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Instant Death Stab

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Death by bladed weapon is frequently portrayed as being more instantaneous than it is in real life. Whether it's a knife flying into someone's head, someone literally being stabbed In the Back, a Slashed Throat, a gash across the chest, or an unexpected dagger strike against advancing enemy, death is often portrayed as instantaneous, with the victim collapsing immediately, not even able to breathe for a second more. It may even take a few seconds for other characters to realize that death has occurred.

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In some videogames, striking someone with a melee weapon can inflict critical hits, occasionally resulting in the aforementioned phenomenon where bladed weapons kill characters instantly.

Although death can come in short order after being stabbed or slashed with a bladed weapon in real life, depending on where the wound is and how deep it is, this generally is not Truth in Television.

Sister Trope to Instant Death Bullet. Contrast Agonizing Stomach Wound, where getting stabbed (or shot) in the stomach makes someone die slowly.

This is a Death Trope, so spoilers are unmarked.


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Examples:

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    Comic Books 

    Film 
  • In Sin City, Miho dispatches three of Dirty Cop Jack Rafferty's cronies with well placed katana strikes to their faces through the roof of the former's car. They die instantly.
  • You Only Live Twice. James Bond has a meeting with an MI6 agent named Henderson. During the meeting, Henderson stands against the (paper) wall of his house. He suddenly stops talking and remains motionless. When Bond goes over to check on him, he discovers that Henderson is dead, with a knife stabbed partway into his back through the wall.

    Live Action TV 
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    Video Games 
  • The protagonists in the Assassin's Creed video game series carry a hidden wrist blade. Any one cut or stabbed with this is more or less dead on contact. Somewhat justified in that it's a fairly long blade, several inches wide that are usually used to stab in the stomach, back or throat during time periods were medical care was spotty at best if anyone even noticed you'd just been stabbed in the middle of the riotous crowd.
  • In Mud And Blood 2, the Brandenburg infiltrator has a tendency to kill soldiers they engage in CQC instantly by stabbing them with a dagger.
  • Team Fortress 2: Played with regarding the Spy's various knives, which do pitiful damage from the front, but can instantly kill any class in the game if he strikes them from behind.
  • In most Call of Duty games starting with Modern Warfare, the player has a Quick Melee knife attack which inflicts a One-Hit Kill under normal circumstances.
    Roll up and see the terrifying ripper with his blade! / His magic knife will end your life; of one-hit-kills it's made!
    He'll lunge right through your bullets and he'll stab you in the toe / then farewell to your controller out the window it will go.
  • Zig-Zagged in The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, depending on your skill level in sneak and various melee weapons. Played straighter and straighter at higher levels.
    • Get enough perks in 1-handed or 2-handed, and a power strike after charging against a humanoid enemy technically kills them before your weapon even hits them, due to the striking animation and hurtboxes not being exactly synchronised.
    • Also, attacking at melee range while sneaking does between 3 and 15 times the weapon's base damage, allowing for instantaneous kills against many targets, especially sleeping ones.
      • The Killcams sometimes mitigate it with a flashy, violent animation that implies it took several hits to kill the target, but functionally speaking the game simply calculates that you deal more damage than the target's entire health bar, armour taken into account, thus offing them in just enough time it took for the game to calculate it.
  • The 1985 NES game Rush'n Attack is a Run-and-Gun adventure where actual guns are surprisingly hard to get, and harder to hold on to. Thus, the unnamed protagonist's primary mode of attacking enemies is nothing more than a swift stab from a combat knife. Fortunately, most regular enemies fall to a single strike of Captain Stabby's blade.
  • Dragon Age: Origins had the Murder Knife, a blade that the Gray Warden would pull out to kill characters in cutscenes. One stab and the target dropped dead.
  • Early in Chrono Trigger you're trapped in a prison and need to escape. If you manage to sneak up on the guards your kill them instantly and silently without a fight and get a Mid-Tonic for the effort.

    Visual Novels 
  • Justified in Tsukihime and Kara no Kyoukai. Being stabbed usually isn't fatal in that series... unless someone bearing the Mystic Eyes of Death Perception stabs you in your point of death. If that happens, you die. No matter what, you die. Period. At best, you can hold on for about thirty seconds if you've lived for a really long time before the point of death was hit, but that's about it.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 
  • Shadiversity, when examining historical recreations in films and TV, refers to this trope as a "Lightsaber moment", referencing the very justified ability of a lightsaber to instantly kill any creature it hits, but applied implausibly to physical swords, especially when used against people in heavy armor who would realistically survive the blow and possibly even be unharmed.

    Western Animation 
  • Steven Universe: Gems are made of Hard Light, and can take quite a beating before "poofing" and regenerating themselves; however, Gems that have been stabbed or otherwise pierced will poof near-instantaneously, often only getting a few seconds to realize what happened before their form gives way.


Alternative Title(s): Instant Death Slash

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