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Meatgrinder Surgery

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"Right, first I'll take those teef out for yer, dat should help ease da pain in yer leg. Grokkit, 'and me dat wrench. Now then... Open wide, an' say... AAARGH!"

Surgeries are dangerous and delicate things. There's a reason why "brain surgeon" is a byword for "genius" - they have to spend hours carefully maneuvering minute instruments and a millimeter's error can kill their patient or worse.

Naturally, expect this aspect of medicine to be thrown away in the name of comedy: the nurse will give the surgeon a hammer and he'll immediately proceed to whack away violently, then an axe and proceed to hack away, then a drill, then a chainsaw, then an eggbeater, then...

If anaesthesia is administered, it's either by a sledgehammer to the head or copious amounts of booze. For an extra gag, the booze may turn out to be for the surgeon.

Don't expect to see what's going on with the patient during the operation, or an explanation as to why piercing his head is going to help with his Hiccup Hijinks, but he'll likely step away from the operation room completely healthy and his medical problem will be gone (or at least, he won't be horribly mutilated). However, agonised screaming and blood splattering across the screen are par for the course.


More rarely, this can also be Played for Drama. The trope might be justified if the surgery takes place before the 20th century, for instance, or under field conditions, or both (see Real Life). Whatever the reason, it's never pretty— pray they'll go for a Discretion Shot.

Common culprits for the comedy version are the Morally Ambiguous Doctor, Mad Doctor, or Depraved Dentist, while the dramatic version will more likely involve The Medic or the Frontier Doctor. A Back-Alley Doctor might be used for either. This trope might be one of the reasons for a Doctor's Disgraceful Demotion.

Compare with Comically Inept Healing and Worst Aid.



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  • In Afro Samurai, when Jinno is turned into a cyborg. This might qualify as Black Comedy, or the cartoonish nature of the scene might make it worse.
  • Batting Female Doctor Saori is about a female doctornote  who heals her patients by hitting them. With a baseball bat. Usually across the room. Not only that, she can repair cars, tame panthers and win baseball games with her skill.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans has the Ayla-Vijnana system; a Brain–Computer Interface where a pilot can control a machine (such as a mobile suit) primarily through thought via a port embedded in their spine. The surgery is stated to be very painful, usually being done with no anaesthesia, leaves a grotesque steel and flesh tube sticking out of the patient's back, and has an absurdly high failure rate (around 40%, in which case the patient is usually permanently crippled if they survive) and is exclusively performed on children.

    Board Games 

    Comic Strips 
  • Liberty Meadows:
    • Frank tries to be professional, but occasionally falls into this trope, usually helped along by keeping Leslie (who has had no medical training) as his assistant. One notable example is when Frank is performing an operation but has no anesthesia thanks to budget cuts. When he asks what painkillers they have left, Leslie offers up a six-pack of beer and a copy of James Joyce's Ulysses. When Frank opts to use the latter, Leslie gets several sentences in before everyone (Frank included) falls asleep from boredom. The next comic shows that the patient has begun to wake up mid-surgery, so Leslie is preparing to knock him out with a sledgehammer.
    • Another time Ralph the Mad Scientist circus bear and Leslie tried to perform liposuction on Dean (Frank refused to do it). They anesthetized him with a mallet and tried to use an ordinary vacuum for the liposuction, it caved his head in so they tried reversing the flow causing his head to overinflate. Next thing they show Frank has tried to undo the damage they did, resulting in Dean resembling Jabba the Hutt.
  • Calvin and Hobbes makes carving a pumpkin sound like this:
    Calvin: OK, JACK, TIME FOR YOUR LOBOTOMY!! Hand me a big spoon, will you, Hobbes?
    Hobbes: Ugh! No anesthetic even.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Hitchhiker Massacre: At one point, the killer harvests a victim's organs in his basement by cutting her side open with an exact-o knife, pulling out the organ with his hands, and then sawing it off.
  • Monty Python's The Meaning of Life features two "surgeons" forcibly harvesting organs from a man just because he's got an organ donor card. Mostly offscreen but obviously Meat Grinder Surgery.
    Man: "Mr. Jones? We've come for you liver."
    Mr. Jones: "But I'm using it right now."
  • This trope is common in The Three Stooges shorts, especially the hammer anesthetic.
  • Played for Drama in Revenge of the Sith: After his near-fatal duel with Obi-Wan on Mustafar, Darth Vader is rushed to Coruscant for emergency surgery to turn him into a cyborg. Vader is fully conscious and screaming in pain throughout the procedure; in fact, Palpatine had specifically ordered the medical droids to keep him awake during the surgery, knowing that the pain would fuel his rage, and thus his power.
  • Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home presents 1980's medicine as this, from the perspective of 23rd-century Starfleet surgeon Dr. Leonard "Bones" McCoy, along with a subplot to rescue Chekhov from such primitive attempts at medicine.
  • Played for Drama in Saw III. Lynn Denlon is abducted and held hostage by Amanda Young under the threat of death so she'll provide medical attention to John Kramer, whose health is rapidly declining due to his advanced cancer reaching his brain. Without a surgical theater or any real operating tools, she's forced to use a power drill and small circular saw to cut away a piece of John's skull and relieve the cranial pressure.
  • In Iron Man, Tony Stark is given major thoracic surgery in a cave with a box of scraps. He wakes up with a car battery wired into his chest. Justified as the Ten Rings are hardly going to let the guy they just abducted go to a hospital.
  • Done in the Sub Story Destination Tokyo. Based on a real incident aboard USS Seadragon, a pharmacist's mate performs an emergency appendectomy on one of his crewmates.
  • Following the disastrous first battle of Klendatu in Starship Troopers, Carmen and Zander walk by a one-legged soldier who pleads: "Just give me something, doc!"
  • In Downfall, the only way to treat any serious injury during the battle of Berlin is to knock out the patient and amputate a limb, which has filled up the buckets used to collect them. And medicine, including painkillers, are becoming desperately rare.
  • In Sleepy Hollow (1999), Icabod is tasked with analyzing Emily's then-decapitated remains. As soon as he pokes around with it, the bloody-stump squirts a bit of blood onto his glasses. By the time he is done, he is completely covered in blood.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera, a worldwide pandemic of organ failures means surgery is now sexy and you can refinance your essential organs. The Repo Man will make sure you are current on payments or reclaim those organs via this trope. Naturally, the results are Bloody Hilarious with no survivors - the Repo Man is trying to reclaim the organ, not save the patient.
    Because the claims medic gives no anesthetic.
  • In Le Comiche 2 (an Italian movie from the 90s) there are a couple of examples:
    • A man is hospitalized agaist his will. He ends up in a surgery room and mixed up with a female patient waiting for a breast augmentation. Bewildered by the situation, he only realises what is about to happen when the surgeon feels his chest mentioning he will give the patient a "couple of nice boobs". At that point he is already wearing the mask with flowing anaesthetic. In a desperate attempt to avert the operation he screams through the mask and tries to get up. The medical personnel holds him down until he is sound asleep.
    • The same man ends up in a second hospital. He was stripped to his underwear that comprehends a bra supporting the breasts previously received. Mistaken for a transgender, he is taken to a surgery room where a surgeon displays a big pair of scissors that will be used to cut off his genitals and give him "a nice pussy" (his words). The poor man faints while the operation starts.

