When a square peg is forced into a round hole, the peg gets crushed out of shape. When a person is forced through an opening too small to accommodate them, that person's body suffers the same fate, but it's a lot messier.
Whether yanked into a narrow gap by a powerful predator, sucked through a ruptured bulkhead in space, or crammed into a tiny compartment when their killer is Disposing of a Body, the human form can only withstand so much force before its bones start breaking, its joints dislocate, and it folds up on itself. Scenes where this happens on-camera virtually always employ fake feet on wooden spindles, which swing around to lie beside the victim's head in a way even a contortionist couldn't manage.
Compare Ground by Gears. Can overlap with Dead Man's Chest, when the body in question is lucky enough to not still be alive at the time it's squeezed into a small space. Usually subverted if Cartoon Physics apply. The Contortionist often undergoes this sort of treatment without actually dying. Is often one possible method of inflicting a Cruel and Unusual Death.
This is usually a Death Trope, so unmarked spoilers follow.
- One commercial plays this for laughs when a bikini model is posing on a hood of a car. When the car revs up it eats her, sucking her into the exposed engine butt-first. Afterwards the car's exhaust burps out the model's bikini top.
- In one Duracell battery ad, a woman keeps insisting that the game controller she's wielding gets "more life" from its batteries, even as her rear end is sinking deeper into the gaps between her couch cushions. By the end of the ad, her head, hands (still playing her video game) and sneakers are all that remain visible.
- Junji Ito
- In The Enigma of Amigara Fault, an earthquake reveals a set of human-shaped holes in the middle of a mountain. By some unknown compulsion, people are drawn into these holes and cannot come out, forced to keep moving forward. Months later, another fault is found on the other side of the mountain, with another set of holes, but while these too have five projections from a central hole, the spindly cracks corresponding to arms, legs, and neck are too narrow and twisted for normal human body parts. And then researchers see something coming out of one of them...
- The Groaning Drain, has this happen to at least one of the characters when something pulls her into a drainpipe over the course of several hours. In this case, the aftermath is never seen, but she is apparently still alive for some given meaning of the word.
- Yet another example can be found in Uzumaki, which starts off with the father of the male protagonist becoming obsessed with spirals. His obsession drives him to turn his entire body into a spiral, which he does by forcing himself into a circular basin and contorting himself into an anatomically impossible spiral shape. It's probably fair to say at this point that Junji Ito loves this trope.
- The Yu Yu Hakusho anime has a Gory Discretion Shot of this as an example of the atrocities humans inflicted on demons in Sensui's Flashback.
- This is how the Big Bad was disposed of in Fullmetal Alchemist in the physical world; Ed punched a hole in his chest, which then sprouted black tendrils which grabbed and pulled him into said hole.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
- A poor helicopter pilot has his head torn off and violently forced into a small water bottle by the stand Geb.
- Pet shop drag the bodies of a pair of dogs under a gate very messily, in addition to impaling their heads with its ice powers.
- A variant occurs in Trigun, where Legato uses his powers to force several dozen police officers into the back of a small personnel carrier. He even has a line about how the human body can fit into surprising amounts of space when given the proper motivation. Meanwhile, the truck is so full that blood is gushing out the bottom as the officers smash themselves into hamburger.
- In Kinnikuman, Sunshine uses the Cursed Roller in his body to crush his foes. Prince Kamehame was one of those victims.
- Sam & Max: Freelance Police: Sam intentionally invokes this trope when his and Max's flight home from the Philippines is hijacked by a terrorist. While the terrorist is distracted, Sam throws a spoon at a nearby window, causing the terrorist to panic and shoot the window. His body then gets sucked out of the plane through the resulting bullet hole, head first.
- At the climax of Don't be Afraid of the Dark, Kim is pulled into the cellar grating by the homunculi, and her leg snaps at the hip to stick up past her head as she's forced through the opening.
- In Deep Rising, the Argonautica's captain is grabbed by one of the sea monsters through a gap in a metal catwalk. It pulls him down by one leg, breaking his pelvis so his other foot juts up next to his face as he's dragged to his death.
- The Jerkass mayor from the Sci-Fi Channel movie Ghost Shark gets pulled down into the toilet butt-first by the spectral shark. When his body is found, all four of his obviously-broken limbs are sticking up from the toilet alongside his head.
- A similar fate befalls two unlucky extras in Razortooth, another low-budget monster flick. First, a fat redneck unwisely visits the port-a-potty when a giant killer eel is hiding in the receptacle tank. Shortly after, a showering woman is yanked down the drain in the stall floor, one leg sticking up into her face as she's hauled into it.
- In The Blob (1988), the deputy town sheriff is killed by the Blob pulling him in between two shelves of a bookstand, breaking him in half.
- Another man is sucked down the drain of a sink in homage to the original 1958 The Blob. This death is mercifully quick as he is pulled in headfirst and his head appears to be mostly dissolved before it's squeezed down the drain, presumably destroying his brain.
- In Alien: Resurrection, the half-human newborn alien gets sucked out a very small hole in the bulkhead and into the vacuum of space. Its body isn't so much folded as pureed by the suction.
- The original script from which Alien was adapted, The Star Beast, featured a human dying in a similar manner when the beast's acidic blood eats a tiny hole in the spaceship's hull.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: During the attack by the Kraken, one unlucky sailor is dragged through a gun port that is about half his size. We only see his legs, but the sound of his body slowly snapping is very clear.
- In Hellboy, Rasputin is sucked gut-first into the portal at the beginning, his torso folding backwards at the waist.
- In Freddy vs. Jason, Jason's first teen victim gets bent in half, feet jutting out beside his head when the Crystal Lake killer folds him up inside a collapsible bed.
- Jason does something similar to Sheriff Garris in Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives.
- Another Jason example in Jason X, this time on a spaceship (yes, we know, just go with it). Jason punches a hole in the hull of the ship, causing one of the characters to die this way. We don't see anything beyond some scraps of flesh on a vent, but the line is the standout of the scene.
Janessa: Aw, this sucks on so many levels!
- In Thir13en Ghosts, in the movie's prologue, the Juggernaut ghost kills a man by pulling him through the empty engine compartment of a car on a junkyard. The man's spine gets snapped because he was standing with his front to the car's hood when the ghost grabbed him.
- One of the gang members in Class of 1999 is yanked through a wall by the android history teacher, arms and legs flung out as he's pulled into the gap which the android's fists make in the drywall.
- In Wishmaster 2: Evil Never Dies the evil djinn goads a prison inmate into wishing to make him go through the bars of his cell. The djinn obliges... by squeezing the poor sod through the bars.
- Happens to one of the trapped teens in "The Raft" segment of Creepshow 2, when the Blob Monster reaches through a gap between planks to entangle his foot and yank him down through the titular raft's platform. The short story has him slowly and messily eaten through the gap in the planks without breaking any of them, which is even worse.
- In The Final Destination, the fourth movie in the series, Hunt Wynorski's death is technically this. While diving for his lost lucky coin at the bottom of a pool, he's pulled onto the drain. He isn't sucked through it himself, but the pressure continuously builds until his organs are violently sucked through his anus and spewed out through the pump, along with his coin.
- One of the special-ops soldiers in Doom gets grabbed by the ankles by one of the mutated scientists, which is lurking under the floor grate he's standing on. He's yanked down through a gap between the bars of the grating, which bend out a little, but still don't offer more than a few inches of space.
- One of the many (many many many...) brutal deaths in Hardcore Henry occurs when the protagonist grabs one of his attackers through the bars of a metal framework, and yanks his enemy's waist towards himself. As Henry is freshly charged up with Super Strength and the framework's bars are arranged in two-foot squares, this audibly snaps the opponent's spine in two places simultaneously.
- In Goosebumps the gigantic praying mantis gets compressed as it's sucked down into a normal-sized book abdomen-first. Less gruesome than might otherwise be expected, as the part of it that's in contact with the book dissolves into black ink as it's crushed to fit.
- Referenced in Airport, when one of the engineers explains how Explosive Decompression can suck anything not tied down out of a plane. Apparently, this happened on an aircraft he'd serviced during WWII when a crewman got sucked out a broken window "like hamburger".
- Also referenced in Leviathan, this time regarding how a character's deep-diving co-worker got crushed into his own helmet when his suit developed a leak in the toe.
- In Abominable, Tracy is seized by the Yeti through a small bathroom window at about chest height. She's pulled through stomach-first, snapping in half backwards so the monster can drag her outside.
- X-Wing Series. In X-Wing: The Krytos Trap the Rogues launch an attack on a space station in the Yag'Dhul system. The station manager's office suffers a hull breach during the battle and the manager gets sucked out into space through a hole smaller than he was. Given the subtext of the conversation, it's implied that the official cause of death might not be the ''actual'' cause of death; the hole was described as the size of "a blaster bolt", and the Givin, the keepers of the station, can survive in a vacuum, while the station manager, a Twi'lek, could not.
- In Nightworld, Alan holds off the besieging Otherness vermin by lying in front of the gap they've created at the base of the mansion's doors and staying put as they try to chew their way through him to get inside. One of his legs is yanked through and ripped off, breaking his pelvis in the process, but it only gets his body jammed more firmly in the opening so the creatures still can't enter.
- C. S. Lewis, "Epigrams and Epitaphs":
All things (e.g. a camel's journey through
A needle's eye) are possible, it's true.
But picture how the camel feels, squeezed out
In one long bloody thread, from tail to snout.
- The main characters in Eden Green are infected with a needle symbiote that can resurrect them from any death, including having their head destroyed. Having one's brain reconstructed is described (in part) as being steadily pressed down into a hole just large enough for one's constituent atoms.
- In Journey to the River Sea the governess Miss Minton tells the protagonist that she broke her umbrella on the back of a boy. When asked why, she explains that the boy tried to push a puppy through a wire fence. Maia asks whether the puppy is okay, and Miss Minton tells her that it survived, but lost an eye.
- In Brian Lumley's The House of Doors, an evil alien in a Mobile-Suit Human grabs a policeman and yanks him through the bars of a jail cell. Bars, which just happen to run both vertically and horizontally, so chunks of the unfortunate cop get dragged through the grid's openings.
- In the short story "Familiar" by China Miéville, a young magical servitor rejected by its creator engages in a territorial battle with a much larger, older familiar. Although grossly over-matched by its opponent, which has had longer to assimilate garbage and bits of wildlife into itself, the smaller one outsmarts its foe by incorporating a length of underground pipe into itself, tilting the pipe into the elder familiar's belly, and suctioning its rival's substance into itself through this improvised 'esophagus'. A few gulps is all it takes to suck the horse-sized elder's entire bulk down the pipe, bit by bit.
- One victim on Castle was found crammed into a wall safe, and one so small that it's obvious the corpse's limbs had to be broken to stuff it inside. The position of the hands and feet strongly imply that it was shoved butt-first into the safe.
- Referenced in the Firefly episode "Ariel". Mal leaves Jayne in Serenity's cargo airlock with the door ajar as they're taking off, threatening him with death by spacing for blowing the caper to the feds to get River and Simon arrested.
Mal: The minute we break atmo, you'll be a lot thinner once you get sucked out that hole.
- This is pretty much what happened when the MythBusters tested whether a diver in an old-time diving suit would be crushed into his own helmet if the suit's internal pressure suddenly failed. Result: messily Confirmed.
- Doctor Who:
- Referenced by Missy in "The Magician's Apprentice", when she's about to open a space-station airlock that she suspects is really just a disguised door onto a planetary surface. Activating the mechanism to crack it open, she tells Clara "Let's make jam!"
- In "Empress of Mars", the Ice Warriors' arm-mounted weapons induce this effect without a hole, causing targets' bodies to collapse into suitcase-sized bundles of flesh and clothing. Presumably, some sort of compressive force field is involved.
- Tau railguns in Warhammer 40,000 fire a hypervelocity projectile at such insane speeds that they're capable of going straight through an Imperial tank and out the other side without overly damaging the tank as such, but instantly converting the crew into a 30-foot long streak of red sprayed out of the exit hole (similar to the story listed below in Real Life).
- The blackfoot gigaferret, a subterranean predator described in Veins Of The Earth, forcibly drags its prey into narrow tunnels waist-first to consume it. Should its prey be humanoid, the victim's companions are likely to discover their fate only by finding their bunched-together head and feet protruding from a too-small cave opening.
- Metroid Prime: A data log written by the Space Pirates describes their ill-fated attempt to reverse-engineer Samus's Morph Ball, which resulted in four test subjects being "horribly broken and twisted" when they activated the prototypes. Science Team wisely decided to move on to other projects.
- In one of the last episodes of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, a suction-based magical trap is triggered that pulls two of the villains' robot minions into a small opening in a gateway, crushing them into scrap as they're pulled through. Daphne nearly meets the same fate, but Fred uses the Fourth Key to cover the hole and negate the suction just before she and he both slam into the gate.
- "Spaghettification", in which a person could theoretically be stretched out into one long thread as they're sucked into a black hole. One wouldn't need to worry about pain, though: your body would be completely destroyed before you'd be able to perceive what's happened.
- One crab had the misfortune to walk over a cut in an underwater pipe while a camera was rolling.
- In the 1983 Byford Dolphin incident, the clamp between a diving bell and a decompression chamber failed while the internal pressure was at 9 atmospheres, killing the four divers inside the chamber and one of the dive tenders outside. One of the divers was sucked out in multiple pieces (organs, limbs, spinal segments, etc.) through the 2-foot gap between the bell and chamber; some parts of him were found 30 feet above the chamber (presumably stuck to something). An autopsy pieced the man back as much as they could, but most of the body was gone. What was left was a man-shaped group of meat chunks.
- A similar grisly death could await early divers in old diving suits (this one, specifically ): If the pressure was cut, from diving too deep or losing the hose, they could be crushed into their own helmets. This was horrifically confirmed on Mythbusters. They wound up ruining the old diving helmet in the process as it crumpled into itself like a soda can while "meat man" burst into a flood of artificial gore.
- There is a myth that has been circling the US military for several years about a sabot round fired from an Abrams tank into an M113 APC with a sheep inside, creating an explosive decompression that sucked the sheep through the exit hole but left the vehicle mostly intact. It is most likely a fabrication produced by the Army's rumor mill, as a sabot round uses spall from the armor it displaces to destroy its target, and the targets are anything but intact afterwards. On the other hands, the APFSDS rounds are used to defeat tanks, and are expecting to encounter a solid chunk of heavy armor. If the armor has an anti-spall layer, ain't thick and hard enough to generate much spall (as is the case with M113) in the first place, or simply doesn't exist at all, they do tend to neatly pierce the vehicle like a needle. The myth is a myth because such hits don't create decompression, they create overpressure inside the hit target.