose that would suggest autoerotic asphyxia, but Bosch believes that the scene was staged to disguise a murder as an accident.
  • In Filth by Irvine Welsh, the protagonist Bruce Robertson does this several times with one of his many girlfriends. He first tries it after having failed to save a man from (non-erotic) suffocation. It is a bit of Foreshadowing since Bruce hangs himself in the end.
  • In the Full Metal Panic! novels, Gauron once had a thing with a female scientist and strangled her. They both seemed to get off on it, as Gauron even lampshades it by mocking her, asking her if she actually likes making him angry, and actually wants him to hurt her. He says this with a perfect mixture of "coldness and joy," and she responds by gasping with "pain and ecstasy."
  • Galápagos features a flashback where a young James Wait is hired by a man who likes to have strangers do this him because seeing the tunnel to the Afterlife makes him climax. He dies when Wait has a random compulsion to not loosen the rope in time.
  • In Hannibal, Mason Verger was into this, but it backfired when Hannibal Lecter tricked Verger into cutting his face off and feeding it to his dogs while high out of his mind and then used the setup to hang him. Verger survived but horribly maimed and paralyzed.
  • This accidentally happens to Colonel Sebastian Moran in the first story of The Hound of the D'Urbervilles, he gets tied up and noosed, and unwantedly develops an erection, in front of the man he was trying to kill, his woman, and their adopted daughter. Its played for laughs, and Moran mentions he knew a guy who liked to do it on purpose.
  • In the Amazon ebook Lockhartand Teague The Empty Chest the shadowthurges are forbidden from having intercourse and pursue sexual release through other means. Avelyn Teague's preference is this.
  • Naked Lunch: William Burroughs has a habit of writing scenes where teenage boys very sensually get their necks broken via noose.
  • Nevada: The novel opens with the main character engaging in this with her girlfriend.
  • Terry Miller has a fetish for strangulation, which gets confused for this in Skinjumper. Amusingly, despite being a serial killer, he finds the concept of consensual choking during sex to be weird.
  • At the end of the Spenser novel Small Vices it's revealed the victim and Clive Stapleton engaged in this consensually as part of an erotic game but she unfortunately died during it, but this was covered up so it appeared she had been raped and murdered by someone else.
  • In Winner Takes All, Professional Killer John Rain chokes a CIA bureaucrat to death, then leaves him hanging in the shower with a tube of KY jelly, knowing an apparent example of this trope will encourage the CIA to cover up the matter instead of digging into the cause of death.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On Better Off Ted Veronica's boyfriend, Mordor, is apparently into this as she mentions hanging him both as part of their magic act and foreplay.
  • Boardwalk Empire: Gyp Rosetti is unlucky enough to be getting strangled as apart of sexual games with a random woman when Bugsy Siegel shows up at his place to try assassinating him. Rosetti uses the girl he's with as a human shield, giving him time to get his gun and drive off Bugsy.
  • A paramedic who engages in Engineered Heroics coerced teenagers to play "the choking game" on an episode of Criminal Minds.
    • A later episode features a killer using a knock-off version of Fifty Shades of Grey to seduce his victims, then strangling them to death. It's noted that the kink is the killer's alone (it's not present in the book), and the BDSM practitioner they talk to tells them that anyone who even mentions "breath play" is banned from her circles.
  • CSI:
    • The victim in one case apparently died in this fashion. Of course, this being a crime drama, it's never what it first looks like.
    • There was also an episode that did the reverse. It was set up to look like a murder but turned out to be erotic asphyxiation gone wrong.
  • Farscape:
    • The only on-screen Scorpius/Sikozu sexual scene has him choking her with a chain. With Braca overlooking from a window. Still, that's Scorpy for you.
    • In Season 2, Scorpius has his hands wrapped tightly around Natira's neck when they're having sex.
  • Filthy Rich & Catflap: When Ralph is in prison awaiting execution by hanging, he takes some pleasure in knowing that the asphyxiation will give him an erection: his first one in years.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • This is cited in a deleted scene in Season 2 where former Sex Slave Doreah is strangling Irri to death.
    "A trader from Qarth told me the greatest pleasure comes from a silk cord around the neck, tied very, very, tight. (victim clutches futilely at the cord) The reason so few people indulge in this...exquisite pleasure...he told me is it's the danger. A moment too long, and ecstasy becomes death. (goes limp) It is known."
    • There's also a scene where Myranda chokes Ramsay during sex. Considering that right before that she bit the hell out of his lip, and in the next scene his chest is covered in fresh cuts, it raises... questions.
  • Harrow: In "Aurum Potestas Est" ("Gold is Power"), one Victim of the Week dies during an erotic asphyxiation session gone wrong. The other party's need to cover this up leads to murder.
  • The 1970 Hawaii Five-O episode "Bored She Hung Herself" was about a deadly yoga technique that had more than a passing resemblance to Erotic Asphyxiation. Allegedly, a viewer tried to imitate the technique and died, which is why "Bored She Hung Herself" has been a Missing Episode ever since.
  • One episode of House features a man who is into dominance/submissive sex and he likes to be choked.
  • Irma Vep: Gottfried nearly kills himself accidentally doing this. He's found hanged in the closet and saved though at first no one's sure if he'll survive.
  • Law & Order:
  • The League of Gentlemen: Went Horribly Wrong at a fetish party, when the emcee suffered a fatal heart attack and was unable to release everyone. And none of them lived.
  • One Jerkass cigarette executive in Midsomer Murders turns out to be into this, as revealed by his wife. As there was a recent strangling recalling a similar series of crimes decades ago, it's yet another reason to suspect him. The murderer was actually his boss, who murdered his blackmailer and tried to pin it on the previous killer, a hotel owner who ended up stabbed in the shower by his mother when she thought he'd started killing again.
  • In the first season of Murder One, the defendant likes to strangle girls when he's having sex, which gets used against him when a former girlfriend turns up strangled to death and naked.
  • On NYPD Blue, one of the civilian assistants is into asphyxiation and sees one of her partners die from lack of oxygen. This is an awkward case for Sipowicz because she had made unsubtle passes at him while working at the precinct.
  • Oz. After being forced to become the sex slave of his cellmate, Robson talks him into trying this method, then 'forgets' to cut him down, thus killing him and making it look like a suicide at the same time.
  • Peep Show: Referenced a few times:
    • The first is when the teenage goth Valerie starts to strangle Mark during sex. He's terrified and thinks she's trying to kill him, until afterwards when she explains that her ex-boyfriend used to love it (Mark still finds it a bit disturbing though).
    • Jeremy gets so dangerously bored sitting around the house doing nothing that he threatens to try "that thing Michael Hutchence did".
    • At one point much later in the series, we get this quote from Mark:
      "If he hangs himself over this, I can stick an orange in his mouth and call it a fatal wanking accident."
  • Queer as Folk (US) has Brian trying this in the first season finale, but he's pulled down by Michael before anything horrible can happen.
  • Rome: When Octavian selects Livia as his wife, he tells her that he may beat her during sex. It turns out that he enjoys being beaten and strangled just as much.
  • Six Feet Under had an opener death caused by autoerotic asphyxiation. The dude's wife is devastated and had no idea he was into that stuff.
  • This sort of happens on True Blood, but with a twist. Jason is screwing some girl and she's tied up and he chokes her a little, and she "dies". He freaks out and leaves, and then she wakes up — she was just pretending. But then the real serial killer walks in and kills her. Of course, Jason is accused of her murder and even believes himself that he killed her.
  • The Umbrella Academy (2019): After kidnapping Klaus, Cha-Cha and Hazel attempt to strangle him for information, not realizing that he's a masochist. Obviously, their attempt doesn't work, and Cha-Cha is disgusted when she realizes Klaus's reaction.
  • The Whitest Kids U' Know: This was the subject matter of a sketch. The guy dies, and his ghost is forced to watch as people keep walking in on him in increasingly compromising situations.
  • The X-Files: In "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose", Clyde Bruckman (who can see how anyone will die) implies that Mulder will die this way.
    Bruckman: You know, there are worse ways to go, but I can't think of a more undignified way than autoerotic asphyxiation.
    Mulder: Why are you telling me that?
    Bruckman: [shrugs] Look, forget I mentioned it. It's none of my business.

