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Sand Necktie

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Hey, little help?
SpongeBob: Bubble Buddy, you dig him out, while I get some cotton candy.
Scooter: Don't just stand there, dude! The tide's coming in! [laughs; tide covers neck] ...Dude?

You want to dispose of a guy? Give him a particularly nasty end? Don't want to get your hands dirty? The sand necktie is your best friend.

Bury him up to the neck and watch starvation and dehydration do their job. In the desert, it's the sun that'll finish him off instead. At the beach, it's the tide. Not to mention the various animals that will be quite happy to find a piece of meat on the ground that can't fight back (in the desert, it's usually fire ants, while if it's a beach it'll be crabs and seagulls).

Subtrope of Buried Alive. Compare Beach Bury, which involves people simply buried at the beach for comedic value.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Several of Jagi's mooks from Fist of the North Star took to burying villagers up to their necks and forcing others to saw their heads off. Kenshiro promptly killed the mooks in question before burying the lead guy up to his neck and leaving him at the mercy of his victims.
  • In Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin, Sniper does this to Chutora and Kurotora. Luckily, they are rescued by their friends.
  • Happens to all the main characters in Monster Rancher thanks to the Villain of the Week. Until they manage to dig themselves up, that is.
  • In Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, Count Herton gets this treatment from the Grandis Gang. Not to let him die, though, but just to teach him a lesson, as his madness was making him quite annoying.
  • Dr. Sasaki in Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin is brought out to a beach and buried up to his neck in sand, not long before the tide comes in. The boys dig him out after he admits his crimes into a tape recorder.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #15, Pirate Girl Esmeralda Vasquez buries Indy up to his neck in the sand after her spurns his advances. Indy thinks he has several hours to think of an escape plan before the tide comes in. However, the cliffhanger involves rock crabs — who strip the flesh from a full-grown seal in minutes — coming in ahead of the tide and surrounding him.
  • This happens to Jonah Hex once. How does he escape? By biting the head off of a vulture and using its beak to dig enough sand to free his arms, of course.
  • Largo Winch, the sadistic Flor de la Cruz buries Largo to his neck in the desert at the mercy of the heat, scorpions and red ants.
  • Spoofed in Mortadelo y Filemón several times. In one, at the end of a history, the Súper ends this way in the desert and with a magnifying glass that burns him by concentrating the sunlight on his head.
  • Happens in De Rode Ridder to Johan and Lancelot in the album "Excalibur" when they are captured by Moors invading Brittain.
  • Rulah, Jungle Goddess: In "Bloodstained Fangs" (Zoot Comics #12), the evil Mava disposes of those who cross her by burying them up to their neck and then coating their head and honey and leaving them to be devoured by ants.
  • The Warlord: In #131, Morgan's Rival Turned Evil Maddox drugs Morgan so he can exact revenge for years of perceived wrongs. The first torture he inflicts on Morgan is burying him up to his neck.
  • Wolverine once does this on a beach, with the tide coming in, to an old man who had, decades earlier, tormented him while Wolverine was in one of his endless experimentation/black ops involvements. He makes note of the fact that the man had repented and spent years trying to make up for it, but buries him anyway. Given the sheer amount of punishment Wolverine goes through on a daily basis, it seems rather excessive.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Beau Peep, Peep and Dennis were occasionally punished like this, Peep was sometimes driven (temporarily) mad as a result. Dennis, of course, was already there.
  • Crock. The tyrannical Commandant Vermin P. Crock does this to members of the Foreign Legion who step out of line.
    New Meat: Big deal! My last commandant buried men in sand.
    Buried soldier: As speedbumps?
  • The Far Side:
    • One cartoon features two cowboys buried like this by Indians. One is gloating about the shadow cast by his partner's hat. "Sure is nice in the shade, yessiree."
    • Another features two Indians dragging a cowboy overlooking several different anthills, each with neon signs advertising their cowboy-torturing skills. The caption reads "Competition in nature".
    • Another features two Indians having buried a cowboy up to his neck by an anthill, one of the Indians calling the other one an idiot because he brought mayonnaise instead of honey.
    • And another featuring "Charlie Brown in Indian country."
    • Overlapping with Beach Bury, one has a kid burying his father with the following (paraphrased) caption: "Billy, the tide's coming in... Billy, unbury Daddy now... You don't want Daddy to get angry..."

    Fan Works 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Bedtime Story (1964), Lawrence subjects his "patient" Freddy to the warm sand treatment, which involves being buried up to his neck in sand for several hours while being harassed by seagulls.
  • The 1952 movie Blackbeard The Pirate may be the Trope Maker or at least the Trope Codifier for the "buried on the beach at low tide" version. At the end of the movie, the eponymous Blackbeard finally drives the scurvy crew of lesser pirates to deal with him, and although it takes a lot of them (Blackbeard being played by Robert Newton as a nigh-invulnerable Boisterous Bruiser who isn't good at staff management), they eventually disable him — and as they're on a beach at the time, they decide to let the tide finish the job. Clearly, his Large Ham tendencies really annoyed them.
  • The movie Caligula uses this as a form of execution, by chopping off peoples' heads with an Advancing Wall of Doom with lawnmower blades! Despite this, it's still disturbing to look at.
  • Happens to the main characters in Call Me Bwana, when they are captured by an African tribe.
  • The Challenge 1982, an 80s action flick starring Scott Glenn and Toshiro Mifune, had Glenn's character being buried to his neck for five days. He still maintains his sense of humor though, as he chomps on a beetle passing by...
    "Breakfast for champions."
  • The Cherokee Kid: Cortina is buried up to his neck when Isaiah meets him.
  • The anthology movie Creepshow has a segment all about the Sand Necktie. Leslie Nielsen plays a deranged millionaire who buries his wife and her lover, Ted Danson, in the sand at low tide. Then the tide comes in and they drown. Then they come back as undead and do the same thing to him.
    "I can hold my breath for a long, looooooooooong time!"
  • In the Spaghetti Western Death Rides a Horse, Bill is buried up to his neck in the square of a Mexican town, partly as torture and partly as a makeshift prison.
  • Werner Herzog has yet to release (and, in all likelihood, will never release) Game in the Sand, a 1964 short film. Not much is known about it, other than the plot concerns four children and a rooster in a cardboard box, and that there is a scene where the chicken is buried in sand up to its neck.
  • Inverted in The Gods Must Be Crazy II. The male main white character is buried up to his neck in the Kalahari soil in order to save him from dehydration.
  • In the French movie HOUBA! On the Trail of the Marsupilami, it happens to both Dan and Pablito after they're captured by the Paya tribesmen. They're buried about a meter from each other, and spend most of their time bickering, blaming each other for their predicament. Pablito manages to catch a pebble in his mouth and spits it into Dan's face at one point. And then there's the incident with an amorous chihuahua...
  • In Jeremiah Johnson, this happens to side character Del Gue when he gets captured by hostile natives. Since he was bald, they decide that scalping him would be a waste of time (Gue notes that this isn't the first time he's managed to avoid such a fate in this way).
    "Say, you wouldn't have an extra hat on you, would you? Shade's getting' scarce in these parts."
  • In Left for Dead, Mobius leaves the Bounty Hunter he gut shot buried up to his neck in the graveyard. Clem performs a Mercy Kill on him.
  • Happens to the Lone Ranger and Tonto in The Lone Ranger. And, just when they think things can't get any worse, scorpions starts crawling out of the ground.
  • In the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, Celliers is buried up to his neck in sand as a method of execution.
  • Happens to the title character (played by Dwayne Johnson) in The Scorpion Kingnext to a massive colony of inch-long fire ants. Apparently, this is a standard method of executing criminals, as two thieves received the same fate. One of the thieves, somehow, manages to free himself, but the Scorpion King needs to be rescued. In the meantime, though, he fights back against the fire ants...with his chin.
  • In Shanghai Noon, Roy's gang does this to him in the middle of the desert where vultures pick at his exposed head. He somehow gets out of it using a pair of chopsticks.
  • This is how Madeline finally deals with Tony in Thriller: A Cruel Picture. But she doesn't stop there — she ties a noose around him, ties the rope to a horse, and then puts a bucket of water just out of the horse's reach so that when the horse goes to drink, Tony's neck will be snapped.
  • A particularly horrible variation in Timbuktu. A man and a woman caught in adultery are buried up to their necks. Then they are stoned to death.
  • The Soviet Ostern movie White Sun of the Desert. Comrade Sukhov first meets his friend Sayid after rescuing him from the "sand necktie" in the desert.
  • In Wishcraft, the killer buries Cody up to his neck and murders him by rolling bowling balls at his head.

  • Discworld:
    • In Soul Music, the Klatchian Foreign Legion once does this to Death, who's enlisted in a vain attempt to forget his troubles. It is intended as a torturous form of discipline, but the Grim Reaper merely finds it dull.
    • One of the capital punishments from the days when Ankh-Morpork still had conventional laws was to be tied to one of the city bridge's pilings at low tide, then left there for 24 hours. As the Ankh, like the Thames in London, rises with the tides, this is functionally equivalent to the "sand necktie", as per the example below. Also possibly equivalent to conventional live burial, depending on whether the Ankh's toxic sludge really qualifies as "water".
  • Doc Savage: In Land of Long Juju, Ham and Monk are buried up to their necks in an old graveyard on Long Island by a band of African tribesmen.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden does this to a ghoul in the desert, and leaves a trail for fire ants to follow to it. He later gives it a Mercy Kill.
  • In David Eddings' The Malloreon, the heroes come across a flock of vultures feeding on something on the ground. It turns out the bad guys have a habit of burying escaped slaves up to their necks in sand and leaving them. And this is in the middle of a desert. The Murgos also do this to bandits, with the caveat that anyone "too far from the road" is considered a bandit.
  • In Michael Strogoff Nicolas Pigassof is executed this way by the tartars.
  • Happens to Nancy Drew in the 5th book in her Files series, although she's actually tied to a piling, not buried in sand, though the villain's intent — her drowning as the tide comes in — is the same.
  • In Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird, the main character is buried to his neck by superstitious peasants who wish to "cure" him of a fever. This leads to a flock of crows pecking at his head.
  • The ultimate fate of Ishido in Shogun. Throughout the novel, it's repeatedly mentioned that a (supposedly reliable) fortune-teller told him that he would be both the most famous man in the land and very old when he died. After Toronaga defeats and captures him, "[he] ordered the Eta to bury Ishido up to his neck in the earth, and invite passers-by to saw at the most famous neck in the realm with a bamboo saw. Ishido lingered three days, and died very old."

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agatha Raisin: Inverted (literally) in "Agatha Raisin and the Potted Gardener". The Victim of the Week is found buried up to her neck in a large plant pot. Upside down.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, Gyp Rosetti does this to a subordinate for failing him. The subordinate's uncle pleads with Rosetti for mercy, which Rosetti provides by bashing the subordinate's head in with a shovel.
  • CSI: Happens to the Victim of the Week in "Jackpot". He is buried up to his shoulders in a hole in the forest, and then his neck and face are cut so he will bleed and attract predators. His head eventually becomes detached from his body.
  • The classic "bury him up to his neck and let the tide take him out" version is done to a Victim of the Week on CSI: Miami.
  • In an episode of the TV version of Dick Barton - Special Agent Barton has this done to him on a private beach by unrepentant Nazi Muller's men.
  • Frontier Circus: In "Mr. Grady Regrets", Ben and Tony bury a pair of outlaws they've captured up to their necks (and threaten to keep burying) in order to extract a confession from them.
  • Season 5 of Game of Thrones show the Sand Snakes doing this; using a whip to knock an inverted wooden bucket off the sand, to reveal a man buried up to his neck, menaced by a scorpion. Obara then tosses a spear through the man's head.
  • In the Jake 2.0 episode "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot", Jake has to infiltrate a black-ops military unit called the Wolfpack to investigate a missing suitcase nuke. As the newest and most untrusted member, Jake is subjected to some brutal hazing; finally he uses his abilities and a bit of knockout gas to inflict the nonlethal, no-scorpions version of this trope on the entire team so that they are discovered the next morning as a row of heads sticking up out of the ground along the road into camp. After they're dug up, the team then accept Jake as having their level of game.
  • In an episode of Knight Rider 2008, the bad guys capture Michael Knight and bury him to the neck in the desert. Then they start toying with him in a pair of sand buggies.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Book of the Dead", Bertram Jewel, the first Victim of the Week, is buried up to his neck in the forest, and then has a glass bowl placed over his head so that he suffocates.
  • Murder Call: "The Burial" had the Victim of the Week buried this way during a beach party. Unfortunately, someone with a grudge against the victim comes along and decides to fill in his mouth as well.
  • This one was confirmed as an effective Death Trap by the MythBusters. Both Tory and Grant were buried in a standing position up to their necks to test whether you could dig yourself out (they filled an upright box that could be disassembled if they were truly stuck, though they reserved it for the wet test and buried Tory on the beach for the dry test). In dry sand Tory was able to dig himself out but the process took him over an hour. Grant tested wet sand and gave up after ten minutes because the water would fill any gaps he had made. Another danger besides drowning was the sand's weight compressing on the chest, preventing you from being able to breathe.
  • Red Dwarf, "Better than Life" — with ants. And jam smeared on their faces...
  • Sons of Anarchy: When the Sons visit their allies at the local Native Reservation who supply them with homegrown drugs, they witness the Indian tribal leader disposing of a man who crossed him by burying the man up to his neck, covering him in honey and setting fire ants on him. When the condemned man later overhears the biker leader conspiring behind the chief's back, the bikers kill him to make sure he won't be able to talk.
  • Thunderbirds: The Hood does this to Brains in the episode "Desperate Intruder". Partly subverted however since he does not do it with the intention of slowly killing Brains, but to torture Brains into revealing information about a treasure he, Tintin, and a professor were looking for.
  • Ultraman Mebius have this happening to the titular Ultra when he gets paralyzed by the Psychokino Aliens, allowing the aliens' Pet Monstrosity Angross to bury him to the neck. It doesn't last.
  • In two episodes of Xena: Warrior Princess, Gabrielle is buried up to her neck. But in both situations, she was saved by Xena. "Forgiven" (Season 3, Episode 14), along with Tara, and "Legacy" (Season 6, Episode 5).

  • Charlie Daniels' "Simple Man" suggests — as part of implementing extrajudicial justice to society's worst criminals (including child abusers and molesters, and rapists) — he would "take them rascals out in the swamp, put them on their knees and tie 'em to a stump/And let the bugs and the rattlers and the alligators do the rest."

    Music Videos 
  • In one scene of the music video for "If This Is It" by Huey Lewis and the News, this happens to the News.
  • Liz Phair mostly buries a guy she had in the trunk of her car in the video for "And He Slayed Her".

    Puppet Shows 


    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed Origins, Bayek of Siwa is subjected to this fate after he trusted the wrong people (and the one who does it to him is infamous for their infatuation with this particular method of killing). He manages to free his right arm pretty quickly but doesn't get farther than that on his own, being forced to suffer disturbing hallucinations of all the people he lost and failed. It's his horse that eventually pulls him out of the sand after some... encouragement by Bayek's pet eagle Senu. Once free, he recovers remarkably quickly, gets his equipment back from a nearby fort's armory, and goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Back Stab have you doing this to a mook in a cutscene, burying him in snow to interrogate him. It works.
  • Appears on the front cover of Far Cry 3. The same unfortunate individual also appears on a beach ingame as well.
  • In LEGO Chess, the LEGO Pirates story mode ends with the victor burying the loser neck-deep in sand (if the player wins, Admiral Woodhouse buries Captain Roger; if the player loses, the situation is reversed). Possibly as a Mythology Gag, this happens again in the LEGO Pirates story mode of LEGO Battles: Governor Broadside's campaign ends with him leaving Captain Brickbeard and an Oarsman buried neck-deep in sand, while a crab approaches the two pirates.

    Web Animation 
  • In the Strong Bad Email "your friends", Strong Bad buries Homsar up to his neck in the ground while live scorpions crawl all over him, not that Homsar seems to take any notice of his predicament.


    Web Original 
  • Invoked as a prank in this entry, where two people who tried to play a game of Sand Necktie Chicken one evening, and both quit believing the other had beaten them. They then assumed the other was dead and ran back to check.
  • During a period when Something Awful seemed intent on making Wink Martindale their Sitcom Archnemesis, one of their articles about him claimed that "Wink Martindale buries cowboys up to their neck in the hard pan dirt of the desert and drives off laughing. He doesn't even care enough to watch them die." A later article retracted this, admitting that "He does care, he just has too much on his schedule to stand around watching cowboys die all day."

    Web Videos 
  • Flander's Company: In a flashback, environmentalist Hero with an F in Good Recycle-Man is seen inflicting this on two people for three days, under the snow, to make them "feel how everything in nature is connected."

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of Chip 'n Dale: Rescue Rangers, Gadget suggests this to the Pi-Rats as a way of torturing a pair of recently captured enemies. This doesn't make sense as she's one of the captured enemies.
  • More fun for Darkwing Duck. The ones that come to mind are being planted/buried in the ground with an angry Bushroot coming at him with a lawnmower, and being encased in ice while under the second biggest duck-smasher he'd ever seen.
  • Grojband: Laney does this to Kin and Kon after they interrupt her 'date' on the beach with Corey in "All You Need is Cake".
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, this is Lucius' definition of grounding someone.
  • At the start of The Perils of Penelope Pitstop episode "The Boardwalk Booby Trap", the Ant Hill Mob are burying Penelope in the sand. They soon become aware that the Bully Brothers are about to run over her with a steamroller.
  • An episode of Peter Pan & the Pirates has Captain Hook do this to Pan and another Lost Boy, for snooping on him as he buried a chest on the same beach. They escape by calling the mermaids for help.
  • On South Park, Cartman buries himself in snow this way in order to freeze himself to get a Nintendo Wii faster. It works, but too well.
  • In an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, one of the local residents is buried under the sand at the beach and asks SpongeBob's Companion Cube, Bubble Buddy, to unbury him. Cue the incoming tide. He is seen later as a ghost. Later, Bubble Buddy was shown to be both sentient and fully capable of movement, which implies he willingly let Scooter drown.
  • The protagonists of Team Galaxy gets this treatment from some Plant Aliens. In this case, though, the aim doesn't seem to be any kind of torture, but the primitive aliens actually thinking the humans would... germinate and grow.
  • X-Men: Evolution has Quicksilver doing this to Spyke in combat.

    Real Life 
  • Traveling back and forth to Persia from 1630 to 1668 as a gem merchant, Jean-Baptiste Tavernier observed much the same custom that Mrs. Hume-Griffith noted some 250 years later. Tavernier notes that immuring was principally a punishment for thieves and that immurement left the convict's head out in the open. According to him, many of these unfortunate individuals would implore passersby to cut off their heads.
  • The patriarch of Aquileia, Poppo of Treffen (r. 1019–1045) was a mighty secular potentate, and in 1044 he sacked Grado. The newly elected Doge of Venice, Domenico I Contarini, captured him and allegedly let him be buried up to his neck, and left guards to watch over him until he died. This makes this trope Older Than Print.
  • Jezzar Pasha, the Ottoman governor of provinces in modern Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine from 1775 to 1804, was renowned for his cruelties and was said to have immured Greek Christians into the walls of Barut up to their necks.
  • Speaking of the Ottomans, slavers in Ottoman Egypt did this to freshly castrated Nubian and Ethiopian boys. The difference here is that the intent was for the slaves to heal so they could then be sold throughout the empire. The majority didn't survive the procedure, but the value of the surviving eunuchs made this business model profitable nonetheless.


Sand is Heavy

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