Follow TV Tropes


Human Sacrifice

Go To
Sacrifices humains by Pierre Fritel, 1882

"Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult."
Lord Summerisle, The Wicker Man (1973)

The act of killing a human being in a ritualistic manner, often as an offering to a deity, demon or some other supernatural entity. The hallmark of the Religion of Evil (and, to a lesser extent, Cults), with a tendency to leave behind blood-stained altars. Cold-Blooded Torture is common as a technique.

In fiction, this includes the sacrifice of other intelligent beings. Just about required for A Fête Worse than Death.

The nastier forms of Marriage to a God overlap with this, as do a number of devices Powered by a Forsaken Child. It's also the only funeral practice that can mark characters as evil even if carried out as part of the respect Due to the Dead. Martyrdom Cultures tend to regard this as a noble way to die, and Mayincatec is replete with this.

Note: Be careful when sacrificing someone to summon and make a Deal with the Devil: It's not unheard of for the victim to get to make a deal instead of you... And woe be unto you if you screw up the procedure.

When this shows up in media, it's usually the driver for a rescue plot, though in the case of horror, it is not uncommon for the protagonists to fail. Or to wind up sacrificed themselves.

This is Truth in Television, almost to the extent that we could believably say every ancient culture in the world performed human sacrifice at some point or another. However, some of those cases are backed by archaeological findings while others are more based on accusations by the enemies of the people involved, and needless to say, modern media often focuses more on this as a trait of certain exotic cultures rather than an universal anthropological happening.

May overlap with Offerings to the Gods.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Berserk, before the Godhand transforms the bearer of a Behelit into one of their Apostles (or one of their own), the prospective demon will often be asked to do this, the victims invariably being people the bearer holds most dear. Once the choice to sacrifice is made, the Godhand marks the person to be sacrificed with a mark called the Brand of Sacrifice, which draws the monsters from hell to them like a lightning rod, and unless they're a supreme badass (like say, Guts), chances are they're going to die. Horribly.
  • A necessary part of demonic pacts in the Bible Black. In the backstory, one of these backfired quite badly when the demon was late to the summoning; the leader of the summoners decided to kill the rest in order to force the issue along, and when the demon did show up, the Not Quite Dead sacrifice killed the summoner and made the pact herself.
  • Black Butler: The Satanic cult that kidnapped Ciel as a child attempted and succeeded in sacrificing the kid to summon Sebastian. It worked. And then Sebastian proceeded to slaughter them all, deciding that Ciel was more interesting anyway.
  • In Chainsaw Man, it's common for this to be a component in a Deal with the Devil, with Devil Hunters sometimes needing to Cast from Lifespan or offer up their own body parts to their Devils to win fights. More unscrupulous contractors will instead do things the old-fashioned way and offer up other people.
  • Doraemon: Nobita's the Legend of the Sun King have Doraemon and friends entering the Kingdom of Mayana, a Mayan-inspired world existing in a parallel dimension whose evil ruler - a Vain Sorceress - wants to sacrifice the Prince of Mayana, Tio, for her immortality ritual. And things gets complicated because Nobita is an Identical Stranger to Tio dragged into a Prince and Pauper by said prince.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, this is how you make a Philosopher's Stone. You can make less powerful versions by sacrificing dozens of people, but if you really want a powerful one, you have to sacrifice entire countries. The Big Bad does exactly that. Twice.
  • The Knights of Darius in Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu take blood sacrifices before doing battle.
  • In Ghost Sweeper Mikami, this is how Kinu "Okinu" Himuro died. (She was a normal Miko and was thrown alive inside a volcano to appease the Kami and turn her into a benevolent spirit.) She explains this herself to Yokoshima and Mikami once they awaken her spirit in the first chapter/episode.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Battle Tendency: The people of ancient times activated the Stone Masks with the blood of sacrificed humans. Turns out this was overkill, since it doesn't take that much blood to activate the Masks.
    • Stone Ocean: To create the creature that would lead him to 'Heaven', Enrico Pucci sends a bone from DIO imbued with power to harness the souls of roughly thirty humans for the emergence to occur.
  • Luu from magico was shoved off a cliff by her fellow villagers as part of a ritual to protect the village from a demon residing in the nearby Luna Spring. Fortunately she was badass enough to survive. Zodia reveals that the ritual is total B.S, that there is no demon, and that it's just a horrible superstition.
  • Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid:
    • While Order-class dragons helped people grow stronger and become better, Elma reveals they typically required humans to sacrifice themselves to help others in their group (Elma herself preferred offerings of high quality meals).
    • Tohru actually complained about the cliche of young maidens always being the sacrifices back when she first met Kobayashi.
      Tohru: Yesh!! Don't think that all dragons are lolicons who ask for little girl sacrifices!! Princess moe my ass!!
  • In Monsters Can't Clean, Kriela's village offer her up to be eaten by a dragon. It's not that they wanted to do it, but the dragon (Idoru the Gluttonous) is very real and willing to massacre everyone if his demands are not met. When someone actually trained in combat shows up, the villagers happily point her to the dragon's hideout.
  • Naruto: Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation, which brings a dead person as a zombie, requires a human sacrifice. This is because it involves calling the dead person's soul back to this world note  and forcing them to overwrite the living person's soul.
  • In a flashback in One Piece, when the Shandians were struck with a plague, their village shaman declared it was a curse and the only way to stop it was to sacrifice their fairest maiden to their god...a giant snake. Then Monteblanc Norland arrived on Jaya, killed the snake, and showed the natives how to cure the plague. Of course, he did get into a lot of trouble when he just barged in on the Shandians' sacred ceremony and committed blasphemy in their eyes and almost got his crew killed.
  • Subverted and Played for Laughs in the Ranma ½ manga. After Akane enters a long-distance swimming competition, she reaches the end first, only to be grabbed by an enormous jellyfish. When Ramma hears from the officials that they have to present this jellyfish king with a young maiden once a year or it will punish them, he springs into action. As it turns out, they weren't trying to make her a Human Sacrifice. All it wanted to do was take some pictures with Akane and present her trophy. By "present a young maiden," they meant that they had to "present a young maiden for it to hold."
  • It's not brought up in much detail, but there are several points in Red River (1995) where it's made apparent that human sacrifice is considered an acceptable practice, at least for Ishtar. When Nakia first kidnaps Yuri to Hattusa, her cover story for having Yuri Bound and Gagged is that she was being kept as a sacrifice for a public ceremony. Kail is only able to save her by pretending that Yuri is not a virgin and thus not usable (it's also mentioned that there's a set amount of livestock that makes for suitable reparation for such a sacrifice). Later, after Nakia has Yuri kidnapped and Kail has no idea how to find her, he angrily imprisons Nakia and tells her that he'll be holding a city-wide prayer ceremony for Yuri's return. If she doesn't conveniently show up before it's over, he'll use Nakia as a sacrifice for the ceremony. He's angry enough about it that Nakia takes the threat seriously and has Urhi return Yuri.
  • Sailor Moon: En tries to sacrifice Usagi to the Makaiju Tree after seeing the stunning reaction it delivered after coming into contact with her.
  • The Big Bad of Yu-Gi-Oh! R intended to sacrifice Anzu so that the Wicked Gods could restore Pegasus to life. (Pegasus was dead in the manga, having been Spared by the Adaptation in the anime.) Whether he planned to do this using magic, technology, or a combination of both was hazy. The plan was ruined completely when the Wicked Avatar, the most powerful of the three Wicked Gods, was defeated.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh!: Capsule Monsters, a girl volunteers herself as this in a ritual that will keep the Blue-Eyes White Dragon protecting the village.
  • The job of Heroes in Yuki Yuna is a Hero and the rest of the Yuusha De Aru series comes down to this. It also borders on a Virgin Sacrifice as Heroes are all preteen and early teen girls who are particularly "pure", but whatever that means isn't elaborated. Heroes fight to protect the world and World Tree from Vertexes. They usually either lose their lives in battle or become increasingly disabled as they fight. Sometimes, the Taisha have to resort to more conventional sacrifices if they can't use the Heroes by killing equally young mikos. The morality of sacrificing children comes up in the second season when Yuna must marry Shinju-sama and essentially die, or the world will be destroyed.