  • The deaths of at least two famous musicians in what seemed to be this way is how the concept entered public consciousness both in the Western world (as a result of Michael Hutchence) and in Japan (as a result of a common assumption regarding hide) and made it Memetic Mutation as a "badass" or Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll way to die.
  • "Suffocate Me" by Angelfish is both metaphorical and literal.
  • Played for very Black Comedy in Mitch Benn's "Auto-Erotic Asphyxiation":
    Was it a tragic accident or was it suicide,
    Would they still be here today if they hadn't gotten bored and tried,
    Auto-erotic asphyxiation.
    Did they want to die, there's no way of knowing,
    They couldn't tell if they were coming or going.
  • In Lana Del Rey's music videos (such as "Blue Jeans", "Born to Die", and "Ride", all from Born to Die), she generally depicts men putting their fingers around her neck while they have sex with her. A lot of critics give her heat for this, but when asked in an interview about it, she said, "I just like it rough."
  • According to Michael Gira, Swans' 1986 song "A Hanging" is about this as a form of ritual self-sacrifice.
  • The Recoil song "Breath Control," about a woman trying this out with her lover and accidentally killing him.
  • The UK Subs' 1979 hit Stranglehold managed to include this:
    It's oh so painful and oh so nice,
    Though I can only do it once or twice...
  • "Give Great Thanks" by Dorian Electra has a lyric which mentions this, complete with the Auto-Tune on their voice becoming more high pitched as they sing it.
    I'm grateful, I'm grateful
    I'm grateful, I'm grateful
    The way that you're choking my neck
    And not letting me breathe
    I don't need anymore 'cause I have you, baby

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • George Carlin performs a bit about this in Life Is Worth Losing, criticizing parents of young men who die from it for covering it up as suicide to prevent their own embarrassment, thus preventing any kind of discouragement that could potentially save the lives of many more young men. The special in general is considered to be his absolute darkest, even by his standards.
  • Conversely, Ricky Gervais mentions in one of his stand-ups an incident where a British public figure was found dead with various accoutrements suggesting that it was one of this kind of incident. He goes on to say that if he was to ever engage in this himself, he'd let an intimate friend know about it and have him/her drop by to check, and to have said friend get rid of everything but the noose if he was found dead and telling everyone it was suicide.

  • In Waiting for Godot, while debating possible ways to pass the time, one of the protagonists suggests hanging themselves to get an erection.

    Video Games 
  • In Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, "the Choking Game" (which is, if not erotic, at least recreational) is apparently a bit of a fad at Midwich High School, and several students have died doing it.
  • Disco Elysium:
    • A possible reading of Harry's trashed hotel room at the beginning of the game is that it is the aftermath of an attempt at him trying to autoerotically asphyxiate himself with the Horrific Necktie, with him waking up after his bender with his tie strung in a noose-style knot and dangling off the ceiling fan. (The other possible reading is that Harry was just trying to kill himself. Or that he was trying to kill himself through autoerotic asphyxiation.)
    • To support the above reading, having a high Electrochemistry stat and the Horrific Necktie equipped will result in it trying to talk him into autoerotic asphyxiation with it as a Running Gag, usually when learning about something boring or existential.
    • If the player chooses to start masturbating over the Page Three Stunna with the personified Horrific Necktie equippednote , it will 'tighten up a bit for you', ask you if that's good and call you a "sick, wild fuck-boy". Electrochemistry, typically a devil-may-care hedonist, will respond by freaking out and force you to stop.
    • A Harry with a high Inland Empire stat might become obsessed with the idea that the murder victim hanged himself doing autoerotic asphyxiation, talking to the corpse to ask it if it was enjoying its death, and repeatedly touching the corpse's penis (much to Kim's annoyance, who points out how unlikely it is). (We later discover the corpse had enjoyed his death, but that he'd been having sex with a woman at the time.)
    • Harry's/the Necktie's obsession with autoerotic asphyxiation probably stems back to his fandom for the Revacholian disco star Guillaume le Million (Rhymes on a Dime. Somehow??), who — if you complete the thought — you find out died in an autoerotic asphyxiation listening to a disco record on loop, in a setup similar to Harry's trashed bedroom at the beginning of the game. His Encyclopedia warns him that Guillaume's death is a "metaphor for Revachol". If you try and discuss him with Joyce, she's convinced Guillaume died of venereal disease, possibly implying Harry's ideas about the death are just another part of his own dangerous fetish.

    Visual Novels 
  • An optional scene in Renzei Feng's second season in Villainous Nights has Renzei and the player character engage in asphyxiation during sex using Renzei's power over air, relying on the heroine's telepathy to help keep things safer than would normally be possible with such play.
  • Happens with you and Mizuki in Yume Miru Kusuri.


    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • In American Dad!, there is an episode where Stan attempts to kill himself by hanging being one-upped by Steve and Roger. Steve freaks out and Roger is seriously unimpressed, even commenting, "Stan, are you killing yourself or thrilling yourself?"
    • Klaus mentions having nearly died in this act while comparing it to the satisfaction of killing Steve's MMO character.
    • In "Minstrel Krampus", Roger gets a Too Kinky to Torture moment when Santa's elves try to strangle him.
  • Archer:
    • Cheryl is very much Too Kinky to Torture, and as a part of it, she enjoys being strangled. It doesn't even necessarily need to happen during sex, although that's obviously great too.
    • In "Double Deuce," Woodhouse finds out the "mysterious death" of one of his old war buddies was just an attempt to cover up an autoerotic asphyxiation mishap.
    Woodhouse: You know, I do recall a lot of loose doorknobs...
    Stinky: And there was his plane's name.
    Woodhouse: I always thought that had something to do with his engine. (raises glass) Here's to you, "Choke 'n' Stroke."
  • The BoJack Horseman episode "Higher Love" uses auto-erotic asphyxiation as a major plot point. Mr. Peanutbutter's agent (and later BoJack's costar in the Secretariat movie) both die from these incidents, and BoJack threatens to do this in order to get his girlfriend to say that she loves him.
    BoJack: I've decided... to do the Funky Spiderman.
    Wanda: What? "Funky Spiderman"?
    BoJack: I came up with that one myself. It's because he hangs and then he shoots webbing.
  • In an episode of The Cleveland Show, Donna reveals she was faking being injured and strangles Holt threatening to kill him if he tells Cleveland. Then she notices him undoing his pants.
    • A Cutaway Gag has Cleveland at David Carradine's funeral, giggling inappropriately at a eulogy with a lot of Accidental Innuendo. He apologizes, to which the minister says it's ok because autoerotic asphyxiation is a funny way to die. Cleveland replies, "You can die from that?" and starts crying.
  • Family Guy:
    • Michael Hutchence's death is alluded to in a cutaway gag.
    • In the episode "Business Guy", when Lois' father, Carter falls into a coma, it turns out that he left Video Wills for several situations:
      Carter: (on video) Hello, if you're watching this, it means they didn't cut the rope when I climaxed. As a result, I'm now dead.
      Carter's attorney: (fast-forwarding the tape) That's not it.
    • This kicks off the Drama Bomb that is "Screams Of Silence: The Story Of Brenda Q.", with Quagmire nearly killing himself via doing this while watching clown porn.
      • In the same episode, it turns out to be a Chekhov's Skill, when Quagmire's repeated abuse of this trope allows him to trick Brenda's boyfriend into thinking he had killed Quagmire via strangulation.
  • In Metalocalypse, when Pickles has to go to rehab the other bandmates suggest autoerotic asphyxiation as a possible substitute. Ofdensen thinks that's a horrible idea, but the other bandmates think it's a badass way to die.
  • In the season one finale of Rick and Morty, Morty and Jessica catch Squanchy doing this in a cupboard in Rick's lab.
  • Robot Chicken: One sketch posits that this is how Doc Brown "hit his head in the bathroom" and came up with the idea for time travel. The rope came loose and he crashed into the sink.
  • In South Park, Kenny kills himself this way (again) in "Sexual Healing" after learning about this from the page quote.
  • The Venture Bros. also refer to Hutchence.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Autoerotic Asphyxiation


Autoerotic Asphyxiation

Kenny ends up doing this to himself after Dr. Tonton explains what autoerotic asphyxiation is, complete with dressing up in a Batman costume.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / EroticAsphyxiation

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