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Made of Plasticine

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Von Pinn demonstrates a novel disarming technique.

"There's no sense of weight to any of the gore. When a body gets mangled or hacked apart there's no sense of effort or that the flesh is resisting, or even that it hurts much. The necromorphs seem to hack off your knees by brushing past you in a narrow corridor. And do you know how hard it would be to sever a leg by stamping on it? You'd need to wear an ice skate! And even then the bone's gonna take a few whacks!"

All things considered, the human body is a pretty tough little piece of biological machinery. It's made of complex organs, protected and supported by a strong skeletal structure (four times stronger than concrete), boasts tendons and muscles capable of exerting dynamic strength upon objects it interacts with and has the ability to heal and regenerate most kinds of damage over time. Humans, especially athletic ones, can take a lot more punishment than most people think. Don't Try This at Home, but it is a fact that human beings can walk away from catastrophic accidents and savage attacks with little sign of external damage and occasionally survive wounds that should have been fatal by conventional wisdom.

Writers of violent fiction sometimes forget this.

The polar opposite of Made of Iron, this trope manifests when the human body is represented as being much flimsier and more easily dismembered than it really is, or when its internal structures are depicted as a mass of bloody, spongy goo, with no sign of supporting bones or recognizable organs. Like Made of Iron, it is a poster trope for a class on the Super Weight scale, being -1.

In Real Life, it requires considerable skill and force to, for example, cleanly sever a human limb with a bladed weapon. It does happen, and there are historically known incidents including at least one case where both legs were severed by a single blow with a large sword. In fiction, however, heads and limbs may be instantly, cleanly severed on contact with anything resembling a bladed weapon or sharp-edged object. A bleeding wound will create a spray of so much High-Pressure Blood the victim ends up Overdrawn at the Blood Bank. Accidental contact with a pointed object leads to out-the-other-side impalement. Pulling on someone's arm with any amount of serious force will yank the limb from the socket. Bones snap like twigs, flesh rips apart like wet paper, contact with fire burns a body to a charred skeleton within moments and at worst, the entire body is simply splattered by whatever force hits it like an overripe tomato.

The implied force just does not jibe with the visible effect.

Vampires and zombies in any media are great examples of this. (Some) zombies at least have the excuse of being, well, rotten, but the ease with which vampires can be staked through the heart and pristinely decapitated makes one wonder if they even have bones (although according to some folklore they don’t, so take that as you will). Also very common with characters who have a Healing Factor so they can be shown recovering from all manner of brutal injuries on a regular basis.

On the other hand, sometimes the physical forces at work are just too much for the human body to endure, making this one, when handled correctly, a particularly gruesome Truth in Television.

Oddly enough, this always seems to be played deadly straight with Mecha-Mooks who, if anything, should avert this trope even further. It is, however, almost always averted with their bigger, deadlier counterparts: Mechanical Monsters.

Compare Bloodier and Gorier, which almost always involves this, and Made of Bologna, an Animation Trope in which a body's lack of bones and internal organs is used to avoid showing gore. Not to be confused with Claymation, a form of Stop Motion animation that commonly uses Plasticine models over a wire skeleton. Contrast Made of Iron.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Any adult-oriented, violent anime. Especially any anime involving Samurai, Eldritch Abominations, or The Legions of Hell. In fact, the physiology of anime humans sometimes seems to revel in adding made of plasticine flesh to its already gratuitous High-Pressure Blood.
    • A good example is Gantz, in which several of the gory deaths, even of main characters, involve slopping entrails that look like overly moist hamburger. In one scene, an alien kicks a character's head off without breaking the skin of his neck, instead stretching it to a good three feet longer than it should be. This ends in a grotesque boneless-giraffe effect that largely defies the laws of physics, not to mention anatomy. Maybe this trope should be titled 'Made of Rubber'.
    • Berserk: While main characters tend to be Made of Iron, especially Guts, less plot-armored characters such as Mooks, Red Shirts, and helpless victims are easily reduced to Ludicrous Gibs as if their bone or muscle didn't offer any resistance. Usually, this is done to show the sheer appalling power of Guts', Apostles', and other inhumanly strong attacks. Guts routinely hits people so hard that their eyeballs and entire intact brains pop out of their shattered skulls. Perhaps the craziest example of this is Irvine's ability to decapitate enemies by headshotting them with his arrows: The arrow pierces the skull and keeps moving so that it rips the head right off the body by pure momentum with no regard for the neck muscles or spine, leaving the neck looking as if it had been Clean Cut by an edged weapon. However, the trope is averted in the most gruesome way possible when Guts amputates his own forearm during the Eclipse, especially in the third Golden Age movie where he's shown having to hack through every last strand of resisting sinew before he can free himself.
    • Any mook in Fist of the North Star is made of plasticine, and usually destined to be ripped apart by Kenshiro or one of the other Made of Iron badasses of the series.
    • This is also true of everyone in Ninja Scroll... unless your name is Jubei.
  • While it may feel like this trope is merrily used and abused in Battle Angel Alita, especially the early Scrapyard volumes, it is probably not too unrealistic a depiction of normal human physiology vs crazy enhanced cyborgs. Also justified in that the organic element most frequently targeted in cyborg combat is the remaining human brain... which is very much squishy. Especially when hitting a Motorball track at high velocity and sans the usual skull encasing Nature intended...
  • Played with in Hellsing, where military-grade firepower and superhuman vampires tear people to beautifully stylized shreds.
    • In Hellsing ultimate Integra Hellsing manages to deeply stab herself in the finger with a BUTTER KNIFE! it was so deep that she was able to feed Seras Victoria with all the blood that came from the wound.
  • School Days. Though it's slightly downplayed where Makoto's has to be stabbed over and over again in order to die, other times it shows a ridiculous 20-foot-high fountain of blood (specifically Sekai's anime death scene and the one from the game where their neck is sliced).
  • Elfen Lied fits this trope to a tee. Through the series, you can see countless people being mangled, torn apart, dismembered and ripped by the Diclonius with little effort — justified by their massively powerful psychic skills.
  • Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan employs this trope in spades.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, you'd be hard-pressed to find a fight that doesn't involve someone getting torn apart or splattered. Even the protagonists quite frequently take beyond lethal amounts of damage (but they seem to be fine a few panels later).
  • MD Geist Throughout both movies in the series people pop like balloons if either Geist or the Death Force so much as look at them the wrong way.
  • Parodied in Ranma ½. Ryouga learns the Bakusai Tenketsu (Exploding-Point Hole, or Breaking Point in the localization) which he and Ranma believe can make an opponent's body burst into Ludicrous Gibs with the mere touch of a finger. After all, it does make giant, multi-ton boulders explode violently. In the end, though, Cologne reveals it's only ever used for demolition and construction, and it doesn't work on living things.
  • The Tales of the Abyss anime is extremely guilty of this. Men, animals and just about anything biological burst open and fall apart like blood-filled water balloons the moment they're struck... Well, except for the main characters.
  • Subverted in one instance in Bleach, when the Big Bad slices Ichigo in half. However, Aizen was unable to cut through his spine with the blow, which is the only thing keeping Ichigo together at that point (well, that and Heroic Resolve).
  • Dragon Ball:
    • The scene in Dragon Ball where Goku launches himself with a Kamehameha Wave and punches straight through King Piccolo, who then proceeds to spit an egg out of his now nonexistent stomach, make a short Final Speech without his lungs, and then explodes for no apparent reason. Goku's punch not only came within a hair of tearing King Piccolo in half, but it also apparently cauterized the wound so that Goku could be clearly seen through the (blood-and-gore-less) hole.
    • Dragon Ball Z:
      • All forms of Buu. Notable in that everyone else is pretty much Made of Iron, but even normal handgun rounds can punch holes in him. Of course, he makes up for this with ridiculous regeneration powers. This gave the animators a good chance to go wild with the kind of injuries Buu would suffer, ranging from being blasted to bits to get his head smushed into his neck, and so on.
      • As well as Vegeta in the Namek saga. Krillin blew a hole right through Vegeta to give a power boost strong enough to beat Frieza, who was tearing into Piccolo at the moment. You can see through the hole and view behind Vegeta and clearly see his spine is nowhere there, yet he manages to walk over to Dende for healing.
      • The human characters are also subject to improbable punishment. Yamcha had a hole punched through his middle in the Cell arc by Dr. Gero, enough to sever his spine and esophagus. However, not only did he survive, but he somehow was still capable of eating and swallowing a Senzu bean. Tenshinhan lost an arm in the Saiyan arc, which should have killed him in seconds due to the blood loss coming from major blood vessels in the arm being severed; however, his death took much longer than that.
  • The titular Victory Gundam from Mobile Suit Victory Gundam. Compared to its predecessors and even their Elite Mook counterparts from 08th MS Team, this series of Gundams has been trashed the most out of any. A running joke seems to be "How long will Uso go after combining to just launch its legs at the enemy?"
    • Of course, this was in part because the Victory's entire gimmick was being a three-piece modular system. In order to utilize it, the manufacturers who made the Gundams built tons of spare parts, allowing Uso (and other pilots) to use them as giant missiles.
  • At the end of Fullmetal Alchemist, Greed was reabsorbed into Father in an attempt to give him more power. However, Greed retained control of his ability to manipulate the carbon in his body and used it against Father. Ordinarily, he would turn his skin into diamond; instead, he started turning Father's body into graphite which crumbled quickly, making this a reasonable use of the trope.
  • In One Piece, Queen Otohime was known for having a weaker body than normal people, where a simple slap caused her hand to fracture. Despite this, she still clung to her convictions, and when she gets shot, the wound is portrayed somewhat realistically.
  • Either the aliens in Parasyte have monomolecular blades, or nobody in the entire manga has a backbone. Considering that the completely human Kabuto can also cut people's heads off easily, there's a good chance it's the latter. (Then again, most other injuries in the series are represented realistically . . .)
  • The Titans of Attack on Titan fall apart surprisingly easily. It's a plot point, hinting at their peculiar nature and origins, and they've got a worryingly effective Healing Factor to compensate. Downplayed, however, in that the main reason they seem to be this way is due to them being ripped apart by the military's Absurdly Sharp Blades, and other titans; at one point in the series, Sasha takes several swings at a Titan's weak spot with a conventional axe, and fails to kill it.
  • Psycho-Pass is all too happy to use this particular trope, and anything hit by the Lethal mode of the Dominator guns tends to swell up like a balloon and detonate into a shower of gore. It's like a ranged version of Kenshiro's Hokuto Shinken.
  • Zombie Land Saga: The zombie girls have a tendency to lose their limbs and even their heads if they overexert themselves, but fortunately they can be easily reattached.
  • Magical Girl Apocalypse: The Magical Girls, as well as the people they resurrect as zombies, can rip people apart quite effortlessly.
  • My Hero Academia: Midoriya panics when Monoma copies his Quirk, not because he's afraid of what the other boy will do with it, but because Monoma isn’t trained to handle One For All and Midoriya is terrified the sheer power of it will blow his limbs off. Luckily, Monoma's inability to copy stockpiled resources makes the Quirk useless in his hands and he doesn't get torn apart.

    Comic Books 
  • 300 uses this to such a degree it becomes comical. Heads fly off and bodies burst into showers of blood from the slightest contact with a spear or sword. The Persian soldiers are essentially high-pressure balloons of blood.
  • In Necronomicon Henry punches straight through the chest of a Mi-Go doppelganger of Dr. Armitage, which proceeds to disintegrate 'like hummus'.
  • Y: The Last Man tends to be pretty bad with this... unless you've been with the main cast for the past three issues. In which case you're Made of Iron.
  • Preacher: Even simple acts result in horrific blood loss and tiny spurts of blood. Jesse Custer produces a spurt of blood by breaking a man's finger, eyes will pop out from a kick to the chin, and bodies will explode with the slightest hit from a bullet. Oddly enough, the major characters gain many debilitating injuries over the course of the series (mainly Herr Starr) from similar activities, but don't die instantly. Justified with any victims of the Saint of Killers, whose guns are powered by God Himself and can kill anything with a single shot. Including, ironically, God Himself.
  • Pretty much anyone The Authority gets their hands on. To list just a few examples, Jack Hawksmoor punches a guy's head off, Midnighter has decapitated people with his staff and ripped heads and spines out with his bare hands (Mortal Kombat style), while Swift once exploded a guy by flying through him. Justified in that the characters all have enhanced physical abilities.
  • Most of Bullseye's targets. No matter how accurately it's thrown, a tooth wouldn't punch cleanly through a human skull and kill them instantly unless it was fired from a gun (and even then, it would probably shatter). Erasers, Popsicle sticks, his own feces! Bullseye has managed to kill people with all of these objects. Except, of course, for Daredevil, who can take a bullet to the shoulder and three shurikens lodged in his chest and shrug it off like it was nothing.
  • The absurdly gory David Quinn/ Tim Vigil comic Faust. Pretty much everyone is a blood bag in this one!
  • In Garth Ennis' The Boys, The Female and the Frenchman seem very adept at ripping people's faces right off their skulls, dismembering them with casual ease, jumping through their torsos to rip out their ribcages, etc. They are heavily augmented with the superpower-creating Compound V, but mostly they are fighting supers with similar powers. When the Female is let loose on ordinary human villains it's...worse.
    • Averted in a very specific case where the other Boys explain to Hughie that it's almost impossible to literally blow a person's head off with a normal firearm. "Brains out, sure, but anything more is Hollywood bullshit."
  • Sin City goes back and forth, depending on the mood of Frank Miller. Marv has splattered a man's head against a wall and Hartigan mauled the Yellow Bastard with his bare hands. Despite this, it's not uncommon for people to suffer massive injuries and continue to fight, treating it as Only a Flesh Wound.
  • DC Comics villain/anti-hero Deathstroke has a lot of this in his Flashpoint mini and post-Flashpoint ongoing title. He's particularly fond of severing the head at, or in a couple of memorable cases, just above the mouth. Not only does Slade effortlessly cut through the bones, tendons, muscles, etc, in heads, necks, and abdomens as he converts his victims into collections of parts, they're rarely in evidence when you see the cut edges, and only in a handful of cases are now loose organs shown spilling out.
    • Then again, Deathstroke has Super-Strength and mostly carries indestructible swords, which could explain slicing through bodies but still doesn't explain ordinary sniper rifle bullets causing heads to explode like watermelons that were hit by a sledgehammer
  • Über is fairly realistic in its depiction of people torn apart by World War 2 ordnance. Once the titular superhumans are introduced, however...they bloodily rip ordinary humans apart like ragdolls made of wet tissue paper.
  • In Crossed, the psychopathic infected of the title love to redecorate major cities with severed heads, dismembered limbs, piles of steaming guts and flayed skin-coats, all casually ripped from the luckless humans they prey upon.
  • In Age of Reptiles it seems as though every dinosaur is easily torn to shreds. Raptors, in particular, have the ability to eviscerate other dinosaurs with a flying leap and a slash from their claws.
  • In the Dresden Files comic miniseries Welcome to the Jungle, a gorilla tears a hag apart like she was made out of damp tissue paper. To be fair, if an enraged gorilla wants to tear you apart, you will come apart.
  • The Invincible comics seem to run mostly on this trope.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores and Boomsticks: Since the Grimm lack Aura, the weaker ones are highly vulnerable to attacks that wouldn't bother Pokemon or humans with Aura. More than one character kills a Grimm that they're trying to capture for research purposes because they're more fragile than expected.
  • In The Many Worlds Interpretation, Discworld Assassin Johanna Smith-Rhodes gives a reality check to the Caltech geeks Sheldon, Leonard, Howard and Raj. Their only previous experience of handling bladed weapons is with useless replica swords at Renfaires. Johanna provides the real thing and a target designed to simulate the resistance and solidity of a human head. Howard Wolowitz barely dents it, and manages to get the blade stuck in the target. Apparently Assassins' Guild students don't do much better at their first go either, and encountering something carefully crafted to simulate reality is yet another corrective to over-confidence.
  • Sleeping with the Girls: The protagonist and only the protagonist is this due to getting shunted from a Like Reality, Unless Noted universe into several worlds that follow Made of Iron without acquiring that trait himself. Rather than assuming that it's caused by some difference in the laws of physics like most fanfics would, this chooses to treat Made of Iron as biological as part of its nature as a Deconstruction, effectively making the protagonist a different, much more fragile species than the native humans.
  • Similarly to the above example, This Bites! has the protagonist, Jeremiah Cross, put into the world of One Piece, where he is very squishy compared to the Made of Iron norm. One Idiot Punch from Nami knocks him out for 10 minutes. It takes time, training, and local food and vitamins, but he eventually grows out of this trope.

  • Discworld series by Terry Pratchett:
    • In The Fifth Elephant, Vimes' internal monologue mentions that while he had seen a move used by Inigo Skimmer - a chopping motion with the edge of the hand to the base of the neck - annoy or stun men, the idea that it could remove the head was very much a new one to him. It's revealed shortly afterward that a palm dagger was involved, although it is very sharp, as it would be - Mr. Skimmer is an assassin.
    • Sergeant Detritus's sidearm of choice, the Piecemaker, is noted to have this sort of effect on the target. As a (very large) troll he uses a converted and tuned up siege crossbow instead of a normal one. A crossbow which used to fire one large blunt arrow, intended more for general demolition and knocking down doors than anti-personnel uses. Since then it has been modified to fire about a hundred arrows bound in one sheath - with the obvious intention of firing them all at once at a target. However, it's explained that the various forces involved when firing it have caused the arrows themselves to be more or less irrelevant to the whole situation. Pulling the trigger simply results in the target being hit by an expanding cloud of flaming wooden splinters. In short, the weapon could be loaded with pretty much anything and it would still cause its targets to evaporate into fine red mist. Due to its extremely wide kill zone - it has been known to destroy things directly above Detritus even when firing forwards - it's advised the only safe place when he is around is behind him.
    • Played with in Unseen Academicals, when Mr. Nutt (practically the embodiment of Awesomeness by Analysis) pauses in his tussle with a vicious football hooligan, to discuss the precise mechanical forces and tissue-resistance involved if he were to invoke made of plasticine and yank the ruffian's head off.
  • Averted in Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson. In spite of having a Katana, Hiro notes that you can't just chop right through people with a single swing, like in the movies. He doesn't always use the proper form but manages to survive anyway.
    • He also does exactly that (decapitate someone with a single swing) by accident when he actually fights in the real world for the first time. It's more of a "shouldn't" than "can't", since you don't want to risk the blade getting stuck in the middle of a fight.
  • Averted in George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, where skill or an Absurdly Sharp Blade is required to decapitate a man with one swing during an execution. The royal executioner Ilyn Payne is known for doing his job well, but Robb Stark bungles his first execution and has to take several swings.
  • Pretty much anything that isn't a human falls into this in the Damned series. Humans have, compared to everything else supernatural resilience, strength, bone density, etc. Massood don't trail quite as far behind as everybody else, and a Molitar can actually come near a human in one on one combat, although seeing as they are about five hundred pounds on average that's still plasticine, just lots of it.
    • The Wais in particular fall to this. Not only would they break a bone tripping, but they also throw up if they see a violent movie, except for a few.
  • In American Gods Laura kills Mister World by pushing a spear through her own stomach and into his while he's standing behind her. OK, she has detachment and determination brought on by being undead, but wouldn't that be rather tricky to pull off?
  • Discussed in Angels of Music, after Kate and Yuki attend a stage show at the Théâtre des Horreurs which features realistically gory decapitations and mutilations. Yuki says that she can tell the decapitations are fake because the heads come off too easily: "To cut off a head... it is not so easy as they make out. Even with a sharp sword. The head does not come off like a doll's, at the merest love tap." Kate reflects that there's a lot she doesn't know about Yuki's past.
  • C. S. Lewis's novel about the afterlife, The Great Divorce, shows that our world is like a shadow cast by a higher reality — in other words, by Heaven — and that unprepared souls escaping from Hell find Heaven a hostile environment, because they are so insubstantial and unreal by comparison. Walking on grass, for example, feels like walking on a bed of nails, and attempting to walk against the wind is about as effective as pushing against a reinforced concrete wall.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan did this all the time.
    The fighting-madness of his race was upon him, and with a red mist of unreasoning fury wavering before his blazing eyes, he cleft skulls, smashed breasts, severed limbs, ripped out entrails, and littered the deck like a shambles with a ghastly harvest of brains and blood. ("Queen of the Black Coast")
  • Subverted in The Dresden Files. When "making like Buffy" against a group of Black Court Vampires (basically living corpses), Harry and Inari both try to stake a Black Court Vampire apiece. They hit the ribcage and nothing happens. It takes a frozen turkey falling from the sky and some good old faith-based magic to defeat the Black Court Mooks.
  • In one of the Doctor Who Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures, a villain rips the Doctor's heart out bare-handed. It's never explained how this was managed — the Doctor certainly isn't usually made of plasticine. He got better, of course, and in a week at that, as he has a Healing Factor (not to mention having a second heart), and other factors were apparently involved.
  • Averted for vampires in Robin McKinley's Sunshine; going under the breastbone to reach the heart with a stake is specifically mentioned.
  • Lampshaded with Smash's bloodless dismemberment of opponents in the hypnogourd in the Xanth novel Ogre, Ogre.
  • Terry Goodkind's epic Sword of Truth series has a doozy, when the hero, Richard, pulls Drefan's spine out through the man's stomach, and then tears the spinal column into little bitty pieces. Crosses bizarrely with Made of Iron, since Drefan carries on fighting, at least for a while.
  • The Taxxons in Animorphs. Their many nimble claws makes them good technicians, and their sense of smell makes them excellent trackers, and they're still pretty terrifying to an unarmed human, but they're described as being about as durable as a soggy paper bag. Their insatiable hunger makes it even worse: if one of them is injured, the rest will turn on it in a feeding frenzy. Lampshaded in Visser where Visser One quips that a Taxxon could be killed by a human armed only with a can opener.
  • In Brisingr, the third novel of Inheritance Cycle, one the main characters effortlessly beheads helmeted foes with a single swing of his sword. While he’s lying on his back, they’re towering over him, and he has no leverage. Even discounting the fact that he shouldn’t even be able to reach his enemy’s neck from five feet beneath him, it’s unlikely he could exert enough force from that angle to deal a lethal blow, let alone cleanly sever skin, muscle, and spinal cord.
  • Zig-zagged and possibly justified in Geoph Essex's Lovely Assistant, where it's...
    • Averted at first, when Jenny is hit by a car (in her introduction scene) and suffers no injuries. Actually, she's killed instantly, but since The Grim Reaper didn't show up, she becomes one herself, and without a scratch on her.
    • Played straight in the first reveal, when Jenny gets her leg chopped right off. But it is a very large, heavy crate with a jagged metal edge.
    • Averted again when Jenny cuts off her finger to test her new power. It takes time, effort, and cringe-worthy sawing...with a steak knife.
    • Presumably justified in the rest of the book, since Jenny's ability to dismember herself and all that is never fully delineated.
  • The Jenkinsverse:
    • The entire 'verse is built around this trope, with humanity leaving Earth only to find that even the most feared and savage monsters in the galaxy are surprisingly flimsy. The aliens, in turn, are astounded by the human race's incredible resilience and strength.
    • Then there's the Dizi rat. As one of the few universal meat animals in a galaxy where most predators would lose a fight with a human child, they practically explode if you so much as look at them wrong.
  • Richard Laymon made an entire literary career out of over-the-top Gorn involving people who tend to come neatly apart into discrete body parts when subjected to violence. His books are full of scenes like this; people getting shot through the head and leaving a severed ear stuck to the wall behind them, victims being decapitated by a firewood axe, and a man's ear being surgically removed in his sleep.
  • Fighting Fantasy Series has the Demonic Servants, gaunt, almost-skeletal humanoids clad in dark robes often found serving demons and evil overlords all over the world. So gaunt, actually, that they istantly die if you manage to land as much as two consecutive blows on them. Since they usually have low SKILL scores, they tend to go down easily compared to sturdier monsters.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of Angel, he's being held in place from behind by another vampire and there's a human present who might want to kill both of them, or might just want to kill the other vampire. She stabs Angel through the chest at such an angle that she hits the other vampire's heart, but not his. She only found out about the existence of vampires the day before, so it's not like her vast Slayer experience was helping her there.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer justifies this by saying that wood pierces the flesh of a vampire like a hot knife through butter, although it never explains why. A plastic stake goes in, even, though that might just be because Riley's a big guy who could power it through.
    • One of the best is in the episode where Willow, who at the time is barely capable of moving a pencil via telekinesis kills a vampire by flying said pencil into his back. The pencil wasn't moving with enough force to penetrate the vampire's leather jacket, let alone his flesh.
    • Another instance comes at the end of "Doppelgangland" when Vamp Willow crumbles to dust after being pushed into, not a stake, but the jagged edge of what looks like a broken 1-by-4 — something that would have to be propelled with awesome force to do anything more than give the average human a nasty scrape.
    • It's pretty clear that this is related to having a name. In one scene a random vampire is killed when a small tree branch pierces his stomach (note: not near the heart) but Spike and Angel have both survived thanks to a stake or arrow missing by centimeters.
    • The worst instance, however, occurs with a character who does have a name. Dawn is lying on the ground, holding a crossbow bolt pointing up while her vampire boyfriend slowly, and deliberately leans in towards her, and apparently, slowly pushing the bolt into his own chest until it pierces his heart.
  • Dead Like Me features a lot of death via accident that falls under this category. For instance, a man who was killed by a high heel shoe impaling him through the forehead.
  • Game of Thrones is inconsistent; Ned Stark is beheaded cleanly, (justified by the executioner being very experienced and using a massive, two-handed Valyrian steel greatsword) while Ser Rodrik's decapitation requires several strikes (and eventually has to be kicked loose). However, the Battle of the Blackwater shows many examples of a Clean Cut through armour, and with no Absurdly Sharp Blade to justify it.
  • Played straight in Grey's Anatomy of all places. There is an episode that features a homegrown 'explosive expert' who ends up with an RPG stuck in his lung. When it finally detonates at the end of the episode, 3 people are instantly turned into pink mist.
  • Heroes:
    • Unsurprisingly exhibited by Claire in — her ability to regenerate is quite handy considering her uncanny ability to die at a moment's notice. Being knocked down causes her to break her neck where a normal person would just hit their head, a normally quite safe garbage disposal tears her hands to shreds and even stray branches pose a mortal threat. Sheer masochism is the only explanation for the number of times she intentionally hurts herself, or doesn't ever seem to bother trying not to get hurt note  but it doesn't change the fact that you can't cut a toe off with scissors, that getting bumped into tends not to result in broken necks, and if you're pushed against a metal rod, you bruise; it doesn't go through you with less resistance than a toothpick through a meatball.
    • Not to mention that Sylar manages to accidentally impale his mother with scissors a little too easily.
    • That glass shard seemed to slide through Peter's skull like butter, though Sylar was accelerating the shards with telekinesis. Given that Sylar can focus his telekinesis into an invisible scalpel-like force on its own, he has at least an excuse.
  • Kamen Rider Double has a literal example in the Claydoll Dopant, whose ability to regenerate from any damage is offset by being a hollow human-sized doll made out of an inch-thick sheet of hardened clay. Damage that for other characters might result in some cosmetic spark effects instead causes Claydoll to shatter into a few hundred pieces.
  • Used to great comic effect by Monty Python's Flying Circus. An exaggerated example is the "Sam Peckinpah's 'Salad Days'" sketch, in which absolutely minimal force (throwing a tennis ball or racquet, grabbing someone's arm, or closing a piano lid) causes limbs to be severed or characters to be impaled with ridiculous ease.
  • Smallville characters are curiously susceptible to impalement: getting knocked into - or sometimes, accidentally stepping into - any object that's longer than it is wide will result in said object being pierced straight through the body, resulting in death within seconds (just long enough for you to look down at the object and think Oh, Crap!.)
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand has this in spades. In fact, the only ones who don't seem to be made of plasticine are the gladiators themselves. Averted twice:
    • Season 1 had the death of Theokles, whose neck was so thick, it took Spartacus four swings to fully decapitate him.
    • The most recent season saw the decapitation of Ashur by Naevia after three hard swings. Granted, the females are not as strong as the gladiators, and Crixus offers to teach her how to "remove a man's head in one swing".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation oddly combines this with Made of Iron in the episode Suspicions. Fighting for her life, Dr. Crusher blasts a sizable hole clean through an attacker's torso. It barely slows him down.
  • Presented almost literally in the Torchwood: Miracle Day episode "Rendition" when Rex Matheson snaps the neck of an enemy agent, and she is later seen (still alive due to the plotline of the story) walking with her head spun 180 degrees on her body.
  • Rome, especially in the arena. Ever seen a man decapitated with a shield?
  • It seems most people in The Vampire Diaries are this because it doesn't take a lot of force to rip someone's heart out of their chest, though this could be justified by vampires having Super-Strength.
  • The walkers in The Walking Dead are all made of a putty-like compound that enables people to batter them to pieces and stab through their skulls with awkward thrusts, although that may be because most walkers being in an advanced state of decay. Doesn't excuse the imminently deceased ripping apart like wet construction paper in the walkers' hands...

  • In Weird Al's music video for "You Don't Love Me Anymore," the piano player's hand gets chopped off by having the keyboard lid slammed on it. Similar out-of-proportion injuries befall the rest of the band members. Justified, of course, in that these are daydream sequences (and movie parodies). The piano player in "You Don't Love Me Anymore" is an Homage to Monty Python's Sam Peckinpah's Salad Days sketch.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000's Imperial Guardsmen qualify. The Super-Soldier mascots of the series are armed with guns that fire .75 calibre explosive rounds, the resident orcs are armed with similar weapons, the resident elves are armed with guns that fire a hail of monomolecular shuriken, the resident grey aliens pack plasma weaponry that can threaten armoured transports, and the resident killer robots are armed with death rays which shred and vaporize enemies. In a setting where practically everyone is Made of Iron, wears Powered Armor, has psychic defences, or have all three, such weapons are quite necessary, but Guardsmen are just normal humans in flak jackets, so... Yeah. Guardsmen have terrible morale for good reason.
    • For an in-universe example, the Disruption Fields (They disrupt molecular bonds) of Power Weapons causes everything to behave like this - they are used to carve open tanks like they were made out of butter.
  • Many house-rules attempts to add detailed critical hits and misses to pre-3E Dungeons & Dragons resulted in tables of injuries that made characters' bodies seem roughly as fragile as their character sheets.
  • Several White Wolf games explicitly include rules for "extras", background characters that exist solely to be slaughtered in your character's battles.


    Web Original 
  • Happy Tree Friends might as well be the Trope Namer: even the slightest injury will leave a character seriously wounded or dead. Some examples include when Cuddles hits a rock on his skateboard and lands on the stairs, splitting him neatly into three pieces; when a pane of glass breaks over Cuddles' head he splits into five pieces like an orange; and when Shifty is dissected and skinned by Flippy with... a Christmas tree cookie! This is justified by the simple fact that the show wouldn't be funny without it.
  • Many death scenes in Survival of the Fittest qualify. In one example in v1, a fully grown man was sliced in half at the waist by an injured and exhausted teenager (One handler was heard to remark 'What was that guy using - a lightsaber?'). Another particularly notable example comes from v4, where a girl gets a flare gun shot at her and she chars to death in an extremely graphic and over the top manner.
  • The Whateley Universe uses this whenever death is allowed, and occasionally with regenerators. The syndicate troops at Halloween are, despite high tech armor and supposedly top-notch training and physical condition, torn apart even by the students without combat superpowers. The "Voodoo-Wolves" take this a step further; despite supposedly being some of the most dangerous creatures in existence, normal attacks frequently tear apart 3+ at a time, and one was beheaded by an open-handed blow from someone equivalent to a highly trained baseline. Apparently, the first thing that happens when a were turns evil is all their bones disappearing, followed by the skin and muscle being replaced by gelatin.
    • Though in the favor of the Voodoo-Wolves, the threat is mainly from infection and numbers. Also, even the weakest members of Whateley Academy tend to be dangerous to non-supers, and the soldiers were holding back originally. When Olympic level feats and BFG's are standard, it's not too surprising.
  • DSBT InsaniT: The Darkness counterparts break apart very easily, but that's why they function as Asteroids Monsters.

    Western Animation 
  • In Metalocalypse, most people who cross paths with Dethklok get mangled in horrifyingly unlikely ways.
  • The unfortunate inmates of Superjail! are constantly being stomped, shredded, shattered and squished in almost every way imaginable - but hey, the second season will probably cover the rest. Once per Episode, some plot-powered force causes a rampage of destruction that always results in a torrent of convict goo.
  • South Park. Most injuries end up with exploding heads, with bits of person flying everywhere.
  • The Venture Bros.: If you're on the wrong side of Brock Samson when he's in a mood to kill people, you will be made of plasticine. Notably, he decapitated somebody with a dead shark's open mouth.
  • Celebrity Deathmatch, both figuratively and literally. Special mention goes to the Alfred Hitchcock vs Steven Spielberg fight, in which Spielberg throws Hitchcock across the room by poking him lightly.
  • In Samurai Jack, even with robots, the mooks end up getting slashed open, smashed, and punched with ease, whereupon they explode. Even with seemingly mundane arrows or javelins.
  • The Mooks from Korgoth of Barbaria: one of them was skinned alive when Korgoth grabbed his ponytail and yanked on it.
  • The Simpsons:
    • While not the most realistic series, a falling silver dollar gets lodged in Lenny's forehead and causes blood to spurt out.
    • This trope gets played up somewhat in the Treehouse of Horror episodes, what with being out of canon and thereby allowing characters to get killed or otherwise disfigured left, right, and centre.
    • "Mathlete's Feat" has a couch gag that crosses over with Rick and Morty where Rick crashes his spaceship into the family. Their bodies and clothing are splattered as if they were literally made of malleable clay.
  • Futurama: during a scene that makes physicists cry, Mars is shooting right past Earth at such a short distance that Martian structures are knocking the tops off buildings, and it's possible to jump between the two worldsnote . Leela, with a broken leg, is trapped on the top of a Martian structure. Fry scales the Planet Express building to save her, takes her hand, and her arm comes off. She then grabs onto the bone at the end of the arm Fry is holding, and Fry's arm comes off too. Even given the velocities involved, if you can jump from one world to another, one does not have enough of a gravitational grip to remove limbs.
  • The Transformers: The Movie has Junkions who rather surprisingly manage to combine this trope with Implacable Man: they fall to pieces when hit, but they can simply pull themselves back together and keep fighting. Fortunately for the Autobots, they turn out to be pretty friendly and only attacked due to a misunderstanding.
  • The goblins from Trollhunters go splat with remarkable ease.
  • Soundwave in Transformers: Animated is not very tough, and can usually be broken in one strong hit. Justified because Soundwave is made of Earth machines, as opposed to Cybertronian material.

    Real Life 
  • It's worth noting that although we humans are tougher than we look, any human subjected to sufficient force will certainly seem made of plasticine. Everything from heavy blunt impacts, to industrial accidents, to (of course) military weaponry can easily reduce an entire human being to bone fragments and smears... or even vapor.
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta, better known as brittle bone disease, can cause your bones to shatter at even the slightest impact.
  • When a skin abscess ruptures, it will look to bystanders like the individual was just lightly touched and then simply popped like the world's most disgusting water balloon. In areas with modern medical care, these types of wounds are more common to see on animals than humans. But when finally brought in for treatment, even a slight touch during the exam may cause the skin to slough off, releasing a tide of pus, blood, lymph, and sometimes even insect larvae. Usually, it all cascades downward rather than exploding outward, but if its a particularly large abscess, the sheer volume may result in the medical practitioner and bystanders being splattered. Depending on the size, it may also leave a very large hole behind in the underlying flesh.
  • There are congenital disorders that make the skin very rubbery and fragile. If you are unlucky enough to have something like this and osteogenesis imperfecta, you will have a hard time surviving for very long, let alone through puberty.
  • A good example of the disorders mentioned above that can make the skin rubbery and fragile are certain types of Ehlers-Danlos Syndroms, or EDS. These genetic disorders affect the collagen in a person's body, usually leading to joint problems and skin texture abnormality, though there are different types that affect different things. Hypermobile type is known to make joints dislocate much more easily, as well as causing skin to be a bit stretchier and thinner than normal. Other types take the skin elasticity to a whole other level, Classical type being the best example. People with cEDS have been known to be able to stretch their skin a couple of inches from their body, most notably Garry Turner, who holds the world record at over 6 in, nearly 16 cm. Brittle Cornea Syndrome is another type of EDS, and Vascular EDS causes, many cardiac issues.
  • Mosquitoes. Any amount of force will turn these buggers into paste. If not for the fact that they are Explosive Breeders, they'd have gone extinct a while ago.
  • Any magic trick that posits the idea that someone can be bisected, decapitated, or generally distended with a few quick strokes of a blade. Then again, A Wizard Did It.
  • The appendages of most arthropods can be broken off at the joint fairly easily, these being weak points in their exoskeletons. In some cases this can actually be a defense mechanism, allowing bugs that get grabbed by the leg or partially ensnared in webs or similar sticky traps to get free via Life-or-Limb Decision, then grow a new leg.
  • Many lizards have a self-defence mechanism called autotomy where, if they are grabbed by the tail, some or all of the tail will simply detach and wriggle to create a distraction. The lizard may or may not be able to later regenerate the tail, depending on species.


Video Example(s):


The Supreme AI overthrew Anna

After hearing about the loss of an infantry crew, Scotty immediately tries contacting Linux Anna, only to find that she's been overthrown by the Supreme AI of the Internet. She simply hit Anna with a plastic spoon which made her break down in a panic, and then finished her off with a bioweapon version of Windows Vista. Scotty immediately panics about it and says that it's the epic war with ROFL-9000 all over again, and that he's "totally not advertising the series by Akriloth2160", and he says that he got only a 0.5% in history class.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheUsurper

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