    Comic Books 
  • Age of Bronze: Kalchas claims that in order to turn the wind that keeps the ships locked into the bay at Aulis, a maiden needs to be sacrificed to Artemis — a daughter of Agamemnon, since he's the one who ticked her off. Iphigenia is lured to Aulis under false pretences and duly sacrificed, to the protest of few.
  • Appears in the Astro City story "Hot Time In the Old Town". Under the pretense of a magic show, Dr. Aegyptus and the Jaguar Cult kills two members of the audience as part of a ritual to open a dimensional rift and allow the Oubor to enter reality.
  • Athena Voltaire: In Athena Voltaire and the Feathered Serpent, summoning the titular serpent properly requires a human sacrifice. Athena's escape means that the summoning is done improperly (meaning fatally, for a lot of the Nazis involved).
  • Avengers: Back to Basics: The undead spirits in the first arc plan to kickstart Ragnarok by using Pepper Potts as a human sacrifice.
  • Bone: The Hooded One and the Rat Creatures wishes to capture Phoney as plans to sacrifice him for The Locust. The reason they chose him was because a campaign balloon that Phoney made in his image ended up in the valley and they took it as an omen.
  • Doctor Strange: The Sanctum Sanctorum in Greenwich Village is built on the site of an ancient altar devoted to human sacrifice. This gives the area a certain bad juju, and it's implied that he either takes advantage of the residual magic or he put his house there to suppress it.
  • ElfQuest: Human tribes have a habit of doing this with Elves. The very first episode starts with a torture scene. If a human helped an elf escape, they took their place on the sacrificial pillar. The Forevergreen arc also has the Hungtsho make these on Door and Windkin's behalf, whom they view as gods.
  • The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones: In #24, the Rube Gold Berg Hates Your Guts Death Trap requires the sacrifice of a full-blooded Indian female indigenous to area who is dropped on to a slab to tip it and smash it through the wall. Whether the sacrifice is actually necessary, or just an equivalent weight, is unclear, but when Indy rescues the sacrifice, the whole process goes catastrophically wrong.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Starman Annual #1, the Prairie Witch kidnapped Opal City police officer William O'Dare in the 1940s and planned to sacrifice him so that her future crimes would be successful. However, Ted Knight, the original Starman, rescued him before she could do so.
  • Lilith: During one of her time-travels, Lilith finds that the Triacanto of that era has hidden itself in one of Cortez' men but she doesn't know which one... So, after helping the Aztecs capturing them, she personally kills them one by one under the guise of human sacrifice until she finds the right one.
  • Lori Lovecraft: My Favorite Redhead: Dick Van Von and Natasha Reich sacrifice a Disposable Sex Worker to summon the demon Bifrons. Later they attempt to sacrifice Lori to summon another demon.
  • In the My Boyfriend Is a Monster volume with a mummy boyfriend, the mummy in question was an Inca prince who was drugged and left to freeze to death on a mountainside as a sacrifice, all for learning forbidden magic. The end of the book has the prince give more information about how his culture viewed human sacrifice, notably how it was considered an honor.
  • The Mythology Class: The class very nearly becomes this for Sitan — tied up to stakes awaiting his waking — but they're saved thanks to supernatural intervention from some of the team left at Gina's house (including Gina, Mrs Enkanta, Edward, Aili and Nuno).
  • In Robyn Hood: The Curse #5, the Big Bad performs an Aztec human sacrifice by the cutting the heart of his living victim, atop his new skyscraper (which is shaped like a pyramid) to open the gate between worlds and summon Quetzalcoatl.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: There are multiple stories in which Rulah has to prevent other tribes from practising human sacrifice: often in quite gruesome and inventive ways.
  • Simon Dark: Dall Moss knew bringing Simon to life would cause a demonic entity to come through the veil alongside him and kill one of those performing the ceremony, but he intended this sacrifice to be Gus and the thing took Dall instead.
  • Some of the villains in Tex Willer tried to do this. Most notably the Kuchtaqa kidnap young women from other tribes to sacrifice them to Hamatsa, the Cannibal God... Who, much to everyone's horror, actually shows up to pick up his "brides". When Tex arrives he exposes Hamatsa as a giant puppet that looks like a Humanoid Abomination, meaning the "brides" aren't killed in a sacrifice, but are raped by the great priest and those who are in the scam.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Urzkartaga, who grants Cheetah her powers, is a cruel evil god who requires his worshipers to sacrifice humans to him by draining their blood, which caused his temple to be hidden and all references to him destroyed in an attempt to drain him of his power.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016):
      • Steve Trevor was drawn to Themyscira by magic to be an innocent killed on the island as part of Ares' plan to unmake the magical boundaries protecting the island.
      • Zeus' plan involves regularly scheduled human sacrifices to strengthen him.
  • Mampato:
    • In a story set in the time of King Arthur, Mampato is captured and almost, almost sacrificed by a druid... who worships Nordic gods like Odin and Thor, at Stonehenge.
    • In another adventure located in prehistory, there is a tribe of cavemen, the Munga-mungas, who sacrifice their enemies to a "God of Water", which turns out to be a plesiosaur.
  • In Runaways, the Gibborim are nourished by human souls. However, they cannot feed on the souls of people they kill themselves. They can only feed on souls that are sacrificed to them. This also applies to their children introduced in the 2017 series, which leads to problems when one of them, Gib, joins the Runaways after turning against his siblings to save humanity. They don't want him to starve to death, but they also don't want to kill people to feed him.
  • Zatanna (2010): Big Bad Brother Night acquired his supernatural powers by filling graves with the bodies of children and offering them to the Lords of Hell.
  • Zatanna: Everyday Magic: The villain Nimue bartered away Constantine's soul in a Deal with the Devil for an object of power, causing Constantine to be relentlessly pursued by a demon. According to her dialogue, this isn't the first time she's done this.
  • In the chilean comic Zombies en la Moneda, the protagonists save a person from being devoured by zombies, who comments to them very casually that in times past “Human beings were sacrificed in order to obtain the favor of the gods and avoid major catastrophes.” And in a later story we find the same individual... as the leader of a cult that has kidnapped children in order to sacrifice them and thus stop the Zombie Apocalypse.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "Schippeitaro", the young man finds a village that has to make these, to the Spirit of the Mountain.
  • In "The Imp Prince", the protagonist Léandre saves a girl from being sacrificed in a temple.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): Discussed in Chapter 3 of this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction. Mariko compares the deaths of her colleagues at Outpost 58 which she caused to ancient human sacrifice. Vivienne Graham angrily counters that sacrifice has legitimate purpose whereas what Mariko did at Outpost 58 did not, especially if Mariko didn't bother to memorize the names of each and every person she got killed.
  • ''Better Bones AU: Well, technically cat sacrifice, but cats are the sapient species being focused on here. One-eye accepts cats as sacrifices to him because he gains power from the sacrifices. Star Flower sacrifices eight of Clear Sky's lives in order to try to summon One-eye after his defeat. Sol also demands the sacrifice of three kits for Harry to be able to be his vessel; however, he does not actually gain power from sacrifices and is only pretending to need them because it's entertaining and shows the cat he wants as his vessel is willing to do anything for him.
  • Casey Steele: In Casey's backstory, she was kidnapped by a Satanic cult and sacrificed to an unnamed deity. She got better.
  • Domoverse: This is attempted on Estelle, twice, by cultists trying to bring their god to Earth by powering their ritual with human sacrifice.
  • The Female of the Species: Lions have a ritual where new kings kill cubs that aren't theirs. This is both done to appease the Great Spirit but also to make certain who the next heir is.
  • The Flash Sentry Chronicles: In War for the Lost City, a flashback reveals that Shadow Corrupter was subject to this at the age of thirteen, back when he was known as Gleaming Path. The cult that his parents belonged to had spent centuries trying to conceive a child at the date when the Corrupted Shadow was killed, so that they would serve as its new vessel in a sacrificial ritual. This lead to Gleaming Path to become Shadow Corrupter, and what made him the new leader of the cult.
  • A Game of Cat and Cat: Most people in the world assume that you need to kill humans to get enough of the right magical currency to summon demons.
  • Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality: It's heavily implied that Gellert Grindelwald was actually using the mass death during the Holocaust as fuel for a dark ritual.
  • Lost Cities: In the end of the first chapter, it's implied that the unicorns of the Heartspire had take up the habit of sacrificing earth pony captives in an altar at the top of their tower.
  • The Night Unfurls: In the church of Oren, an unnamed female villager had been used as a ritual sacrifice by a group of goblins before Hugh's arrival.
  • RWBY: Scars: Members of the Salem-worshipping cult practice human sacrifice. This often includes feeding live people (especially Hunters) to Grimm.
  • Slipping Between Worlds: Subverted: modern druids understand how difficult it is to find a young woman of untarnished reputation — and plainly renunced to Virgin Sacrifice because we're in Ankh-Morpok — and settle for making a metaphorical sacrifice by dousing the victim in false blood at the climax. The sacrifice is made, the gods don't complain and the girl can enjoy her Sunday afternoons.
  • Under Strange Stars: The aristocracy of Umbar engages in a particularly brutal form of this against escaped slaves, traitors, and captured Haradrim warriors, who are chained down to altars of Morgoth and painfully dismembered over several days.
  • Taylor Varga: Subverted and played for laughs in one omake. Apparently, the local rules require that an unwilling sacrifice be present at any demon summoning. However, the demon is not required to actually do anything to or with the sacrifice. As such, when a local business mogul needs to summon Taylor to discuss a contract with her, he ends up using his daughter as the "sacrifice" (her unwillingness being assured by pulling her from a shopping trip).
  • Transition: The first chapter has Jinx and Raven having sex before the former sacrifices the latter at her request, It Makes Sense in Context although it takes a while to find out How We Got Here.
  • What The Water Gave Me: Stoick is forced to throw his five-year-old son off of a cliff by his village as an offering to the gods.

    Film — Animated 
  • Heavy Metal. A group of cultists tries to sacrifice a woman to their deity "Uhluht'c" but Den saves her. This was also a recurring theme in the source comics.
  • Parodied in Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, when King Julian suggests throwing one of their number into a volcano to bring rain. (While the cast are animals, they all act like humans in the context of the film).
    King Julian: What, so now it's crazy to throw a giraffe in a volcano to make rain?
    Gloria: YES!
  • Moana: Maui tells Moana that the entrance to the Realm of Monsters requires a human sacrifice. Moana starts to freak out until he laughs and says he was just joking.
  • This happens near the end of The Super Mario Bros. Movie when Bowser wants to sacrifice his prisoners, which includes Luigi, for Peach. Thankfully, they're all saved by Mario, Peach, and Donkey Kong's combined efforts.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Alien vs. Predator: The ancient pyramid's hieroglyphs reveal that thousands of years ago, the civilization whom resided in it offered willing sacrifices to the facehuggers, breeding Xenomorphs for the Yautja's youngbloods to ceremonially hunt.
  • Apocalypto is all about this until an eclipse stops the proceedings and sets up the Stern Chase of the second half.
  • In Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, it is established that in order to retrieve the Soul Stone, a person must sacrifice a loved one. In the stone-keeper's words, "A soul for a soul." Thanos murders his daughter Gamora to claim it in Infinity War, and in Endgame, Black Widow pulls a Heroic Sacrifice so Hawkeye can take it.
  • The Beastmaster: A child is being offered up as a sacrifice to the evil god Aar on top of a pyramid. He gets thrown in the fire. The second child is about to be sacrificed. The Beastmaster sends his falcon animal pal to grab the infant and fly her to safety. The Big Bad evil priest watches it fly away, then turns to his minions: "See! Aar has spoken! He wants your children!"
  • In Botched, Sonya and Alex are abducting people to the 13th floor and sacrificing them in an attempt to resurrect Ivan the Terrible.
  • The Cabin in the Woods centers around a shadowy global organization that sacrifices people to monsters from horror stories of their cultures (zombies for Americans, Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl for the Japanese, etc.) every year in order to appease the Ancient Ones and ensure humanity's survival. One of the members remarks that in the old days they could just throw a woman into a volcano.
  • A particularly evil version in Cabiria. The Carthaginians routinely sacrifice small children to Moloch, by throwing them into a fire pit. Cabiria is rescued just in the nick of time.
  • In the Children of the Corn series, the children murder all the adults and sacrifice themselves to "He Who Walks Behind the Rows" when they turn 19.
  • Clash of the Titans. The Greek city of Joppa tries to sacrifice Andromeda to the Kraken to placate a vengeful goddess, but Perseus saves her.
  • Compulsion (2016): Sadie sees (or thinks she does) a young woman being killed ritually at the orgy. Everyone else denies it happened however. Naturally it turns out to be real, and Sadie is forced to attend another sacrifice, where the victim is her ex-boyfriend Thierry, while her current lover Francesca demands that she choose between them. Sadie refuses to sacrifice him, so he's killed by Francesca instead.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1982): Thulsa Doom's cult has a human sacrifice ritual that involves naked virgins jumping into the pit of a giant snake.
  • Cthulhu (2007). The Lovecraftian cult led by the protagonist's father has been doing this for some time. One chilling dream sequence shows screaming children crammed into a wooden cage for the Fish People, and when Things Fall Apart we see a minor character tied to a post in the sea, waiting for the high tide. Finally, the protagonist is offered a chance to sacrifice his gay lover and achieve eternal life as leader of the cult. The movie ends before we discover what his decision is.
  • Peter is forced to commit a human sacrifice at the end of the bizarre Initiation Ceremony that opens Curse of the Crimson Altar.
  • Dagon (2001): Barbara in the end.
  • Dead Birds: The ritual that Hollister performed to try and reach his wife requires the brutal torture and murder of an unknown number of victims.
  • Deadtime Stories: In "Peter and the Witches", the witches have to sacrifice a young woman as the climax of the ritual to restore their sister to life.
  • The Devil Rides Out, as with a lot of devil cult movies, has the Big Bad trying to sacrifice someone near the end — in this case, the young daughter of the main family of the movie.
  • Devil's Prey (2001)
  • Dragonslayer has a king who's worked out a pact with a dragon to sacrifice virgins to it (basically chaining them to a rock so the dragon can eat them) in return for the dragon leaving his kingdom alone, but seeks the help of a wizard to take the dragon down when it turns out that his own daughter is next in line to be sacrificed this way.
  • The Eagle (2011): The Seal People sacrificed the Roman officers they captured in battle.
  • Eye of the Devil, which came out six years before The Wicker Man, has a very similar plot, involving a Town with a Dark Secret that is preparing a human sacrifice in order to restore failing crops. The difference is that in this one the victim is a believer in the local Cult and goes to his death willingly.
  • In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow, child sacrifice is heavily Implied to be practiced by the Mystery Cult being investigated by an Occult Detective in connection with over one hundred missing children. This is almost certainly the intended fate of the infant in a photo the investigator has received.
  • Faust: Love of the Damned: Most of "M"'s followers sacrifice themselves in the orgy/ritual to summon the Homunculus.
  • The Final Sacrifice, of course. Apparently necessary to summon an invincible army of Canadian Aztecs or something.
    Tom: Please, can we have just one more sacrifice?
    Mike: Okay, but this is the final sacrifice.
    Tom: Yay!
  • Godzilla (1954): A village elder on Odo Island says that in the olden times, if they had several years of bad fishing they would sacrifice a young girl by setting her adrift on a raft in order to appease Godzilla so that he wouldn't come ashore and eat everyone once he ran out of fish to eat.
  • The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Savages try to sacrifice a woman to their centaur deity, but Sinbad saves her.
  • In The Hazing, Professor Kapps kills Jill and is using her as a human sacrifice to complete the ritual in the Tome of Eldritch Lore. However, before he is finished, he is interrupted by Marsha and Doug.
  • Hellbound: A human of royal blood needs to be sacrificed by the villain to open the gates of Hell.
  • Played for laughs in the Beatles' Help!. Spending the whole movie trying to kill Ringo, who has a sacrificial ring stuck on his finger, the cult leader muses to himself "Perhaps if we gave away free tickets to the youth organization annual sacrifice and dinner dance, all this could be avoided. It's a very real problem!" just before he turns a flame thrower on the band.
  • Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom has one where a man being lowered into a pool of lava has his heart ripped out of his chest. Then they try to do the same to Willie Scott.
  • In Karate a Muerte en Torremolinos, bringing back Jocántaro requires the sacrifice of five teenage girls who had lost their virginity.
  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword: Vortigern kills both his wife and daughter for power from the eldritch creatures, though he's very upset about it both times. It doesn't stop him though.
  • King Kong (1933). The natives capture Fay Wray's character to sacrifice her to the title creature.
  • The Lair of the White Worm. The villainess tries to sacrifice a woman to the title monster.
  • In The Last Witch Hunter, Belial sacrifices another warlock, Max, against his wishes to bring the Witch Queen back.
  • Left Bank unfolds a story of a ritual sacrifice being performed to ensure fertility of the crops every seven years.
  • The Little Hours: Massetto is staged for sacrifice after the witches' fertility ritual.
  • In The Mask of Fu Manchu, the Chinese villain is about to sacrifice a white woman to bring Genghis Khan back to life.
  • Midsommar: Over the course of a festival that takes place only every 90 years, the cultists of Hårga sacrifice nine people (four local volunteers, four hapless outsiders, and one select).
  • In the Distant Prologue to Mirror Mirror (1990), Mary Weatherford sacrifices her sister Elizabeth in front of a large mirror, stabbing her to death on a bed.
  • In The Mummy (1999), Imhotep seeks to sacrifice Evey in order to bring back the woman he loved, Anck-Su-Namun.
  • No One Gets Out Alive: Red and Becker sacrifice their female tenants to an Eldritch Abomination living in a stone box they have. In return, Becker gets good health.
  • In Pig Hunt, the hippie cult captures captures people and sacrifices them by feeding them to the 3000 lb boar they worship.
  • In The Prodigal (based on the story of the Prodigal Son), the protagonist falls for a priestess whose worship includes human sacrifices (men diving into a pool of fire). At the end of the film, she is stoned to death and winds up in said pool.
  • The movie Q: The Winged Serpent features an Aztec cultist who prays the ancient feathered serpent god Quetzalcoatl back into existence with a series of human sacrifices of somewhat-willing victims in modern-day New York City. Ironically enough, Quetzalcoatl was the only Aztec deity not to require this. In fact, doing it pissed him off.
  • In Race with the Devil, two families witness a human sacrifice during a Satanic ritual and go on the run to escape the cultists pursuing them. It's also implied to happen to them at the end.
  • In Ready or Not (2019), the Le Domas family's ancestor was said to have made a bargain with a Mr. Le Bali in exchange for his successful tabletop empire, on the terms that whenever someone new married into the family, they would play a randomly selected game, and if said game is Hide and Seek, the initiee must be found and sarcificed before dawn, otherwise Le Bali would come and claim their lives. There is a bit of skepticism amongst members of the family who wonder if they really need to commit murder, but it was too risky not to take chances. At the end of the movie, Gracie survives to daybreak and the Le Domas panic...only for nothing to happen to them, leading them to believe they had indeed been sacrificing people for nothing...but then it gets Double Subverted as they start exploding into Ludicrous Gibs one by one, proving that Le Bali was Real All Along.
  • Spectre 1977. Near the end the cultists attempt to perform a human sacrifice to summon the demon Asmodeus.
  • Tyranno's Claw revolves around a hostile prehistoric tribe who regularly sacrifices young women captives to their "God", a hungry T-Rex in a cave who terrorized them ages ago. The female lead is an escapee from one of their rituals.
  • Walled In: An architect named Joseph Malestrazza believes this method was used in the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza so, in order to preserve his latest apartment building, he has 16 innocent people (including at least one child) buried alive in cement.
  • The Wicker Man (1973): Sergeant Howie fears that this is what Summerisle has planned for the missing girl, Rowan Morrison, whose disappearance he is investigating. In fact, he is the chosen sacrifice. He is eventually burned to death, with his sole consolation being that the villains' victory is a pyrrhic one; if his sacrifice doesn't work, then the only acceptable sacrifice will be Lord Summerisle himself- and Summerisle knows it. And since it's suggested that the village's poor farming practices (which they refuse to change) are the true reason for the crop failures, the cultists will be starving before long no matter who they kill.
  • The Witch Files: After the coven spoils Jules' attempt to become immortal by being crowned, she announces that she can achieve the same end through human sacrifice, and abducts Jason to be her victim. Claire and MJ chase after her to stop her.
  • The Ashikari cultists of X-Cross cut off women's legs as a ritual, also turning their corpses into scarecrows, according to Mononobe to keep disasters at bay, and also to prevent women from leaving the village.
  • X-Men: Apocalypse: In the Distant Prologue, Apocalypse's previous four Horsemen offer their master (whose current host is frail and elderly) a sedated mutant to act as his new host, with Death believing that the addition of the mutant's Healing Factor to Apocalypse's Super Power Lottery will further secure his immortality.
  • As a lost tribe of Aztecs, the Tulpani still practice human sacrifice in Yellow Hair and the Fortress of Gold.
  • In The Young Cannibals, Blackwood once ate human flesh to survive after a plane crash, and has since been hunted by a monster each year on the anniversary of the crash that seeks to kill him for his meal. In order to divert the creature from himself, Blackwood tricks others into eating human meat and then sets them up to draw the creature's attention away from himself.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Adam Adamant Lives!: In "The Last Sacrifice", a lord runs a satanic cult which conducts human sacrifices. He films prominent citizens being involved in the rituals and then uses it to blackmail them.
  • American Gods (2017):
    • It's noted several times that any sacrifice performed in a god's name empowers them, just like any other worship. They've also found a loophole: they can kill people themselves and gain the power that way.
    • Vulcan gets this by one person falling into the molten metal in his plant each year, and from everyone killed by the bullets produced.
    • At the end of season 1, Wednesday kills a number of Mr. World's mooks and dedicates their deaths to Easter in order to remind her what true worship feels like, instead of the half-baked stuff she's been getting by on due to her deal with the New Gods.
  • Buffyverse:
    • Several demons are after human sacrifices.
    • In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "When She Was Bad", the blood of the four people who were nearest to the Master at the time of his death is needed to bring him back — those people being Jenny, Giles, Cordelia, and Willow.
  • In Caprica, this is one of the services offered in the illegal virtual nightclubs that Caprican teens frequently visit. Since it's all VR, no-one actually dies for real, but the idea of teenagers creating human sacrifice clubs for fun shows just how decadent Caprica is under all the richness.
  • The Collector: One of the Devil's clients got an extension of his deal that would require one every 10 years. The Devil said he had the same arrangement with the Phoenicians.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Aztecs", naturally. Barbara, posing as the god Yetaxa, attempts to halt the Aztecs' human sacrifice, but it doesn't take.
    • In "The Krotons", the Doctor rejects this on the grounds they are too civilized.
    • In "The Masque of Mandragora", Sarah Jane is nearly sacrificed by the Cult of Demnos.
    • In "The Horns of Nimon", the cargo are human sacrifices, in the same manner as the Athenians in the legend of Theseus.
    • In "Meglos", the Doctor is offered up to Ty — almost.
    • Donna nearly gets stabbed by the priestesses in a Roman temple in "The Fires of Pompeii".
  • Eerie, Indiana:
    • In "Tornado Days", the fake Mr. Radford and Sgt. Knight consider sacrificing Syndi, an innocent, chaste, unsuspecting maiden, to Old Bob in order to appease it.
    • In "Mr. Chaney", Eerie chooses a Harvest King every 13 years to ensure good luck and low taxes. The tradition dates back to 1914. Marshall has the dubious distinction of being chosen as the seventh Harvest King in 1992. It turns out that the previous six Harvest Kings were sacrificed to the werewolf Mr. Chaney. The town authorities claimed that all of them moved to Spain. Dash X prevents Marshall from being eaten by hitting the werewolf over the head with a log. Mr. Radford later cures Mr. Chaney of his lycanthropy by shooting him in the foot with a silver bullet.
  • Father Brown: In "The Standing Stones", a group of villagers plan to sacrifice an innocent in order to end an outbreak of polio.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • The rebirth of dragons may be tied to Daenerys having Mirri Maz Duur burned alive, since only death may pay for life.
    • Subverted when Melisandre restrains Gendry after comparing blood magic to slaughtering a lamb. Instead, she only draws some blood for a smaller ritual since Davos has persuaded Stannis to demand proof before consenting. He later escapes with Davos's help before more can be done to him.
    • In the sixth season, Stannis consents to having his own daughter sacrificed, so they can life the winter storm that's stopping their march on Winterfell. His wife later killed herself in remorse over suggesting it.
  • An episode (or two? or more?) of Gilligan's Island had the Headhunters wanting to perform a human sacrifice.
  • Highlander: Duncan and his guide are captured by a tribe an evil immortal set himself up as head of. The guide is sacrificed, and the plan is to kill Duncan later, but the natives turn on their king when they get sick from eating the guide's flesh.
  • K-9 and Company: Brendan Richards is almost sacrificed by the Cult of Hecate but Sarah Jane and K-9 are able to rescue him in the nick of time.
  • In the Kolchak: The Night Stalker episode "Legacy of Terror", an ancient Aztec cult is performing human sacrifice to bring back their deity.
  • Lexx: The "Cleansing" at the end of the first season had the entire population of the League of 20,000 Planets feed themselves to the Gigashadow. This was the masterstroke of the Divine Shadow aka the Last Insect's strategy of using humans to defeat themselves.
  • In Merlin (2008), a blood sacrifice is required by the gate-keeper to the Spirit World to both open and close the gate. An already dying Morgause has Morgana use her as a sacrifice to open the gates, Lancelot sacrifices himself to close them.
  • Midsomer Murders: The killings in "Murder by Magic" ultimately centre around an ancient human sacrifice, and someone's attempt to recreate in the present day.
  • Mission: Impossible: In "The Devils", the IMF stop a British lord who involves foreign and domestic officials in Satanic rituals and human sacrifice for blackmail purposes.
  • It was just a staged production number, but an episode of The Muppet Show had Janice offered up as a sacrifice to some stone idol that she stalled by singing "A Little Help From My Friends" until she could be rescued.
  • In a few of the episodes of Mystery Hunters that dealt with a non-egyptian mummy, it seemed the mummies were likely killed as part of a human sacrifice on the belief it would help the community by pleasing their gods.
  • The show MythQuest had an episode where the male protagonist went to the Aztec empire and almost became a sacrifice.
  • The Nova episode "Ghosts of Murdered Kings" examines natural mummies found in peat bogs and concludes that many were pre-Christian royalty who were ritually sacrificed as penance (really, Mis-blamed for natural disasters such as droughts, plagues, and poor harvests).
  • The Dark Curse from Once Upon a Time requires the heart of the thing the caster loves most in order to be unleashed. When the Evil Queen cast the curse, she had to sacrifice her father Henry.
  • The Outpost: In "Kill the Rat, Kill the Kinj" it's learned there's a cult sacrificing captured humans to a wild Lu'quiri. They're caught after kidnapping their latest potential victim.
  • A self-inflicted version in Rome. After the death of her son and the extinction of her political cause (partly due to Atia's machinations), Servilia goes to Atia's house with a knife and waits until Atia comes out. Then, with the full attention of everybody around, she curses Atia to have nothing but "bitterness and despair" for the rest of her life. To seal the deal, she then stabs herself (her loyal servant also joins her in death). Although a previous curse by Servilia was unsuccessful, this one is implied to have worked, as Atia's lover Marc Antony abandons her for Cleopatra.
  • The Smallville episode "Harvest" features a village that abducts and sacrifices lost travelers. Several years ago, a meteor shower of blue kryptonite fell on the village and killed a local girl, but the blue kryptonite purified their water, healed their illnesses, and made their crops grow big. The villagers, thinking that God sent the meteor shower and that the loss of the girl was payment for their boons, thought they had to keep sacrificing people to maintain the boons the blue kryptonite gave them.
  • Supernatural:
    • "Scarecrow" involves townspeople performing a yearly sacrifice of a man and a woman to a Norse god in order to keep the town prosperous. It fails because they didn't realize that by offering an adopted woman and one of the Winchesters is an offering rather than a sacrifice.
    • Interestingly for a show that involves them battling at least one pagan god every season, this is quite rare. All the pagan gods (up to date) do accept sacrifices, and do eat humans; however, the majority of them simply kidnap and kill people rather than have someone sacrifice the person to them. A repeat of "Scarecrow" didn't occur again till the eighth season in "Heartache", in which they battle a cult sacrificing people to the Mayan god of Maze.
  • In the third season of Teen Wolf, someone starts sacrificing people in threes of a type. It starts with virgins, but moves on to other groups.
  • Tidelands (Netflix): Colton is ordered sacrificed by Adrielle for the sirens as punishment when he plots with Violca to overthrow her. This makes one siren briefly come up out of the water.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985):
    • In "The Beacon", the people of Mellweather believe that a lighthouse called the Beacon chooses one of them to be sacrificed every year. If the chosen one does not die, an "accident" is arranged to ensure that the Beacon is satisfied.
    • In "The Last Defender of Camelot", Merlin compelled Lancelot to bring Tom to the cave in Cornwall so that he could restore his full powers by sacrificing Tom in the true Stonehenge, which exists in the land between the worlds.
  • Wellington Paranormal: Bazu'aal from the "Demon Girl" episode performed a human sacrifice at dawn during his previous possessions. When he grabs Minogue, the others speculate it could be because he is a virgin.

  • Gilles de Rais would sacrifice children in Macabre's "The Black Knight".

    Myths & Religion 
  • Chaining-to-a-rock sacrifices are fairly common with dragons and other monsters anyway, and the ur-example was probably Andromeda with the sea monster from Greek mythology. The monster was killed when Perseus showed up to rescue her and turned the beast to stone with Medusa's head.
  • Also from Greek Mythology we have Agamemnon, who offended the goddess Artemis and was forced to sacrifice his daughter Iphigenia to appease her (though sources differ on whether the girl was actually killed or taken off to be a priestess of Artemis). His wife Clytemenstra did not take this well, setting off a cycle of bloodshed in true Greek tragedy fashion.
    • The Iphigenia example is odd (and the "spirited away to be a priestess" option is favored) because otherwise, Greek myth is pretty clear that the gods despise human sacrifice. When Tantalus, a son of Zeus, hosted the great twelve of Olympus to dinner, he couldn't think of anything worthy, except for the most cherished thing in his life — his young son, Pelops. Tantalus butchered Pelops and served him up to the gods, and all of them immediately knew what he had before them and refused to touch it (save for Demeter, in some versions of the story; still morose over the kidnapping of Persephone, she ate Pelops's shoulder, replacing it with one made of ivory when she came back to her senses). They restored Pelops' body, brought him back to life, and Tantalus was condemned to the pits of Tartarus, to be surrounded by rich fruit and cool water, and unable to eat or drink. Pelops, in fact, became one of the ancestors of Agamemnon, so arguably this cycle of bloodshed started with Tantalus.
  • Examples in The Bible:
    • In the Book of Genesis, God orders Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Abraham has already erected an altar and is about to kill Isaac when an angel stops him at the last minute, telling him it was all a test of his obedience. Some scholars argue that the story retains traces of an earlier version where Isaac was actually sacrificed, which was altered when it became taboo among the Israelites.
    • In the Book of Judges, the judge Jephthah promises to sacrifice as a burnt offering "whatever comes out of the door of my house to meet me when I return in triumph from the Ammonites" (11:30-31). When Jephthah returns victoriously, the first to greet him is his teenage daughter. After granting her a reprieve of two months to mourn with her friends, "he did to her as he had vowed" (11:39). The alternate interpretation is that the burnt offering actually refers to an animal burnt offering made when a human is devoted to the temple sanctuary, and that she is mourning her virginity before a life of celibacy, not her death, and afterwards she was visited "from year to year" by Israelite women for the rest of her life (Judges 11:40).
    • The Book of Daniel speaks of Babylonian human sacrifices to a dragon.
    • 2 Kings 3:27 mentions king of Moab sacrificing his oldest son and heir to have the Israelites and Moabites to lift the siege of Kir-Hareset.
    • The sacrifice of Jesus (simultaneously divine and human) on the cross, described in the Gospels of the New Testatement, is central to virtually all contemporary strains of Christianity.
    • Also mentioned is the propensity for certain religions of both the peoples whom the Israelites were displacing and the neighboring peoples for this, a prominent example being burning their children to idols. One of the reasons why God commanded the Israelites to wipe them out was to put a stop to it. Since the Israelites failed/refused to do so completely, their practices ended up being imitated by the Israelites on-and-off.
  • Similar to the Judeo-Christian example above is the Islamic lore, except Ishmael (or Ismail in Arabic) is the one sacrificed instead (and like the example above, gets substituted with a lamb/goat/ram). Unlike the Christians, Islam celebrates this day as Eid Al-Adha, or "Feast of the Sacrifice", where livestock—usually a lamb or sheep but also possibly a goat, a cow, or a camel—is usually slaughtered. Although the traditional thing to do is to slaughter it yourself, most Muslims have neither livestock nor the expertise to slaughter and butcher an animal for meat, so generally most families pay a butcher the cost of buying, slaughtering, and butchering an animal, with instructions to send one cut to the family for its feast and give the rest to a responsible Islamic organization in the area for distribution to the poor; in some places, the butcher may also be permitted to take a small cut himself in compensation for his services.
  • Every single Aztec god (except Quetzalcoatl) demanded some form of this, often in very specific and highly inventive ways. See Real Life below.
  • In Japanese Mythology, a young princess named Kushinada had to be offered in sacrifice to the Orochi. (Her sisters had all died in the same way). The god Susano-oh was passing by, decided to save her, and slayed the Orochi instead.
  • There are numerous ballads in Balkan and South Asian folklore about entombing living people (usually the wives of the builders) in walls, bridges, or resevoirs to ensure that they do not fall down.
  • In Norse Mythology:
    • Gesta Danorum and Gautrek's Saga: When King Wikar and his crew cannot get good weather for sailing, they resolve to hang one of their own as an offering to Odin. Unfortunately for Wikar, the sacrifice turns out to be himself.
    • The Saga of Hervor and Heidrek: When Gothland is beset by a famine, an oracle reveals that "the noblest boy in the kingdom" must be sacrificed to Odin.
    • Saga of the Ynglings: When ancient Sweden is afflicted with drought, the Swedes turn to sacrificing humans. When it does not help, they resolve to sacrifice their King Domaldi, and this helps. In the same work, King Aun of Sweden sacrifices nine of his ten sons to Odin to prolong his own life.
  • Various legends have told about human sacrifices being made over the cornerstones to ensure the stability of the building being erected. This tradition eventually morphed into the current practice of burying a few coins and pictures (which have the faces of people) under the cornerstones.
    • Inbetween, some cultures used animals instead.
    • There is historical and archaeological evidence that this practice persisted into the late middle ages, and that sacrifices, up to and including human children, were incorporated into major building works. It ended up being Right for the Wrong Reasons; the blood added to the mix aerated primitive concrete and did make it stronger.
  • Indigenous Filipino mythology has a unique blend of Eastern and Western dragon folklore, and not because of Western colonization. Since crocodiles were thought to be dragons and saltwater crocodiles are notoriously big and mean, some groups believed that crocodiles needed human souls to BECOME dragons, and they could only get them through a sacrifice. (Well, they could only KEEP a soul that way. Filipino souls who just got eaten after a shipwreck would go straight to the afterlife, as many cultures believed crocodiles were Psychopomps.)

  • Williams Electronics' Gorgar has the player rescue a damsel before she can be sacrificed to the titular monster.
  • The Wizard Mode of Loony Labyrinth requires rescuing nine sacrificial victims from the Minotaur.
  • In Necronomicon, one of the targets on the "Cult of The Bloody Tongue" playfield is devoted to this.
  • Bally's Paragon shows a woman Chained to a Rock in the middle of a pit of bones, ostensibly as food for a chimera-esque monster.
  • Heavily implied in the "Tower" table of Ruiner Pinball, particularly with the hooded guard holding a bloody sword over a pool of blood.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu:
    • Worlds of Cthulhu magazine #3, adventure The Golden Scorpion. The PC will be sacrificed by the Aztec descendants they encounter. The only question is, what will they decide to do afterward...
    • Different Worlds magazine #38 adventure "The Eye of Sitar". Azathoth cultists are planning to perform a ritual sacrificing 13 people at midnight on the fall equinox. If they succeed it will result in the dead rising from the grave all over the world and consuming the flesh of the living.
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • In The Book of Vile Darkness (the Splat Guide, not the artifact in the game itself) it states that evil gods will grant you certain boons if you make a proper sacrifice to them. You can say you massacred that last village in the name of Dread Lord Bane, but unless you do the full thing with the Ominous Latin Chanting and bloody altars, it doesn't fully count. The boon you receive gets more powerful depending on the power of the one performing it, the qualities of the sacrifice, and how elaborate the ritual is. For example, a low-level cultist sacrificing a peasant farmer may only get a small bonus to his saving throws for a few hours. But a powerful cleric sacrificing a Paladin on an altar in front of 200 worshippers after horribly torturing him for a night and a day could cause a powerful demon to appear and serve the caster for a day.
    • Carcosa: Many of the rituals carried out by sorcerers involve some form of human sacrifice in order to summon powers granted by alien gods. The level of explicitness in the rituals is similar to the supplement The Book of Ebon Bindings for Empire of the Petal Throne, and the rituals in question involve some seriously nasty violence, with four of them involving sexual assault. Not surprisingly, most sorcerers in the Carcosa setting are pure evil, with the only good ones in the bunch being the ones who stick to the banishment rituals, which do not require anyone to be sacrificed.
    • Forgotten Realms: The Sarrukh practiced Sarrukh sacrifice. This was not actually truly evil - the sacrifices were honoured volunteers, and the diety they were sacrificed to wasn't evil, he just had made a 'you sacrifice to me, I help you' pact with the Sarrukh. Then they started to want to sacrifice slaves of other races, the diety took measures to accomodate them, and the Sarrukh rapidly slid into deep evil, dragging some fragments of their diety with them.
  • Exalted: Human sacrifice is not uncommon in Creation.
    • Most gods actually gain little more tangible benefit from such sacrifice than if animals were used instead, they just find it gratifying (nothing shows who's boss like being able to make people kill each other).
    • Human ghosts actually benefit far more from such sacrifice; any human who is sacrificed in the name of the dead (often as part of funeral rites) will find their ghost bound in servitude to the recipient for eternity (barring deliberate release or the destruction of their master).
    • A cult exists among the mushroom farmers of Gethamane that believes that regular human sacrifice is necessary to keep the city's food production stable. They're entirely wrong — their sacrifices have no effect on anything and produce nothing more than a needless waste of lives. The belief exists chiefly due to damage to the manse that powers the mushrooms' growth, which tends to manifest by driving people who spend too much time close to it mad.
  • Fighting Fantasy: House of Hell features a demonic cult that carries out human sacrifices. One of the illustrations in the original edition of the book depicted cultists ready to sacrifice a nude woman upon an altar; this got yanked in subsequent printings.
  • GURPS: In the adventure "The Isle of Night", Colonel Fitzhugh has been possessed by the spirit of the Wizard-Chief of the island natives. He tries to summon the Eldritch Abomination T'Soquat into our world and sacrifice his daughter Alicia to it.
  • Hollow Earth Expedition supplement Mysteries of the Hollow Earth. The Sun God priests in the city of El Dorado cut the hearts out of sacrifices with a razor sharp quartz knife, then hold them up in the air while they're still beating.
  • Magic: The Gathering:
    • A lot of cards involve sacrificing creatures to pay their cost. One of the best examples may be the 5 Heralds of the Alara block, who sacrifice three creatures to bring forth a great monster. Of course, Magic being what it it is, most of them probably won't be strictly human.
    • In the set Dark Ascension, some cards gain bonuses if you sacrifice humans specifically.
  • Numenera:
    • The Challifani gods demand blood sacrifice and mandate that Challifani priests and adherents practice flagellation, mutilation, and torture. The people of Lhauric believe that these horrific rites keep their gods happy and thus keep their city blessed. In reality, the Challifani have no power other than granting the priests scattered bits of information from their observations.
    • The Vralkans worship the Red Gods through human blood sacrifice, and lots of it. They habitually sacrifice their second-born children, and further mutilate themselves in a smaller version of this act as they offer their own blood. Animals can also be sacrificed, but a being who understands their fate is considered more valuable and desirable as a sacrifice to the gods; thus, the majority of their religious ceremonies see a human, abhuman or intelligent visitant strapped to the sacrificial altar.
  • Palladium Books: Blood sacrifice in general is explained by the fact that a living being's Potential Psychic Energy is doubled at the moment of death, then dissipates. But before it does, the energy can be seized by a priest or other magic-user to power a spell or ritual. This means that under the wrong(or right) conditions, it's possible to perform a sacrifice accidentally simply by having a large number of people die at the right place and/or time. Which is exactly what caused The End of the World as We Know It in Rifts.
  • Rocket Age: The Venusian Cult of the Fanged Mother kidnap and sacrifice both other Venusians and various aliens (including humans).
  • Shadowrun: The Aztechnology corporation sacrifices people in magical rituals to increase profit — but since it's on their turf, it's not illegal. It's also a bit of a dirty secret.
  • Talisman has several examples of human sacrifice:
    • One of the random warlock quests requires the character to sacrifice one of their followers to receive a talisman, an item that is required to progress to the crown of command and ultimately win the game.
    • A character may choose to sacrifice the lives of his followers to avoid losing his own lives when visiting the Vampire's Tower in the inner region.
    • The Dragon Priestess character released in The Dragon expansion has a special ability that allows her to sacrifice her followers when encountering dragon enemies in order to receive a random boon, with the results being the same as those for characters landing on the Temple board space. This can range from gaining stats, spells, life, and fate, to enslavement or loss of life for particularly low rolls (however, she can use additional followers to adjust the results in her favor.)
    • A Stranger card introduced in The Dragon expansion gives the player character an option to sacrifice a follower, or one of the character's own lives. Choosing the former changes the character's alignment to evil, while the latter changes the alignment to good.
  • Victoriana: In Faces in the Smoke Volume One: The Secret Masters, the Ancient and Holy Order of Sulis Minerva performs human sacrifices using Disposable Vagrants (members of the lowest classes of society because they're unlikely to be missed).
  • Warhammer:
    • Stromfels, the Old World god of predators, sea monsters, and calamity at sea, is traditionally honored by throwing live captives into the sea or leaving them to die of expsoure. Priests of Manann, his rival sea god, usually have their tongues cut out in the bargain.
    • The Lizardmen are incredibly fond of blood sacrifice, and their god Sotek appeared after the death of thousands. They manage to be one of the nicer races all the same though, because they mostly sacrifice the Always Chaotic Evil Skaven, and most of the humans they kill are ones who mistook themselves for Conquistadors.
    • It's a very common practice among the Dark Elves to sacrifice large numbers of slaves (whether the slaves are human, Skaven, Lizardmen, or even fellow elves) to their gods, particularly Khaela Mensha Khaine, the god of war and murder.
    • In the game's backstory, Aenarion, prince of Nagarythe, attempted to ritually sacrifice himself to the elven creator god Asuryan by burning himself alive in the god's temple in order to save his people from an army of daemons. Asuryan responded by leaving Aenarion unburnt and granting him the power to save his people directly, making him the first Phoenix King of the High Elves. Every would-be king of the High Elves have since had to emulate Aenarion's sacrifice by doing the same before being crowned, with the one who failed the test (due to trying to become king through Klingon Promotion) ending up exactly as you'd expect as a result. In the End Times this was retconned as Malekith apparently being the rightful king all along and all the other Phoenix Kings having cheated the creator god by using magic. Go figure.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Chaos rituals almost invariably call for a human, or at least sapient alien, sacrifice at some point.
    • There are two types of human sacrifices made to the Emperor — the first is hundreds of psykers who are "fed" to him through the Golden Throne (it's not explained precisely what this actually means beyond it being a strictly one-way trip), and the second is the psykers who are pressed into service in the Astronomican choir and slowly burn out their souls providing the psychic power the Emperor needs to project the Astronomican.
  • The World of Darkness:
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters allows a Sin-Eater to regain Plasm if they kill someone in a way resonant with their Threshold. A Torn (death by violence) might just beat someone to death, a Silent (death by deprivation) might strangle them, and a Prey (death by nature) might sic a mad dog on them. Doing so to gain Plasm usually dings their Synergy, though.
    • Mage: The Ascension: Sacrifices can enhance spells but have to be willing — either well-treated animals or brainwashed or fanatical humans. Unwilling sacrifices generate enough magical resonance opposed to the spell to cancel out any benefits from the sacrifice, although that doesn't stop many villains from doing it anyway.
    • Mage: The Awakening lets you regain Mana by performing a sacrifice. You get tiny amounts for animals. Killing a human? Much more. Of course, since you are slaughtering another human for no reason other than petty gain, your Karma Meter will fall to bits...
    • Princess: The Hopeful: Anybody can petition the Darkness for a Caligo by ritually torturing or killing a sapient being. This is, obviously, a major Breaking Point and will always leave the ritualist Darkened if they weren't already.

  • In the tragic plays of Euripides:
    • In Hecuba, the deceased Achilles demands the sacrifice of the captured Trojan princess Polyxena, whom he was to wed, before he will allow the Greeks to return home after the Trojan War.
    • His later play Iphigenia in Tauris is an Author Tract against human sacrifice. Iphigenia, rescued by a goddess from being sacrificed so her father can get fair winds to Troy, finds herself pressed into preparing human sacrifice victims for the rite. Then one day, her brother and his closest friend show up and a literal Dea Ex Machina frees her.

    Visual Novels 
  • Angra Mainyu/Avenger in Fate/stay night and the sequel came into being when a village seeking something to blame for their own sinful impulses declared an ordinary man to be the source of all evil. Though in this case, they did not outright kill him; instead they subjected him to a life full of Cold-Blooded Torture, which only ended when he died of natural causes. Ironically enough, because the death of the supposed source of evil soothed the hearts of the villagers, this technically qualified as a Heroic Sacrifice and made him a Heroic Spirit, albeit a very weak one since he was a civilian who wasn't actually a God of Evil.
    • Kanshou and Bakuya, Archer's signature swords, are based on the legend of a married duo of blacksmiths who were tasked with forging a divine weapon for the Emperor. Realizing they could not meet his demands without a sacrifice, the wife threw herself into the furnace.
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Hinamizawa's festival used to be about this.
    • This is also Hanyuu's origin: she was a normal human once, but she was sacrificed to become a presiding deity over the shrine.
  • Played surprisingly neutrally in Kagetsu Tohya with Nanako, the spirit inside the Seventh Scripture. Arihiko is initially horrified and angry to learn that she was sacrificed to be joined to a unicorn spirit (long story) and made into a holy relic. However, she replies that she was happy do it, volunteered for it, and was proud to have something useful she could do with her life. Still doesn't resent it. The mother who sold her into this service, though, eventually wasted away and died out of guilt, spending her time apologizing to nothing despite being pretty well off for after the transaction. Nanako, who watched all this happen, was more depressed about this than her actual sacrifice, and decided to disperse her consciousness afterwards... until she met Ciel, who she quite likes despite her constantly remodeling her.
  • PARANORMASIGHT: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo:
    • The Rite of Resurrection requires soul dregs to be performed, and these soul dregs are gained from killing people using a powerful curse.
    • During an investigation, a grimoire is discovered containing a resurrection spell that requires the murder and dismemberment of a young woman. It is eventually revealed that the Nejima Murders were four attempts by Nejima to perform this spell to bring his lover Shino back from the dead.
  • Sakuna Of Rice And Ruin: When Tama speaks of Omizuchi at dinner, he relates that humans used to do this yearly to stop his flooding places, which might or might not have worked. Also, one of those sacrifices was Sakuna's mother, who escaped, into the Lofty Realm.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, as revealed in the Demon Tsukuyomi case, the reason Yakumo was mutilating girls was to turn them into dolls and offer them up to Kakuya, satisfying her need for a Deadly Game and keeping her sealed for a further ten years.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Beatrice needs human sacrifices to be resurrected, which is why Kinzo is orchestrating the murders except he's not, because he's been dead for two years prior to the beginning of the series. Later on, it also becomes clear that the murders aren't meant to be human sacrifices.
  • The Tenth Line: The Princess was almost one of these before she escaped:
    I escaped from them yesterday. They were preparing to take me some place for some terrible ritual! They said I was to be a sacrifice! Me! A princess of such wealth and standing... a mere pawn to serve some manner of dark god!

    Web Comics 
  • In American Barbarian, the lottery winners are sent to a man-eating god.
  • In anti-HEROES, they had to be lured outside to be sacrificed to the moon goddess.
  • In Blindsprings, Tamaura seems to be intended as a kind of "tithe", though what exactly it means remains unclear as of February 2015. The fairies might be demanding human sacrifice, or they may be just demanding that a human serve them as priestess for a specified period of time. That Tamaura considers the fairies to be good, or at least neutral, hints at the latter, but another character thinks he saved her when he interrupted the ceremony.
  • Ash Circle and other Ixzerites in Charby the Vampirate partake in human sacrifices, at one point killing and burning the residents of a Kellwood City retirement home in an attempt to magically isolate the city's hunters with monsters that reanimate their bodies after killing them, forcing their still surviving friends to fight them.
  • A rather unfortunate attempt at one in Cthulhu Slippers in this comic.
  • Dork Tower Selecting
  • Exiern: The plan
  • The Mobian Inquisition of Exterminatus Now spends a lot of its time fighting Cults, so the protagonists have found themselves interrupting an anthro-sacrifice a few times.
  • The Grey Hoods in Girl Genius might be Mad Scientists, but when summoning a monster from a higher dimension you just have to have a sacrifice. Most of our heroes assume they plan to use Agatha, even after she hijacks their summoning machines, but it turns out to be the thought-dead Violetta instead.
    Violetta (chained to a pair of Tesla coils): "Oh you jokers had better hope this thing kills me."
  • Marble Gate Dungeon: The seerabellums sacrifice victims to something called the "Blind One" in exchange for the power to view other floors of the titular dungeon and navigate between floors.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Malack's future plans include a lot of human (and other sentient) sacrifice to his god of the dead.
    • According to Start of Darkness, this was functionally how The Dark One achieved godhood. After he was assassinated, his followers went on a year-long crusade in his name, with all the killing done in his name being enough to for him to return as a god.
    • The orcs who decide to worship Banjo the Clown decide to sacrifice Lien to him. It's the current page image for Virgin Sacrifice (despite being a Subversion).
  • In Our Little Adventure, one is accidentally prevented in the labyrinth.
  • Ow, my sanity's introduction ends with a summoning ritual that requires a human sacrifice (possibly made bit-by-bit if the amputated arm is to be believed). Then more sacrifices happen.
  • In Thistil Mistil Kistil, at the Viking funeral (see Real Life below).
  • Unsounded: The most prevalent religion in the setting sacrifices younger twins who've reached the age of 22 during holly festivals, with their elder twin going on to become a priest/priestess. The second most prevalent religion teaches adherents to kill non-believers, but this isn't seen as a sacrifice as instead the thought is their victims will reincarnate into families following the "correct" religion.
  • Mysto tries a few in the roleplays of White Dark Life. They all get foiled, of course. We later learn that Triglav, leader of the gods the sacrifices are being made to, is less than pleased about it (and the rest of Mysto's shenanigans, for that matter), as they are corrupting the Slavic pantheon she's trying to revive (Slavic pagans didn't practice human sacrifice, which is why they're not mentioned in the Real Life section below).

    Web Original 
  • The Black Cat's Lair: In this story, half a century ago, people were sacrificed to appease the gods by throwing them into the river. One of the officers decided to sacrifice Okiku's son after she rejected his advances. Okiku couldn't bear to lose her son so she threw herself in the river with him.
  • Dark Dungeons: The Satanists need one to awaken Cthulhu, but it has to be done willingly. Miss Frost thus drives Marcie into killing herself, with Debbie's unwitting help.
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, there are several attempted and successful human sacrifices. The Totenkopfs and the Sirithai in particular are fond of this little pastime.
  • The GREYLOCK Tapes: When Arnold Rivers explores the tunnels beneath Mount Greylock, he finds evidence that people have been sacrificed as offerings to the mountain over the ages.
  • Nightmare Time: The Church of the Starry Children is a cult who make sacrifices to Nibblenephim in order to gain wealth and power.
  • At the end of their service, priests of Kahek in the Haskhian Inscriptions sacrifice themselves to their god.
  • SCP Foundation:
  • In Skyblock, but Every 30 Seconds a Random Item Spawns, Wilbur sacrifices his pufferfish in a bucket as an offering to the Sky Gods.
  • SMPLive:
    • The Void Cult's initiation ritual involves throwing yourself into the Void and allowing it to devour your soul.
    • Ted Nivison, the leader of the cult, jumps into the Void just minutes before the server shuts its doors, allowing the Void to live on.
  • Taranis from Society of Virtue parodies the Superhero Gods cliche by raising the question where his powers come from.
  • The Brood of Nachash in Tall Tales performs human sacrifice during their summoning rites.
  • Happens more than once in the Whateley Universe. In the second Carmilla story, the Goths of Superhero School Whateley Academy attempt to sacrifice Carmilla to a dark god to gain a boon. Since Carmilla is only partly human, this goes drastically wrong. In a couple Bladedancer stories, the Tong of the Black Madonna commits human sacrifices by the dozen to perform their magical attacks on Bladedancer.

    Western Animation 
  • Amphibia: In "Taking Charge", Hop Pop suggested to do this in order to recharge Anne's phone.
    Anne: The least you could do is help me fix my phone!
    Hop Pop: Fair enough, Anne. How do we bring this thing back to life? Magic? Live sacrifice? I know a guy in town!
  • Big City Greens: In "Barry Cuda", while Barry Cuda is just a battery-powered knick-knack, when Cricket accuses Bill of destroying Barry Cuda, his vision shows Bill dressed in a black hooded robe destroying Barry in a ritual.
  • Count Duckula: Ra apparently requires "more-or-less human sacrifice".
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, "The Day the Ed Stood Still":
    Rolf: The beast circles with hunger, we must appease it with a sacrifice!
  • In the TV special Garfield in Paradise, a native princess (and her cat) are nearly sacrificed to a volcano. Turns out the volcano was more of a car guy.
  • In the Justice League episode "The Terror Beyond", Hawkgirl mentions that her home planet, Thanagar, used to worship the Eldritch Abomination Icthultu and sacrifice people to it in exchange for knowledge. They eventually decided this was a bad idea. Dr. Fate tries to perform the Thanagarian ritual sacrifice to prevent Icthultu from gaining access to our universe. Since his subject is the zombie Solomon Grundy, he would have just resurrected eventually (and in fact does during Justice League Unlimited, though it's shown that he Came Back Wrong), but either way, the Justice League interrupts the sacrifice before it can be completed.
  • Primal (2019): The victims of the witches are bound to rocks to have their lives drained by the matriarch in order to make babies for each witch.
  • This is what happens in the South Park episode "Britney's New Look". The citizens find that sacrificing celebrities bring about a bountiful harvest.

    Real Life 
  • Many, many civilizations did this — see the Useful Notes page.
  • Herbert Mullin killed thirteen people due to his belief that murder would appease nature, and stop it from destroying California with earthquakes.
  • Adolfo Constanzo and his cult committed an unknown number of human sacrifices, for what appeared to be vaguely religious reasons, and because they believed it would help their drug trafficking prosper.
  • Reportedly one of the worst horrors of China's Cultural Revolution was this being performed for secular reasons. According to Zheng Yi's book Scarlet Memorial, members of the Red Guard and general public in Guangxi are reported to have killed, divvied up, and publicly eaten over a hundred former landlords, "intellectuals" (e.g. school teachers), other "counter-revolutionaries" and their descendants as a show of loyalty to Mao and his ideals, with the backing of the local (but not national) Party. Bodies were split up and served to the community to partake of en masse, and the murderers were often people close to the victims who were making a show of their revolutionary fervor.
  • In a very strange example of such a thing, is the relationship between a pitcher plant and an ant hill. Only matured pitchers will actually trap insects, but all pitchers (even just as tiny buds) produce the nectar that attract the ants. Once the ants have established the plant as a source of food, they will steadily feed from it while a comparably small number of ants will die in the plant. By effectively "sacrificing" members of the hive, it actually creates a mutual bond: the plant thrives from the nitrogen and phosphorus provided to it while the superorganism (hive as a whole) benefits greatly from the reliable source of food that will grow as their nest does.


Video Example(s):


"No Longer Bound To You!"

Using the Nationwide Transmutation Circle to sacrifice all the souls in Amestris, Father fulfills his master plan of absorbing the power of Truth, also known as God.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / HijackingCthulhu

Media sources: