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Neck Snap

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"You best protect ya neck!"

Next to "Off with His Head!", snapping a person's neck is one of the surest ways to kill someone in media.

Typical procedure: Alice stalks Bob. Catching him unaware, Alice grabs Bob's chin with one hand and his opposite temple with the other. Bob just has time enough for his eyes to go wide with the realization of how screwed he is when Alice wrenches his head to the side with a hideous cracking of bone. Bob is always killed instantly and usually with his eyes open. Sometimes Alice appears to put in an effort (or has superpowers or something) but often is remarkably blase about it. note 

Note that in Real Life, it takes an enormous amount of strength and/or training to snap a person's neck,note  especially if the character getting it snapped is considerably big and strong. Even though hangings, for example, were created as a humane way of killing people via a neck snap, if not done from a high enough place with a long enough rope to generate enough force, they will fail to do so, leading to death by Sinister Suffocation. It's possible if you can pin your opponent and know where to grab and twist to get leverage. In real life, spinal/neck manipulation is allowed in certain martial arts competitions such as the UFC and other MMA events. However, it looks very different than in the movies, and there is almost always time to "tap out" before injury, much less permanent or lethal injury. To perform the "neck snap" like in the page's image you would have to be superhumanly strong.

Furthemore, if you care to try a little experiment of your own, you may note that you don't in fact snap your neck whenever you glance sharply to the side. The human head has a remarkable range of movement, and most necksnaps in visual media wouldn't in fact result in an injury (whether out of concern for the wellbeing of actors, or to avoid gratuitous violent imagery - the gruesome Uncanny Valley result of a hanging has become proverbial for a reason). If the viewer is lucky, the necksnap is left offscreen, or made believable via special effects. If not...

Finally, in Real Life nothing dies instantly from a fractured neck unless it sends vertebrae fragments into, or contorts, the brain-stem in such a way as to shut down all lower brain functions. A broken neck is no guarantee of a "silent kill" either as, if the aforementioned brain-stem damage is not inflicted, all you are left with is a quadriplegic victim, severely injured but not dead, and still able to speak and scream. There's also a good chance that the attacker fails to break the victim's neck or paralyse them at all, instead inflicting just a temporary pain that will pass... leaving the target thoroughly pissed off if they haven't used the opportunity to escape. In addition, as mentioned above it takes a lot of strength to pull this off - fail to incapacitate the target, and you’ve given yourself away in a seriously vulnerable situation. Furthermore, if the spinal cord is not damaged at all, a cervical fracture can heal with proper treatment. This can lead to a lot of He's Just Hiding sentiment toward characters who suffer such injuries.

The frequency of this in film and TV is possibly because it offers a fairly brutal way of killing someone without having to use or show any blood. It is also often used as storytelling shorthand for "this character is a Badass". Not to be confused with Neck Cracking.

Sister Trope to Dramatic Spine Injury, which can have the same effect but is less likely to be lethal.

As this is a Death Trope,, expect unmarked spoilers.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kasumi Gyoubu from Basilisk kills two out of three of his enemies this way. Though not all of those deaths stuck.
  • Black Lagoon: Balalaika snaps the neck of the leader of the Washimine group in one of the final episodes.
  • In Bleach:
    • This happens to Quilge Opie when he gets Hammered into the Ground by Ayon. However, he then gets up and pops his neck back into place.
    • Later, it also happens to Giselle Gewelle when Ichigo knocks her and her friends through a building. However, since Giselle has a Healing Factor, she also nonchalantly pops her neck back into place.
  • Call of the Night:
  • A Certain Magical Index:
  • Choujin Sensen: Tomobiki manages to kill Baron Saijou with his last-ditch effort of telekinesis; he used his blown-off left hand to strangle Baron.
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui", Jet snaps the neck of a syndicate goon after interrogating him. The offhand, blasé manner discussed in the trope description is justified here — Jet uses his cybernetic arm. In a later Jet-centered episode, we learn that his cybernetic arm is no more stronger or more resilient than any other human arm (although he has little to no feeling in it). He's just that badass.
  • Subverted with Nicholas's death in Cyborg 009, since he gets this done to him via Telekinesis. (And considering how it was done, he likely had had all of his limbs snapped at once, not just his neck.)
  • Dragon Ball Z:
    • Dodoria snaps the Moori's neck after Freeza kills one of the escaping children with a smile on his facenote .
    • This is subverted in the Tournament Saga: Videl apparently snaps Spopovich's neck in self-defense when it was becoming apparent that he is trying to kill her, and nearly gets herself disqualified as a result, but then he not only revives himself but even spins his neck back into place in the most disturbing way possible.
  • Dr. STONE: Tsukasa apparently kills Senku by snapping his neck. However, it turns out Senku had conditioned Tsukasa to do that because he still had a tiny bit of stone there, meaning his neck heals itself and he revives once his companions pour the depetrification liquid on it.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist (2003), Führer King Bradley strangles and then finishes off his own son Selim by inflicting this on him.
  • In Heat Guy J, on orders from Clair, a small robot boy does this to a security guard before making a copy of the guard's face to wear, in order to gain access to the building where J is housed.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Toward the end of the fight with Vanilla Ice, Polnareff stabs him through the forehead with Silver Chariot's sword and then twists his head around until his neck snaps. The fact that he survives this is what tips Polnareff off to the fact that Ice is a vampire, something Ice himself doesn't realize until seconds before Polnareff shoves him into the sunlight.
    • Diamond is Unbreakable: This is the final fate of Yoshikage Kira from an ambulance. As it backs up the diver doesn't stop in time and the tire grips Kira's head and spins it in full view with a Sickening "Crunch!". If that wasn't enough half of his face was ripped off as well. This is in contrast with the original manga where Kira dies from having his head crushed by the tire.
    • Stone Ocean: In the battle with Thunder McQueen, after Ermes made a duplicate of his head and removed the sticker that made it, both of his heads clash and inflicted this, taking him down.
  • Jujutsu Kaisen: Mimiko's cursed technique involves using a noose to break the necks of enemies and string up their bodies, but it's exact application isn't explained.
  • Subverted in Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force: Deville attacks Isis In the Back and says that he heard her neck break, but it doesn't take.
  • In Naruto, in order for Kabuto to show Tobi how Edo Tensei works, Tobi would have to bring him a live subject and a dead subject. A bit annoyed, he immediately pulls two of his prisoners from a portal and breaks one's neck.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, we see Nagi doing this during a Pensieve Flashback. To a demon. With one hand. In a Neck Lift. He's just that strong.
  • The Dummy-Plug controlled Unit 01 from Neon Genesis Evangelion breaks Unit 03's neck before brutally tearing it apart. Done somewhat realistically in showing the Eva struggling to do so.
  • Kirika snaps a man's neck using his own tie and a fall down an elevator shaft in the first episode of Noir.
  • Though she seems to prefer going for the spine, One Piece's Nico Robin certainly isn't above doing this when she feels like it. Even worse, she has powers that allow her to make copies of her limbs appear on surfaces up to a fair distance away, meaning she doesn't actually have to physically be anywhere near the person she's doing it to.
  • Byakuran from Reborn! (2004) does this to Tsuna at the final battle of the future arc. Turns out that his victim survives, fortunately. Nearly scared the heck out of Uni and everyone else, though. This is toned down in the anime. Instead of the neck, Byakuran was either trying to snap his spine or crush all the bones in his body. Sounds less scary, until you count how many bones AND organs he probably broke this time

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority: Killer cyborg Seth does this to Midnighter. It has no effect.
  • Batman:
  • Black Widow: Yelena Belova does this to a female opponent in Black Widow #3 (Greg Rucka-written mini-series).
  • The Bojeffries Saga: Ginda Bojeffries does a Neck Snap on David Cameron during Prime Minister's Question Time.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Genevieve Savidge from season 8 does this to a fellow Slayer by smacking her really hard for dirtying her blouse.
  • Cavewoman: In Cavewoman: Ankha's Revenge'', Ankha (who does have super strength) kills Carrie this way while Meriem is paralysed and can only watch helplessly.
  • Copperhead:
    • Boo manages to kill Josiah this way when he briefly gets his hands free while captive.
    • How Clara kills Martineau.
  • Green Lantern: In the storyline Emerald Twilight, this is how Hal Jordan rids himself of Sinestro. He came back years later.
  • The F1rst Hero: In the "Fight For Your Life" storyline, at the end of Odinson's "match" with Eddie, after beating him to a pulp, Odinson snaps his neck, killing him.
  • Fall of Cthulhu: This happens quite a few times in the graphic novel based on H. P. Lovecraft's mythos. Justified as the ones doing the snapping are usually not quite what you would call human.
  • Fantastic Four: Now and then, someone tries to do this to a Skrull...who then smugly points out that as master shape-shifters, they alter their entire bodies anyway so breaking their necks is pointless.
  • The Flash: This is how Barry Allen killed his Arch-Enemy Reverse Flash in The Trial of the Flash. He was put on trial for murder and acquitted. Reverse Flash recovered. Reverse Flash also likes to break multiple people's necks at super speed, then slow down and watch them drop all at once.
  • Gotham City Garage: Batman -Lex Luthor's chief enforcer in this universe- executes James Gordon by snapping his neck.
  • The Incredible Hulk: In The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect, the Hulk gets his neck snapped from The Maestro. He survives but is free to be taken advantage of by a slave girl while he's healing.
  • Kingdom Come: Vandal Savage fairly prominently does this to a secretary.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: In vol 3, after Nemesis Kid stole Princess Projectra's planet, enslaved her people, and murdered her husband, he didn't think he had anything to fear from her. She begged to differ. *KRRAK!*
  • Nightwing: The villain Dudley Soames, a.k.a. Torque, is a survivor of this.
  • The Punisher: The Punisher does this in pretty much any media he appears in. Though just a human, still in great shape.
  • Sin City: Marv does this to a guard or two. Hartigan isn't as super-strong and must make do with slicing throats.
  • Spider-Man:
    • This is how Gwen Stacy died in The Night Gwen Stacy Died. The shock of being stopped so abruptly by the web line attached to her foot broke her neck.
    • The Kingpin made his final ascent to power when he snapped the neck of his boss, Don Rigoletto.
  • Spiritus: Kinju Dayal takes out a guard with one after waking up in her new robotic body.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In "The Warrior Princess", an arc of the X-Wing Rogue Squadron comics, there is a resistance movement fighting an Imperial presence, one of the members is captured, strapped into a chair, and tortured. Then the beloved leader of the resistance walks in, tells him that he'd done well and will be sent home and set free, and then gets behind him and breaks his neck. Then he makes out with the head of the local Imperial forces in front of the dead man's staring eyes. ...As it turns out, the leader of the resistance is secretly evil!
    • In the comic Star Wars: Purge, Darth Vader is ambushed by a group of Jedi. One of them is properly prepared for the fight (she was the only one who knew that it was coming, having lured the rest to the meeting area under false pretenses), and disables his lightsaber before going in for the kill. He proves in an instant with this trope that he doesn't need a lightsaber to kill.
  • Superman: In the story arc Starfire's Revenge, the titular villainess feeds her minion Rodney the lie that Supergirl killed his brother by snapping his neck.
  • The Tomb of Dracula: One issue opens with a skeletal Revenant Zombie snapping a woman's neck. The police detective investigating the murder lampshades the immense strength the killer must have possessed to accomplish this.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • In Ultimate X Men, in the Ultimatum storyline, Magneto does this to Professor X.
    • Nerd Hulk, turned into a vampire, killed Perun with a neck snap.
  • What If?: In several stories, The Mighty Thor has killed the Hulk and Sentry in this fashion.
  • Wonder Woman:
  • X-23: Non-fatal example: Kimura does this to Laura in Target X, casually snapping her neck before dumping her body down the basement stairs. Laura survives because of her Healing Factor and recovers in time to pull an Arrow Catch when Kimura tries to shoot Laura's cousin (who was hiding in the basement with her mother) with a crossbow.
  • X-Men:

    Fan Works 
  • Some characters in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War die this way, though the neck-breaks usually happen from impacts of punches and kicks in an all-out fight, rather than a stealth attack.
  • Aen'rhien Vailiuri has a supremely pissed-off Romulan named Morgan t'Thavrau do a one-handed Neck Lift on a Kazon who just insulted her ability to command her ship. When the Kazon proves Defiant to the End, she breaks his neck and tells her security officer to send in the second-in-command.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? (Worm): In order to get J-dog to talk, Danny first has to promise not to shoot or stab him. Once Danny gets the answers he wants, though, he seizes J-dog around the neck and twists.
    Danny: Never said anything about not killing you.
  • In chapter seven of Bait and Switch, Crewman Cdebaat, a Tellarite redshirt attached to Eleya's away team, gets his neck broken by an Orion matron who manages to get the drop on him with a stealth module.
  • In The Bridge, Kaizer Ghidorah does this to Enjin and then throws his body into a lake. Thanks to his Healing Factor and Adaptive Ability, he survives and repairs himself with his body reinforced so it can't happen again. Indeed, when Monster X later attempts to snap Enjin's neck, he fails no matter how much strength he uses.
  • "darkly, darkly, dawn glittered in the sky" features Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones) being reborn in 1960s Britain as the twin sister of Lily Evans (Harry Potter). After forming a close bond with Severus Snape, when Sansa is struck by Snape's father Tobias, Sansa is able to force Tobias to the ground with a Groin Attack and then delivers a variation of this by forcing her boot down on Tobias's neck until he dies.
  • FIRE! (DarkMark): During their final battle, Red Skull poisons Captain America, and Cap takes the Skull with him by snapping his neck.
    Shield on his good right arm, the sentinel of World War II gave a mighty effort, felt vertebrae separate, and heard the Skull's neck snap.
  • In The Dark Knight Trilogy fanfic Knightfall: The Movie, Bane does this to a guard at Arkham, by wrapping his arms around the guy's head and neck, and twisting, similar to Jason Voorhees in Jason X.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: Keeper Mercury's power to move her minions around at will is so total that she can use it to kill one by twisting his head around 180 degrees. She wouldn't normally take an action like that, but after trawling through the memories of the defeated Keeper Malleus, she is so horrified, disgusted, and traumatised by his rampant unrepentant atrocities that she executes him this way on the spot.
    "He," she gestured toward the corpse in a strange, inflectionless tone of voice, "had angered me greatly."
  • Garfield does this to Doc Brown in Garfield in: "Along Came a Splut", but in an unintentionally accurate example, it doesn't kill him, one of the few things that does make sense about an otherwise Mind Screw of a story.
  • Hachin: When Unegan is trying to kill Mulan, Bataar comes up behind him and twists his neck 180 degrees.
  • Occurs in The Land Before Time Dark Fic Land Before Time: Twilight Valley. Justified in that only smaller bipeds (under 400 lbs) get their necks snapped in this manner and it's usually a 1000 lbs+ dinosaur doing the snapping... and the dinosaurs have essentially taken a CQC course.
  • Luminosity: Bella actually asks Edward to break her spine during her transformation into a vampire, since no chemical anaesthetic is effective in safe doses against the agony of vampire venom. Since Edward has medical training and vampiric Super-Strength, he's able to break her neck with a precise pinch, giving her partial respite until the venom heals the break.
    My neck and head burned still, unimproved, but the loss of torso and limbs was such a dramatic relief that I felt as though I'd been plunged into a tub of ice water.
  • In Metal Gear Solid: Fight of Metal Gears 2, Jake Snake breaks one bad guy's neck and arm and throws them at another before snapping off his head.
  • My Little Mages: The Nightmare's Return: This is how Nightmare Moon finishes off Celestia after she's been stabbed by the Grand Master.
  • The Night Unfurls: With Super-Strength, this is done with ease. With or without the typical procedure.
    • Original version:
      • Chapter 4: One moment during Kyril's massacre of the Black Dog mercs in a church involves him breaking a mook's neck with a backhand, as he tries to grapple for the weapon in his hands.
      • Chapter 7: After obtaining information about the whereabouts of the Gadsden Gang, Hugh obliges Sanakan's request to end the interrogation with a man affiliated with said gang by snapping his neck the typical way. Sanakan stabs the man's head just in case.
      • Chapter 7: In the Feoh dungeons, Kyril grabs a red imp by the neck, squeezing so hard that one of its beady eyes popped out. The imp is tossed aside after having its neck crushed.
      • Chapter 29: While ridding of Mandeville's associates in a warehouse, Sanakan breaks her opponent's neck with a blow from her heavy bracer.
      • Chapter 29: Evetta, without glancing back, dishes out a psychic variant on a traitorous guard, his throat crushed by some unknown force.
      • Chapter 32: Olin is executed via a neck snap by Sanakan for ordering the Good Hunter's assassination, which failed.
    • Remastered version:
      • Chapter 4: Kyril finishes off the orc chieftain Thurog the Tall by adjusting his grip on its head and snapping its neck, though with some effort as the orc tries to shake off the Hunter. Vault internally remarks that it would have taken two of his strongest men to even accomplish the same feat. One of the Black Dogs even vomits at the sight of Thurog's neck and head twisted at an obscene angle.
      • Chapter 9: During his surprise attack on Morgan's camp, Kyril kills a mook by gripping his throat with his left hand, crushing his windpipe.
  • Oni Ga Shiku Series: During the first battle trials at UA, Izuku uses Majima's neck snap technique on Bakugou to knock him out. However, everybody watching, including All Might, thinks that Izuku murdered Bakugou, and it takes Izuku kicking Katsuki to the point be groans to convince them he's alive. He is fine by the end of the class. Later, Aizawa tells Izuku that he needs to work on that hold because civilians will panic if they hear a hero snapped someone's neck, and there may be lawsuits too. And in the next days the entire school has heads what Izuku did, and they sll think he's a psycho.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, smuggling kingpin Jack Johnson has his neck snapped as punishment for...something. That it doesn't work right away is a hint that the person doing it doesn't have the Force powers he's appeared to have been granted through his association with the Republic Intelligence Service.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: Night Blade's illusion sequence in chapter 45 ends when he does this to the fake Page, having figured out she wasn't real.
  • Sabrina in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines adopts this as her method of "removing" unremarkable people from the world, starting with Dario. Her Psychic Powers certainly help on making it quick and clean, though she does note she plans to refine the process later on.
  • The Powers of Harmony: Eclipse kills Granny Smith this way, only for Applejack to use the Element of Honesty's "Rejection of Fate" power to rewind time a few minutes, long enough to save her.
  • Scar Tissue: When Shinji loses control and goes berserker, he is able to snap necks easily. Several characters as Asuka note it and he feels pretty disturbed about it.
  • A guard gets his neck snapped in the Star Wars fic “Marionettes Dance” by am angry Qui-Gon who’s getting annoyed with the Shock Collar devices the guards put on him and Obi Wan.
  • Tales of the Otherverse: In "A World Without Heroes", a thug twists a little girl's neck. Since the main characters had just bumped into him, it proves to be a very final mistake.
  • Thousand Shinji: Done by Asuka in chapter 14. Justified, since she had Super-Strength in this history.
  • In "Twilight's Rage", Twilight does this to General Ironsides.
  • Subverted in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Xenophilia: After several ponies suffer a bad case of Bullying a Dragon, Lyra Heartstrings grabs one of the attackers with telekinesis and it looks like she killed her. However, it turns out she knocked her out with a sleep spell and only jerked her head a bit to make it perfectly clear that she could have.
  • In Yugioh The Thousand Year Door Redux, after defeating Count Bleck in a duel, the Shadow Queen performs a Neck Lift and then snaps his neck.

    Films — Animation 

  • George R. R. Martin's Haviland Tuf short story "A Beast for Norn". During a fight between a strangling ape and an ironfang, the ape kills the ironfang by breaking its neck.
  • In The Bridge Kingdom Archives princess Lara does that to her sister Marylyn — but she has undergone brutal training, does that after some fighting and it's not stealthy.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In Zamboula" Baal-pteor offers Human Sacrifice like this, to save blood for the god; he has killed hundreds. Conan, of course, is even better at this trick, as he demonstrates on Baal-pteor.
    Conan: ... Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man — like this!
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Amarantha kills Feyre by snapping her neck with her bare hands; luckily she gets better again.
  • The eponymous Villain Protagonist of The Day of the Jackal does this several times in several different ways, usually in order to protect his Secret Identity.
  • Walter and Phyllis kill her husband Herbert this way in Double Indemnity. Since The Hays Code was in place at the time, it is not shown on-screen in the film.
  • Eden's first death in Eden Green is a tender neck snap from her arch-nemesis, Tedrin.
  • In the David Palmer novel Emergence, Candy Smith-Foster (an eleven-year-old girl) kills an enemy agent by pretending to cry, then snapping his neck when he hugs her. (She is a black belt with the ability to access greater-than-normal strength, and they're in free-fall in an orbiting spacecraft at the time.)
  • Fair Warning: The serial killer bad guy kills his victims by Neck Snap, then stages a scene to make it look like suicide or accident. The police aren't usually fooled—you can't really snap your neck from falling in the shower or hanging yourself with a one-foot drop.
  • In Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu kills his wife Irisviel (or rather, a representation of the Holy Grail in her form) in this manner.
  • Suggested in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Traitor General: When Brostin is a bit too careless in his stealth, MkVenner oh-so-gently places his palm on the other guy's neck. We're not told how Ven's going to do it, but considering that this is one of the most badass guys in an already badass regiment, Brostin wisely decides not to press his luck.
  • In the final duel between Corwin and Strygldwyr in The Guns of Avalon the combatants end up grappling, and each tries to do this to the other. Corwin succeeds, if only barely.
  • Robert A. Heinlein used this a few times.
    • In his short story "Gulf", "Kettle Belly" Baldwin killed two guards this way when he and "Captain Gilead" escaped from the New Age Hotel.
    • The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress, Professor Bernardo de la Paz mentions that during a brawl he snapped the neck of one of the Warden's guards using a maneuver called the Istanbul Twist.
  • In His Dark Materials, Will Parry accidentally kills a man who invaded his house by pushing him away, resulting in the man tripping over Will's cat, falling down the stairs and hitting a piece of furniture, bending his neck at a twisted angle. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids??!
  • Hive Mind (2016): Forge kicks Riley in the head and breaks his neck, killing him instantly. Not that he would have lived much longer, as Adika's kill shot hit him in the head, but it is confirmed that he died from the broken neck.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Happens by accident in The Shadow of Saganami, when an arms dealer supplying anti-Manticoran terrorists makes a desperate, ultimately unsuccessful attempt to prevent one of his fellow crew members from firing on a RMN shuttle coming to board the dealer's ship, after sensor readings by the Hexapuma showed that the dealer was running under false transponder codes.
    • Done deliberately in Flag in Exile by an assassin sent to kill Honor on a guard.
    • Done deliberately to a Super-Soldier in "From the Highlands". It works because 1) Anton Zilwicki is even stronger than the Scrag and 2) Anton knows exactly how and where to apply the needed force.
  • In The Hunger Games, Cato does this to the boy from District 3 in a fit of rage after Katniss set off a chain reaction with the landmines surrounding the Careers' food supplies, destroying all the food.
  • Near the end of The Last Argument of Kings, Frost does this to a maimed and tearful Severard. Both turn out to have been informing on Glokta, though he at first didn't realize that Frost was a traitor, too, and was seemingly going to let Severard live. Then the epiphany hits, and Frost silences Severard before going for Glokta.
  • In The Lord of Opium the drug lord Glass Eye Dabengwa manages to do this with a punch. He has many cybernetic implants, however, possibly increasing his strength.
  • In The Nekropolis Archives, protagonist Matthew Richter dispatches the warlock Yberio in this manner.
  • In the Noughts & Crosses series, Jude, as general of the Liberation Militia, does this to a subordinate who has betrayed them. He does this one-handed, by jerking her upwards while he was standing behind her chair and she was turning to look up at him. He is a fit, strong man, the attack came totally by surprise, and one might suspect that her neck might be less muscled and more fragile than the normal victims of this trope, so it's difficult to tell how realistic this example is.
  • Averted in An Oblique Approach where Princess Shakuntala attempts this on a guard and fails comically because she doesn't have the size or the strength for it, leaving her hanging off the man's neck like a rabid monkey trying to twist his head off while he struggles and runs around. After her mentor Raghunath Rao mocks her with monkey noises, she steps back and kills the guard with a kick, a palm strike, and three elbow-strikes.
  • In The Monster Baru Cormorant, Iraji (an athletic but not exceptionally strong young man) sneaks up behind an assassin trying to kill Baru, grabs her head, and breaks her neck, only for the text to immediately clarify that it's impossible to break someone's neck with your bare hands like that, and what Iraji actually did was give her neck a very painful twist. Iraji follows up by breaking her arm with an iron club, which is what really incapacitates her.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, symbionts are strong enough to kill people this way, and it seems to be one of their preferred tactics. In particular, two important characters are killed by symbionts in this manner in Honor's Knight.
  • A Piece in the Game of Gods: The end of Part 36:
    she suddenly twisted my head. I felt a sharp pain in my neck, and then there was only darkness.
  • Quarters: Vree kills Kars through breaking his neck with her hands. As he's a very old man, this works easily.
  • The Saga of Darren Shan
    • Played straight near the end of Book 11 when Steve kills Shancus this way. Justified in that Steve is superhumanly strong, and to make things easier for him, it's a child's neck he snaps.
    • Also averted once in Book 3, in which Darren, weakened from a lack of blood, fails to snap the neck of a sheep he planned to feed on, and in a rather upsetting scene, has to repeatedly bash the terrified animal's skull in with a rock as a mercy kill.
  • A favorite move of Daylen in Shadow of the Conqueror, as his Super-Strength lets him pull it off with ease, and it's a way to kill his targets without getting blood all over the place. The crew of the Maraven almost all end up neck-snapped, though the captain gets something much worse.
  • Prince Xizor does this to a would-be assassin in Shadows of the Empire.
  • How do you go from Non-Action Guy to badass in Shakugan no Shana? In Yuji Sakai's first fight, he kills four jerks and then kills the fifth by snapping his neck effortlessly.
  • In Sharpe's Trafalgar, the eponymous hero proves his Badass nature by deliberately snapping the neck of a man blackmailing his lover. He does note it took a lot of effort.
  • Appears and is discussed in Term Limits. After a Senator gets his neck broken by an assassin, a soldier comments that the one time he tried to do that in the field, he failed miserably and had to cut the man's throat instead. The fact that people with the strength and skill needed to break a man's neck with one's bare hands is so rare helps point to the discovery that the killers were ex-US Special Forces.
  • Third Time Lucky: And Other Stories of the Most Powerful Wizard in the World: In "Be It Ever So Humble" Warlord Herrick is holding Juan and demanding that Magdelene serve him. She refuses, and Herrick murders Juan this way.
  • Discussed rather horrifyingly at the end of Unseen Academicals, when Mr. Nutt gets tired of Andy Shank threatening and bullying him and his friends, and puts Andy in a headlock while casually discussing just how much force it would take to rip someone's head off, as orcs like Nutt were rumored to do. Nutt doesn't go through with it, but it does give Andy pause enough to leave Nutt alone.
  • In Vampire Academy, this is one of the tactics used by the superstrong Strigoi to kill. Used by Isaiah to kill Mason Ashford in Frostbite.
  • In The War of the Ancients novel trilogy, Archimonde kills Malorne this way, who was trying to protect his son Cenarius. To his credit, it still took considerable effort, despite Archimonde being a giant demon. Malorne was no pushover either.
  • In Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle's sequel to The Mote in God's Eye, The Gripping Hand, a mercenary tries to kill a Motie this way only to discover their anatomy doesn't work that way.
  • In the Warrior Cats book River, Reedwhisker is found dead with a broken neck. His Clanmates assume it happened by him falling into a ravine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24: Jack Bauer loves this move. As with Sayid, Jack uses his legs for half of the kills. One was even with the back of his leg while he was tied up!
  • This is how Lucas kills Merlyn in American Gothic (1995).
  • In the Season 1 Andromeda episode "A Rose in the Ashes", the prison warden does a one-handed neck-snap to a revolting inmate. Justified, in that the warden is an android.
    • Also, the inmate is able to still talk for a minute before expiring.
  • Angel uses this trope SOOO much. There are so many times that this is how Angel and co. dispose of pretty much every one of their enemies. In order of most common cause of death: Neck snapping is number one, with a shot to death (by bullet or arrows) in a close second, followed by decapitation. No, but really. It's so common, it could be used as a drinking game. Angel especially has used this on demonic entities more than anyone else. He also used it to kill Marcus Hamilton (albeit just by punching him in the face really hard) and Drogyn in the series finale. Angelus mentioned when he killed Jenny Calendar with one that he never gets tired of doing it. Maybe Angel just got into the habit.
    • It was also used as a diversion once-Angel got into the Scourge by snapping Doyle's neck. But, it turns out Bracken demons can survive a neck snap, and Doyle stands up after Angel leaves and pulls his neck back into place.
  • Arrow: pretty much Oliver's preferred method of killing other than his bow.
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    • Number Six does this to a Caprican baby in the opening few minutes of the pilot by reaching into the stroller and twisting when the mother isn't looking. Justified in that babies' necks are ridiculously easy to break.
    • Appears to be the preferred unarmed killing technique of Cylons. Of course, they are stronger than humans. Examples include Caprica killing Boomer when the latter threatened Hera, Gina killing the guard outside her cell, and Boomer killing a Simon in the Grand Finale.
  • While it's not done by another person, on Big Love, Kathy Marquardt's neck is snapped when she crashes a truck with her braid stuck in the door.
  • Blindspot: happens at least twice in season 2: to a Chinese criminal in ep 19 and guard in 21.
  • Booth kills at least one of the special forces guys who attacked him and Brennan by snapping his neck on Bones “The Recluse in the Recliner”.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer loves this trope too.
    • This is how vamps kill humans who they don't drain, and how Buffy and Angel kill monsters if they don't have a weapon.
    • Angelus kills Jenny Calendar this way in his crossing of the Moral Event Horizon in "Passion".
    • Alt-Master kills alt-Buffy this way in "The Wish".
    • Buffy kills Der Kindestod this way in "Killed by Death".
      Xander: He's dead, right? I mean, I heard something snap.
      Buffy: That would be his neck.
    • And it's pretty much Caleb's signature move, to almost Narm levels.
    • Moloch the Corrupter, from the episode I Robot, You Jane, likes to do this to his own cultists just because he can. He's first show doing it in the prologue just before he's sealed; then near the end, in his robot body, does this to his subordinate, Fritz.
    • In the comics, Angel kills Giles in this manner, mirroring Jenny Calendar's death.
  • Charlie's Angels: a rather unexpected (for the era) use of this trope when a mook does this to a female roller derby athlete at the start of "Angels on Wheels".
  • One episode of Criminal Minds has a particularly poor example when a CIA agent has her neck broken. Her chin was moved gently to rest on her collar bone while a cracking sound played on the soundtrack.
  • CSI: NY has an ep where the victim was killed by a man who was a martial arts expert-he used a single blow to snap the vic's neck from behind.
  • In Dark Angel, Max (Jessica Alba) snaps Terrance's neck in the episode "Prodigy" (Season 1, Episode 7). In "Pollo Loco", she mercy-kills her serial killer 'brother' Ben in the same way; he, in turn, had been snapping the necks of his victims.
  • Dexter uses this method to dispose of George King, a.k.a., the Skinner, during the Season 3 finale.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Fourth Doctor does this to a minor villain non-fatally in "The Seeds of Doom".
    • The Master does it to Chang Lee in the TV Movie, killing him (he got better, though). He also did it to the wife of Bruce (the guy whose body he stole).
    • Jack recommends doing this to the Master in "The Sound of Drums".
    • The Weeping Angels turn out to be very fond of this in "The Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone". It quickly replaced the "trapping victims in the past" method from "Blink", likely to avoid villain decay (since that's easy to undo with a TARDIS). The Doctor tried to explain this as an exception since they needed the body or soul to talk, but they go on doing it after creating "Angel Bob". Of course, sending people to the past is a way to feed, and they already get enough power from draining the ship's engines.
      • In the finale of Doctor Who spin-off Class (2016), the headteacher Dorothea Ames gets executed by the Governers by having her neck snapped by a Weeping Angel.
  • EastEnders: Gray Atkins apparently killed Tina Carter with this method: if the BBC's official Audio Description of the scene is to be believed.
  • In the Emerald City episode "No Place Like Home", West casually snaps a guard's neck with a wave of her hand, when he tries to attack Tip/Ozma.
  • Farscape:
    • In an especially jarring example, Captain Crais does this to a subordinate ONE-HANDED. C'mon, the guy has some training but he's not exactly a ninja.
      • The subordinate's head also barely moves a few degrees. There's no way Sebacean necks are so fragile. They're supposed to be genetically-engineered Super Soldiers.
    • Scorpius also managed a one-handed Neck Snap in the fourth season, but then again, Scorpius is much stronger than the average Sebacean.
    • Aeryn snaps several necks too throughout the series. Clearly, it is the Peacekeepers' favored close-up method of killing.
  • Firefly:
    • After his attempt to turn in Simon and River for the reward money goes wrong in "Ariel" and he gets arrested right along with them, Jayne decides to get the two out of there and kills one of the two Feds holding them in their cell by snapping his neck while handcuffed (though it takes some doing), giving Simon the opportunity to disable the other one.
    • In "Bushwhacked", Mal also uses his handcuffs to snap the neck of the settler-turned-Reaver who is trying to kill the Alliance officer at the end of the episode.
  • The Flash: In season 2, Zoom kills a roomful of cops by snapping all their necks in under a second. He only spares Singh, Joe, and the guy holding the camera.
    • The Reverse Flash is also shown to kill roomfuls of opponents at Super-Speed (more cops in season 1 and Nazis and arms dealers in Legends of Tomorrow), although we aren't shown exactly how, but it's possible that it involves this trope as well.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Arya Stark snapped the neck of a pigeon she caught, intending to eat it.
    • Other characters like The Hound sometimes snap people's necks in battle. Furthermore, when Biter attacks him, he retaliates by snapping Biter's neck almost instantly.
    • This happens to Locke, courtesy of a warged Hodor, bringing his quest to bring back Bran and Rickon to a sudden and unpleasant end. Somehow, we don't feel bad about it.
    • On Arya's orders, Jaqen snaps the Tickler's neck.
  • In Hannibal, the eponymous character snaps the neck of one of his victims. Playing it straight, however, this doesn't so much as kill the victim as leave him permanently disabled and confined to a bed or wheelchair for the rest of his life...among other things.
  • The remake of Hawaii Five-0 has an episode in which Kono does this to a mook.
  • In Heroes:
  • Duncan uses this in a Highlander episode to mercy kill a suffering friend at the Andersonville prison camp.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022): In "The Thing Lay Still", Lestat de Lioncourt snaps the neck of a man with blood cancer after finding the taste of his victim unpalatable.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): The ability to snap one's neck with her bare hands is something that runs in the Jones family. It's how Jessica ultimately kills Kilgrave once and for all in season 1. Meanwhile, in season 2, it's revealed that her mother can do much the same thing, using such a method to kill Luanne and Will Simpson.
  • In Kamen Rider 555, Kusaka's neck gets snapped by Kaixa, who is Kiba.
  • Parodied relentlessly in a Key & Peele sketch Strike Force Eagle 3, spoofing 1980s low-budget action movies: the mulleted hero infiltrates the Big Bad's facility by doing this to every mook guard along the way with increasingly silly and unlikely techniques such as breaking a guard's neck by tugging on the guard's beard. The absurdity peaks when the hero takes out a line of four mooks by throwing a frisbee at one; the struck guard's neck breaks, and as he slumps down he bumps into the guard next to him... breaking that guard's neck in the impact, and continuing down the line.
    • Having dispatched all the guards, the hero swaggers up to his love interest, who had been tied to a chair by the villain. He reaches out, gently takes her face in his hands...and accidentally breaks her neck.
  • Kings: Silas, driving alone and angry in the country at night, hits a deer, then gets out of the car and snaps its neck with his bare hands. Of course, since this is Kings, this is all very symbolic and there is an awesome monologue first.
  • Legends of Tomorrow:
    • Seen a few times, usually by trained assassin Sara.
    • The magic-empowered Damien Darkh is fond of just waving a hand to telekinetically do it to people.
    • Subverted when Sara does it to Charlie... but being a shapeshifter (and a Greek goddess) who alters her entire body anyway, Charlie just shrugs it off.
  • Sayid from Lost does this to an Other... with his feet.
  • If Steven Seagal appears in MADtv (1995), someone is about to get a neck broken. Likewise in a lot of his movies.
  • In the miniseries Masada, one of the Zealots breaks a Roman soldier's neck by placing the palms of his hands on each of the victim's cheeks and twisting?!
  • Midnight, Texas: happens in "Blinded by the Night", full 180-degree twist.
  • NCIS uses this a number of times in early seasons:
    • In "UnSEALed", Ducky discovers that two murder victims, previously identified as having had their throats slashed, were actually killed this way.
    • In "Red Cell", the killer uses this method to kill both his victims. Gibbs then demonstrates it on DiNozzo to show how it was done, and incidentally prove that the killer had military hand-to-hand combat training.
    • In "Witch Hunt", Sgt. Niles uses this technique to kill one of the kidnappers before being shot by another.
  • Obi-Wan Kenobi: In episode III, Vader grabs a random citizen to murder in order to draw Obi-Wan out of hiding. The man's son tries to intervene, only for Vader to toss him aside and casually snap his neck with the Force.
  • Once Upon a Time has the Evil Queen do this combined with a Psychic Strangle on some of her mooks who fail her; basically, she snaps their necks without touching them.
  • Happens a number of times in various The Outer Limits episodes. One episode involves a suspect snapping her own neck to avoid being questioned. Slightly justified because she was a mutant with enhanced strength. It's also possible that the same mutation also weakened her neck. Another episode starts with a frail-looking woman having sex with a man and then snapping his neck afterwards. Actually, his neck comes off revealing him to be an android. She's an android too. This was a test of a Mata Hari-type Killer Robot, so her strength is justified.
  • Oz: After Chris Keller discovers that an old friend tried to sell him out to the cops, he coaxes the man into giving him a blowjob in a janitor's closet, then snaps his neck afterwards.
  • Taken to the extreme in Return of Ultraman with Jack defeating the sinister alien conqueror, Nackle; by lifting Nackle into the stratosphere and dropping him so that Nackle lands on his head! This likely broke the alien's neck, since Nackle dies shortly afterwards (though not before letting out a Dying Curse).
  • One of JD's fantasies on Scrubs involved his faking his own death and setting up an elaborate funeral solely so that Dr. Cox would hug him. When fantasy-Cox learns this, he snaps JD's neck. "Worth It!"
  • In Seven Days, this is Parker's favorite method of dispatching a bad guy, usually with his legs. Notably, he does it to a terrorist in the pilot. Then, sometime later, he does it to the terrorist's brother, who has come for revenge.
  • The 2000s TV version of Sheena often featured the heroine dispatching bad guys this way, usually after morphing into a monster.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Teal'c does this to a Jaffa leader (who has been torturing him, as well as his son and mentor — thus making it very satisfying) in the episode "Orpheus", though it takes some squeezing.
    • Adria may be a subversion, she uses her Psychic Powers to kill a Jaffa this way in SG-1 episode 10.07 "Counterstrike".
    • Similarly, Niirti is killed this way by one of her telekinetic "experiments".
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the episode "Journey to Babel", an Orion spy breaks the neck of the Tellarite Ambassador using the Vulcan execution technique tal-shaya in order to frame Ambassador Sarek for the crime. The difficulty of pulling a quick quiet kill with this is discussed, and is part of the reason why Sarek is the top suspect, because not only is it to his side's advantage to have the Tellarite off the debate, but he is also one of the very few people aboard who had both the chance and ability to pull off this kill before the victim's bodyguards or the ship's security forces noticed.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In an episode, Quark asks Garak to kill him, and Garak demonstrates various methods he could use on the holosuite. One of these is sneaking up on holo-Quark and performing this maneuver, leading the real Quark to lampshade this trope by exclaiming, "Did you hear that sound? Of bones snapping? I don't want that to be the last thing I hear!"
    • In one of the more memorable DS9 scenes, Weyoun taunts Ezri Dax with some personal information he got during her Mind Probe interrogation, forgetting that he's standing next to Worf who promptly breaks his neck.
    • Worf develops a real fondness for the Neck Snap, as he can be seen using it to dispatch no fewer than four Jem'Hadar on the series. In his case, it's justifiable because of his Klingon strength.
    • In "Hard Time", O'Brien killed his cellmate this way.
    • In "To the Death", a Jem'Hadar "First" snaps the neck of his "Second" for insubordination. The main point the producers wanted to get across with that was that the Jem'Hadar are far less sympathetic than prior Trek antagonists. The Jem'Hadar First is visibly angry that Sisko doesn't discipline Worf in this manner.
  • Star Trek: Discovery: Ash Tyler kills Doctor Culber this way for finding out that he's actually a Klingon sleeper agent. Culber gets better in season 2.
  • Star Trek: Picard:
    • In "Maps and Legends", it's done Offhand Backhand by F8 to a coworker while the former hacks into a LCARS panel.
    • In "Broken Pieces", a Romulan Centurion has his neck snapped by a group of xBs who are under Seven of Nine's control.
  • Most bad guys in Supernatural prefer this method of killing someone, with demons usually doing it with Telekinesis. Since it's mostly supernatural beings, the ease with which the neck breaks is justified. Most notably, this is how Lucifer eventually kills Dean in an alternate future.
  • A favored method of killing by the Terminators in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and frequently done one-handed, and usually in the middle of a Neck Lift.
  • Torchwood: Miracle Day episode 2 ("Rendition") has a suitably bizarre example where Rex neck snaps a bad-girl CIA agent. Not only that, he does so in a manner that results in her head being rotated 180 degrees! In keeping with the theme of the series, however, she doesn't die and later tries to attack Rex while looking like Meryl Streep from Death Becomes Her. Further neck-snapping goodness occurs during the Miracle Day finale, too.
  • Beautifully subverted in True Blood, in which Sarah Newlin — an ordinary human with no combat training in a world full of vampires — attempts the classic twist-from-behind on an unsuspecting woman, who is very confused as to what is going on. Then Sarah beats her to death with a shoe. Also disturbingly played with by Bill, when he's having sex with his maker Lorena. Not wanting to see her face, he twists her head 180 degrees. Naturally, being a vampire, she's still alive and even tells him she loves him, while he continues to screw her.
  • Happens very often on the The Vampire Diaries. It's justified in that vampires have Super-Strength which makes it the fastest and easiest way to kill a human. Vicky, Jeremy, Tyler and too many supporting characters to count die/are turned this way. Vampires also often do this to each other. It doesn't kill them but works as a reliable Tap on the Head that knocks them out for a while.
    • In the spin-off Legacies, Hope also does this quite a lot... sometimes to her boyfriend Landon, who's a Phoenix. Again, justified since she's a tribrid (witch, vampire, werewolf), although her vampiric nature is still dormant since she hasn't died yet.

  • A Running Gag in Brockhampton member JOBA's verses is him screaming something about breaking necks. This even made it onto some of the band's merch, with a t-shirt branded as "Joba's Chiropractic", with the slogan, "We'll break your neck so you can watch your back!"

    Music Videos 

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu supplement Fearful Passages, adventure "Sleigh Ride". One of the giganteus sneaks up behind Professor Chance and wrenches his neck with a sickening crack.
  • You can do this in GURPS as part of grappling, but you usually fail at the required rolls, unless you have high ST and/or points in the Neck Snap technique.
  • Pathfinder. Through feats or class features, this is a combat option in the game.
    • There is a Brawler archetype, the Strangler, which has a high-level ability called Neckbreaker; opponents pinned in a grapple must make a save or die instantly.
    • A somewhat more realistic variation exists through the Neckbreaker feat, which is available to anyone willing to sink the feats into it. A successful attack deals considerable damage directly to the target's strength or dexterity score as their spine is violently twisted. Once paralyzed through nerve damage and their scores drop to zero, any further damage from this attack is done directly to their constitution score — once that hits zero, they're dead.

  • In Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the Beadle, Judge Turpin's dragon, does this to the poor little bird that was Anthony's gift to Johanna in a quite cruel Kick the Dog moment before threatening Anthony with the same if he ever steps foot on their street again. In the non-musical version of the play by Christopher Bond that the musical was based on, Sweeney kills the Beadle by dropping him right down the chute with the chair in such a way as to break his neck upon landing, a nod to the way the original Sweeney murdered his customers in The String of Pearls.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Animation 
  • ASDF Movie:
    • "Turn that frown upside down!" "Okay!" (crack)
    • Another video has two people try to stage an intervention for Larry, who keeps doing this. He obliviously keeps doing it.
    • Happens again in asdfmovie14 as one of the gags where the baby takes his father's life.
    • In "Yang vs. Tifa", this is how the loser gets finished off, in a fairly creative variant of this move. Yang grabs Tifa from behind on opposing sides of her head, and then she fires both of her shotgun gauntlets, so the recoil pulls her arms away and... Well, you get the idea. Barbara Dunkelman (Yang's voice actress, who was watching the fight on Livestream) looked pretty visibly mortified afterward, and for fair enough reason.
    • Again, a creative variation of this move is used in "Batman vs. Captain America". Read: Batman's Grappling-Hook Pistol meets Cap's neck meets street-lamp.
    • The Neck Snap showed in Yang vs. Tifa is shown again in Deadpool vs. Mask albeit in a hand-drawn style, but Deadpool himself uses the Continuity Gem to invert the kill with Yang getting her neck snapped by Tifa.
  • Happy Tree Friends: In "Hide and Seek," Fliqpy, while camouflaged as a tree, sneaks up on Toothy and snaps his neck.
    • In "Dunce Upon a Time", Giggles uses Petunia's (as Rapunzel) hair to escape from Lumpy's castle; however, her hair isn't long enough to reach the ground, and eventually the tension causes her neck to break.
  • Helluva Boss: When they met for the first time in 20 years, Blitzo twisted Stolas's neck 180° in order to shut him up when he started getting too frisky. Stolas being an owl demon, it didn't even faze him.
  • Done with a one-handed Neck Lift in Magical Girl Hunters. Then again, the person being killed is a 5-year-old girl...
  • Minilife TV:
    • In "Poking the Pilot", Goshua pranks Chris and Ian by sending them through alternate timelines. In one of them, Chris decides to kill Ian while he's playing the piano. However, Chris ends up shooting Ian's decoy while the real Ian sneaks up behind him and snaps his neck.
    • In "The Quarter Finals Begin", Chris plans to bust Ian out of City Hall and Nostalgia Bot (aka Nosty) welcomes him. When Chris asks where to find Ian, Nosty tells him that Ian is in his office, and then Chris deactivates Nosty by twisting his head around to ensure no one saw him.
  • Red vs. Blue: Season 9, when South kicks a Mook headfirst into a locker. His head gets stuck there, and he doesn't get back up, so we can assume that it fits this trope.
  • In episode 7 of the Xiao Xiao series, the main character snaps a couple of mooks' necks, but it sounds less like a snap, and more like someone tapping a brick against a cookie jar.


    Web Original 

    Web Videos 
  • Aldrivers, Devourer of Cos has Ted do this to Tony Hawk, using footage from Man of Steel with their faces pasted on the scene. It doesn’t kill Tony, forcing Ted to finish him off after telling him to shut up.
  • Hilariously parodied in the Escapist web series Doomsday Arcade. When Shanks and Lund have to break out of a prison, the guards' necks snap with the slightest twist. They even manage to snap their necks by touching them on the shoulder and staring at them.
  • Super Power Beat Down: In "Batman vs. Deadpool", aware that his opponent can't die, Batman don't have to hold back and give Deadpool's head a 180°. Of course this only incapacitates the Merc with a Mouth for a moment thanks to his Healing Factor, and he snaps it back into place.
  • There are YouTube videos demonstrating the proper technique, many of them overemphasizing the danger of the neck snap since it's already both extremely dangerous and relatively simple to perform. The videos often come under fire for potentially inciting violent behavior that could either be justified by or hidden under the label of "self-defense".
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, Tristan can break necks with his mind.

    Western Animation 
  • Stan Smith does this several times in American Dad!. Stan, while being high on crack, kills a monkey this way (which wouldn't really be that hard). He also kills Jay Leno this way in a fit of anger.
    • In another episode, Bullock's date tries to surprise him from behind, but his CIA training causes him to instinctively assume she was a terrorist and snap her neck.
  • In Courage the Cowardly Dog pilot "The Chicken from Outer Space", this is how the Space Chicken kills the other chickens.
  • Patrick Smith's short Delivery features two brothers fighting over a package. One of them eventually defeats the other by snapping his neck. And the box they were fighting over? Empty. According to Smith, it was meant to be a rebuttal to all those Anvil on Head cartoons, saying that his character will die if one falls on them.
  • In Drawn Together, Captain Hero is trying to find a giant retard that has been destroying the city. He finds a dead man in a car and tries to get the information out of him. When he gets no response he decides "Maybe a little neck-snapping will jog your memory!" and proceeds to do just that. And when that doesn't work, he decides "Maybe a little spooning will jog your memory!"
  • In Final Space, Nightfall kills a soldier who was about to shoot down the Galaxy 1 in this manner in Episode 3.
  • Captain Scarlet kills a Mysteron replicant this way in one episode of Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Fluttershy does this to a bear in "Lesson Zero". Yes, this is a little girl's show. (The bear's fine. Apparently, it's a violently effective form of chiropractic therapy.)
  • Rick and Morty: In "Thanksploitation Spectacular", the turkey that was transformed into The President does this to the scientist running the turkey conversion ray when she becomes suspicious of his requests.
  • Episode 3 of Season 5 of Samurai Jack has Jack punch one of the Daughters of Aku so hard her neck snaps around with a Sickening "Crunch!" before her body goes spiraling off the tree trunk they'd been fighting on.
  • The Simpsons: McBain does this to the trope namer of Commie Nazis.
    Marge: That's what I call break-neck speed! [laughs]
    Bart: [serious] Mom, a man just died.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Terminal Provocations", Rutherford does this to Badgey after freezing him, despite him being an animated Starfleet badge and thus not having a neck, resulting in Rutherford twisting around the upper third of his body.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: A flashback in "School Spirit" shows one of Star Butterfly's babysitters once taught her how to do this. When she was still a toddler.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars:
    • "Bounty Hunters": Embo kills a pirate scout this way so he can't report what's going on in the village to Hondo.
    • "Monster": Asajj Ventress and her allied Nightsisters decide to test the loyalty of their newly-empowered minion, Savage Opress, by commanding him to kill his brother. Savage does so with a Neck Snap. (Not with a Force-Choke Neck Lift, mind you, as is traditional in this universe — Opress has only an instinctual knowledge of the Force in this episode, and no formal training. He does it with his bare hands.)
  • Steven Universe: In "Gem Glow", Pearl does this to one of the centipeetles while cheerfully talking to Steven.
  • The Venture Bros.:
    • Brock Sampson tries to walk a reluctant Hank Venture through this in "Ghosts of the Sargasso". Fortunately, Hank isn't strong enough to actually break any necks, but he does knock out a couple of the goons and ties them up, with bows.
      Hank: And that'll knock him out... even more?
      Brock: That'll kill him.
    • In "Ice Station Impossible!" Hank, facing possible doom as a human bomb, asks Brock to kill him if the need comes.
      Hank: How would you do it?
      Brock: You're asleep, quick jerk of the neck. Never feel a thing.
      Hank: You've thought about this!
      Brock: Yes, I have.
    • The episode "¡Viva los Muertos!" has Brock, again, doing this to the henchman who is later resurrected as Venturestein. It is rather creepy, since it's shot from the hapless henchman's point of view, with the camera suddenly snapping to the side when Brock breaks his neck.
  • Invincible: Omni-Man does this to War Woman, twisting her neck around 180 degrees.

    Real Life 
  • This is the intended result of long-drop hanging style of execution. It is actually very difficult to achieve, and that is the reason why hanging has been pretty much superseded by firing squads, electrocution, and lethal injection.
    • To give some perspective on how difficult it was to do the long-drop correctly, you had to calculate the length of the rope very carefully based on the weight of the convict, as well as consider the diameter of the rope and its elasticity. It requires ~5000 N (1000 lbf) of force to reliably fracture a neck. Too short and the neck wouldn't break and you had to wait for him to strangle to death. Too long and the force applied to the neck would be so great that...well, the best outcome was a snapped rope. The worst outcome was a total decapitation. More than a few hangings were botched in this way, such as Black Jack Ketchum, and there have been several judicial hangings in Iraq (not Saddam Hussein) where this has happened.
      • At its most extreme, 12000 N (2697 lbf) can cause total decapitation regardless of the diameter of the halter. In this scenario, the head would simply be torn off.
  • There are many who defend the use of "neck cranks" and other similar moves in MMA who claim that it is extremely difficult, if not outright impossible, to actually kill someone doing one in competition, as the crank is generally applied slowly enough for someone to tap out. Some beg to differ, but as of mid-2015, there have been no deaths from neck snaps reported in sanctioned MMA competitions such as UFC.
  • After two deaths in as many days where broken necks were a factor at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix (Roland Ratzenberger broke his neck and died instantly in a high-speed crash during practice, Ayrton Senna was killed the next day in the race by multiple head injuries, one of which was a broken neck), Formula One initiated an extensive evaluation program of the HANS device (Head And Neck Support) that attaches their helmet firmly to their shoulders with a strong carbon fibre rig and straps which prevents the violent whiplash accidents can cause from snapping the victim's neck, finally officially adopting it in 2003. There have been more than a dozen years since, with drivers walking away from 50G+ crashes.
  • There are many warnings against allowing a chiropractor to perform a spinal readjustment. While actually breaking the patient's neck isn't the issue (unless you really chose the wrong chiropractor), there's a significant risk of damaging an artery and causing a blood clot that easily can become dislodged and travel into the brain to cause a stroke.
  • The old US Army Field Manual FM 21-150 (U.S. Army Hand-To-Hand Combat) has a procedure for eliminating sentries by using their helmet as a lever for a neck break.
  • The holotype specimen of the mosasaur Tylosaurus kansasensis (FHSM VP-2295) was found with bite marks on its skull and a neck bent at an unnatural angle of 40 degrees, suggesting that the mosasaur was killed this way by another member of its species.


Anyone Else Lives Here?

Damon casually kills a woman after confirming that nobody would miss her.<br><br>

How well does it match the trope?

4.5 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / HaveYouToldAnyoneElse

Media sources: