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Impaled with Extreme Prejudice

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"Tucker Foyle slides slowly forward onto his spar. He has a bullet wound in his back, at the shoulder. This itself would not be such a terrible thing, but the impact has driven him onto the wooden spike resting onto his chin. Tucker has been impaled. He is not dead. He will not die for several minutes, but die he will and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it."

This trope is for when someone gets stabbed in a really big way.

The defining element of this trope is the shock value of the impalement: mere death by a bladed weapon (knife, sword, lightsaber, etc.) does not qualify unless the victim is stabbed, and in an extreme fashion — usually, the blade goes all the way through the body so that the point emerges from the victim on the other side. Garden-variety stabbings or vampire stakings don't count — extraordinary stakings do count. Imaginative impalements also qualify. This trope often appears with Anvilicious symbolism with a side dish of Freudianism: after all, the character was just run through with a really big rod... and bigger is better in bad.

Thanks to its sheer shock value, this trope is sometimes used on one of the good guys as a way to really raise the stakes — pun intended. Some go as far as using it on an important character to really mess with the emotions of the audience.

If it's a bad guy who's been impaled on a long, sharp thing in the hero's hand (such as a sword or spear), he'll sometimes pull himself along the shaft towards the hero, either to get close enough to kill them, or just to creep them out.

Dramatic impalement may be the result of a really successful attack (perhaps a Finishing Move) with a spear, or even by an especially strong Javelin Thrower. This can very often qualify as a Cruel and Unusual Death. If the victim is impaled through their neck, it's an Impromptu Tracheotomy. If the victim is impaled multiple times, you have an example of Human Pincushion. If the target moves but the big rod doesn't, it's an Inertial Impalement.

Real-life impalement isn't always fatal, but fictional characters who suffer this fate are almost always killed (or at least assumed to be dead).

Since this is a Death Trope, beware of unmarked spoilers.

See also Pinned to the Wall, which this trope can overlap with.

Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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  • The anti-heroin PSA "Needle" from The Partnership for a Drug Free America shows a man getting impaled via falling onto a giant needle as a metaphor for how heroin addicts who start off by snorting it will eventually use the drug via injecting it into themselves.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: Son of the Dragon. To be expected in a story dealing with Vlad the Impaler. At one stage the Doctor and Radu stumble in the 'Forest of the Dead' where Vlad impaled 20,000 of his countrymen on stakes.

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy foe the Brow ended up impaled on a flagpole. Worse, he slid all the way down to the ground. Understandably, Chester Gould once cited it as the worst death any character in the comic ever suffered.

    Films — Animation 

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible examples:
    • In Book of Numbers chapter 25, Phinehas son of Eleazar took a javelin and pierced through the bodies of Zimri son of Salu and Cozbi the Midianite woman as they were alone in his tent together, thus stopping the plague God sent upon the Israelites for their idolatry and sexual immorality by joining themselves with the Midianites at Baal-Peor.
    • In Book of Judges 4, the enemy commander Sisera is fleeing a losing battle with the Israelites. Jael, wife of Heber, invites him into her tent, waits until he is asleep, and drives a tent peg straight through his temple.
    • In the Book of Esther, some translations have Haman plotting to impale Mordecai on a sharp pole. After his treachery is discovered by the king, he is impaled on the pole. Remember Haman ordering a gallows built 50 cubits high (or 22.86 METERS)? That's Haman being impaled on a 22 meter high tree and hoisted up so he can slide......slowly......down.....

  • How the Sequinox girls defeat Scorpius, and using the Gaea Spear too!

  • In Dawn of a New Age: Oldport Blues, Daigo ends up impaled twice in quick succession; once by a bayonet that Rhys summons with his superpower, and then again by Harriet's spear after it's already skewered itself through his friend Devin. Despite the brutality of both impalements, he's able to recover from them quite effectively thanks to his Healing Factor (Devin, not so much- he needs a bite from his vampire buddy to get back on his feet).
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, the monstrous arachnid Khamul is impaled by a spike after a lengthy battle against the Alliance's strike team in Myridia.
  • Many characters in the versions of Survival of the Fittest die by being impaled, but the one that fits this trope best (mostly in the "dispatching of a Big Bad" way) occurs at the end of v1 where Adam Dodd uses a katana to pin Cody Jenson to a tree, and then uses a knife to carve the word "Rapist" into his chest as he bleeds to death. Cody dies before Adam finishes carving, but he doesn't care.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The cruel and unusual version of this is the most ignominious version of the death penalty in Empire of the Petal Throne.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • Some Exalted Deathbringers of the Bloodbound Warhords from Warhammer: Age of Sigmar go into battle with an Impaling Spear. The Exalted Deathbringer uses this brutal polearm to impale his opponent and hoist them into the air so that their own weight drives them further along the weapon’s haft. In-game this is represented by the Brutal Impalement ability that has a 50% chance of inflicting extra damage against an opponent wounded but not killed by the spear.
    • Common enough in Warhammer 40,000, and not infrequently the victim is impaled on a chainsword.
  • In Ravenloft, Vlad Drakov is well-known for impaling dissenters, nonhumans, someone that just happened to annoy him on that day, and even has someone impaled every evening as dinner entertainment. Granted, he's an exaggerated Captain Ersatz of Vlad Tepes.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons the Cadaver Collector is a type of construct with long spikes sticking out of its back and shoulders (or old spears and swords). Unlike most constructs, it's sentient but is obsessed with skewering corpses on itself for unknown reasons. Unfortunately, it's also very hostile to living creatures and doesn't mind if its next corpse wasn't dead before being impaled.

    Theme Parks 

    Visual Novels 
  • In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Junko Enoshima loses it after the first murder and kicks Monokuma, breaking one of the rules ("never attack the Headmaster"). As punishment, Monokuma uses the "Spears of Gungnir", in which he magically summons multiple spears out of friggin' nowhere and in front of everyone he impales Junko through the torso. Or better said, he impales Junko's twin sister Mukuro who's posing as her through the torso. But the players won't know it until much, much later. In the anime version, this particular death goes straight into Human Pincushion levels.
  • In one of the endings of Fatal Hearts, the vampire meets his end when the PC channels mystical strength to drive her hand through his chest and PUSH his heart out of his body. That's a romance that did not end well. For bonus points, it's implied that he ripped the heart out of a woman in the past in order to become a vampire in the first place.
  • Fate/stay night: Several characters get this treatment.
    • Gilgamesh has an attack that launches hundreds of swords at one target; he uses it most memorably on Archer in the Unlimited Blade Works route, mirroring how that Servant's human life ended, and Caster in the Fate route.
    • In the anime, we see Berserker impaled by dozens of swords after his fight with Archer — this was not an easy win.
    • In Heaven's Feel, Shirou, overusing projection using Archer's left arm (which earlier replaced his own), gets to spend the last few minutes of his life getting skewered by swords. Swords slowly growing out from inside his body. In the Normal End, we see him losing bit by bit his identity, memories and cognitive functions until he dies in the process of Excaliiblasting Angra Mainyu. In the True End he is saved by Ilya at the last minute and put into a new body, at the cost of her life.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • "Turnabout Samurai" had this happen to the victim. It turned out that he was actually pushed onto a spiked fence. Plus, he himself killed someone that way five years before then.
    • "Rise from the Ashes" has Jake Marshall's brother Neil killed by Damon Gant on his suit of armour's sword. Trying to frame Ema Skye was just mean.
    • In the final case of Trials and Tribulations, the victim is found skewered on a large ceremonial sword held by a gold statue, and the scene puts extra emphasis on the shock value. In fact, later in the case, it is revealed the scene is fake, and it is mentioned that Iris purposely made the fake crime scene so shocking so it would confuse the investigators.
  • In Spirit Hunter: NG, this happens to Rosé in one of the Killer Peach Bad Ends - their body is posed such so that Akira and company can see the katana that's been stabbed right through their stomach and is protruding, blood and all, from their back.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • On the third Episode, Maria and Rosa die this way in the second twilight.
    • At the end of the fourth Episode's Tea Party, Beatrice gets impaled by Battler's blue truth stakes after their duel.
    • At the fifth Episode, Battler gets this from a red longsword. He gets back up on his feet later on, and boy does he come back spectacularly.

    Web Animation 
  • In Dick Figures: The Movie, Lord Takagami uses his sword to do this to Col. Dingleberry. Neptune also uses his trident to do this to Trollzor.
  • DSBT InsaniT:
    • Seth gets impaled on the horns of a Power Ram in the fight with Robo-Wolf.
    • This happens many times in the Harpoon Gun game Cody and Lisa play in 'VRcade'.
    • This happens to a Brainwashed and Crazy Crystal Dragon with a hunk of a roller coaster in 'Carneelval'.
  • This has happened quite a few times in Glitchtale, and more often than not is usually fatal:
    • The first instances are in the first episode Megalomaniac courtesy of Sans to Frisk and Chara, Frisk's cases were quick while Chara's set them up to be vaporised right after.
    • The second episode Yet Darker has this happen to Sans courtesy of Gaster, Frisk's soul fixes him up quickly though, and to Gaster at the end of the episode.
    • This happens quite a few times in Season 2 by it's Disc-One Final Boss, Betty Noire, the first instance had her unintentionally impale Sans when he got in between her and Asriel, allowing her to take the skeleton's soul, the second instance happened when Betty made Undyne accidentally skewer Alphys' soul with a spear, the third instance has Betty successfully impale Asriel, and the fourth is done to Betty herself during her Rasputinian Death by Gaster's hands.
    • In the first timeline this happened to both Chara and Gaster, the former by the blade of a HATE revived Asriel and the latter by a piece of rubble.
  • Madness Combat: Happens very often to many Mooks, though Hank being impaled by Jebus in Avenger is one of the more notable instances.
  • Mystery Skulls Animated: Lewis was killed while exploring a cave by being pushed from a cliff and being impaled through his chest by falling on a stalagmite. The suddenness and violence of this kind of death is often interpreted by the fandom as part of the reason he came back as a vengeful wraith out for revenge on his killer.
  • On The Edge:
    • In this episode, Shigeo impales a delinquent who ambushed the client and his fiancée and raped her, which drove her mad and committed suicide.
    • Darius is a Torture Sommelier descended from Transylvanian nobility who specializes in impalement. In this episode, Shigeo receives his assistance when accepting a request to torture an oversea criminal named Brad, a fraudulent tour guide who raped and strangled a Japanese tourist, and his father, a congressman who covered up the crime. While Shigeo and Darius impaled the two, Darius also installed a heater in the pile that would burn the victims from the inside, which Shigeo compares to the Chinese torture, Shakuja.
  • In Red vs. Blue: Revelation, Agent Texas is stabbed through the face with a two-foot-long spike by the Meta.
  • RWBY:
    • Happens to Weiss at the end of "The More the Merrier", out of Cinder throwing a spear through her back to set up a twisted repeat of Pyrrha's death for Jaune to watch. This traumatic situation reveals Jaune's Semblance for the first time, allowing Jaune to use his own considerable Aura to recharge and amplify Weiss', which heals her wound in a matter of minutes.
    • Happens to Adam Taurus in "Seeing Red". Having lost his sword, a panicking Adam races towards one of the shattered halves of Blake's Gambol Shroud. Yang grabs the other half as Blake proves faster and snags the weapon, both girls gutting Taurus.
    • Happens to Clover at the end of "With Friends Like These", as Qrow, Clover, and Tyrian all fight each other. Clover disarms Qrow, so Qrow leaves Harbinger where it lies and attacks Clover with his fists. After Clover's Aura breaks, he and Qrow stop fighting and argue about trust and duty — giving Tyrian the chance to grab Harbinger and drive it through Clover's back, much to Qrow's horror.
  • In the Xombie flash series, the fight with the zombie velociraptor ended with it impaled on the ribcage of a fallen dinosaur skeleton. Being a zombie, it was little more than an inconvenience, but it was enough to keep it in place long enough for its owner to arrive and befriend the heroes.
  • DEATH BATTLE! likes this trope a lot.
    • In Kratos vs. Spawn, both fighters get hit with this. Since Spawn can only be killed by decapitation, it doesn't really slow him down. Being impaled through the head proves fatal for Kratos, however.
    • In Luigi vs. Tails, Tails offs Luigi this way, impaling him with the Magic Hand.
    • In Deadpool vs. Deathstroke, both end up impaling each other partway through, though because of their healing factors, neither sticks.
    • In ''Ragna The Bloodedge vs. Sol Badguy, again, they both impale each other. Ragna getting impaled causes him to turn into the Black Beast.
    • In Guts vs Nightmare, Nightmare impales Guts as part of a combo, but Guts survives this.
    • Happens to both fighters in ''Raiden vs. Wolverine. Between Raiden's sheer durability and Wolverine's healing factor, it doesn't faze them much.
    • Also happens to both fighters in ''Dante vs. Bayonetta. Only Dante has the healing factor to shrug it off- it proves fatal when the Umbra Witch gets hit.
    • Lara Croft vs. Nathan Drake has Nathan die via getting impaled by a helicopter blade as his luck runs out.
    • In Optimus Prime vs Gundam, Optimus gets impaled by the Gundam's Beam Sabers twice. He survives both however.
    • In Dragonzord vs. Mechagodzilla, The Dragonzord's Battle Mode impales Mechagodzilla. This proves to be fatal... for the Dragonzord. Mechagodzilla pulls itself down the lance to ensure its Absolute Zero Cannon hits.
    • In ''All Might vs. Might Guy, Guy gets a hole punched in his stomach by All Might. He opens the Gate of Death in response.
    • In Crona vs. Venom, Crona impales Venom before vaporizing him with a Scream Resonance.
    • In ''Shadow vs. Ryuko, Ryuko gets impaled by Shadow's Chaos Spears. While this isn't fatal, it sets Ryuko up for Shadow's Chaos Blast, which is.
    • Happens twice to the same guy in Lex Luthor vs. Doctor Doom. Specifically, Lex first ends up using the Ovoid Mind Swap to make Lex use his own Everyman Project-boosted strength against him, and then ends up having him impaled on rebar. This doesn't kill Lex, but like above, it sets up the finishing blow.
    • In ''Blake vs. Mikasa, Mikasa ends up getting impaled by one of her own Thunder Spears. The initial impalement doesn't kill Mikasa, but then Blake detonates it, which obliterates Mikasa on the spot.
    • ''Goku Black vs. Reverse-Flash ends with Reverse-Flash impaling his arm through Goku Black's chest. Although it doesn't kill him, it sets him up to be turned into roadkill at super speed before being flung into the sun.


    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Penny, the designated love interest, is impaled and killed by a shard of the exploded Deathray gun near the end of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.
  • Hero House has this happen to Batman in episode six.
  • Faust receives this fate in Vaguely Recalling JoJo because Empress somehow managed to get a hold of his scalpel. He manages to survive and the scalpel is still in his head when he rescues the injured Kakyoin.
  • Mollymauk from Critical Role is killed in this manner when Lorenzo drives his glaive through his chest while he's is unconscious on the ground.
    • Yasha does this to Beau with Skingorger while the former is mind controlled by Obann. Luckily, Beau survives, but Matt is quick to point out the parallels to Molly's death.
    • This happens again to Fjord when a deep scion drives the Sword of Fathoms through his chest in an attempt to cut the Cloven Crystal out of him. Fortunately, he is revived shortly afterwards.

    Real Life 
  • Ancient Egyptians used this as punishment for grave robbing a royal tomb, which was considered to be the ultimate crime.
  • Best way to use the rapier; granted, it's capable of shallow cuts, but the sword's design makes it such that it's more effective at stabbing opponents.
    • The estoc was the BFS answer to this, having duller edges than a normal longsword, but a sharper tip. Makes sense, considering it was intended for going under armor.
    • Half-swording provides a new moveset to the swordsman for fighting armored opponents. While half-swording, you could use one hand on your blade to guide your thrust into chinks in the armor. Alternatively, if you like it simpler, just put both hands on the blade to turn the sword into an improvised hammer, and attack him with the infamous mordhau.
    • While still a viable slashing implement, the Roman gladius is mostly used to stab victims from behind a large shield.
  • A bit of casual searching will turn up a verified instance where a man fleeing narcotics police either jumped or fell from the side of a major interstate highway and landed on an iron fence. He was impaled somewhere through the back of the head in the fall. The rest of him landed in the parking lot eight feet further beneath the fence.
  • A boy in England once fell onto a fence, impaling him at the jaw. The spike passed through his mouth and out the top of his skull. Miraculously, he survived without major brain damage and wrote an autobiography on his experience.
  • In Britain a few years ago a man was impaled by a telegraph pole in a car accident. He got better though and apparently kept that section of the telegraph pole as a souvenir
  • David Haubenstock, the son of the German actress Romy Schneider, died at age 14 while attempting to climb the spiked fence at his stepfather's parents' home. The poor kid slipped, fell on the sharp points of the grill, and as a result had both his intestines and his femoral artery pierced, dying the same day.
  • There exist a number of tall buildings with flagpoles in front of them in Real Life. Invariably, urban legends (sometimes true) spring up of suicide jumpers missing the ground and hitting the pole instead, resulting in this trope. A Google search will confirm that an incident like this occurred in the 1970s at the Buffalo, NY City Hall.
  • Gather round and hear the story of Phineas Gage. While working on a railroad crew laying track in 1848, a dynamite mishap projected a metal rod 1.25 inches wide through his cheek and jaw, then behind his left eyeball, finally exiting through the top of his skull and landing 80 feet away. Despite both of his frontal lobes being damaged, Gage was sitting up and speaking within a few minutes. His skull is on display at the Countway Library of Medicine.
    • Of course, he spent the rest of his life Not Himself. The only upside is that biologists learned more about what frontal lobe damage does to a person.
    • Gage was essentially the first example of a frontal lobotomy — contrary to myth, however, his case did not inspire the medical procedure (his symptoms weren't anything people would want to replicate).
    • A rarely told epilogue of the story was that Gage eventually recovered enough to return to his family, and live with them for the rest of his life (although his brain damage temporarily turned his psych from that of a kind and thoughtful gentleman to an impulsive and abusive drunkard, his mental ability and personality was restored after a few years spent attempting to reintegrate into society.). He died, probably of epilepsy caused by his injury, 12 years after the accident, aged 37.
  • A handrail impaled Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in a bus accident. Which was probably the least painful of her injuries.
  • Happened to Robert Kubica during a rally in Italy, where not only he and his partner crashed their vehicle but he got hit like this by a crash barrier.
  • Indigenous peoples of Northeastern America would impale captives, then burn them alive.
  • Indy Car driver James Hinchcliffe was nearly killed in 2015 when his front right suspension failed while he practiced for the Indy 500 and a piece of it went through his legs after he hit the outside wall, barely missing his femoral artery. However, he did make a full recovery.
  • Legend has it that Edward II died this way, involving a red hot poker up a very sensitive place.
  • In line with the many examples of the "baddie pulls himself up the spear to fight" subtrope, boar-hunting spears are forged with large crossguards to prevent this sort of thing from happening.
  • Newbie insect-collectors sometimes fail to use a killing jar properly and pin their specimens while they are unconscious rather than dead. A pin through the thorax is fatal, albeit not instantaneously.
  • In the 1400s, a certain Wallachian Voivode named Vlad III, whose surname would later be used for the lord of all vampires, used this punishment to put the fear of God into his numerically superior enemies. And just anyone he hated. Or was annoyed by.note  Then there's the fact that the nickname his Turkish enemies gave him translates to "The Impaler Lord" and that according to history — the infamous "Forest of the Dead" he had created made a pursuing Turkish (then a superpower known for their own barbarity — in fact Vlad learned impaling from them) army commander vomit and then retreat in fear.
  • Several cases over the course of the 20th Century involved Construction Workers and rebar invoking this trope. Amazingly, one such incident in the Nineties had the victim survive despite having had at least three go through him, making him far luckier than the last case, who had taken a pair straight through the heart...
  • Shaka Zulu is said to have condemned several people from his birth village to this, as punishment for having abused him and his mother when he was young.
  • Shrikes, those adorable lil' birdies, are known for their habit of impaling insects and small vertebrates on thorns. This helps them to tear the flesh into smaller, bite-sized fragments, and also allows them to store uneaten portions for later. Hey, they don't call 'em butcher birds for nothing!
    • Many wading birds hunt fish by impaling them on the tips of their pointed beaks.
  • Some lethal mole traps work by sending spring-loaded spikes through the animal.
  • In the US Army's SL-1 nuclear accident, one of the operators, Navy Electrician's Mate Richard Legg, was impaled on the ceiling by a shield plug when the control rod was pulled out too far.
    • Note that this was the only control rod in the reactor. Its servo had a tendency to stuck, though, so when this happened a technician tried to help the motor with his hands. He was so successful, though, that instead of a couple of inches, he managed to pull the rod out almost completely, King Arthur-style. The reactor immediately went prompt-critical (increasing its power output almost 7000-fold in 0.004 seconds), flashing the cooling water into steam and created a water hammer effect which caused the entire reactor case to jump up an hit the ceiling. The pressure also caused the shield plugs to fly out with such force that one of them pinned one of the three operators, to the ceiling as well.
      • Search and rescue personel initially only found the bodies of two of Legg's coworkers, and assumed Legg must have evacuated before the accident. Until one of the crew looked up at the ceiling. Getting him down while no one could be in the room for more than a minute due to the deadly radiation was a difficult task.
    • The operator who removed the control rod, Army Specialist Richard McKinley, had the control rod itself driven through his body. The amount of radiation he absorbed as a result required him to be buried in a special lead coffin in a metal-lined concrete grave. His remains cannot be moved without consulting the Atomic Energy Commission.
  • This is how Mapuche chieftain Caupolican was executed by the Spanish conquistadores, according to his legend.
  • This cape buffalo learns the hard way why one shouldn't mess with an elephant.


King Andrias Stabs Marcy

King Andrias impales marcy with his flaming sword once she tries to use the Calamity Box to get everyone to safety.

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