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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 vampire stakings, à la Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 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.

This trope is sometimes used on one of the good guys as a way to raise the stakes. 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 Blade on a Stick, or even by an especially strong Javelin Thrower. This can 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.

Since this is a Death Trope, beware of spoilers.

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


Example Subpages:

Other Examples:

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    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.

    Films — Animation 
  • While it's not explicitly shown in the movie, Word of God says that Gaston in Beauty and the Beast suffers this fate when he lands on a wrought iron fence after falling to his death.
  • Frozen (2013): Done for laughs when Olaf bumbles into a jutting spar of ice. He's a snowman, of course, so it doesn't hurt one bit.
"Look at that. I've been impaled."

    Mythology and Religion 
  • Biblical examples:
    • In 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 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, or someone that just happened to annoy him on that day, 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'.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    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.
  • As mentioned in the Detective Conan example, 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]]A lot of those stories were thought to be made up by his enemies to discredit Vlad. Indeed, there are multiple sources which indicate that the people of Transylvania actually liked him. He was seen as a strict, but very fair ruler, and there are no indications that he was more violent than his enemies. 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.
    • 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.
  • Women under the aforementioned Vlad the Impaler's rule who committed sexual crimes (adultery, prostitution, premarital sex) would be impaled through their vaginas as punishment.


William stabs Yumi and Ulrich

X.A.N.A.-William uses his Zweihander to stab Yumi and Ulrich

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