  • Standard medical practice in Discworld's Ankh-Morpork involves hitting the patient over the head with a hammer to anesthetize them. The only real doctor in the city (Dr. Lawn from Night Watch) is seen as crazy for worrying about things like sanitation, sterilization, and the survival of his patients... until Sam Vimes rewarded him for saving his wife and newborn son by helping him open his own hospital. This is one of the reasons that, prior to Night Watch, the most employed physician in the city was "Doughnut Jimmy" Folsom, a horse vet. The reasoning goes, a good racehorse is expensive and a big earner, so Jimmy could choose between keeping his patients alive or having the last words he hears be something like "Da boss is very unhappy."
    • Ankh-Morpork is also the home of the delightful new form of medicine known as "retrophrenology."
  • Eric Flint's book 1812: The Rivers of War provides an excellent example of this, which was Truth in Television at the time. The patient denies the issued anesthetic, which is raw Navy rum (he has a bottle of emergency laudanum packed away, which he uses), but he knows that refusing the anesthetic the surgeon tried to give him would be good for his reputation regardless. Also, a quote:
    "Few lumberjacks wielded a saw as vigorously as an Army surgeon after a major battle."
  • The M*A*S*H surgeons referred to what they were doing as "meatball surgery" — doing quick (but hopefully not too dirty) surgery, keeping the patient alive but leaving follow-ups to the better-equipped Evac hospitals. Naturally, many of the plots involved the protagonists trying to avert or subvert this trope, but it still arose from time to time.
    Hawkeye: Our general attitude around here is that we want to play par surgery on this course. Par is a live patient. We're not sweet swingers, and if we've gotta kick it in with our knees to get a par that's how we do it.
  • This trope is zig-zagged in the Temeraire series. Human medical treatment is standard for The Napoleonic Wars, however, the tools used by dragon surgeons could easily pass for melee weapons... but then given the scale of their patients most of the injuries that can be treated by human physicians are relatively superficial.
  • Touched upon in the Tom Clancy novel Without Remorse, whose protagonist has some rather ugly scars from "meatball surgery" of the sort touched upon in the entry for M*A*S*H below.
  • Lauchlan of Mix Beer With Liquor And You Will Get Sicker was subjected to this sort of surgery as a child, having had his right eye gouged by an angry jackdaw, and a serious compound fracture from the subsequent fall that both had to be tended to right then and there. He was given alcohol but that didn't quite do the trick, his family members actually had to hold him down so that the surgeon could work. It was justified in that it was set in the 1800s, and Lauchlan would have likely bled to death in the time taken to get him to any proper anesthetics. As you can imagine, Lauchlan was, and remains, rather traumatized by the incident.
  • Naked Lunch: Oh, Doctor Benway— and really, any medical procedure in the novel is deeply fucked up.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This was used quite a bit in Monty Python's Flying Circus.
    • Gumby Brain Surgery. Complete with a blow-to-the-head anesthetic.
    • In another sketch the surgeon character asks a nurse for something more substantial than a scalpel, is given a bread knife and starts sharpening it with gusto ("Ooh, I do enjoy this!"). Then he makes a bold incision along the entire patient.
  • In The Muppet Show, Rowlf occasionally gets to begin such an operation in the "Veterinarian's Hospital" sketches.
  • Sharpe: Comes up once or twice, set as it is in the Napoleonic Wars. Sharpe himself removes a man's shattered arm with a sword (it's easier to stop the bleeding from one large wound than lots of little ones) and Harper pulls out one of his own teeth with pliers.
  • The events of one episode of Stargate Atlantis forced Dr. Keller to perform brain surgery on McKay with a power drill in a dank cave.
  • One Stargate SG-1 episode involved Colonel Mitchell (who is NOT a doctor) performing surgery on a severely injured Carter while hiding out from bad guys.
  • Surgery in M*A*S*H is generally not as bad as this trope, but the various characters regard it that way since it is a lot rougher than it would be in a proper hospital. The general term used in the show is "Meatball Surgery". Of course, being a frontline hospital unit, their jobs are to simply to save the patient and make sure they stay alive long enough to get sent to an evac hospital where they can be further treated before being sent to a hospital either in Tokyo or Stateside. In a very real sense, the exasperation expressed about the conditions they worked in and speed in which they needed to act was an aversion (or at least Lampshade Hanging) of this trope, as they were taking all the care they could under trying circumstances.
    • Characters would occasionally help out at front line aid stations or at Korean field hospitals where they had to conduct even cruder procedures than at the 4077.
      • At a Korean field hospital:
      Hawkeye: I wouldn't operate on your horse under these conditions.
      Col. Potter: My horse wouldn't be caught dead in here.
    • As a Long Runner, the series was able to show this aspect of field surgery in much greater detail than the novel or film could, despite the stricter rules about showing explicit gore. Several of the best-remembered episodes, including "O.R." and "Life Time", focus almost entirely on the pressure the surgical staff faced.
  • Helena from Orphan Black actually does this on herself to remove a piece of rebar from her liver. No discretion shot for you.
  • One medical sketch on That Mitchell and Webb Look involved the new techniques of hitting patients with sledgehammers and frying pans.
  • On Rome, after Titus gets a skull fracture from being struck on the head in a tavern brawl, he's tied into place, gagged, and the surgeon removes the piece of skull that got loose, then fits a small metal plate in. Titus passed out from the pain early on, thankfully.
  • The realistic version is Played for Drama in Code Black on a very regular basis, given that time is frequently short and resources often scarce at best. Drs. Leanne Rorish and Ethan Willis, in particular, have turned the "splash-and-slash"note  into a bona fide art form.
  • A realistic depiction takes place in Game of Thrones, emphasizing that this is a Low Fantasy pseudo-Medieval world where surgical knowledge is generally... not very advanced. One of the most gruesome surgeries seen yet appears in Season 7, where an attempt to treat the fantastical leprosy-equivalent called grayscale involves slicing away the scabrous infected epidermal layers with knives and painting the raw skin beneath with some kind of healing ointment.

  • The doctor walks into the surgery ward, followed by a bloke with a huge axe. The doctor reads from the list:
    Patient A - amputate right arm
    Patient B - amputate left arm
    Patient c - amputate left leg
    I said "leg"
    I said "left"

  • "Dr. Sy Fly" by They Might Be Giants is about a mutant fly-headed doctor with questionable medical practices. The music video shows him with a compulsive desire to cut things in half with his bonesaw.
    He's going to have to amputate
    He's going to chop off all that you got
    Yank out the stuff inside of you
    After which he'll play nine holes of golf


    Tabletop Games 
  • This trope is invoked in Warhammer 40,000 by Ork doctors, the painboyz (also known as Doks, or Mad Doks), whose idea of "anesthesia" is giving the patient a violent concussion. Some don't even bother to use anesthetic at all, preferring to have their patient squirming and kicking so they know he's still alive. Orks are so inhumanly tough that they not only survive but usually fully recover very quickly — which to the doks means they have plenty of leeway for experimentation and personal amusement (successful ork head transplants are entirely possible). Having a Painboy in a unit gives all of its members a chance of ignoring damage- its unclear whether this is because the dok treats the injuries, or if the nearby reminder of what awaits the injured encourages Orks to ignore little things like bullets to the head and missing limbs.
    • The Gaiden Game Gorkamorka had somewhere in the neighbourhood of six pages of rules for visiting the Dok after a scrap (usually several scraps after the injury was sustained, in fact, since it'd take that long for the injured Ork's comrades to convince him to go). Particularly notable results on the tables for this included replacing the patient's brain with that of a face-eater squig, bolting a thruster pack to the unfortunate Ork's spine, and the Dok forgetting what he was doing and operating on the wrong part of the body.
    • The World Eaters are made exclusively of War God-worshipping lunatics who don't care whose blood they spill (the enemy's, their allies', their own...) who have lobes of their brain removed so as to no longer feel fear. The individuals to whom this delicate task is trusted are, of course, known as berserker surgeons.
    • This type of surgery is why the famed Dok Grotsnik is totally insane. In an attempt to save him after an attack by some angry patients, his Gretchin "nurses" went to work. Before it was over, they had vomited in his open skull, a spider had found a comfy spot to rest in his head and he died half-a-dozen times on the table. When he came to, what little sanity he originally had was long gone.
  • Magic: The Gathering has the Goblin Chirurgeon ("Chirurgeon" is a middle English term for surgeon), who kills live goblins to make sure other creatures can live. One art has one sawing away at a goblin's leg to give to another goblin who has lost theirs. The goblin getting his leg hacked off is awake at the time.
    • Also implied by another Goblin in Goblin Medics, specifically in its flavor text, a perversion of the Hippocratic Oath: "First, do some harm."
  • In the Ravenloft setting, it's implied that this is the sort of "surgery" used by Frantisek Markov, the Darklord of Markovia, to turn victims into Broken Ones, although there is at least some magic involved as well. Justified as he was actually an uneducated butcher prior to his Jumping Off the Slippery Slope into becoming a Darklord. He uses no anesthetic, in any case.
  • If you're really unlucky in choosing a Backalley Doctor in Shadowrun, this is what you wind up with. The result tends to be less "medicine" and more "chop out your organs and cyberware, then sell your corpse to ghouls."

  • A skit frequently used at summer camps is all about this, with everyone standing behind a sheet so only the shadows can be seen. There are several variations depending on who is performing it and where, but some include:
    • The doctors (a normal stethoscope/lab coat doctor and a tribal witch-doctor) initially stated that neither had performed surgery before. It was clear that they had no idea what they were doing.
    • The patient was knocked out by being hit over the head with a sledgehammer and woken up by being hit again.
    • The chainsaw-as-surgical-instrument subtrope made an appearance.
    • The doctors accidentally removed the patient's heart, which bounced around for a few seconds and then exploded.
    • Despite the doctors making a huge mess and accomplishing nothing, the patient exclaimed, "I feel much better now!" at the end.

    Video Games 
  • The Amateur Surgeon series is based all around this since the main character is a Back-Alley Doctor with a talent for improvising. Why use a scalpel when you have a pizza cutter? Lighters can cauterize pretty well, can't they? Surely a Chainsaw would make for a perfect bone saw, right?
  • The Team Fortress 2 video Meet the Medic. Roughly half the video involves the RED Medic performing surgery on the Heavy, in a procedure involving a device (which, as it turns out, enables the Übercharge in-game) getting shoved onto Heavy's still-beating heart, said heart exploding and being replaced with a "Mega Baboon" heart, and Medic pushing the organ into the Heavy's chest cavity so hard he breaks off a rib. All while the Heavy is awake, mind you. Mind you, the Medic's nigh-magical Medigun, plus the Cartoon Physics of the Team Fortress 2 universe, allow him to throw caution out the window.
    Heavy: Should I be awake for this?
    Medic: [laughs] Well, no. But as long as you are, could you hold your rib cage open a bit?
    • Not to mention he allows his pet doves to roam the room during operations. Archimedes, pictured above, even likes to hang out inside patients' ribcages. The only thing the Medic finds objectionable about this is that "It's filthy in there!". At the end of "Meet the Medic", it turns out that he accidentally sewed Scout's chest with Archimedes still inside. In gameplay, occasionally it will pop out of a gibbed Scout and fly away.
    • Even the opening Noodle Incident qualifies:
      Medic: When the patient woke up, his skeleton was missing, and the doctor was never heard from again! [laughs] Anyway, that's how I lost my medical license.
    • The Medic's idea of "proper surgical garb" is whatever he happens to be wearing at the time. In Meet The Medic, "surgical garb" is a sweater vest and shirt. Oddly enough, he only puts on a lab coat and gloves when he's preparing for battle.
    • In The Sound of Medicine promo, the Medic develops a device for reviving people in the middle of the battlefield. This process apparently uses the Medigun's normal healing ability while telekinetically reassembling the victim back to normal. That last part was not a metaphor, it literally lifts the gibs back into a holographic template.
    • During The Naked and the Dead, a meatgrinder transfusion is shown, with Medic simply scooping the blood out of puddles with any available cloth (including underwear) and pouring it back into his exsanguinated team's wounds, getting them back in order instantly (albeit causing blood to splurt violently out of their eyes if squeezed). The ensuing conversation between Ms. Pauling and the Medic lampshades it, with him joking about medical school being useless, then telling her as a Two-Faced Aside that worrying about blood types is the least of her problems. It'd seem he's plenty aware none of what he does makes much sense, but it works anyways; why should he bother? Then again, it's later revealed that he received his nonsensical but functional techniques through a Deal with the Devil, which pretty much gives him the ability to think up whatever stupid solution he can think of that's impossible in reality, but it'll work in his favor regardless. He even got the ability to surgically-implant others' souls into him, which allowed him to outsmart Satan and get a few extra decades alive until the latter thinks up a way to outsmart him then.
  • A non-comedic example occurs in FEAR 2: Project Origin, while Michael Beckett is undergoing surgery to awaken his Harbinger powers, he has a hallucination in which demonic creatures in surgical uniforms claw and hack at his flesh.
  • Doctor Zed in Borderlands 2 asks the protagonists (crazy gun-toting badasses) to assist in the operation to mend a captured Hyperion engineer's lungs; asking the player to carefully make a small incision below the sternum. Pressing the button to "Perform surgery" causes you to do your melee attack, which includes things like slashing the man in the chest with an axe or punching his chest open.
    Zed: Eh, close enough.
    • The same task only requires you to damage him, so it's perfectly valid to blow up the patient with a grenade and he still considers it "close enough". You can also hop on the guy's body (which somehow achieves the same effect).
    • He wasn't any better in the first game. The first time players see him, Zed's giving a malevolent look to a fellow who is either not long for the world or already expired...and his introduction pauses juuust as he's about to violently swing a buzz axe (a buzz saw crossbred with a fire axe, and the main weapon of the game's Psycho enemies) and carve his victim like an ugly, graying turkey. It's heavily implied that Zed's idea of general medical care isn't any better and outright explicit that he's not even a doctor, especially after he sends players out on a Fetch Quest to repair the medical vending machine.
    Zed: Who needs a real doctor when you got my machines and their scary needles?
    • His intro in the second one is even more violent, as he drives a needle into a man's sternum by slamming it in. He also outright admits that he lacks both a doctorate (of any kind) and a Medical License. That last one particularly grinds him because Doc Mercy, a psychotic murderous bandit, apparently still has a valid one.
  • The freeware Flash Dark Cut series features this trope as a deliberate Darker and Edgier version of Trauma Center. Pretty much every operation is a medieval, battlefield, or otherwise non-standard surgery center Played for Drama with lots of grit and blood and creepiness.
  • The game Surgeon Simulator 2013 can be described as "QWOP gets his medical license". And it is just as darkly hilarious as it sounds. Even if the patient has their lungs on the floor, their ribcage smashed beyond repair, and about five milliliters of blood left, as long as you fulfill the given objective the operation will end successfully.
  • Fallout 3: When Vault 101's Mr. Handy is assigned to be the vault's doctor, he ends up amputating a patient's leg instead of treating her sprained big toe (on the opposite foot), killing her. In Point Lookout, the Lone Wanderer undergoes a lobotomy at the hands of a Back-Alley Doctor while under the influence of psychedelics.
    • While helping Argyll, the Boomers' doctor in Fallout: New Vegas, a low-Intelligence character has the option to "CHOP CHOP CHOP" a patient, which saves them through "dumb luck".
    • Also in New Vegas, one of the quests, 'Et Tumor, Brute?', requires removal of Caesar's brain tumor. You can do it if you have a Medicine Skill of at least 75 and acquire a pretty expensive quest item plus one very useful rare item (especially on Hardcore mode)... or just have a Luck at 9, at which moment the Courier just wings it.
    Vulpes: That was... incredible. How did you do that?
    Courier: I have no idea whatsoever.
  • The Stroggification process in Quake IV includes the victim's legs being amputated with a giant buzzsaw, needles thrust into them from a full meter away and riveting of the new body parts not unlike what's seen at a car factory, culminating in the implantation of a neurocyte in the victim's brain, apparently by punching it through the forehead. The most vaguely hygienic part of it is the cauterization of these wounds. Nonetheless, it leaves corporal Matthew Kane 40% faster and 25% tougher than when he came in, as well as capable of understanding the Wingdinglish that is the Strogg language despite his neurocyte not being activated.
  • In Leisure Suit Larry 5: Passionate Patti Does a Little Undercover Work, Passionate Patti gets this treatment with a drill during a Tracking Device implantation.
  • Played for Drama in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, where the surgery to extract Paz's stomach bomb is pretty much a matter of cutting her open and digging around in her intestines while Big Boss holds her down, all while Paz is fully conscious and screaming her lungs out. It's actually a justified case since the bomb is on a timer and they're performing it in a moving helicopter near an enemy base, so they simply don't have the time for a legitimate surgery or the luxury of being able to just take cover in case it goes off. They get that bomb out, only to find a second bomb too late to do anything about it.
  • Dungeon Munchies has "Forced Surgery," a part of your "health plan" from your boss, Simmer. Your zombie player character is operated on by a fellow undead "employee," attaching brand new feet under your own that grants permanent Double Jump; an extra pair of smaller arms around your waist for climbing; and later on, a new butt with a compressed-air tank built in. While the operations themselves are not shown, you do see the new parts being grafted on you, and all the blood splatter and the literal back-alley set-up aren't very pleasant, either.
  • VGA Miner: Asking for a surgery at the hospital does heal you slightly, even though Woody's (the surgeon's) razor is rusty.
  • Darkest Dungeon: While the medical camping skills work, at least unless the character is Afflicted and doesn't cooperate, some of the dialogue accompanying their use is...less than encouraging. In the Warrens there may even be a meatgrinder present (although it's more likely to be the cause for the treatment than the methodology).
    Occultist: Anatomy is hardly my specialty, I'll admit.
    Hellion: That's a bad cut. Let me lick it clean.
    Grave Robber: Lucky thing for you I have dabbled in crochet.
    Highwayman: Did I wash this needle? Well, too late now.
    Abomination: I know just enough to be dangerous, now keep still.
    Hellion again: I have packed your wounds with dung. Feel better?
  • The Surge opens with a paraplegic named Warren undergoing an automated surgery to get a rig that will allow him to walk again for his new job at CREO. Everything seems fine, and Warren looks a bit nervous but otherwise calm. His body is scanned... and then we hear "Patient sedated", but Warren is still awake. What ensues is a nightmarish sequence where the various plates and tubes of his exoskeleton get bolted and screwed onto his body, blood gushing from the screwholes, all while Warren screams in pure agony. Other audio diaries that he finds show he's not the only one this happened to, and it continued in its sequel, The Surge 2.
  • Resident Evil 7: Biohazard: Ethan Winters gets his left hand cut off with a chainsaw very early on, and gets it stapled back on. The only reason it still functions as well as it did before it was cut off is because Ethan's mold infection gives him accelerated healing.

    Web Animation 
  • Doctor Lollipop performs surgery on the raptor by having a woodsman perform the incision with an axe, and then kicking the raptor's Talking Animal filled belly.

    Web Comics 
  • When Tavros in Homestuck gets bionic legs, the first step is removing his old ones. His friend Kanaya Maryam takes care of this. With her chainsaw.
  • In The Last Days of FOXHOUND during the Normandy invasion The Boss (then known a The Joy) went into labor while on the battlefield and performed a c-section on herself. She and the baby were both fine, while the baby's father The Sorrow passed out pretty much immediately when she made the first cut.
  • Awful Hospital: Head surgeon Circula Tori operates on Fern with a spork and drops her ID card into her chest cavity... but nonetheless repeatedly restores her to life. In an unusually literal example, she once does so after Fern falls into a living meat grinder.
  • Deep Rise: Deep Nobles are a walking combination of meat grinders, eldritch tentacles, and genius bioengineers. Any surgery they perform is almost guaranteed to maximize invasive pain and grotesque assimilation. On the plus side, they've developed cures to world hunger and aging.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Neeka is an Esspererin, a species renowned for their engineering abilities. She is a rarity in that she chose to be a field medic instead. You know how mechanics fix cars - by ripping out the damaged part, fiddling with it, then bolting it back in? Neeka does that to organs and limbs. The surgery always occurs off-panel, but is typically accompanied by blood-spattered speech bubbles, shocked or disgusted onlookers, and occasionally the screams of unsuspecting "patients" who want to know where she is going with their leg. She's an absolute miracle worker, but she's been mistaken for an automated blender more than once.
    Chelle: At least we got her to start offering anesthetic.

    Web Original 
  • Played for Laughs in the Beyond the Press channel video "Wife vs. husband air cannon challenge"- the challenge in question was to shoot a secondhand clothing mannequin affectionately named Johnny using the aforementioned homemade air cannon. When Lauri lands a hit on Johnny with a zucchini halfway through the video, Johnny's left arm and right hand pop off, so his wife repairs him using duct tape and they go back to shooting him.
    Lauri: "First aid, Finnish way."
  • Deliberately invoked by a cancer patient in this Not Always Friendly story, as part of his quest to make the nurses laugh every time he goes in for radiation treatment.

    Western Animation 
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: In the episode "The Transplant," after Eustace twists his spine falling off of a roof, he gets a "disk transplant" from Dr. Vindaloo, using the kangaroo monster bone Courage dug up. Said transplant involves the doctor literally hammering the bone into Eustace's body with a mallet, and then duct-taping it in place, all while Eustace is fully conscious.
    Eustace: Durn doctor don't know what he's doin'!
  • Used in Cow and Chicken for plastic surgery during a plastic surgery contest.
  • Also used for amateur plastic surgery in the Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode "Super Model".
  • Futurama:
    • Professor Farnsworth decides the best way to carry out Bender's delicate gender reassignment is with a sledgehammer. Even with the latter being a robot, it was still a dangerous tool to use.
    • This is also what happens when you see Zoidberg for treatment. Although it's shown that he's actually a very good doctor when it comes to Bizarre Alien Biology, it's just that, unfortunately, human anatomy is something he doesn't have nailed down just yet. He is, however, somewhat capable at reattaching severed limbs. Even if he was the one who severed them in the first place. And if the limb in question ends up on the wrong side.
  • In Inside Job (2021), Brett and Glenn's face change operation performed by Andre is a horrible failure. The brain change operation, however...
  • Kaeloo:
    • Stumpy winds up being a victim of this in Episode 78 when Olaf tries to turn him into a cyborg by giving him surgery with no anesthetic using a drill and a chainsaw. Miraculously, he survives it, but his cyborganic implants suck. Fortunately, Negative Continuity has him back to normal by the next episode.
    • Stumpy again winds up being a victim of this when he asks Mr. Cat to help him when he has a toothache. Mr. Cat uses a chainsaw, a jackhammer, and other things and somehow turns Stumpy's head into a fire extinguisher. Stumpy is back to normal in a few minutes.
  • This trope was the subject of the first skit of the Madballs episode "Gross Jokes", where Screamin' Meemie plays an incompetent surgeon named Dr. Ghastly and there are many jokes revolving around him having no idea what he's doing, such as going through with the surgery even though no one is certain if the patient has been anesthetized, Slobulus remarking that Dr. Ghastly kills most of his patients, and Dr. Ghastly coming to the conclusion that the patient's problem can be solved by removing his brain.
  • The Simpsons
    • Dr. Nick Riviera is basically the living avatar of this trope. He was once brought before a malpractice committee for over 100 heinous charges, including performing surgery with a knife and fork from a seafood restaurant ("But I cleaned them with my napkin!")
      • There's also his old friend Mr. McGreg, with a leg for an arm, and an arm for a leg.
    • Moe is also revealed to be an unlicensed and unhygienic surgeon in one episode.
  • Doctor Barber is never shown performing such surgeries onscreen (for obvious reasons), but don't think that'll stop The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack from reminding you as often as humanly possible that this is what he — a 19th century doctor/barber — does for a living. It's all Played for Laughs, of course.
  • Pretty much any surgery depicted in South Park is guaranteed to be this. Besides the Kenny example listed above in Bigger, Longer & Uncut, examples include the gruesome surgeries the patients are subjected to in "Cartman's Mom is Still a Dirty Slut", the boy's bootleg liposuction on a fat Butters (sucking the fat out into a bucket, when all of a sudden it and blood start violently painting Butters' house) in "Jared Has Aides", Wendy getting breast implants (consisting of cutting/ripping open her armpit and then having the implant violently shoved in, squirting gallons of Wendy's blood everywhere) in "Bebe's Boobs Destroy Society. But the crowner would be "Mr Garrison's Fancy New Vagina", depicting Mr. Garrison having a sex change by way of live action footage of an animal being neutered...and he's not sedated through the procedure!!
  • Transformers: Prime: Knock Out usually goes a more painless route (as painless as a Decepticon opts to be anyway), and his surgically inserting a new T-cog into Starscream went off without a hitch. However when Megatron asks him to graft a new arm onto him in his pursuit of power, Knock Out wants to put him in stasis, only for Megatron to inform Knock Out that he wishes to be awake to witness it. Knock Out just shrugs, whips out his buzz saw and starts cutting away.
  • American Dad!: Stan's horrific attempt to reconstruct Hayley's face in her sleep in "The Mural of the Story".
  • The times Krieger is depicted performing surgery in Archer are shown to be a gruesome affair. The least of which is that he doesn't sterilize the environment, doesn't know the names of any of the parts he's operating on (and in fact still follows Humorism) and has assistants who know even less than him, who often misplace their beers within the patients.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Dying For Pie", Spongebob "performs" open-heart surgery on Squidward by opening his chest cavity and poking his heart with his finger. This causes blood to come squirting out, though Squidward is alive and well in the next scene.
  • In the Roger Rabbit Short "Tummy Trouble", Roger is sent to the ER by mistake and is about to be operated on with a chainsaw when the twelve-o'clock whistle sounds and the surgeons pause for lunch. Roger also administers his own anesthetic by Hyperspace Mallet.

