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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 a considerable 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 super humanly strong.


Also note that 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. 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.

As a Death Trope, expect spoilers.


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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.
  • A Certain Magical Index:
    • In A Certain Scientific Accelerator, Seike is a teenage girl who is somehow able to break a grown man's neck with her bare hands even though her powers (control over friction) don't include enhanced strength.
    • In A Certain Scientific Railgun, there's the Tokiwadai Dorm Supervisor, who punishes people this way while somehow not killing them. She's snapped Kuroko's neck at least twice and Mikoto's at least once. She's actually scary enough that at least two Level 5 Espers fear her.
  • 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.
  • 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 neck of the Namekian Elder after Frieza kills one of the escaping children with a smile on his face.
    • 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 Fate/Zero, Kiritsugu kills his wife Irisviel (or rather, a representation of the Holy Grail in her form) in this manner.
  • In the 2003 anime adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist, Fuhrer 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, Tobi is shown demonstrating a technique requires 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 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.
  • 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.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • The Authority: Killer cyborg Seth does this to Midnighter. It has no effect.
  • Batman:
  • The Yelena Belova version of Black Widow does this to a female opponent in Black Widow #3 (Greg Rucka-written mini-series).
  • In The Bojeffries Saga, Ginda Bojeffries does a Neck Snap on David Cameron during Prime Minister's Question Time.
  • Genevieve Savidge from Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8 does this to a fellow Slayer by smacking her really hard for dirtying her blouse.
  • Ankha (who does have super strength) kills Carrie this way while Meriem is paralysed and can only watch helplessly in Cavewoman: Ankha's Revenge.
  • Copperhead:
    • Boo manages to kill Josiah this way when he briefly gets his hands free while captive.
    • How Clara kills Martineau.
  • In the Green Lantern storyline Emerald Twilight, this is how Hal Jordan rids himself of Sinestro. He came back years later.
  • Happens quite a few times in Fall of Cthulhu, a 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.
  • In Gotham City Garage, Batman -Lex Luthor's chief enforcer in this universe- executes James Gordon by snapping his neck.
  • The Incredible 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.
  • Wonder Woman does this to Maxwell Lord in Infinite Crisis, and to the monstrous Grendel in Secret Six.
  • Wonder Woman kills Huntress this way with the Lasso of Truth in Year Three of the Injustice: Gods Among Us prequel comic.
  • Vandal Savage does this to a secretary fairly prominently in Kingdom Come.
  • The Kingpin made his final ascent to power when he snapped the neck of his boss, Don Rigoletto.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes v.3: Princess Projectra. After Nemesis Kid stole her planet, enslaved her people, and murdered her husband, he didn't think he had anything to fear from her. She begged to differ. *KRRAK!*
  • In New X-Men #116: "E Is For Extinction Pt. 3", Emma Frost/The White Queen snaps the neck of Cassandra Nova.
  • Dudley Soames, a.k.a. Torque, a Nightwing villain, is a survivor of this.
  • The Punisher does this in pretty much any media he appears in. Though just a human, still in great shape.
  • Marv does this to a guard or two in Sin City. Hartigan isn't as super-strong and must make do with slicing throats.
  • 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.
  • Spider-Man: This is how Gwen Stacy died. The shock of being stopped so abruptly by the web line attached to her foot broke her neck.
  • Kinju Dayal takes out a guard with one in Spiritus 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.
  • In Superman story arc Starfire's Revenge, the titular villainess feeds her minion Rodney the lie that Supergirl killed his brother by snapping his neck.
  • One issue of The Tomb of Dracula 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.
  • 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.
  • The 2013 run of Uncanny X-Men has Generic Doomsday Villain Matthew Malloy inflict this on uber-powerful X-villain Exodus in a pretty blatant case of The Worf Effect.
  • 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.
  • In several What If?? stories, The Mighty Thor has killed the Hulk and Sentry in this fashion.
  • Non-fatal example: Kimura does this to X-23 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.
  • Colossus from the X-Men angrily kills Riptide this way during the extremely dark Mutant Massacre storyline.

    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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 
  • Much like in the comic it's based on, the second part of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns has Batman decide that he's done playing around and snap The Joker's neck, rendering him paralyzed without killing him. The Joker, satisfied that he finally made Batman lose control, finishes the job himself by snapping his own neck completely, killing himself and making sure that Batman would be hunted down by the police for supposedly killing him.
  • Humorously suggested by Rhino in Bolt when infiltrating the animal shelter. Note that Rhino is a normal-sized hamster with no powers.
    Bolt: There's a guard.
    Rhino: I'll snap his neck.
  • Possibly what happened to Dynaguy in The Incredibles when his cape snagged during takeoff, given that's where capes attach.
  • In Superman: Doomsday, Doomsday kills a deer and several humans this way.
  • In Titan A.E., Korso kills Preed this way after the latter's second Face–Heel Turn. The former is a fit, trained soldier and it still takes him considerable effort to do it, so it is quite well-done (perhaps shockingly so for an animated movie with only a PG rating.)
  • The Darker and Edgier animated Wonder Woman made-for-DVD movie of 2009 has both Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor doing this to a pair of guards.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Happens twice in The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension:
    • Lord John Whorfin performs a Neck Lift on an attendant, pins him against a wall, and snaps his neck.
    • During the infiltration of Yoyodyne, John Parker snaps the neck of a Red Lectroid.
  • The president in Air Force One does a pretty realistic one, with considerable effort and a quiet little snap.
  • In the made-for-video B-movie Airline Disaster, Agent Vitale snaps a female hijacker's neck. A rare example that suggests that a) it takes effort and b) it actually hurts the person being killed.
  • Done realistically in The American. George Clooney's character runs a rival hitman off the road, then grabs his head as he leans out the window to shoot him, using his weight to break the man's neck over the car door.
  • This happens in the 2014 revenge flick American Muscle when the villain's only female mook - a short, scrawny, inked-up punk called "Sassy Fanny", gets the drop on Jack as he tries to sneak into his brother's home. After a vicious beatdown on the veranda Jack pins her to the wall and strangles her before finally ripping her tongue out with one hand (payback for biting his neck in a prior fight) and breaking her neck with the other.
  • Anaconda: Bizarrely, the Anaconda uses this on it first victim.
  • The Annihilators from 1984 has a rather bad example, with the character simply grabbing an enemy soldier in a headlock and lightly squeezing and pushing his head to the side with his palm, with the soldier's head falling limp with a popping sound effect.
  • Army of the Dead: Maria Cruz is killed with a particularly graphic one. An Alpha zombie comes out of the elevator behind her, grabs her head before she can even react, and twists a full 180 degrees with enough force to cause her spine to pop out.
  • Assassins: After Bain is arrested and put in a police car, he disposes of a cop sitting in the driver's seat by kicking out the side window and breaking his neck from behind, using only one hand in a casual effortless way that suggests the cop's spine was made of cardboard.
  • The Avengers (1998). Mrs. Peel's clone does it to a Prospero Project Lab staff member while breaking into the facility.
  • The 1995 action film Ballistic has the villain's muscular henchwoman and lover Claudia (played by Cory Everson) beat a man nearly to death before snapping his neck with one hand. Later, Claudia finds herself on the receiving end of this when Jesse manages to reverse her chokehold and yank Claudia's head over her back, using her shoulder as leverage to break her neck.
  • The Bell Witch Haunting has one of the possessed perform this on the priest one-handed.
  • In Big Game, the vice president is killed by having his neck slammed against a bathroom sink, snapping it in the process. Helps to Make It Look Like an Accident.
  • In Black Christmas, Black Mask kills Helena this way during the ritual in the frat house.
  • In Blue Jasmine, Jasmine's husband Hal committed suicide in prison by hanging himself. Jasmine's listeners think it must have been horrible to suffocate to death, but she enlightens them that hanging actually kills you by neck snap.
  • In Bodyguards and Assassins the final assassin does this to a Mauve Shirt. Unusually enough he has to use a scarf for leverage and wastes a fair bit of time pulling it off.
  • The Bourne Series:
    • The Bourne Ultimatum subverts this, with Nikki jumping on an assassin's back and trying to snap his neck, only to be flung back into the wall behind them.
    • Jason Bourne plays it straight, with Bourne doing this to the Asset.
  • Bulletproof Monk: This is how Jade rounds out her Designated Girl Fight against the villain's sexy second-in-command, Nina Strucker. Right after breaking Nina's leg and delivering a vicious sucker punch that sends her careening headfirst into a wall, Jade pulls her haggard opponent into a chokehold before brutally snapping her neck. This is a somewhat poor example due to Jades awkward grip on her victim, but her violent twisting motion along with the signature "Crunch!" of a neck being broken leaves little room for confusion.
  • The TV movie Chameleon has Kam (played by Bobbie Philips) snapping a neck on a person.
  • Subverted in Changeling. The child-murdering Serial Killer Northcott was supposed to die this way at the gallows, but ends up being strangled to death due to a rope malfunction.
  • In Clear and Present Danger, the drug lord's right-hand man Felix kills his lover/informant Moira by breaking her neck while they're making out.
  • Clownface: Clownface kills Jenna's father by snapping his neck.
  • In Cold Mountain, Ruby does this to a rooster that won't shut up, then immediately prepares it for supper. Specifically, she wrings its neck, done by twirling the chicken by the head twice and then whipping the body forward (as we see in the film, this also tears off the head when done correctly).
  • In Commando, John Matrix snaps the neck of one of Arius's henchmen while aboard a plane (differing slightly as the said henchman is knocked out first). This leads to the immortal line, "Do not disturb my friend, he is dead tired."
  • In Cradle of Fear, The Man kills a nurse when breaking into the asylum by grabbing her head and twisting it around 180 degrees.
  • Cryptz: This is how one of the female vampires ends up killed.
  • In Cube 2: Hypercube, at the end Simon murders Sasha by breaking her neck.
  • Bane's preferred method of making a point in The Dark Knight Rises. One case subverts the instant death effect that this trope usually has, as when Bane snaps the neck of Smug Snake/Corrupt Corporate Executive Daggett, Daggett can be heard screaming afterward.
  • In Death Becomes Her, Madeline is pushed down a long flight of marble stairs and winds up in a heap with her head twisted around backwards. We do hear several bones break during the tumble.
  • Pachenko in Death Race. In the movie, it's legal to kill other drivers during races, but for Jason Statham's character it's personal. So instead of simply running him over when he gets the chance, Jason gets out of his car in the middle of a race, just to snap Pachenko's neck.
  • In Death Ring, Matt does this to one of the sentries when he sneaks back into Vachs' mansion to rescue Lauren.
  • In The Descent, Juno does this to a Crawler.
  • Tragically performed by a son against father in Desert Heat after being pushed too far by an abusive father.
  • In the 1929 film version of The Desert Song, General Birabeau grabs Azuri by the neck.
  • The Devil's Rejects: Tiny does this to Sheriff Wydell, who's trying to kill his sister Baby, and the Sheriff ends up with his head on backwards. Somewhat justified in that Tiny is seven feet tall.
  • During John McClane's first brawl in Die Hard, he does this to a guy by putting him in a choke-hold and falling down the stairs with him. Missing the usual "walnut-snapping" sound effect.
  • Hayabusa does this to a random mook while sneaking into the bad guy's lab in DOA: Dead or Alive The Movie.
  • In Dogma, the angel Bartleby is accosted by a security guard, and says, in what is arguably the best use of a Shout-Out in movie history: "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry." The security guard doesn't heed the warning, and a few seconds later is on the receiving end of a one-handed version of this trope.
  • This method is also used in the Frank Langella version of Dracula (1979), when the Count kills Renfield. Later, he nearly does the same to Harker, but is stopped by Van Helsing.
  • Borderline example in the Elektra film, where a ninja mook snaps his own neck, just by turning the head very fast.
  • In Embrace of the Vampire, the vampire kills Daciana by swinging down from the ceiling, grabbing her head and twisting it sharply.
  • In End of Days, Satan kills a guy by grabbing his head and twisting it 180 degrees.
  • Enter the Dragon has a few neck snap scenes including one character (Jackie Chan in his cameo appearance) getting his neck snapped by Bruce Lee himself during a battle.
  • Arnie is in love with this trope. In Eraser he does this by trapping a mook's head with a fridge door and twisting his torso.
  • After he and Christmas defeat The Brit, Jet Lee's character finishes him off by snapping his neck using an axe kick in The Expendables.
  • Varla snaps a man's neck during a fight in Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! At least that was during a knock-down, drag-out fight though. She uses her entire body, and it takes her several seconds to accomplish.
  • At the end of Fear, Inc., when everyone is gathered at the diner for the 'wrap party', Ben has his neck snapped by one of the Fear, Inc. crew, as Joe discovers that it really isn't a game.
  • Kenshiro kills Goliath in Fist of the North Star by twisting his neck around.
    Goliath: Who are you?
    Kenshiro: The Fist of the North Star. [snap]
  • The Funhouse Massacre: Rocco the Clown kills the scare actor who's mask (and face) he stole by snapping his neck in front of the protagonists. Since it's set in a Haunted House Attraction, they assume it's All Part of the Show.
  • In Future War The Master breaks a female lab assistant when she falls from an air duct.
  • Future World: Ash kills a man in the Warlord's gang after he commands it this way.
  • Kable kills Hackman this way in Gamer. He has to do it twice before Hackman finally dies.
  • Genghis Khan: To the Ends of the Earth and Sea have Genghis executing a traitor using this method, in front of his generals. Said traitor was actually a very close friend of Genghis, who's Forced into Evil and offers to let himself be killed in order to atone for his actions, where his last request is for a clean, honorable death, hence this trope. And Genghis is actually tearing up when twisting the neck.
  • Ghost Rock: After a prolonged martial arts fight, Slaughter eventually kills the Barber by snapping his neck.
  • The Golden Child: A mook villain converted to the side of the good guys breaks the neck of another, unconverted Mook to prevent him from skewering Chandler Jarrow with a crossbow bolt and allow the rescue of the title character.
  • In The Grudge, this is how Kayako is murdered by her husband, thus starting the curse. In the sequel, this is also how Aubrey and Doctor Sullivan meet their ends.
  • Michael Myers from the Halloween series is quite a fan of this trope. There's Grady's death in Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers, the hermit in Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers, and Mrs. Strode's death in the remake.
  • Hanna has the title character (a child assassin played by Saoirse Ronan) snapping the neck of the Marissa Wiegler decoy.
  • Hard to Kill: Mason Storm (played by Steven Seagal) snapping a neck on one of his assassins who tried to kill him years ago.
  • Hayride: The killer murders one of the hayride volunteers with a neck snap.
  • Haywire has a semi-realistic example where Mallory breaks a mook's neck using the edge of a table for leverage.
  • Cato does this to one of the other tributes in The Hunger Games after Katniss succeeds in blowing up all the food the career tributes had hoarded. It's not terribly convincing, but they are minors acting and the lack of sound effect is due to Katniss (and in turn the audience's POV) being rendered temporarily deaf because of the explosion. (Out of universe adding a crunching sound effect would have pushed the films rating up from PG-13).
  • The Hunt for Red October. Captain Ramius takes the easy route and just crushes Putin's windpipe.
  • The infamous Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer has several neck snap scenes including the disturbing videotape scene of a mother and son getting their necks snapped.
  • During The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Valentina breaks the neck of a chicken.
  • James Bond
    • In From Russia with Love Bond tries this on Red Grant during their fight scene and fails.
    • In You Only Live Twice Bond tries it on the assassin who killed Henderson and succeeds.
    • In Thunderball Bond does this to Col. Bouvar in the teaser, with the assistance of a fireplace poker. He also does it to two SPECTRE frogmen during the underwater fight at the end.
    • In Goldfinger Oddjob breaks Tilly Masterson's neck by throwing his hat at her. At long range. In a forest. At night.
  • Subverted in Jason X. Jason-fucking-Voorhees snaps someone's neck, not quickly, but slowly, and having to use all of both arms. Kane Hodder (Jason's actor) clarifies that script called for him to go for the quick snap, but decided that such a kill was So Last Season and instead convinced the director and writer to go with the slow kill instead.
  • Johndoe Vigilante: Used by John doe to murder his last victim after faking a suicide attempt in order to draw the victim in close enough to grab him.
  • A Spinosaurus kills a Tyrannosaurus this way in their laughably bloodless battle in Jurassic Park III. Same sound effect even. One of the raptors also performs this trick on the last remaining mercenary.
  • The Kentucky Fried Movie, "A Fistful of Yen" segment. Butkus does this to the three guard contestants in various ways in the The Dating Game parody.
  • In Kiss of the Dragon Jet Li's character disposes of a pair of sadistic martial artists with a pair of neck snaps but with unorthodox methods. The first he catches in the middle of a flip and forces him head-first into the floor, and the second he finishes with a brutal roundhouse kick to the head while the guy is on his knees.
  • In Kung Fu Hustle, the uber-martial-artist known as the Beast becomes annoyed at the prattling of the mob boss who's hired him and gives him an irritated backhand that causes his head to twist around at least 720 degrees. The Beast runs the mob from that point onward.
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. During the fight in Dorian Gray's mansion, Captain Nemo does this to one of the Fantom's mooks.
  • Lethal Weapon:
  • Vampire Eli snaps the neck of a jogger in Let the Right One In after feeding to prevent him from turning.
    • Additionally, it is also performed by Abby in the remake Let Me In.
  • In Life Blood, Brooke kills Rhea and Patricia by snapping their necks. Rhea gets better.
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, amnesiac Samantha hits a stag and crashes her car. In the aftermath, she finds the deer bleeding to death and snaps its neck to put it out of its misery. Then she wonders How did I do that?
    • Later on the movie, she does the same to a mook sent to assassinate her.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Gimli does this to an orc in the movie version of The Two Towers. Gimli's version is exceptionally badass in that he does it with one hand while facing the orc and while trapped under a huge warg corpse.
    • Aragorn does too during the Battle of Pelennor Fields in The Return of the King.
  • In Machete Kills, a man enters an S&M dungeon and lets himself get strapped down, thinking he's about to have a good time. Unfortunately for him, he gets Desdemona, who violently whips him a few times, then wraps the whip around his neck and pulls until it breaks.
  • The eponymous villain in Madman tries to hang one of the characters, but the intended victim manages to get himself breathing again. So he grabs his foot and pulls him downward, and the guy breaks his neck.
  • Man of Steel:
    • Faora does this to a few soldiers who get in her way.
    • After a drawn-out aerial battle with Zod, this is how Superman finally kills him, having no other choice as Zod is about to fry a human family with his Eye Beams. The shock of having to kill someone with his bare hands leaves him traumatized, not to mention having to kill the last of his people left this side of the Phantom Zone to save his adoptive world.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Iron Man 2:
      • Ivan Vanko does this to a prison guard who tries to apprehend him.
      • Later, Black Widow appears to break a guard's neck with her legs, but this is inconclusive.
    • Thor in Thor: The Dark World does this to a Marauder by twisting his head with one hand.
    • In Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan does this to The Other, using a shockwave from his hammer to twist his head right around.
    • Avengers: Infinity War: Loki makes an attempt on Thanos's life, who anticipates it and grabs Loki by his throat and lifts him up, strangling him, and eventually increases the pressure until his neck breaks, killing him.
  • In The Matrix Revolutions, Morpheus sneaks up behind a Mook guarding an elevator outside the Merovingian's night club, wraps his arms around the mook's neck and breaks it.
  • Chuck Norris's character, Colonel James Braddok, dispatches three or four Vietnamese soldiers this way in the third Missing in Action film. Somewhat unusually, it's used for stealth kills.
    • Before this, in Missing In Action 2: The Beginning, Braddok escapes the Vietnamese prison camp by faking his own suicide by hanging, then snapping the neck of the guard that came to inspect his seemingly dead body.
  • A telekinetic does this to a cop in Momentum with a simple wave of the hand. Given that they are shown to be able to break open bank vaults with their minds, this is justified.
  • In Mortal Kombat: The Movie, this is how Sonya Blade finishes her nemesis Kano. She used her legs to do it. Hey, he did ask her to give him a break...
    • One of the early scenes in the sequel has Shao Kahn snapping Johnny Cage's neck.
  • In Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Smith assassinates a target in this way.
  • Nazi Overlord: When Captain Rogers and his team are ambushed by Nazis at one point, one of the team kills one of the Nazis in this manner.
  • Original Gangstas has one neck snap scene involving a teen.
  • In Pagan Warrior, The Krampus kills Eirik by grabbing his head and rotating 180 degrees with a sickening snap.
  • In Penitentiary II, Mr. T kills Ernie Hudson this way, albeit with a crush rather than a snap. As he says, "I'ma kill ya! I'ma kill ya slow!"
  • Prince of Darkness. Susan (the radiologist) comes up from behind Lomax, grabs his head and twists it, breaking his neck and killing him.
  • A rather interesting variation occurs in Prometheus in which not only does the Last Engineer use this on David but also decapitates him. However, at the same time it's subverted as being an android, David's head is still able to function, though he needs Shaw to carry him out of the ship.
  • One of the primary methods used by the wrestlers in Pro Wrestlers vs. Zombies to kill the zombies, always from a sleeper hold. In particular, Shane Douglas does one after another to his zombified family, giving him a chance to whisper agonized goodbyes before snapping their necks.
  • In The Raid this is how Mad Dog finishes off Jaka.
  • Used on the Asian man in [REC].
  • In Resident Evil, Rain Ocampo does it to a zombie attacking her and Alice does it repeatedly to zombies with kicks (including multiple dogs) and one Murderous Thighs attack.
  • RoboCop 2. When Cain (in his Robocop 2 robot body) meets Angie in the warehouse, he grabs her head and breaks her neck, then does a Neck Lift on her body.
  • The Running Man. During the faked scene where Captain Freedom fights Amber, he performs a Neck Lift on her before breaking her neck.
  • Scary Movie 4 played this for laughs in Cindy's boxing scene with multiple broken necks from trips and falls.
  • Scream Park has Roy dispatched this way after a Neck Lift.
  • In the 1980 WWII film The Sea Wolves, Roger Moore's character dispatches a Nazi mook this way.
  • Showdown in Little Tokyo:
    • A yakuza thug captured by the heroes snaps his own neck to avoid being interrogated.
    • Kenner also breaks a mook's neck during Minako's rescue at the boss's mansion.
  • Sin City. When Marv sneaks onto Cardinal Roark's estate, he approaches a police officer on guard duty from behind and breaks his neck.
  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Data (being an android with incredible strength) dispatches one of the Borg this way.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader appears to crush a Rebel ship captain's spine while strangling him in A New Hope, but that's not a typical example, as it wasn't exactly a surprise, and he has super-robot-strength arms. The Sickening "Crunch!" was accomplished by placing walnuts inside a grapefruit rind, then crushing them.
  • Street Fighter has an unexpectedly realistic one. Cammy (played by diminutive Kylie Minogue) attempts one on a mook but he stays standing and it appears to not work as she has to flip him and punch him to actually take him out.
  • At the beginning of Superman II, Non breaks the neck of a guard as part of General Zod's plan to take over the planet Krypton.
  • Tales from the Hood 2: After possessing John in "The Medium", Cliff uses his telekinetic powers to snap the neck of one of the gangbangers: twisting his almost 180 degrees.
  • Happens at least three times in Tank Girl: Tank Girl to a Water and Power trooper after offering him an "oil change"; a Ripper to a W&P trooper during the attack that freed Tank Girl, and a Ripper to a W&P trooper during the attack on the W&P fortress.
  • Arnie again: Douglas Quaid pulls off two sickening neck snaps in the original Total Recall when he is first ambushed by the Big Bad's goons after he leaves Rekall.
  • This is how "The Frenchman" kills his first victim, a sniper, in The Tournament. He sneaks up on her using his Le Parkour skills, then grabs her head and twists it.
  • In Top Gun, when Maverick’s and Goose’s plane ends up in a flat spin, they’re forced to Eject... Eject... Eject.... After jettisoning the canopy, Maverick succeeds in ejecting out of the falling aircraft, but Goose ends up launching into the canopy, bending his neck forward and killing him.
  • True Lies:
    • Arnie once more. Bonus points for being performed while hanging upside down using only his legs to hold onto a rope.
    • He also does this to the Torture Technician, having even warned him beforehand under Truth Serum.
  • In Truth or Dare, Justin kills Gemma this way after she discovers that Felix is still alive.
  • Unbreakable. David Dunn uses this technique during his climactic confrontation with the orange-clad janitor/serial killer/kidnapper. It's justified since David is explicitly superhuman and is implied to have well above average physical strength. Even so, he only pulls it off after putting the janitor in a chokehold for over thirty seconds straight and forcing the guy to tire himself out. In addition, it takes him multiple attempts to finally snap the neck cleanly, thus ending the fight. The scene in question can be seen here:
  • In Unknown, the assassin does this to his first onscreen kill, the hero's nurse at the hospital.
  • Silk Spectre in Watchmen does this to a mugger.
  • Mystique in X-Men: The Last Stand neck-snaps a guard with her feet since her hands are chained to the ceiling.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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??!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Faiz, 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 Mad TV, 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: It's been demonstrated at least twice now, first on DiNozzo and then on McGee. In both cases, it is Gibbs providing the demo with the "victim" not really wanting to participate.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Video Games 
  • 7 Days a Skeptic, game two of the Chzo Mythos. Particularly noteworthy for being the absolute sickest breaking sound (and therefore most effective breaking sequence in recent memory) despite the King's Quest-like graphics. Also shows up in 6 Days a Sacrifice when the tall man kills the clones.
  • In Among Us, this is one of the possible death animations when an Impostor kills a crewmate. The amount of strength needed is justified, since the Impostors are after all shapeshifting aliens.
  • In Anarchy Reigns, the Rin sisters can do this if they grapple someone from behind. They jump onto the enemy's shoulders and give the necks a good cracking. However, it's generally not lethal unless said enemy has little health at that point.
  • In the opening cinematic of Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the protagonist Ezio snaps a soldier's neck like a twig. Considering that he's a trained killer and pretty darn buff, it's reasonably believable.
  • The Big Bad of Baldur's Gate, Sarevok, shows his villain credentials in the opening when he uses his monstrous strength to crush an adult man's neck one-handed.
  • The playable Red Hood in Batman: Arkham Knight both plays this straight and subverts it. One of his stealth takedowns from behind just quickly snaps his opponent's neck. However, corner takedown victims lose their balance, giving Red Hood enough leverage for a more powerful snap.
  • Bioshock Infinite. Booker can do this to human opponents with the Skyhook device. The game has him do a Neck Lift with the Skyhook on them first.
  • Borderlands: The General Knoxx DLC features friendly NPC Athena who is introduced performing one of these on a random Mook, complete with "Oh Snap!" Flavor Text.
  • The special move of Keneth from Crisis Beat have him leaping on mooks or bosses and snapping their necks with his legs, accompanied by a Sickening "Crunch!" It doesn't kill them outright, but it does remove a HUGE chunk of life... and if the victim's life is really low when it happens, then yes, it does kill them outright.
  • This, along with several other special unarmed attacks, can be used to execute prison guards in The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. What's more, is that you can grab them from the front and do it.
  • In Crysis 2 one of the Back Stab animations is this. Alcatraz is using Powered Armor that gives Super Strength.
  • Two different neck snaps are present as finishing moves in darkSector. One is fairly pedestrian, the other is an unusual and especially brutal variant where Hayden bends an enemy over backward, places it in an upside-down headlock, and lifts up sharply, breaking the neck.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution Adam can both do a "normal" snap and a fancy version where he grabs an enemy by the face and spins his mechanical hand a full 360 around the joint. He is a cyborg after all. And then there's the version he can do from the opposite side of a concrete wall.
  • Dragon Age
    • In the original game, Riordan does this to a mook to escape from a dungeon cell when you first meet him.
    • In Dragon Age II, Fenris does this first to a mook whom he was questioning after pinning him to the ground. Later he crushes Denarius' neck effortlessly with one hand after lifting him off the ground by it. It's justified; his tattoos grant him magical combat boosts.
  • One of the most popular Do-It-Yourself modding projects in Dwarf Fortress is to add these as a move in wrestling. It's as simple as going to the anatomy files, finding the neck, and adding the [JOINT] tag. From then on, you can snap a neck like it was an elbow or knee. Realistically enough, this isn't quite an instant kill but still cripples instantly, while the actual kill is done by the ensuing asphyxiation.
    • The game has since been updated to allow blunt attacks to pull nearby joints when attacking a body part. A good blow to the head will not only injure the head itself but will also pull the neck, possibly with enough force to sever the upper spine. This is assuming the head itself isn't destroyed by the attack.
  • In Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, one of Monkey's animations for taking down a turret is identical to a Neck Snap, but done to the turret's barrel.
  • In Fable III, one of the fancy counter animations when using a sword has you do a slo-mo forward flip over them. You snap their neck on the way over.
  • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, there is a cutscene exclusive to Dimitri's route whereupon after finding out that Edelgard is the Flame Emperor, he charges forward and fights a bunch of soldiers in hand-to-hand combat. In his rage, he manages to break one soldier's neck with one hand.
  • In Gears of War 2, characters dispose of their human shields by doing this.
    • In the third game, the execution move for the Sawed-Off Shotgun has the player opening the loading catch, wrapping around the enemy's neck, and giving it a sharp twist, resulting in a broken neck accompanied by a spray of blood.
  • The Godfather: The Game
    • One of the execution styles involves a neck snap from the front on a weakened opponent. Another involves a snap after choking the guy to death.
    • The sequel retains the snap-after-choking, as well as an upgrade that replaces the garotte stealth kill, and is much faster. Oddly enough, though, it is executed by grabbing the victim with your garrote wire. For some reason, your character strangles them with the wire for a second or so, complete with distressed gurgling from the victim, then snaps their necks to kill them quicker.
  • Subverted in God Hand. The Cobra Twist Action Command looks like one of these, but not only does Gene need several tugs to do it, it's not even fatal.
  • Done several times by Kratos in the God of War series. Most notably in 2018 sequel where he kills Baldur this way, both when he's utterly indestructible and thus resurrects shortly after and at the end, where that spell is broken but it's become clear he's too far gone.
  • In the Halo games from Halo: Reach onward, there are assassination animations that utilize this trope against three enemies: the Grunts (in which the Spartan simply cups its head and twists), the Elites (the Spartan leaps on its back, grabs its snout and pulls), and other Spartans (the Spartan knocks his target on his/ her stomach, leans down, and casually twists the head). Fully justified by the Powered Armor they wear.
  • In Headhunter, protagonist Jack Wade does a swift, one-handed Neck Snap when doing a stealth kill from behind. He must have some impressive arm strength.
  • In Heavenly Sword, King Bohan does this to Whiptail.
  • In Hitman: Absolution and Hitman (2016), 47 can snap his targets' necks if he needs them dead and has no weapons equipped. Note that the kill is automatic upon grappling an assassination target in Absolution.
  • In Iru, this is how one of the students is killed by her Doppleganger.
  • In one early cutscene in Jade Empire, Master Li snaps a Lotus Assassin's neck by karate chopping it. It should be noted that his strength was sufficient to shatter a ship with a punch, so breaking someone's neck is really to be expected.
  • In The King of Fighters '98 Rugal (non-Omega) has the "Dead End Screamer" which in its SDM/MAX version starts with him snapping the opponent's neck with his feet.
  • At the end of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, Zant apparently becomes disillusioned with Ganon, knowing that he's not a god after all, and snaps his own neck killing both himself and Ganon.
  • Mass Effect
    • Thane Krios of Mass Effect 2 demonstrates this on one of his target's guards when you first encounter him. In fact, according to the Shadow Broker's dossier on him, it's his preferred assassination technique on any species including the krogan, who have necks like tree trunks. He needs a "running leaping spinning neck-snap" to get up enough momentum for that last one. However, half the time he'll just plant a bomb instead.
    • Shepard can perform one on a mouthy mercenary captain if a Renegade interrupt is taken during Miranda's loyalty mission. Shepard is fortunately both a trained combatant and a cyborg.
    • Basically the first thing you see Samara do on her recruitment mission is snapping the neck of an Eclipse merc with her Combat Stilettos.
  • The Matrix: Path of Neo has this in some versions, most notably if the enemy is near death and Neo does his run up the chest, then kick in the head move which kills the guy. Even with modding, a blow to the neck can still have this effect.
  • In the original Metal Gear Solid, the quietest way to kill guards after you have snuck up on them is to snap their necks.
  • Mortal Kombat:
    • This is how Shao Kahn kills Johnny Cage in Mortal Kombat Annihilation and Kung Lao in Mortal Kombat 9.
    • Speaking of Mortal Kombat, snapping your opponent's neck is just one of the ways to finish off a "Kreate-A-Fatality" in Mortal Kombat Armageddon.
    • Havik can snap his own neck. To regenerate health. He is a freakish undead contortionist thing, so it makes sense. Kinda...
    • In the opening sequence of the Deadly Alliance, this is how Shang Tsung kills Liu Kang.
    • This is actually a rather popular way of finishing an opponent in the series; Hotaru and Tanya both twist an opponent's neck past the point where their head should even be attached (Hotaru with his bare hands, Tanya with her Murderous Thighs) while Quan Chi has a rather lame neck-stretching move in Deadly Alliance, and Scorpion himself has this as his Hara-Kiri and as the final blow for one of his fatalities in Deception. It's also starting to become customary to break a person's neck before ripping it off Sub-Zero style (or breaking the appropriate bones before dismembering them, if not specifically going for the head)
    • Mortal Kombat 4 also has several non-lethal neck snappers. Tanya, Sonya, and Reptile all have a "bone breaker" move that makes them twist the opponent's neck 180 degrees before it snaps back into place.
    • Quan Chi has this as part of his X-Ray move in Mortal Kombat 9, but it's especially notable in that he's controlling the opponent, meaning he's making them snap their own neck.
    • The culmination of Jax's second fatality in Mortal Kombat X ends with a Neck Snap...but not after he already ripped out his opponent's ribs and jammed them into their temple.
    • Also from X, one of the Faction Kills you can get is making the opponent gets possessed by a black cloud and snap their own neck, similar to Quan Chi did in the past game. Appropriately, you can only get this one if you're a member of the Brotherhood of Shadows.
    • One of Kano's Brutalities in Mortal Kombat 11 has him snap the opponent's neck while strangling them.
    • Also in 11, Nightwolf in one of his Fatalities completely twists the opponent's neck 180 degrees, yet somehow they're alive before being torn apart by his bear spirit.
  • In Neverwinter Nights 2, you can cut the githyanki high commander's post-defeat ranting short by breaking her neck.
  • In Nidhogg, you can score a kill on a downed opponent this way if you attack them while standing near their head.
  • Oni:
    • Konoko does this in one of her more elaborate attacks. It involves running up to your opponent frontally, simultaneously grabbing them by the neck, jumping in the air, and using your momentum to do a 360° spin kick, with the guy's neck as a pivot axis. Since his body only goes about 180°, you get rewarded with a satisfying crack. Did I mention you can use it to knock down multiple opponents if they are clustered together?
    • Muro (who can be controlled in certain levels with a cheat code) plays this one straight if you sneak up behind an opponent and use the default grapple.
  • In People Playground, you can break a character's neck by grabbing, then quickly rotating it. They will die without spilling any blood.
  • Early on in Planescape: Torment, if your Dexterity score is high enough, you have the option to use this on anyone who stops you while trying to escape from the Mortuary. Things go better for you if you just bluff your way through, though.
  • Prince of Persia: Warrior Within lets you do this in combat if you only have one weapon, usually vaulting over the enemy, stunning it in the process and strangling it. If it's already critically wounded, you then disarm it and execute it Anakin-style with both your and its own weapon — otherwise, you just take a long, long time twisting its neck which potentially makes you vulnerable to its friends.
  • The protagonists in both [PROTOTYPE] games can do this as stealth kills. Heller can even do it by walking up to them and just shoving their head back by the chin. This is justified given both characters are strong enough to throw tanks around.
  • Quantum Replica: One of the stealth kills the Player Character can perform is by grabbing the enemy's head and twisting it until his neck breaks.
  • Resident Evil:
  • In the Fight Club activity inside Saints Row 2, you must finish off your opponents in this way. It is portrayed as being rather difficult though, as it will later involve a lot of Button Mashing to kill, and it is done in a full rear chokehold like in Metal Gear Solid. This is also how human shields are disposed of when unarmed or equipped with a rocket launcher.
    • In the sequel Saints Row: The Third Killbane, leader of the rival gang The Luchadores, does a one-handed version to Kiki DeWynter after she provokes him by calling him by his real name.
    • In Third, this is an optional way of disposing of human shields.
    • Played straight in the optional "Kill Killbane" ending in Third, which is basically an interactive cutscene (his neck's a-breakin' regardless of what happens). Regardless of the type of protagonist design (male, female, skinny, Amazon) it takes some effort to break the neck, and it's rendered somewhat realistic by being done as a legitimate wrestling hold, but one was taken to a lethal end.
  • In Shinobido, this is one of the more popular ways to kill someone with a stealth kill attack. Usually performed in midair (Goh will use his arms, Kinu her legs) or while hanging from a cliff (drag the victim down and break his/her neck). The other ways are usually bloodier (slicing throats and impaling with extreme prejudice).
  • Sophitia from Soul Calibur does it with her thighs. To be more specific, she jumps on the opponent's face crotch-first, and gives a sharp hip-twist, with the trademark crunchy noise, though it's a rather weak attack.
  • Danette from Soul Nomad & the World Eaters constantly threatens to snap people's necks. When she actually does so, at one point, she manages to surprise Gig, who had long since written it off as mere boasting.
  • Despite putting guards in a headlock being his preferred way of dealing with them, it took until Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory for Sam Fisher to learn this trick, as the lethal variant on his new 'death from above' attacks.
  • Street Fighter
    • In Street Fighter IV, Cammy caps off Gyro Drive Smasher, one of her Ultra Attacks, with one of these.
    • As does Ibuki with her aptly named "Neck Breaker", which becomes a ''triple'' Neck Break when used in EX mode. in V her back throw became this.
  • In Styx: Master of Shadows, Neck snapping is Styx's preferred method of muffled killing when striking from behind. Though this is generally a lot quieter then Styx simply jamming a knife into someone's chest and let them scream (Styx covers his victim's mouth when readying a Neck Snap), the Sickening "Crunch!" of his victim's neck-snapping will still draw the attention of nearby enemies.
  • In Super Paper Mario, whenever Mimi transforms into her true spider-like, Rubee-pooping form, she snaps her neck. With an audible sound effect. And it rotates a full 180, turning her head upside down. What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?
  • Available as a melee attack in the reboot of Syndicate. You are an advanced cyborg, after all.
  • Later games of the Syphon Filter franchise gave Gabe and other characters the ability to do this if they attack a mook from behind with nothing equipped.
  • Tales from the Borderlands, Sasha does this to one bandit, and Rhys does it to another...but completely fails.
    Bandit: Oh, Eric? Aw, is that you? Wait wait wait, what is this? Is this real or is this—is this a joke?
    Rhys: [on the bandit's back, still struggling] Oh this is real real! [Sasha stands up and giving a smirk look at Rhys]
    Bandit: Wait, wait wait wait, that's not Eric!
    Rhys: No it's not Eric. It's your—doom! Stop squirming!
    Sasha: You need some help over there? It looks like you're struggling a bit. I already took out mine so...I'm not really doing anything.
    Bandit: Nah, nah, nah, don't help him! Come on, let him do it himself! If he can!
    Rhys: Shut up!
    Sasha: Nah, I think he's right. You should handle it yourself.
  • Tatsunoko vs. Capcom: Hurricane Polimar's level 3 Hyper Combo caps off with him breaking the prone opponent's neck with a slight twist of his foot. It does quite a bit of damage, too.
  • In the Team Fortress 2 Supplemental Material video "Meet the Spy", the Red Spy breaks the Blue Medic's neck with a karate chop.
    • The supplemental comics reveal Soldier seems to be a fan of the technique, trying to snap a messenger's neck through the door, and successfully killing a lawyer, Tom Jones and a bear with it. He has even fixed necks he snapped by mistake with the same technique.
      Soldier: Well, I'm calling a surprise witness: My hands! And they will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that your lawyer's neck is guilty! Of being broken! HUTTAH!
  • A chokehold and neck snap are elements of one of Heihachi's basic throws in the Tekken series. However, as disgusting as it looks, opponents do not immediately die from it. Other characters in the Tekken series whose moves include neck snaps are Feng, Christie, Lili, and Zafina. King has one as the start of one of his most powerful combination throws, which also includes a suplex, powerbomb, and piledriver.
  • One of the many ways of killing your enemies in Tenchu.
  • In Splinter Cell: Double Agent the female spy can grab a soldier from behind, holding his head firmly against her left shoulder by pressing his cheek with her right hand. Being in control of him, she can move for a few moments to take care of him silently. When she has decided, she can break his neck instantly by pressing his head against her shoulder with her right hand. Then, the soldier dies instantly with his neck twisted 360 degrees.
  • A difficult but high-scoring move in Tori Bash involves holding your opponent's head somewhere in the vicinity of your elbow and giving a good, hard twist. On 'softer' game modes, the neck joint will break and be rendered useless. On any game mode which involves dismemberment (including the default setting), it's a good way to messily decapitate someone.
  • Trepang 2: You can execute the grabbed enemy with this method. It also has a small chance to decapitate the enemy.
  • Seen A LOT in Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. Whenever you sneak up on an enemy with a melee attack, expect to see some necks getting broken, and a very satisfying snap. In the online co-op modes, there are exclusive enemies that sneak up behind you, grab your neck, and attempt to snap it; if your buddies don't take him out in time...well, hope you've gotten used to hearing that snapping sound so much. The Big Bad can also kill you in this manner during the final showdown.
    • Also given a slight nod to realism, as when Nate breaks an opponent's neck, he's almost always putting his full body weight into the effort, either getting them on the ground first to abuse his leverage, or otherwise maneuvering them into a position in which he can exert a lot of pressure. They still die silently, though.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines a vampire with Obfuscate powers or simply some skill in stealth can do this to score an instant kill on an unsuspecting victim. And the trope is justified by the fact vampires are wicked strong.
  • Warframe does this with a variety of melee weapons: staff users throw the bar across a humanoid opponent's neck and violently wrench it to one side, whip users coil the length of the whip around a victim's neck and pull down, and gauntlet users just straight up grab the head and twist. The end result is always a rather loud crack and bonus experience for stealth kills.
  • In The Warriors, some of the bigger and stronger warriors will use this as their sneak attack if you come up behind an enemy from out of the shadows. The smaller guys usually stick to the karate chop to the neck routine.
  • In a cutscene from The Witcher, Geralt gets one of these on a Salamandra mook. Bonus points for breaking his neck while he's pissing in an alley.
  • In World of Warcraft, High King Maulgar did this to the previous High King as a show of his strength, killing him and becoming the ruler of Outland's ogres under Gruul.
  • In Yakuza 0, Goro Majima possesses a Heat Action known as "the Essence of Choking" that makes him sneak up behind an opponent and put them in a chokehold, with a bone-breaking sound effect. The trope is subverted, as on lower-level opponents it's an instant KO, but the bosses can shrug it off, and nobody actually dies from it.

    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.
  • 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 Comics 

    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 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 21-50 has a procedure for eliminating sentries by using their helmet as a lever for a neck break.


Video Example(s):


Moloch turns his head around

Pump tells Moloch to spin his head around to prove to Skid he's possessing Dexter. When Moloch tries, he instead breaks Dexter's neck, killing them both.

How well does it match the trope?

4.67 (33 votes)

Example of:

Main / NeckSnap

Media sources: