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Inertial Impalement

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A good defense is the best offense? A good offense is the best defense? Why not both?

This is a situation involving an enemy charging at the hero, who then defensively puts a nasty, pointy surprise in front of them. Result: The enemy runs onto the pointy end, and there may be a moment where the hero and their enemy stare at each other before they reveal that the foe has just killed themselves. By waiting until the last moment to reveal the victor of the battle—when the hero and the enemy are close enough to touch—the situation comes to an exciting and dramatic conclusion.

This trope does not apply to every impalement. It only applies if the enemy is impaled by their own momentum without the defender needing to move from their position.

Sub-trope of Impaled with Extreme Prejudice, Inertia Is a Cruel Mistress, and when the one impaled is a villain, Self-Disposing Villain. Also overlaps with Deadly Dodging, when the dodging results in the enemy impaling himself on something. It is the basis of classic Anti-Cavalry tactics like pikemen. Sometimes, when other movement methods are involved, you can have Telefrag instead. Compare Spikes of Doom and The Spiny. See also Bullfight Boss.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens to Class Representative Yukari Sakuragi in Another. She was running down a flight of stairs with an umbrella, but tripped up and fell over — then the umbrella opened in the worst moment possible... and poor Yukari ended up impaled through the neck with the sharp end.
  • Berserk: Guts and Casca each made their first kill at a young age by being attacked and holding out a sword so their attacker stabbed themselves under their own momentum:
    • In his first battle at age nine, Guts was struck to the ground by a grown-up attacker but held out his blade as he fell, causing his charging foe to skewer his neck on the outstretched sword. Two years later, Guts accidentally killed Gambino in the same fashion while he was just trying to defend himself.
    • Casca was just a twelve year old peasant girl when a wicked nobleman took her in under the pretense of making her a servant, and attempted to rape her. Griffith intervened like a Knight in Shining Armor, but instead of saving her himself he threw his weapon to her and told her to take it if she had something worth protecting. Casca and the nobleman dived for the sword at the same time, and she grabbed it so that the nobleman fell on top of her and ran himself through. In her own words,
    I don't know whether I stabbed him or if he fell onto the blade. It was my first kill. I was so scared I couldn't cry and couldn't move. I just gripped the bloody sword tightly.
  • Happens to an Asshole Victim in Case Closed, who is thrown off a balcony by his killer and ends up impaled on a statue. (See Real Life below.) It actually was a coincidence, as a strong wind was blowing when he was dumped off said balcony and made him hit the pole instead of the ground. Conan used this detail to find out which balcony he fell off, thus guessing who killed him as well.
  • One scene in Fist of the North Star shows the villain's fortifications, including sharpened trees thicker than a man's arm. Later on the downtrodden villagers storm the villain's base, and one guy is shown to have somehow impaled himself at least three feet on one of the stakes.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind, this is how Ghiaccio is defeated. Mista, confronted with his power to throw bullets back at the shooter, lines him up with a broken metal pole and fires on him. The bullets hit Mista, but at the same time, Newton's Second Law pushes Ghiaccio backwards, which runs him straight into a jagged part of the pole. Neck-first. Ghiaccio temporarily manages to save himself by freezing his own blood to support himself, only for Giorno to show up at the last second to save Mista, using a flurry of kicks from his Stand, Gold Experience, to pierce Ghiaccio's neck all the way through.
  • Mazinger Z: In the Mazinger Z versus Devilman feature, Mazinger-Z cut Silene's wings off during one aerial battle. She fell towards the ground below and was impaled through her stomach by the sharp branches of a dry tree.
  • A variation on the trope occurs out of Nagato's Sadistic Choice in Naruto . Whilst holding a Kunai out and ordered to kill Yahiko in exchange for their friend Konan's life, Yahiko Flash Steps towards Nagato and impales himself to spare him the choice. Played with in that the two were not fighting, and the stabbing was the intention of the "target" instead of the impaler.
  • Attempted by Don Krieg in One Piece by him putting a spiky mantle to cover himself against Luffy's attack. Luffy's such a Determinator that he punches through it anyways, hitting Krieg while hurting his own hand.
  • Record of Grancrest War: When Aishela attempts a leaping attack, Petr attempts to do this by planting his spear into the ground where she will land. However, Aishela is able to move in midair to avoid it.
  • In the first Unico movie, the big bad falls on top of a huge spire, complete with squelching sound. Pause, and then he freaking gets up again, eyes glowing. Cue whimpering children.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Moon Chronicles. By waiting until the last possible moment to lift up their pikes, a group of pikemen under Murata are able to completely destroy a line of charging knights.
  • Strack in the Marvel Comics Comic-Book Adaptation of Darkman. In the film, he's just dropped to an offscreen Disney Villain Death. The third and final issue of the comic however actually shows him getting skewered on a big jagged piece of metal when Darkman drops him.
  • An issue of Deadpool has him fighting The Incredible Hulk for a sample of his blood. During the fight, Hulk leaps into the air and lectures Deadpool on how much he sucks. When we cut back to Deadpool, we see that he's set up a broken sign post as a weapon during Hulk's mid-leap monologue, and Hulk lands on it.
  • This is how Redlance from ElfQuest got his tribe name in his Back Story. He later repeated it with an attacking troll just before the Castle War.
  • In The Punisher MAX series, Frank punches the bejeebers out of The Dragon, then throws him onto a wrought iron fence. He is impaled all down through his body. Notable, in that he shows up later, most of the fence still WITH him, and tries to get Frank. The Punisher blows his face clean off his body. The Dragon takes two more steps, then dies.

    Fan Works 
  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): In this Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) fanfiction, this happens to the Many's Dracolich form when it charges at Scylla, who impales it through the mouth with its own previously broken-off antler.
  • Better Bones AU: Hawkfrost still dies by being impaled by the fox trap's stake, but here Mothwing kills him and not entirely intentionally, raising the stake to defend herself with Hawkfrost impaling himself as he leaps to attack her.
  • Dear Diary: Opal and Dusk kill Terrakion by tricking him into attacking a disembodied Dusk, leading to him jumping right onto Opal's blade.
  • Fate/Harem Antics: Lancer threatens Sakura, causing Rider to lunge at her to defend her Master. Lancer says she was predictable and holds out the spear Gae Bolg, causing Rider to impale herself.
  • God Slaying Blade Works:
    • When Shirou defeats Hades but spares his life, Hades angrily jumps into Shirou's sword before giving his Dying Curse.
    • After Shirou Emiya and Mordred disarm each other, Mordred angrily lunges at him, but Shirou summons Excalibur into his hand, causing him to be impaled.
    • When Ahriman, who is possessing Illya, is losing against Godou, he decides to throw himself onto Godou's sword Ame no Murakumo out of spite, saying that by killing Illya, he'll at least hurt Shirou. Fortunately, at the last second, Godou has Ame no Murakumo absorb the properties of the Warrior Authority, turning into a sword that cuts the soul and not flesh. So when they get impaled, Ahriman was the only one who was hurt.
  • Here Comes The New Boss: Elpis teleports in front of a charging Hookwolf with her sword out, and his own momentum drives him onto it, deep enough to harm his core and partially revert his transformation.
  • Servants of Remnant: Hektor kills a Beowolf by holding out his spear and letting it run into it.