    Real Life 
  • Brain surgery involves drilling a hole in someone's head. The drill functions exactly the same as the one you use at home; just a little fancier, a lot more expensive, and more carefully cleaned or so the patient very sincerely hopes. Plus, the anesthetic.
  • Amputating limbs is done with an electric saw. It also looks and acts a lot like a regular hand tool. Before those, sawtoothed knives were used for the amputations. There's a reason why in times past, one common nickname for a doctor was "sawbones".
  • A few prehistoric skulls have been found with trepanations, or holes cut through the skull. This was of course done with primitive implements, yet the bones show signs of long-term healing, which means the patient survived the surgery - and the procedure is genuinely useful for those with brains that are swelling due to trauma, as it can relieve the pressure.
  • Battlefield surgery until surprisingly recently could be like this. They would amputate with a saw and cauterize with a branding iron; a popular myth was that this was done with no anesthetic other than rum and opium, which weren't always given. The truth is, ether was available as early as The American Civil War, and the use of forceps to tie off the blood vessels and arteries (invented, among other places, in Ancient Egypt) had been rediscovered in the 1600s. Not that it helped survival rates much, due to the lack of mandatory sterilization of medical instruments. Battlefield surgery wasn't pretty, but it wasn't "biting the bullet" either: it was the recovery process in the hospitals that was more likely to kill you, actually, as you waited around to see if you got gangrene or not and tried not to catch anything from the sick and wounded people all around you.
  • Before anesthesia, the surgeon needed to tie down the patient or have assistants restrain them before he operated. For added fun, there was no such thing as blood transfusion to replace what was lost in the surgery; no bottled oxygen to keep the blood that was still inside the patient capable of sustaining the body; and germ theory had not yet arrived, let alone impressed upon surgeons the vital importance of washing their hands. Oh, and in a lot of places, surgeons acquired their knowledge of anatomy from inaccurate and dated textbooks (or had to just cut in and start learning on the job) because dissecting corpses, a standard learning aid today, was illegal or at least extremely difficult. The primary talent that a surgeon used to need was speed because if you cut fast, sawed fast, and closed up fast, there was some chance that your patient wouldn't die. And some operating theatres were literally theatres in that people could pay to watch a surgery for entertainment. Although the real "dark age of surgery" is considered to be the twenty or so years between the discovery of anaesthesia in the 1840s and the recognition of germ theory and the need for antisepsis in the 1860s. In between, surgeons were able to try longer and more complicated procedures on anaesthetised patients... but they almost always resulted in massive infection and patients died in droves.
  • The removal of wisdom teeth involves use of a luxator, a tool that looks very much like a stainless-steel chisel, to dislodge the root of the tooth. The same chisel is used to drain tooth abscesses, under anesthesia, to scrape the jawbone. It sounds and feels like using a file on the patient's mouth.
  • Orthopedic surgery (in layman's terms, skeletal surgery) can appear this way, with the use of power tools, hand tools, and hardware similar to those seen in a workshop (although sterile and much more expensive), as well as the use of what appears to be strenuous amounts of physical pulling and tugging by surgical staff (to ensure proper alignment of joints and bones, etc.). For this reason, it is said that an orthopedic surgeon must be as strong as an ox, and twice as smart. On a related note, the world's first chainsaws were bone-cutting devices known as osteotomes. They're scaled down and hand-cranked, but the basic concept is the same.
  • Several appendectomies were performed onboard US submarines during World War II by crewmates with pharmaceutical knowledge, textbooks and improvised tools.
  • Self-appendectomies have also been performed in isolated places and with improvised tools, for example by a Russian doctor in Antarctica and an Australian soldier in the Philippines during WWII.
  • On Untold Stories of the E.R. which is mostly true when the ER doctors have to perform surgery right there and then. A splash-and-slash is the modern equivalent of this. (A splash-and-slash is where they barely have enough time to splash antiseptic onto the patient before cutting them open. Only done when the patient is going to die or is already technically dead before the surgeons are even called.)
  • Cataract is a condition where the eye lens becomes clouded and results in loss of sight and treated through surgery. The earliest cataract surgery was 800 BC, using a curved needle to scrape the insides of the eye.
  • Robert Liston was one of the first surgeons to adopt anesthesia into his procedures. Unfortunately, he also prided himself on the speed of his amputation procedures, often at the expense of caution and, in turn, his patients. In the most infamous example of this, he performed a leg amputation in under three minutes, during which he accidentally sliced off an assistant's fingers and slashed the coattails of a spectator. Both the patient and assistant died of gangrene after the procedure, while the spectator was literally scared to death: that's a mortality rate of 300% in just one surgery!
  • There was a woman in rural Mexico who was having some childbirth complications. She was miles away from any hospital and had no car or phone. Her husband was away at work, and her nearest neighbors were a good distance away. So she drank some tequila and performed a caesarean section on herself, but both she and the baby were fine.
  • Many cultures have various forms of genital cutting/modification, often performed as a rite of passage. Often, these are performed by traditional practitioners (traditional healers/midwives, shamans, etc.) or relatives/family friends...and in this case, the implements are usually not washed or sterilized in between. (Sometimes, a mass cutting ritual takes place, where the same knife is used over and over.) Not helping matters is the fact that many times, these procedures are not performed under an anesthetic. Special mention goes to the most extreme forms of FGM/C: Type III or infibulation. (Warning: very disturbing content)
  • The practice of "gishiri cutting," which is performed in parts of Africa for therapeutic reasons (although there is no evidence that it actually helps any of the gynecological problems it's supposed to fact, it tends to make them worse, or create some interesting new ones). A knife is placed inside the vagina and then drawn back out again, as many times as deemed necessary.


Video Example(s):


Weird Al- Like a Surgeon

Weird Al is like a surgeon cutting for the very first time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (12 votes)

Example of:

Main / MeatgrinderSurgery

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