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Mouth Stitched Shut

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The eyes cost extra.

"You'll never lie to a friend again, and you'll never kiss another man's wife."
Eric Gorman, Murders in the Zoo

A grisly sister trope to Wipe That Smile Off Your Face, in which brute-force means instead of fantastic ones are used to seal a person's lips. Sometimes this trope is applied to living characters as a torturous way to prevent them from speaking or crying out. It's also used occasionally on corpses, often to send a message to whoever finds them that the dead victim had talked too much. Self-inflicted examples also occur, for added Squick.

Variants may use something other than string, such as wire, pins, or padlocks. Whatever the means of closure, the unfortunate subject of this trope is going to have pierced lips.

Subtrope of Facial Horror, and the inversion of Glasgow Grin. Sometimes combines with Eye Scream if multiple facial features are sealed.

Can result in a literal case of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, especially if accompanied by other horrors. Related to Bound and Gagged, particularly if the stitching process is shown.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Claymore: Abyss Feeders are a weapon created by the Organization to fight the Abyssal Ones. The eyes and mouths of the Abyss Feeders are sewn shut and their sense of self completely destroyed so that they would only crave for the flesh of their targets. This makes the Abyss Feeders mindless creatures that are perfect for tracking down and destroying the powerful Abyssal Ones. The stitching on their mouths unravels when they find their target, revealing More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
  • Subverted by several Digimon, the most prominent being Wizardmon from Digimon Adventure. They have large stitches where most creatures would normally have teeth and can speak and even eat normally. Digimon Ghost Game even has an instance of a Clockmon's mouth-stitches getting severed during a battle and it only being a minor injury, especially compared to the other damage that it suffered from the same attack.

    Comic Books 
  • In Tales of the Jedi, this is done to Aleema and Satal's old tutor after Aleema transformed his tongue into some kind of hideous monster-slug.
  • The Flash foe Murmur was a mad criminal who could not stop blurting out his crimes. After a botched execution, he tore out his tongue and stitched his mouth shut to prevent himself from doing this.
  • In Justice League: Cry for Justice, Prometheus does this to Freddy Freeman so that he can't say the magic word and activate his powers. He does this before the story starts so that he can disguise himself as Freddy and infiltrate the heroes.
  • Mentioned but not shown in order to not push the limits of the Comics Code too far in an issue of The Sensational She-Hulk as a necessary step of returning Black Talon's unwilling superpowered zombie servants to rest after feeding them salt.
  • Stitched: Not only the mouth, but also the eyes, nostrils, and any other orifice you can think of.
  • Batman: Some incarnations of the Scarecrow emulate this trope with loose and obvious stitches in his burlap-sack hood. At one point in the New 52 comics (Batman: The Dark Knight #10), he actually does stitch his own mouth shut, though he's still able to speak afterwards.
  • Valhalla: Volume ten covers Loki's wager with Brokk as described in the mythology section. After repeatedly being cheated by Loki throughout the volume and finally prevented from taking Loki's head, Brokk reveals that his Swiss-Army Weapon axe includes a sewing kit, and makes good use of his legal claim to Loki's head: The final panel shows Brokk walking angrily off into the sunset while Loki's mouth has a a big 'X' sewn over it.

    Comic Strips 

    Fairy Tales 
  • In the French fairy tale "The Gold Dragoon", the hero must save his beloved from the Master of Night, and take her to safety without looking back at her or saying a word. Two attempts fail. The third time, the girl uses the trope (along with plugging his ears).

    Fan Works 
  • In the Miraculous Ladybug fan fiction Couturiere, the titular character (an akumatized Marinette) does this to Lila, causing the latter to be traumatized to the point of selective mutism by the end of the story.

    Films — Animated 
  • In 9, the Seamstress captures 8 and sews his mouth shut to silence his cries. Less gruesome than most examples, as 8 is made of cloth, but his expressions make it horrible anyway.
  • The Other Wybie's treatment in Coraline inverts as it goes to the opposite direction which maintains all the horror as it looks and is just as wrong: he ends up with his mouth stitched open.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Elf: In the prologue, we see a crazy old toymaker (AKA Nick's grandfather) in a cabin sewing something with a curved pin. We soon see that he's sewing a child's mouth shut with the titular doll next to the child. The toymaker doesn't get to finish since he gets killed by a mysterious entity who takes a list he made.
  • The Funhouse Massacre: The Stitch-Faced Killer sews the mouths and eyes of her victims shut.
  • Killer Under the Bed: The Voodoo Doll that Kilee finds in the tool shed has its mouth stitched shut.
  • In Saw IV, one of the victims in the Mausoleum trap has his lips sewn shut, preventing him from communicating with the other victim whose eyes are similarly sealed. After he's forced to kill his panicked companion in self-defense, he manages to force his mouth open and scream through torn lips.
  • Strangeland. A madman kidnaps a girl and sews her lips shut. Years later, he kidnaps her again and does the same thing to her.
  • Billy, Winnie's zombified boyfriend from Hocus Pocus. Winnie mentioned he talked so much that she sewed his mouth shut before killing him. Once re-animated, the first thing he does of his own volition is to grab a pocketknife and cut the stitches so he can curse her out.
  • In the David Lynch's Dune (1984), some minions of Baron Harkonnen on Giedi Prime were shown with their eyes, ears, and mouths sewn shut, in the disturbing scene where the Baron rapes a boy while pulling his heart plug. Neither this particular scene nor the people with the stitched-shut sensory organs appeared in the novel however.
  • The Final Girl in Exit 33 has her lips stapled gunned together.
  • In the morgue in The Crazies (2010), the doctor has started tying people down to sew their eyes and mouth shut. The protagonist manages to cut the stitches on one man's mouth in time to be warned that the doctor is right behind him (how the stitched man saw the doctor through stitched eyelids in unanswered).
  • Likewise, the remake of The Amityville Horror (2005) used this trope when George hallucinated (?) seeing the Torture Cellar victims of the house's original owner.
  • Murders in the Zoo opens with a man getting his mouth sewn shut, and being Left for Dead in the middle of a Chinese jungle. His sewn mouth is shown up close, which was quite shocking for the audiences in 1933.
  • When Earl is turned into a scarecrow in Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest, the process involves his eyes and mouth being stitched shut.
  • Infamously done to the In Name Only version of Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
    Wolverine: Guess Stryker finally figured out how to shut you up, huh?
    • Lampshaded by Deadpool himself in the teaser trailer for his solo movie:
      Deadpool: From the studio that inexplicably sewed his fucking mouth shut the first time...
    • And then called out in the movie itself:
      Ajax: I'm gonna sew your bloody mouth shut.
      Wade: Oh, you really don't wanna do that.
  • One of the red-robed gauchos in Gallowwalkers has his lips sewn together with red thread, although it doesn't prevent him from talking.
  • In the 1959 film The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake, the Drake family is stalked by enemies with a long-standing grudge, one of them a vengeful Jivaro with his mouth tied shut with twine in emulation of a shrunken head. The head of each victim is given this treatment so it can be kept as a trophy, while the extracted skull is left as a grisly Calling Card in the Drake family vault.
  • The horror anthology Chilling Visions 5 Senses Of Fear presents the titles of each segment - Smell, Sight, Touch, Taste, Hearing - with a background image of someone with the relevant appendage or orifice sewn closed. The promotional image shows a man's face with mouth, eyes, nose, and ears all stitched shut.
  • One of the themed rooms in the horror-house attraction from 2008's Dark House features a mortician preparing the bodies of the eternally damned for burial. This preparation entails sewing shut every orifice so the deceased person's soul can't escape. When the mortician cuts the threads at the visitors' request, smoke and flying balls of fire come rushing out of the corpse's no-longer-sealed mouth.
  • The torture-pylon that arises at the end of Hellbound: Hellraiser II includes, among other disturbing fleshy "decorations", the figure of an infant with its mouth stitched shut by a needle it clutches in one hand.
  • Befalls several characters in Ouija who fall victim to the movie's supernatural evil.
  • The protagonist of the horror film Besetment wakes up from a Tap on the Head knockout to find her mouth has been hand-stitched shut.
  • In Dead Birds, Clyde winds up being transformed into a Scary Scarecrow: hoist up on a frame in the cornfield with his eyes and mouth stitched shut.
  • In House of Wax (2005), Carly's lips are superglued shut by one of the psychopathic brothers. She manages to pry them apart to scream for her brother to rescue her, leaving her lips red and briefly bloody.
  • This was how the three murdered girls were found in Malevolent (2018), and it happens to two more characters in the course of the film. In all three cases, the killer states that it was to keep them from talking so much.
  • In The Raven (2012), the killer leaves a dead victim bricked up in a tunnel wall, with a clue to another victim's location sewn up inside the body's mouth.
  • In It (2017) the doll version of himself that Richie finds inside a coffin in Neibolt House has its mouth stitched shut.

  • In the first novel of the Aftertime trilogy, a captive girl held by a fanatical religious cult was found with her lips sealed this way.
  • Forest Kingdom: In the Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 4 (Wolf In The Fold), the Freak's mouth was kept sewn shut by his father over many decades' captivity. This wasn't fatal, because the Freak lived on absorbed life force rather than food.
  • In The Scar, it's mentioned that many of the undead who rule the city-state of High Cromlech have had this done as part of their embalming process, so their national language is based on timed facial expressions such as eye-rolling rather than spoken words.
    • In the short story "Jack", set in the same Verse, the urban outlaw Jack Half-A-Prayer did this to an informant who'd ratted out some union organizers to the secret police.
  • Also used by the same author in Kraken, when a magically-animated and sentient tattoo is rendered mute by having stitches inked onto its lips.
  • In the Richard and Kahlan novel The Omen Machine, we are introduced to the Hedge Maid Jit. Before she learned to speak, her mouth was sewn shut by her mother (implied to be a Hedge Maid herself), so that the death that resides within her cannot escape. Her lips can part, but only enough to drink. When the straps are cut, the screams of the dead kill everyone who hears them... including Jit.
  • The Silent Brothers from The Mortal Instruments have their mouths sewn shut. They give up their speech for telepathy.
  • In Dead Beat, Butters asks Harry if this is an effective way to stop zombies. Harry doesn't know and certainly doesn't want to get close enough to test the possibility.
  • One version of the cover art for The Handmaid's Tale depicts a woman with her lips sealed by three bead-strung threads, as a metaphor for the suppression of women's voices in the novel's misogynistic society.
  • In American Gods the protagonist's cell-mate, "Low-Key" Lyesmith, had scarred lips from where someone had once sewn his mouth shut.
  • In Thomas Tryon's Harvest Home (and the made-for-tv movie based on it), this is what happens to men who talk about the Harvest Home night rituals...and it's actually the lesser of the two punishments. Men who actually witness the ritual have their eyes gouged out and their tongues removed.
  • In Jack Cloudie, enemies of the Caliph Eternal are subjected to Transflormation by womb mages and displayed as flesh-and-bone "trees" in the caliph's private torture-garden. Reassuring a minion that captives will always spill their secrets eventually, the Big Bad suggests the lackey undo the stitches that hold shut the mouth of one such "tree" and ask it.
  • The Black Rock Witch from HEX had her eyes and mouth sewn shut in retaliation for supposedly murdering children.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Part of the M.O. of John Myers, aka The Silencer, on Criminal Minds.
  • In the first episode of Millennium (1996), Frank rescues a man who has been buried alive with his eyes and mouth sewn shut.
  • Millennium (1996) was made by the same people as The X-Files, on which an entire faction of alien invaders were humanoids with their mouths and eyes (and presumably all other orifices) sewn shut to prevent contamination with the Black Oil.
  • The Masters of Horror episode "Pelts" features a seamstress who feels compelled to sew her mouth, nose, and eyes shut until she suffocates. (Involves vengeful raccoon spirits.)
  • In a variant, one contestant on Face/Off had to build a foundation-challenge makeup around a set of prosthetic teeth that were wired together.
    • Jordon's "Spinster Aunt" character from season 9's The Munsters / The Addams Family-inspired episode had her mouth sewn shut with knitting yarn.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In "Villains", Dark Willow uses magic to stitch Warren's mouth shut so he can't scream while he's flayed alive.
  • In the second season of Orphan Black Gracie refuses to tell her parents what led up to Helena's escape, so her mother sews her mouth shut until she feels like talking. Later, after Gracie confesses, she meets with Helena again. Helena notices the irritated skin around Gracie's mouth and tells her that the same was done to her once.
  • On CSI: NY, an investigation into a possible blowfish-poisoning reveals along the way that a Japanese chef had been passing farm-raised blowfish off as wild at his restaurant. The clue that he'd done so is that the fish had originally had their mouths stitched shut to prevent them from biting one another during shipment.
  • Self-inflicted by a portly young woman on Tales from the Darkside, whose "revolutionary new diet aids" caused her to hear and see food as sentient. Rather than be tempted to eat her new "friends", she seals her own mouth and starves to death.
  • On Z Nation, Tobias's cannibal cult-family do this to the men they keep trussed up as a living meat source.
  • A dying rape victim on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit was found in the trunk of a car, bound and stabbed repeatedly, with her lips sewn shut. This trope, followed by the intubation performed at the ER, prevented her from telling anyone about her attacker.
  • Gabriel of Supernatural had this inflicted on him while being held captive by the Prince of Hell Asmodeus.
  • When the bodies of four murder victims are found on Prodigal Son, the mouth of the father of the other three is wired shut. In this case, the killer did this because he'd stuffed the dead man's body with venomous snakes, ready to emerge when the wires are cut.
  • On the "Night of the Paw" episode of Creepshow, Whitey clips the stitches from his late wife's lips after he digs up her grave, having belatedly realized he hadn't specified where she should be brought back to life.
  • On Fear the Walking Dead, a walker approaches Al undetected, because its body had been prepped for burial before animation and couldn't moan through sewn-shut lips. On the up side, it couldn't bite through its sealed mouth either, and Dwight destroys it in the nick of time as it opens its jaw wide enough to bust the stitches.

  • "Two missionaries come with conversion kits / You'll be the one sewing cotton through their lips" (Factor 41, Sleeper).
  • In the video for Madonna's "Oh Father", the young girl at the wake looks at the corpse of her mother lying there with her lips sewn shut in a close-up.

    Myths & Religion 
  • Norse Mythology: Loki had lost a bet with the dwarves. The original bet called for them to cut Loki's head off if he lost- however, he told them that to cut off his head meant they would have to cut his neck as well. He reminded them that his neck was not part of the bargain, so they couldn't cut it without breaking their agreement. They debated on this without reaching a conclusion, so Loki got to keep his head. Angered by this, the dwarves sewed his lips shut instead, which Loki couldn't avoid because those were unquestionably part of his head.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the box set Return to the Tomb of Horrors, an important NPC is found hanging on a hook with his mouth and eyes sewn shut.
  • Pathfinder has the lipstitch spell, which sews the target's mouth shut (if they fail a saving throw) and prevents them from speaking intelligibly, casting spells with verbal components, or making bite attacks until the stitching is removed.
  • "Mphmmum" (presumably it's all he's able to say) in Ho L. His description makes a point that the stitching is done with special bioengineered regenerative, thermal-adaptive wire, to make sure it's not going to be easy to remove.

  • Variation: In The Magic Flute, Papageno is punished by having a padlock placed on his mouth. This prevents him from speaking, but it does not prevent him from humming.

    Theme Parks 
  • The shrunken-head choir in Knockturn Alley at Universal Studios Florida's Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction have remnants of string at the corners of their lips, where stitches appear to have been cut to allow the animatronic heads to sing.

  • Siren of the Living Dead Dolls was a singer who was strangled to death and then had her mouth sewn shut.

    Video Games 
  • In the third Last Half of Darkness game, Tia's ghost sometimes manifests with her lips sewn together. It's implied that Marcos actually did this to her before she died.
  • Pizza Vs. Skeletons: One of the Character Customization options you can put on the pizza is a mouth that's stitched shut.
  • Twisted Metal Black has Frank "No-Face" McCutcheon, who was once a boxer until one bad match that broke his face. When he visits a surgeon to fix his face, the doctor, who actually bet on him to win that particular match that he lost, decides to cut his tongue and eyes out and sew his lips and eyelids closed in Disproportionate Retribution. Needless to say that when he woke up, he was incredibly pissed.
  • The Saarebas (Qunari mages) in the Dragon Age series often have their lips stitched together to prevent them from reciting spells.
  • In the opening level of Planescape: Torment the zombies operating the Sigil mortuary all have their mouths stitched shut for some reason. The Nameless One can get one of the few live mortuary workers to disguise him as a zombie, including mouth-stitching.
  • The Secret World: The Silent Monks of the Dragon sew their lips shut as part of their vow of silence.
    The Fourth Dragon Lore: Their silent monks stalk your streets even now, secrets locked into mouths sewn shut.
  • Skullgirls: The character Squigly, last of a long line of opera singers, used to be an undead minion of the Skullgirl and has her mouth sewn shut. In her story mode it's revealed that this was done by Lorenzo Medici as a symbolic threat to her family—he can take away her voice, the most precious thing to her, and he can do similar deeds to those that oppose him. She's kinda pissed about this once she realizes it, though it doesn't stop her from talking; Word of God states that her space-manipulation powers allow her to talk by creating vibrations in the air in front of her face. As a result of her unusual method of "speaking", her voice has a bizarre reverb effect.
  • The Mudokons in Oddworld have their mouths (and sometimes their eyes) sewn shut. The Glukkons aren't particularly big on employee input.
    • The Interns in Munch's Oddysee have their mouths sewn shut as well. Background materials claim it's because they used to whistle on the job a lot and annoy their supervisors.
  • In Borderlands 2, one of Gaige the Mecromancer's alternative heads has her wearing a creepy bunny mask with her mouth stitched shut.
  • In the H. P. Lovecraft inspired The Sinking City, librarian Joy Hayden has her mouth stitched shut. When asked why, all she will say is that it's a "local custom."
  • The Boom Boo ghosts in Sonic Adventure 2 each have a number of 4 stitches on their mouth, in which if you hit them once, they will reveal a scary Slasher Smile which the stitches had concealed. Likewise for their smaller form in which it will Jump Scare a character if they get close to it.
  • In the video-game version of The Warriors, the graffiti tag for the Hi-Hats gang is a skull in a top hat with its Mouth Stitched Shut. This is appropriate since the Hi-Hats wear pale makeup and top hats and usually don't speak.
  • Featured on Death Prophet's Silence skill in Dota 2.
  • This is what happens to the Protagonist in one of the bad endings in Pocket Mirror.
  • The mask of the Nightmare in Metroid Fusion was designed to invoke this. Note that there's no reason for its creators to design a mask like that and leave the face beneath alone, so that was built entirely for the scare factor.
  • In Goetia, the ghost who has forgotten his name manifests as a huge incorporeal head with its lips loosely held shut by cords. Properly revealing his name makes the cords vanish, allowing him to converse more clearly with you.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The zombie-like Silent Monks have their mouths sewn shut by the Divine Order, though, since they're produced by reducing people to Empty Shells through the destruction of their souls, they wouldn't be doing much talking anyway.

    Web Animation 
  • The doll in the short Voodont has stitchings on her mouth. However she is able to remove them easily when she attempts to warn Ellie.

  • Cursed Princess Club: When Gwendolyn meets Princess Renee of the Velvet Kingdom, she thinks the latter's stitched-up mouth is her Curse. It turns out that her actual curse is to spit out living frogs whenever she speaks, and doctors stitched a zipper into her mouth to keep this from happening constantly (which also means she can unzip it whenever she wants).
  • Homestuck: Kurloz's mouth is sewn shut so he doesn't say Lord English's secrets. Officially, he did it himself out of guilt for making Meulin deaf via a nightmare-induced scream.
  • Used for Mood Whiplash in this page of the webcomic Ctrl+Alt+Del.
  • A common featuring in Kharla'ggen's "dolls" in Drowtales, especially "the twins", Kharla's maids. In an Imagine Spot Kiel also imagines her friends as puppets and Kyo'nne's is the only one whose mouth is like this.
    • The original Vy'chriel Vel'Sharen, converted into a golem after her murder, also has her mouth sewn shut. One exposition page mentions this is done to all flesh golems, otherwise the mouth hangs open and the tongue hangs out.
  • Unsounded: Nana's mouth was sewn shut by humans with wire in her youth when they caught her talking about her people's religion after surviving the Death March from her ancestral homelands and forced conversion of her people. It left her with distinctive scars for the rest of her life.

    Web Original 
  • Des in Void Domain appears with her mouth stitched shut at the hands of her father.
  • The "zipper-face emoji" is a standard option on many text apps and communication networks.
  • SCP-2118 once glued her own lips shut, in an attempt to prevent her anomalous voice from replaying her dead baby brother's last vocalizations and upsetting her mother.

    Western Animation 
  • In Cat City, the cats seal Grabowski's lips with an actual lock. Ouch.
  • The villains of the episode "Deadliners" of Extreme Ghostbusters are the Vathek, a trio of interdimensional monsters that look like a mad scientist went freestyle on human bodies. One, Gristle, has his lips sewn shut, but his cheeks slashed open so that his teeth remain visible. It's not a pretty sight when he talks. The Vathek's goal is to turn humans into creatures like them and of course a few of their unwilling clients end up with stitched mouths.
  • In South Park's "Imaginationland" storyline, when Kyle refused to make good on his agreement to suck Cartman's balls, Cartman started having dreams in which Kyle's mouth was sewn shut, denying him his chance to humiliate Kyle.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, the Shrunken Head of Sklar Gringat has laces through its lips, although they're loose enough to allow it to utter threats. Or at least, for the recorded messages planted inside it to be audible.

    Real Life 
  • Used to be a common practice in the mortuary trade to prevent cadavers' lips from shrinking or curling apart from one another as they dry out. (The music video for Madonna's "Oh Father" depicted this, inspired by Madonna's recollection of her mother's funeral.) These days most morticians place behind the lips a small, curved, clear plastic shield with soft plastic spikes (which, in addition to keeping the mouth closed, also gives an appearance of natural fullness) and/or a thin line of invisible skin-bonding glue.
  • Some versions of the process used by Amazon tribes to create Shrunken Heads involve sewing the mouth shut. Others use wooden pins instead of string.
  • Used in some methods of taxidermy, assuming the mouth is being depicted as closed.
  • One of the more unusual body-piercing techniques places one or more wire loops through the upper and lower lip. Unlike most examples above, they're easily removed at mealtimes and are usually too loose to impair speech.
  • Occasionally self-inflicted by political protesters, to graphically express their assertion that their views are being silenced.
  • People who break their jaws sometimes have to have them wired shut while they heal, and it is a lot like this, albeit only on the teeth, not the lips.
  • Traditional snake-charmers sometimes resort to this trope to prevent their cobras from biting.