    Film — Animated 
  • In the movie Brother Bear, Kenai is fighting a bear and gets knocked on the ground. When it charges at him, he grabs his spear. Rather than showing what happens, it shows the mountain from a distance and the viewer hears the bear roar one last time, and then it shows that Kenai has survived.
    • Near the end of the movie, Denahi does this while Kenai runs to them to prevent his brother from harming Koda. Like with the bear Kenai kills, it cuts to the mountain from a distance and the bears from the Salmon Run seeing the lights resulting from this. Fortunately, the spear doesn't kill Kenai because Sitka's eagle spirit had swooped in just in time.
    • Defied in Brother Bear 2: When Kenai and Nita don't recognize each other (Kenai mistaking Nita for a hunter and Nita mistaking Kenai for a rogue bear), she grabs her spear and holds it out to defend herself when he charges at her. Kenai, however, has already learned this trick and swipes the spear away.
  • Olaf in Frozen walks straight into a pointy icicle and stabs himself all the way through. However, he's a Snowlem, and thus Nigh-Invulnerable, so it amuses him more than anything.
    Olaf: Oh look at that. I've been impaled.
  • In Legend Of The Guardians The Owls Of Ga Hoole, happens at the climax of the final battle: Soren gets knocked onto the ground, his flaming stick nearby. As Metalbeak flies at him, battle claws extended, Soren grabs the stick and points it at Metalbeak, who flies onto it.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In 10,000 BC, this is how D'Leh kills the mammoth. When his spear gets stuck in the ground, he runs away, leading the beast to impale itself. But in this case D'Leh feels bad because he didn't really kill the mammoth himself, as the one who could kill it would get the White Spear, and more importantly, would be allowed to marry Evolet. He also does it to the terrorbirds, this time intentional.
  • Aztec Rex: The male tyrannosaur is killed when it’s lured by Rios into a pit of spikes.
  • After kicking arse for the Lord in Braindead, Badass Preacher Father McGruder's effort is unfortunately put to an end when he goes to finish off a zombie with a flying kick. The zombie moves out of the way, and he winds up impaled on the hand of a stone angel statue on a tombstone. He becomes a zombie shortly afterwards because after he punted off one's head, the head came back down and bit him in the arm.
  • Invoked in Braveheart when Scottish infantry successfully counter an English cavalry charge by getting them to crash into a wall of crude pikes.
  • Averted in Bulletproof Monk, when the Big Bad throws Kar at a jagged end of a pipe. The Monk, expecting this, jumps and manages to redirect Kar, so they both end up hitting a wall.
  • In The Chronicles of Riddick (2004), Kira is casually thrown by the Big Bad after a Heel–Face Turn (following a Face–Heel Turn) and ends up getting impaled on a random spike decorating the hall.
  • In The Condemned (2007), when the prisoners are flown to the island and pushed/thrown out of the helicopter, one lands on a wrecked ship and is impaled. He never hits the ground.
  • In the first Count Yorga move, this happens twice. The first time is when one of the hunters, Micheal, reaches the room where Yorga is holding his girlfriend, Donna, and is confronted but by Yorga and one of his vampire brides (who happens to be Donna's now vampirized mother). As Michel holds them at stake point and tries to get Donna to come to him, Yorga throws said bride onto the stake as a distraction so he can escape. Not long after, Yorga charges at Micheal once he exits out of the room, intending to catch him by surprise and choke him to death. However Micheal was holding the remains of said stake that he had broken off when he attempted it, causing Yorga to run right into it and impale himself.
  • In Death Wish II, after Kersey's daughter has recovered from being raped into catatonia in the first Death Wish, she is kidnapped and raped again, and while running from one of the rapists, falls out a window to where she's impaled on a fence. Kersey's response is a second Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Dog Soldiers, Bruce impales himself on a broken tree branch whilst fleeing the werewolves.
  • In Dracula (1973), a vampirized Johnathan Harker is taken out this way when Seward hits him with a shovel before he can bite Van Helsing, knocking him into a nearby pit of spikes and impaling him.
  • In Dracula Has Risen from the Grave, the Count falls off his castle and is impaled on a large golden cross.
  • Mr. Han from Enter the Dragon meets his end when Lee kicks him right into a spear sticking out of a wall, a spear that Han threw at Lee to try to kill him in the adjoining chamber earlier on in the fight.
  • In Exception to the Rule, the villainous Carla Rainer is killed when she is pushed over a ledge and falls onto a metal sculpture with a (conveniently sharp) upward pointed hand.
  • Fright Night (1985): A vampirized Evil Ed (in wolf form) is attacking Peter Vincent. A wooden bannister railing is broken and Peter grabs a piece of it. When Evil Ed charges he is impaled on the wooden pole, returns to human form and apparently dies.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: Christina is killed by being thrown against a washroom stall door so the coat hook is driven through her chest.
  • Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): This is how Rodan is defeated. Although it's ultimately non-fatal, his fight with Mothra ends when, whilst he has her pinned to a skyscraper, he lunges his jaws towards her head and ends up impaling his shoulder on her freshly-drawn stinger, crippling him for the remainder of the Final Battle.
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, this is how Harry kills the Basilisk, by impaling it through the roof of its mouth as it tries to bite him. He ends up being jabbed by one of its poison fangs as a result, and nearly dies, but this is thankfully prevented by Fawkes.
  • In the film of The Hobbit, a Warg runs at Bilbo and he kills it by holding out his sword, Sting, which goes through its skull.
  • James Bond:
    • On Her Majesty's Secret Service. One of Blofeld's goons is grappling with Tracy, who gets rid of him by elbowing him in the ribs and then shoving his body into a spiked wall decoration.
    • In Octopussy James Bond is brawling with goons in an Indian marketplace. A fakir lying on a bed of nails stands up to see what's going on, only for Bond to throw a goon onto the nails and kill him.
  • In the third film of The Librarian series, this is how Flynn kills the Big Bad, by holding up a broken off aspen branch, causing the vampire to walk straight into it.
  • In Life Blood, Rhea delivers an uppercut to Brooke that propels her into the air and leaves her Impaled with Extreme Prejudice as she comes down on top of a stop sign.
  • In the film adaptation of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, this is how Peter, who at the time had no training with a sword, manages to kill Maugrim the Wolf. Maugrim pounces at him and knocks him over, but when Peter pushes the wolf off of him, he finds that Maugrim has impaled himself.
  • The Lordofthe Rings:
    • Subverted in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers: The Rohirrim cavalry charges down a steep incline where orc pikemen are massing. However, the sun rises just in time for the orcs to be dazzled, and the charge completely breaks the line apart. Played straight earlier, when Aragorn leads an elven counter-charge. At least one elf is shown impaling himself on an orc pike, while Aragorn swats one aside with his sword just before it happens to him.
    • Played straighter in Saruman's death scene, which only appears in the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Saruman falls from the top of Orthanc onto a waterwheel that for some inexplicable reason is decorated with long spikes. He lands on his back on one of the spikes, and the wheel turns to grind his body into the muck underneath.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, Shang Tsung tries to knock Liu Kang onto some spikes he raised out of the floor, but Liu Kang knocks him onto them instead.
  • Meg 2: The Trench: The final wild meg is killed when Jonas draws it towards him at an angle where it basically jumps onto the blade of a crashed helicopter, allowing Jonas to impale the meg through the mouth.
  • In The Name of the Rose (though not in the original Eco novel), enraged peasants push Inquisitor Bernardo Guy's wagon off a cliff, and he is impaled on a piece of farm equipment. A harrow to be precise. Yes it was a "harrowing" experience for him.
  • No Escape (1994): The Big Bad Marek meets his end impaled on a thick wooden spike after falling. It was bloody as hell.
  • In the final battle of Pacific Rim, Raiju, a Lightning Bruiser Kaiju who has already ripped off one of Gipsy Danger's arms, charges at the crippled Jaeger with incredible speed. Gipsy, however, deploys the sword in its other arm and pierces it out just before Raiju hits it. The monster ends up piercing itself on Gipsy's sword so hard that the kaiju is completely sliced in half, from head to tail.
  • Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time: With his last breath mortally wounded Garsiv uses his spear to impale one of the Hassansins who was about to jump onto his brother Dastan from above.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, Sarah Brightman's character Blind Mag falls to her death on a wrought iron fence on a stage, during the titular opera.
  • In Robin Hood: Men in Tights, the Sherriff of Rottingham is impaled this way. He rushes Robin, who's busy with something else entirely and has shoved his sword underneath his armpit so he can work better. The camera angle makes it difficult to see what happened, but the Sheriff gets a pained expression on his face when he notices the hilt in his stomach. He says, "It's not so bad..." then turns around so we see the rather large sword stuck straight through him, says, "I was wrong!" and falls flat. He recovers, but immediately wishes he was dead, given the alternative.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. After Azeem wrestles the spear from Mortianna and flings her across the room, she charges at him. Azeem holds out the spear and Mortianna impales herself on it.
  • The Rock: one of the rebel soldiers falls on a stake after being pushed by a rocket ("Well, I only bring it up because, uh, it's you. You're the Rocket Man.").
  • The Sack of Rome (1992). One young lad brags how he'll fight off the mercenaries besieging the city. That night he wakes to find them inside his house. He jumps out of bed in a panic and charges with his sword raised high, but the experienced mercenary commander just lifts his blade and lets him run onto the end of it.
  • In Santo y Blue Demon contra Drácula y el Hombre Lobo, the monsters maintain a pit with wooden stakes at the bottom, apparently for the sole purpose of entertaining themselves by making captives try to cross it on a narrow plank, as werewolves shake it back and forth. They force a captive Blue Demon to do this. Ultimately, this proves to be an extremely poor interior design decision.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009): In the beginning, this almost happens to Watson. Watson tries to charge the villain Lord Blackwood, but Holmes stops him and reveals Blackwood was holding a blade made of glass so it is almost invisible. If Watson had kept going, he would have been impaled through the eye.
  • Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger. In the Arimaspi shrine, Zenobia possesses the body of a sabre-toothed tiger in order to kill Sinbad. During their battle, Sinbad uses the Minaton's long metal pike to fend her off. As they fight on some stairs, Sinbad holds up the pike toward her as she leaps upon him, impaling herself on the pike. She falls to the floor nearby, and he finishes her off with his sword.
  • In Snowpiercer, the tall bearded guy is pierced by a metal rod that Yona puts in his way.
  • In Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound, the main character's psychological trauma is revealed to have been caused by a childhood accident: sliding down a wide bannister, he accidentally knocked his brother onto the spikes of a metal fence, impaling him.
  • At the climax of Star Trek: Nemesis, Picard inflicts this on Shinzon with a piece of broken-off metal.
  • In Sudden Impact, Mick, leader of the rapists that raped Jennifer, is shot by Dirty Harry in the climax on the roller coaster, falls off and is impaled on a unicorn on a merry-go-round.
  • In Switchback, Bob the killer lands on a sharp log/stump while rolling down a hill falling off of a train. It's satisfying to the point of being funny because before that he was cackling madly at having escaped the hero.
  • In Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, one of the college kids impales himself on a tree branch because he wasn't watching where he was going while running away from Tucker.
  • During the climax of Zoltan, Hound of Dracula, Michael's cross drives Zoltan off a cliff where he falls on top of a spiked fence and is impaled.

  • In The Bible, the fast-running warrior Asahel is killed this way while pursuing a fleeing Abner. When Asahel refuses to break off the chase, Abner stops and thrusts out the end of his spear (the blunt end, at that) for the guy to impale himself on, and his momentum sends him into it hard enough to for the shaft to pierce all the way through his torso. Ouch.
  • Books of the Raksura: The Raksura have spines on their backs when they're not Humanshifting and can flare them outwards. On one occasion, Moon raises his spines just before a Mook divebombs him, then fumbles around trying to dislodge the corpse from his back.
  • In Call it Courage (or The Boy Who Was Afraid) by Armstrong Sperry, Mafatu's grandfather told him about how warriors on Tahiti would kill wild boars in this manner. Mafatu himself manages to do it successfully later in the book.
  • Gor series
    • In Blood Brothers of Gor a Fantasy Counterpart Culture Plains Indians war between two tribes uses this. The "good" tribe sets up a series of battlements, each taller than the last but none of them too terribly impregnable. The "bad" tribe jumps over them on their horses, only to fall into a pit of sharpened sticks where they're impaled.
    • In another Gor book, Tarl kills a Larl (basically a lion or tiger the size of a small elephant) by getting it to charge at him while he's holding a spear with the butt firmly stuck in the ground.
  • In On the Night of Highest Tide (part of Vladislav Krapivin's Great Crystal) the protagonist does this twice. He is a professional actor in his twenties, with some serious fencing training, but both times he is de-aged to twelve and has to fight for his life against much bigger enemies:
    • In the first part, which happens in his dream, he meets two boys stranded in time. As they look for a way to get unstuck, they find a big sword and are attacked by "Iron Wyrm" (more like Scrap Metal Wyrm). The hero just steps aside, letting the monster rush past him and cut a long gash in its side. That proves sufficient.
    • In the second part he travels to a parallel world stuck in Medieval Stasis with a bit of Magitek, again reverting to 12. When his friend is wounded, he learns that thanks to Time Travel everybody's destiny had been written down centuries ago. Each person is given a medallion on the day of birth with the predicted fate, and "little brother's" medallion says he'll die by midnight. Determined to Screw Destiny, the hero heads off to fight the Great Chancellor, who is prophesied to lead the state to a bright future and who does nothing to stop the current internal strife. The duel is brutal, the chancellor is strong and fast, but the hero is trained in superior techniques. However, to his frustration he realizes he cannot murder in cold blood. When the desperate enemy tries one last attack, the hero barely manages to dodge and raises his rapier at the last moment. And his opponent's inertia causes him to be impaled on it. Thus, every prophecy is broken, and his friend survives the night.
  • Andre Norton's Judgment on Janus. After Niall/Ayyar falls into a kalcrok's trap, the kalcrok jumps at him to try to pin him to the wall. It is impaled on his sword, (which he happened to be holding in front of him), killing it.
  • This is how Sam is able to seriously wound Shelob in The Lord of the Rings. The book explicitly states that he didn't have the strength to pierce her hide, but Shelob attempting to crush him underneath her and driving her enormous body down onto the sword that Sam was holding out resulted in a serious and seriously painful wound. Shelob could only crawl away to safety afterwards.
  • Mossflower features Skipper of Otters taking vengeance on Tsarmina's chief minion Cludd by setting up several javelins in soft ground and challenging Cludd to a fight to the death. When he's pinned Cludd, he wraps him up in his cloak and flings him into the air, causing him to come down directly onto the javelins. The author then points out that otters point their javelins on both ends.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan has several examples:
    • This is the preferred method of execution for the vampire clan — they tie the victim into a cage and drop them into the pit of stakes in a place called the "Hall of Death". It often takes more than one drop before they die. Multiple major characters die this way, and it's depicted on one of the covers. The antagonist of the second half likes to use these for theatrics, creating a replica "Hall of Retribution" in an Absurdly Spacious Sewer, where the stakes are on fire.
    • Of the hand-held-weapon variety, this is how Darren kills someone in battle for the first time.
  • At the climax of the Warrior Cats book Sunset, Brambleclaw is fighting his evil half-brother, Hawkfrost. He'd just saved his leader from a fox trap by digging up the stake holding it in the ground, so he picks up the stake in his mouth and swings it around. Hawkfrost lunges at him and impales himself on the spike. Brambleclaw is shocked and gasps "Hawkfrost! I... I didn't want this."
  • In Garry Kilworth's Welkin Weasels: Vampire Voles, Montegu Sylver defeats the vampiric villain Count Flistagga by leaping onto his back from a rooftop and tearing his cloak, which he used to glide rather than actually fly, so they both fall. Monty lands in the river, and Flistagga is impaled on a broken pole, killing him.
  • The Wheel of Time: The Chosen One's first kill as a Farm Boy is a Trolloc who tries to distract him by talking, charges him, and is run through by a sword he'd just picked up for the first time.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • One episode has a vampire charging Buffy from the side. An experienced Vampire Hunter by this point, Buffy casually holds out her stake without looking, and dusts the vamp without breaking stride.
    • In "Gingerbread", Buffy is tied to a stake so tightly she can't break her bonds. The Monster of the Week rushes at her, so she breaks the stake and bends forward, impaling it on the tip.
      Buffy: [still leaning forward] Did I get it? Did I get it?
  • In Deadliest Warrior, this is how Shaka Zulu dies, as he successfully stabs William Wallace through the side and wounds him. When Wallace cries out and recoils away in pain, Shaka lunges at Wallace to deliver the fatal blow, but Wallace has his claymore at the ready and Shaka gets Impaled with Extreme Prejudice instead.
  • In the Friday the 13th: The Series episode "Night Prey", a Vampire Hunter attacks a vampire, but the vampire knocks him down. The vampire then leaps onto the man but is impaled on a crucifix the man is holding up, killing it.
  • In Heroes, Claire gets impaled in the head after falling on a tree branch and temporarily dies.
  • One particularly tough Locked Room Mystery in Jonathan Creek appears to be caused by a suit of samurai armour stabbing someone through the chest. It was actually caused by animal rights protesters sending the victim an envelope laced with a hallucinogen. When he licked the envelope, the delirium caused by the drug drove him to climb his bookshelf, slip, and fall onto the raised katana of his lovingly restored samurai armour, the whole thing being one giant Necro Non Sequitur.
  • In the Lost episode "The Other 48 Days", Ana-Lucia discovers Goodwin is The Mole. He attacks her, flinging himself onto the pointy walking stick she's been carrying around all through the episode. Because of Anachronic Order, we actually see the grisly result in the episode before that one.
  • In Misfits, while trying to rescue his friends from the Virtue organisation, Nathan falls off the roof of the community centre and is impaled on a metal spike. He dies instantly, but due to his power of immortality, he is resurrected several days later (by which time the poor guy has been buried alive).
  • In the Murder, She Wrote episode "Footnote to Murder", the Victim of the Week is killed with a sword umbrella. It's eventually revealed that a woman who didn't even know it was a sword umbrella was using it to fend off his unwanted advances, and in trying to move it out of the way while lunging at her, he managed to expose the blade and impale himself before he even realised it was there.
  • Robin Hood: In the season 2 finale, this is how the Sheriff kills Carter, who is chasing him into a building. A pretty lame way for a trained soldier to go.
  • In the first Star Trek: The Original Series pilot episode, "The Cage", during the illusory battle between Captain Pike and a Rigelian warrior, Pike is kneeling in a courtyard holding up a broken spearhead braced against the ground. The warrior jumps down on him and impales himself on the spearhead. Watch it here.
  • One episode of The Twilight Zone (1985) is "The Once and Future King", wherein Gary Pitkin, an Elvis impersonator, gets transported to 1953, where he meets the real Elvis Presley. At first, Elvis thinks Gary is his stillborn brother Jesse, Back from the Dead. However, when Gary begins coaching Elvis about his music, Elvis is reviled. The two men begin to fight, breaking a guitar at the neck. Then Elvis lunges at Gary; Gary rolls aside, and Elvis impales himself fatally on the jagged guitar neck.
  • Xena: Warrior Princess: In "Dangerous Prey", Morloch is defeated when he leaps off a platform towards Xena, only for Xena to hold up a sharpened log that impales him.


    Tabletop Games 
  • Early editions of Dungeons & Dragons: If a PC set a long weapon (such as a spear) in preparation for an opponent's charge and succeeded in hitting the charging opponent, they would do double normal weapon damage, possibly killing the opponent.
    • This is carried over in Pathfinder: weapons with the brace special ability (mostly polearms) can deal extra damage to charging opponents.
  • Earthdawn Combat chapter. One of the techniques in the Mounted Combat section is "Setting Against A Charge". If a character knows a Charging Attack is coming and has a spear or lance available, he can make a Melee Weapons Test. If he succeeds, he hits the charging opponent and does damage before the opponent can attack. If he succeeds really well, he can knock the opponent off his steed.
  • Chaosium's ElfQuest RPG. Characters with long thrusting weapons (such as spears) can set them to receive the impact from a charge.
  • GURPS has a 'stop thrust' option if waiting against charging foes using thrusting melee weapons which turns their movement into bonus damage and if they you have a longer weapon hit before the foe does, depending upon the outcome also denying them their initial attack. Lances do even better, as a successful hit does the better of a stop thrust or the damage from the momentum and strength of the attacker. Adding insult to injury any knockback to a rider has a good chance of dismounting them.

  • This is how Brutus commits suicide at the end of Julius Caesar. It was the traditional method of suicide among Roman nobles, to have a retainer hold out your sword so you could run into it and impale yourself.

    Video Games 
  • Dark Messiah allows the player to kick enemies into spikes for instant-kills. So often in fact, that one review referred to the game as "Sir Kick-Alot Deathboot in the Land of the Conveniently Placed Spikeracks".
  • When you are playing Empire: Total War and you are suddenly missing an entire cavalry regiment, they have probably all impaled themselves on a cheval de frise while you weren't paying attention...
  • For Honor features wall spikes among its environmental hazards. Being pushed into them is an instakill with no revive.
  • A common way to dispatch enemies in the Legacy of Kain series, starting with Soul Reaver. The games even help you out — if you use a telekinetic strike to send an enemy flying and there's a spike in that general direction, they'll fly right onto it even if you weren't strictly lined up.
  • Spiked enemies do this to you if you stomp or jump on them in the Paper Mario games.
  • One case in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice has a victim run his body onto the sword a statue is holding. He does this to throw off the country's court system, which will use a form of spirit channeling to view the last thing he saw, hoping they will interpret it as the defendant (in costume) attacking him.
  • In Pokémon, the moves 'Spiky Shield' and 'Baneful Bunker' make the user protect itself from damage by protecting themselves with spikes. Should its enemy still try to come in contact with it, said enemy will take damage from the spikes or get inflicted with poison status respectively.
    • The abilities 'Iron Barbs' and 'Rough Skin', and the 'Rocky Helmet' hold item, operate off a similar principle to 'Spiky Shield' above, though they don't protect the user from taking damage themselves.
  • In Prince of Persia, pushing Mooks backwards off ledges to impale them in spiked pits is very satisfying. It's probably the easiest way to off the first guard in level 8 and the second guard in level 9. Of course, falling on Spikes of Doom has just as gruesome consequences to the player, as does running into wall spikes in Prince of Persia 2.
  • This is how you get rid of the Antwerp in Quest for Glory I.
  • They Bleed Pixels allows kicking enemies into spikes, but they only damage them. Buzzsaws are instant-kills, however.
  • A common hazard throughout the Tomb Raider series are pits of spikes on which Lara can be impaled and instantly killed.
    • Such deaths get even more gruesome in the 2013 reboot due to Lara's more realistic character model and animation. Failing to avoid certain hazards can result in Lara being impaled through the neck. And it gets even worse because chances are during the river sequence you will see this several times before you finally get through it (watching her struggle helplessly for a moment before finally dying doesn't help). Ditto for the parachute sequence where Lara gets impaled through the stomach by a tree branch.
      • This is accompanied by a non-fatal example at the very beginning of the game, in which Lara is impaled on a piece of rebar after a fall. One of the very first QTEs in the game involves pulling the offending piece of metal out of her side.
  • Warcraft III. Orc buildings can be outfitted with spikes that damage melee attackers, implied to be this trope. Some units (Crypt Lords, turtles) have an ability that does the same (and in the Crypt Lord's case, gives it extra armor).

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Ben and Kevin get abducted by aliens and are forced into Gladiator Games, with their first opponents being bladed, crab walker robots. Ben changes back from Diamondhead at an inopportune moment, but is able to trip the robot and impale it with a blade he had previously severed from it.
  • In the animation of Brian Jacques' book Martin the Warrior, Martin's sword falls from Badrang's paws and into the prison pit. Martin dives for it and holds it up, and when Badrang leaps into the pit after him, he gets impaled on it. Provides the page image.
  • Samurai Jack. Several enemies are defeated this way, notably in "Jack and the Spartans" (see phalanx formation in Real Life) and one where a charging elephant robot keeps going after running over Jack holding his sword in the air and its guts spill out from its belly.
  • Parodied & Downplayed example: On The Simpsons when Bart & Lisa get into a fight. Bart is leaving Lisa's room.
    Bart: OK, but on my way, I'm going to be doing this: (windmills arms) If you get hit, it's your own fault.
    Lisa: OK, then I'm going to start kicking air like this. (kicks) And if any part of you should fill that air, it's your own fault.
    (they walk towards each other, then start fighting)
    Marge: (in the kitchen) Oh, I better go check that out. Now Homer, don't you eat this pie!
    Homer: OK...(Marge leaves) All right, pie, I'm just going to do this. (chomps air) And if you get eaten, it's your own fault! (walks towards pie, chomping air, and hits head on range hood) Ow! Oh, my — aw, to hell with this. (grabs pie, eats it)
  • SpongeBob SquarePants. In the episode "Sleepy Time", Plankton dreams that he is giant and is destroying Bikini Bottom. As he is about to step on SpongeBob's pet snail, Gary, SpongeBob runs to his snail and turns into a push pin just as Plankton's foot comes down. As a result, Plankton begins to deflate to his regular size, and is promptly stepped on by one of the dream Bikini Bottomites, causing him to wake up.
    SpongeBob: I think he got the point.
    Plankton: [starts shrinking] WAAAAH! [as he screams his voice gets higher and higher until he goes back to his normal, puny size. Three burnt fish walk up to Plankton looking mad] Well, I guess I've got some explaining to do, huh? [one of the burnt fish lowers his foot onto him] No! No! NO! NOT THE FACE! [gets squished. Plankton wakes up screaming and his dream cloud pops, making Dream!SpongeBob fall to the ground]

    Real Life 
  • Truth in Television: This trope, combined with the prevalence of cavalry up to the 19th century, is the reason the spear exists.
  • A non-lethal version of this is a common tactic in épée fencing.
  • There was a story on 1000 Ways to Die about an overzealous gym teacher lecturing his students about throwing a javelin. This doesn't end how you think it does. After throwing the javelin, the teacher ran to get it back, but was looking over his shoulder while doing so, not looking where he was going. At the very last moment he turned around, and was stabbed through the right eye up into his brain by the end of the javelin. He was killed instantly, but was held standing upright by the javelin in his head, which was gruesome for the students to look at when they eventually came over to see why he was just standing there. Also an example of Eye Scream.
  • This is how boar spears work, as the tactic for boar hunting involves getting a rampaging boar to charge in the direction of the hunter and impale itself on the spear. The spears also have wing-like lugs behind the blade to keep the boar from running all the way up the spear and into the hunter, because no one hunting the boars wants them to pull off a Taking You with Me.
  • Hedgehogs, upon being threatened, will roll up and stick up their spines, pricking anything that attempts to eat them. Same happens with porcupine puffer fish.
    • Porcupines (the rodents, not the puffer fish) are a bit more proactive, turning their backs towards predators and sometimes kicking if they get too close. They don't really chase anything down with their quills, though, so in most cases foolhardy predators end up enacting this trope anyway.


Video Example(s):


Adventurers v. Wolf Riders

"A Gathering of Adventurers". The army of adventurers gathered to defend Cow Girl's farm from a horde of goblins are alerted to an incoming unit of wolf-riders. Spearman takes charge and leads them to where they have prepared sets of crude pikes, which they raise just before the goblins reach them and bloodily break the charge.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / AThicketOfSpears

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