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Sew what about a risk of infection?
"I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!"
Sam Winchester, Supernatural, "Changing Channels"

A character for one reason or another can't go to a hospital, or even get another character to help, so he treats his own injuries. An oft-seen version of this trope (to establish the badass credentials of a character) involves sewing the injury up, with or without the use of anesthetic. He may also Heal It With Fire.

This is often one of the most mercilessly indiscreet kinds of scenes when it comes to gore, as it almost never hesitates to show you the grueling process of the surgery in gruesome detail up close. Seeing a character have a limb blown off in a quick, sudden fashion can be startling to viewers, but the sight of a needle slowly burying itself underneath the skin is downright torturous to watch, especially if it involves the crook of one's elbow or knee being penetrated in some way. note 

May involve We Have to Get the Bullet Out! (but Suck Out the Poison will be pretty tricky if it's anywhere above the knee/elbow) or Life-or-Limb Decision. If the character isn't medically trained, it's probably an example of Worst Aid. If he is, it's a particularly extreme example of One of Our Own. In a common variant, the character isn't alone, but is the only one with the skills and/or knowledge to perform surgery, so he is forced to instruct other characters on how to do it. Occasionally, the injured characters' companions are too squeamish to manage even this, and the character must do Self-Surgery despite their presence.

This scene is also a good chance to show that a character Feels No Pain.

Compare After-Action Patch-Up, when someone else does the first aid; and Meatgrinder Surgery, which covers the general case of treatment with limited skills and resources. See also Back-Alley Doctor for those unwilling to do this trope but still unable to go to a legitimate hospital. Contrast Afraid of Needles.

See also Pulling Himself Together, for a character who can meld body parts back together without medical intervention, and DIY Dentistry when it comes to teeth.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Battle Royale shows Kiriyama performing this on himself several times in the manga. He stitches his wounds up, puts glue over them and done. He doesn't seem to use anesthetics, likely because he can't feel anything, anyway.
  • Black Jack once performed a full surgery on his own abdomen, while being circled by hungry dingos. Black Jack also talked a quack doctor through performing surgery on him, which the quack had never done before; soon after, the quack declared his intention to go to medical school for real. Another time finds him performing surgery on his leg instead of letting another doctor amputate it.
  • Franken Fran: After getting almost completely decapitated in one chapter, Fran still managed to muster up the determination and strength to perform an operation on herself, and stitched her head back together. She did feel all woozy afterward, but that is pretty darn impressive.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Roy Mustang uses flame alchemy to cauterize a major injury to his own abdomen after Lust stabbed him below Laboratory 3 and gets up again minutes later.
    • Mind you, he still had to be rushed to the hospital afterward.
  • Heero Yuy fixes his own broken leg in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. This is because said leg was dislocated after a big fall, and he relocated it by himself. This is technically possible but extremely painful, but because Heero's The Stoic at that point of the story, he didn't bat an eye and, rather unrealistically, was able to walk fine afterward and never suffered problems with that leg later on. He also reset it right in front of Duo Maxwell, who was promptly grossed out.
  • In Naruto, Kakashi's ten-chapter absence from the Shinobi World War was spent sewing himself up after having been impaled through the abdomen.
  • Though perhaps different, Franky of One Piece completely rebuilt himself as a cyborg after suffering tremendous injury from being hit by a sea train. He did this with his own hands, without any assistance, and was thus only able to modify everything but his back, which he couldn't reach or see to work on.
    • With the Ope-Ope Fruit, Law successfully removed all the white lead in his body and was able to survive past 13. While the Devil Fruit helped a lot, it was noted that the Fruit could only be utilized with proper medical knowledge. It was fortunate that Law had been studying medicine from childhood.
    • This is played straight by Donquixote Doflamingo. After suffering damage to his own internal organs, he uses his powers to stitch them back together. It's not perfect, though: from that point onwards he has to frequently pause to heal himself, because fighting loosens the stitches.
  • This is basically Faust XIII's shtick in Shaman King. He keeps himself all hopped up on morphine so he can freely modify his own body whenever the need arises.

    Comic Books 
  • Hush from Batman can perform surgery on himself, including plastic surgery to make himself look like others as he did in the comics and Batman: Arkham City.
  • Kate Kane stitches up a machete slash on her arm in Batwoman (Rebirth).
  • During a battle between Lobo and his daughter, they slash each other up so badly their regenerative powers can't keep up, so they take a break to stitch themselves up.
  • Red Robin: Tim Drake had to sloppily patch himself up after being stabbed by the Widower while also treating Pru, whose throat was slashed. He passed out before he could finish or call for help and he next wakes up laying next to a Lazarus Pit with his spleen missing so his self-repairs didn't go too well.
  • The Ultimate Pyro is covered with scars due to cauterizing his wounds whenever he gets shot during one of his mutant protests.

    Comic Strips 
  • Bob has his character stitch his own wounds in Knights of the Dinner Table. After being awarded experience points for exercising his first aid skill, Bob decides to rip out the stitches and sew them again.

    Fan Works 
  • Somewhat deconstructed in The Secret Return of Alex Mack.
    • Hanna tries to remove a bullet from her own abdomen, but is unable to get it out; she just stitches herself up and injects penicillin so she can keep going. By the time the SRI rescues her, she's developed a serious infection and needs immediate medical attention. If she weren't mildly superhuman, she'd probably be dead.
    • Samantha Finn treats her own pneumothorax after being shot and Left for Dead, but she is only able to aspirate the wound while waiting for rescue, not properly fix it.
  • With This Ring: The Renegade protagonist gets shot with a radion weapon, which is poisonous to New Gods and leaves a hole large enough to stick his fist in. And since his body is full of magic, his power ring can't heal him, and he can't use anaesthetic. He has to resort to sharpening and sterilising a piece of armour plating and cutting out the poisoned tissue, so that his Healing Factor can kick in. It becomes his new benchmark for "most painful experience"; it even beats contenders like having his eyeballs crushed, or getting crisped by a nuclear explosion.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Adrift (2018): Tami gets a pretty nasty gash on her forehead when the boat is initially capsized which she eventually stitches up using a mirror.
  • The Aggression Scale: After being shot, Owen digs the bullet out his own chest with a combat knife, and then cauterizes the wound with the car's cigarette lighter.
  • Alien: Covenant has a scene where a woman who had her forearms torn up in an earlier battle with one of the creatures, wanders away from the group to clean herself up, and the creature (now much bigger) ambushes her and kills her. She could have asked someone else to go with her, so they could help with her wounds and watch her back, or she simply could have not wandered off at all.
  • American Mary: At the end of the film, Mary gets stabbed in the stomach by Ruby's husband. After dealing with him, she collapses. She drags herself across the floor and knocks over a trolley of surgical instruments, and attempts to suture up her wound. However, despite doing an excellent job on the stitching, she bleeds out anyway and dies.
  • The hitman in Angels & Demons treats a gunshot wound in the back of a van, while monologuing to a victim he's got trussed up in a sack.
  • Blade Runner 2049. When Officer K is injured bringing down a fellow replicant, Da Chief refuses to pay for repairs, so he's seen patching up his wounds in the shower once he gets home. Stitching is not required, as K just pours in some fluid, then pinches the wound together and it seals up by itself.
  • The Bourne Ultimatum opens with Bourne breaking into a pharmacy to fix up the injuries sustained in the climax of the previous installment.
  • Cast Away features a scene where Chuck has to extract a bothersome tooth. Using an ice skate. Yeah.
  • Circus of Horrors: After his face is badly mauled by a lion, Dr. Schüler has his assistants Martin and Angela operate on his face under a local anesthetic so he can talk them through the procedure.
  • Clock: Ella does this after Dr. Simmons refuses to remove the implant from her uterus, which was inserted to "fix" her lack of desire for children. Despite being warned that removing the implant would leave her infertile, Ella pulls it out of herself right there in the clinic's dining room.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in The Dark Knight when Alfred finds Bruce stitching up a dog bite on his arm and remarks, "Whenever you stitch yourself up, you do make a bloody mess," before taking over.
  • Dredd. Judge Dredd uses a sci-fi first aid kit, including self-closing sutures, to treat himself after being shot through the guts with an armor-piercing round. He does it himself even though Judge Anderson is nearby to help him.
  • The title villain in Dr. Giggles is shot in the leg at one point, and not only does the surgical work to remove the bullet and stitch up the wound himself, but he does it as if he had a full medical staff, down to requesting (and handing himself) various tools to work with. Of course, this was less him being badass and more him being bat-shit insane.
  • In Every Last One of Them, Hunter cauterizes a gunshot wound in his shoulder by heating the tip of his knife in a kerosene lamp until it red hot, and then pressing it into the wound.
  • The crazy psychiatrist in The Front Page is last seen rolling away on a gurney demanding a scalpel and a ceiling mounted mirror so he can operate on himself; he being the only doctor he trusted.
  • The Fugitive: After he reaches the hospital, Richard Kimble sews up the wound he received in the bus crash. Justified because he's a doctor. Kimble also takes the opportunity to give himself a hefty dose of antibiotics.
  • Near the end of Death Proof, Stuntman Mike pours liquor on a wound to prevent infection. Subverted in that he was cringing the whole time.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka has a parody of the Rambo scene when Jack Spade digs a splinter out of his finger.
  • John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum. John Wick is at an underground surgeon's place getting a wound stitched up when the excommunicado order goes into effect. At that moment, the doctor is no longer permitted to treat him, so he hands the needle to John and stands aside while he finishes the stitches himself.
  • Jungle: Alone in the jungle, Yossi has to treat every injury he receives himself. This includes cutting a parasitic worm out of his forehead.
  • In Legion, the archangel Michael sews stitches into his back after cutting off his own wings. It's his second scene in the movie as if they wanted to establish right away that he's a badass.
  • Played for laughs in Leonard Part 6 as Bill Cosby's character removes a bullet from his own shoulder with his butler right there handing him the necessary instruments.
  • In The Martian, Mark gets a piece of steel antenna guyline lodged in his abdomen during the windstorm that caused the mission to abort. The rest of the crew was headed back to Earth, believing him to have been lost and killed in the storm. He removes the shrapnel himself and then staples the wound closed. This is possibly the only way a lengthy scene involving Matt Damon with his shirt off could ever be 100% free of fanservice.
  • In Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Doctor Maturin must excise a musket ball from his abdomen along with the piece of his shirt that was taken with it to avoid dying of infection. His surgeon's mate was available and (reluctantly) willing to perform the procedure, but Maturn only trusted himself to do it right, and without anesthetic (read: whiskey) because he needed to be in full control of his faculties. He had some help on-hand, including said mate handing him tools, one of his apprentices holding up a mirror so Maturin could see what he was doing, and a quite squeamish Captain Aubrey attempting to act as moral support, only to end up receiving moral support from Maturin.
  • Mercenaries: After using her knife to extract the implanted chip, Clay stitches herself up with a needle and thread she borrows from an old woman.
  • Chigurh does this in No Country for Old Men, as if he wasn't badass (and scary) enough. He torches a car so he can steal the antibiotics he needs from a chemist shop unobserved. Moss has to patch himself up as well, but his attempt is considerably more amateur.
  • The antagonist in Pan's Labyrinth sews his forcefully extended smile shut on camera.
  • Parker: After escaping from the hospital, Parker uses some of the supplies from his stolen ambulance to patch himself up.
  • In Predator, the alien hunter takes a single bullet in the leg as it runs away from the infamous "shoot the entire jungle" scene. It's later seen treating the wound with the medical gear it carries, first injecting something into itself with a syringe gun and then shoving some sort of two-pronged instrument straight into the wound before (painfully) yanking it back out, presumably taking the bullet with it. In Predator 2 it's much more extreme, with the hunter applying hot coals to the stump of its amputated hand to cauterize the wound. Some parts of the Expanded Universe dumb this down considerably, the medical gear being a pair of magical syringes that heal wounds by way of stabbing oneself with them.
  • In Preservation, Wit stitches up her scalp wound using a needle made of crimped ignition wire, and using dental floss as thread.
  • Professional Killer Leon returns to his apartment and is seen patching himself up in the shower, showing that he had been injured carrying out an offscreen hit.
  • Prometheus: The now-infamous scene of Shaw's self-administered emergency surgery, albeit using an Auto-Doc. The tense buildup to the eventual cutting of the stomach and removal of the thing she "births" is bad enough, but it gets even worse when it bursts out of its sac in the Medpod's claw inches from her face and starts trying to attack her midway through the surgery.
  • Rambo sews up his wounds in the first movie, and in Rambo III digs shrapnel out of his side and then cauterizes the wound with burning gunpowder.
  • At one point in The Revenant, Hugh Glass is forced to cauterize a big hole in his neck with gunpowder. Ouch.
  • In Revenge (2017), Jen uses a hunting knife to cut out the broken branch that is stuck through her abdomen, and then uses a heated aluminium can to cauterize the wound.
  • Dalton in Road House (1989) sews his wounds from the opening scene, to establish how badass he is. The Agony Booth's recap humorously captioned this with "Warning: Do not try to be this much of a badass at home."
  • In RoboCop (1987), RoboCop is seen repairing himself after getting heavily damaged during a shootout in the headquarters of OCP.
  • Ronin (1998): Sam, gets shot at one point and has to operate on himself to remove the bullet. Fortunately, he is in the care of Jean Reno's character Vincent (and a friend of his) so once he's removed the bullet he can pass out from the pain and let the others stitch him back up again.
  • Wade, The Medic from The Squad in Saving Private Ryan, gets hit by enemy fire a little more than halfway through the movie. He tries guiding the others through some things until he comes to realize that his case is hopeless. At which point he just tells them to give him lots of morphine.
  • In the Saw series, Jigsaw often requires his victims to perform grievous injuries to themselves in order to pass his tests and trials. More often than not, they're given appropriate equipment (be it surgical or non-surgical) for the task. For example, one scene in the first film involves a man chopping his foot off with a hacksaw in order to escape. Interestingly, the man in question, Lawrence Gordon, is actually a trained surgeon, one of the only few such people in the series.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009): When Watson is injured in an explosion, Holmes disguises himself as a doctor in order to get Watson committed to a hospital. When Watson reappears in the next scene, he takes the chance to boast that he had to remove a few pieces of shrapnel from himself as he has a "lousy doctor".
  • Played with in Silent Running when the protagonist reprograms a robot to perform surgery on his badly injured leg.
  • A literal version in Slipstream (1989) when the android Byron takes a hair from his head, stretches it to a long length and uses it for surgical thread (albeit on someone else).
  • In Ten Dead Men, Ryan uses a switchblade to extract a bullet from himself after the shootout with Garrett and Parker.
  • The Terminator can do this as he Feels No Pain. He's an android with a meat suit — so it doesn't really affect him when he takes his own injured eye out.
  • In The Tournament, Bogart uses his knife to cut the tracker implant out of himself.
  • In Witchfinder General, a man is shot in the shoulder while preventing two soldiers from stealing his mare. Wounded and alone, he has to dig out the bullet with his own knife and is heard screaming in agony as the camera pans up to the overhanging trees.
  • In The Wolverine, Wolverine inserts his hand into his chest to remove a bug that's killing his healing factor.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Magneto uses his powers to stitch up a scalp wound on the back of his head.

  • In the Aubrey-Maturin novel HMS Surprise, Dr. Stephen Maturin performs surgery to remove a bullet from his own ribs after being wounded in a duel (also seen in Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World after Maturin gets shot accidentally). After he's sewn back up, he asks his surgeon's mate how long it took, twenty-three minutes, to which Stephen chides himself: "Slow..."
  • Igors in Discworld do surgery on themselves all the time; it's stated that Igors would never perform a procedure on anyone else if they wouldn't be willing to try it on themselves, but that this rule hardly narrows things down. Subverted, in a way, in that they don't actually feel any pain while doing this, so it's never an ordeal unless they have difficulty keeping the mirror steady. Even the visible scars are an affectation — they're perfectly capable of stitching seamlessly.
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor pops his own dislocated shoulder back in. It's not that he's alone, but he probably figured it's better to do it himself than to make Fitz feel guilty for hurting him.note 
  • Domina: Adelle's brother Grigorii tried to give himself godeyes, the most advanced form of Bio-Augmentation in the city. It requires physically removing the eyes from the skull and doing precision surgery on them while they are carefully mutated. He tried to do this by himself, to himself. Even in the best of circumstances, people who try to get godeyes are usually blinded; Grigorii lost his eyes entirely. And then his sister almost killed him when she found out what he did.
  • Miss Gard of The Dresden Files series once stuffed a portion of her own intestines back into her body and used Super Glue to seal the wound. Probably made easier by being a Valkyrie, but still damn impressive.
  • In Hawk, Vlad is punched in the throat by an assassin and has to apply the Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy trope to himself because his larynx collapses.
  • In Rick Riordan's The Heroes of Olympus novel The Mark of Athena, Annabeth has to set her own broken ankle.
  • Eve Dallas does this after being injured by a random criminal in one In Death book. Her captain later calls in an actual medic to look at the wound, much to her displeasure.
  • Stephen King:
    • In one grisly short story, a doctor survives some kind of wreck and winds up on a flyspeck island in the middle of the ocean. Eventually, the good doctor has to turn cannibal on himself, cutting off certain parts, eating them, then taking care so that the area around the sacrificed part wouldn't get infected or anything. At the very end of the story the doctor, who is a surgeon and has been taking very good care of his hands the whole time, finally gets desperate enough to start looking at them... (Apparently when King first had this idea, he ran into a local doctor he knew at the supermarket and asked about whether the idea was at all feasible in real life. The doctor gave him a very odd look before replying that yes, it was theoretically possible).
    • The Stand has an example where, after the superflu kills nearly everyone in the world, one survivor is forced to try to amputate his own injured, gangrenous foot. He passes out and dies from blood loss.
  • The scene from The Martian mentioned in Film above plays out basically the same, except Mark had to suture himself rather than use medical staples.
  • In Penric's Mission, Penric has to use magic to trepan himself with the assistance of his chaos demon, Desdemona. Played with since Des is sort of doing the work, sort of talking him through it, but Penric has to maintain consciousness so he and Des can jointly finish the job.
  • M'k'n'zy of Calhoun does this in the very first book of Star Trek: New Frontier. He closes his own facial wound. With a laser welder. The scar is one of his defining facial features as The Captain.
  • In Interlude 23 of Worm, Tattletale is forced to perform a self-tracheotomy when Perdition attacks her.
    • And two chapters later, Bonesaw performs several procedures on herself to hide the fact that she didn't go into cryogenic sleep with the rest of the Slaughterhouse Nine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played literally in "Smile Time" when Angel gets mauled by a werewolf after being turned into a puppet, but can't stitch himself up due to his puppet hands.
  • Arrow
    • Oliver Queen does this in the episode "Lone Gunman" because at that time he's working alone, Team Arrow not having formed yet. This nearly gets him killed when he removes a bullet only for everything to get blurry — Oliver realises the bullet was poisoned and barely makes it to an antidote in time.
    • In "Crucible", Oliver is shot by his captors on the Amazo, who leave a kidney dish with the relevant items to remove the bullet and patch himself up. Apparently this happens to all their prisoners to see if they are strong enough to survive the next stage of experimentation.
  • Shows up on Discovery Health series from time to time, like the guy on Bizarre ER who tried to stitch himself up with his wife's needle and thread.
  • Black Mirror. In "Metalhead", the protagonist is being hunted by an implacable killer Robot Dog, and has to cut out a piece of shrapnel containing a Tracking Device using a knife and pliers. She's able to destroy the Dog, but not before it detonates another shrapnel bomb peppering her body with similar trackers, one of them next to her carotid artery. Realising she can't cut them out without fatal injury, she uses the knife to commit suicide rather than wait for other Dogs to arrive.
  • Christopher Pelant in Bones is shown sewing up his own face after Booth shoots him. Crosses with No One Should Survive That!.
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine Holt is impaled through the leg with a pipe and needs Jake to perform surgery on it. Unfortunately Jake freaks out at the sight of the wound, and Holt ends up having to talk him through the difficult process of listening while Holt performs the surgery on himself.
  • Happens twice in Cardiac Arrest, once in a car crash and once with a doctor directing his own emergency treatment.
  • CSI: NY:
    • In "Super Men," a mentally challenged young man who fancies himself a real-life Superman is shown in flashback using a sewing needle and black thread to stitch up a wound he received while saving someone from being mugged.
    • Discussed by Mac and Sid in "Forbidden Fruit." Mac walks up behind M.E. Sid while he's examining a victim whose who died after drinking a bleach-laced smoothie and wondering out loud how that would feel. Mac says he wonders that every time he thinks about performing a live autopsy on himself. Intrigued, Sid turns around and starts to say, "You do that, too?" but stops short when he sees the grin on Mac's face.
  • Diagnosis: Murder: In "Blood Will Out", the man who wakes up in the morgue with a bullet in his head steals medical supplies and uses a deserted operating theatre to operate on himself and remove the slug.
  • There’s a paramedic variant in Emergency! “Snakebite”. After being bitten, John Gage gets an IV going on himself and cuts open the bite, something not done today.
  • A variation on Firefly: Simon did not do the surgery on himself, but he did talk Zoe through the whole process while she removed a bullet and dressed the wound. Once she was finished, Simon declared his intent to immediately pass out.
    • In "Out of Gas", Mal winds up alone on the ship after being shot and must give himself stitches and an adrenaline shot.
  • A variant occurs in The Flash (2014): Caitlin, the team's doctor, gets impaled and can't go to a hospital because she might be exposed as a metahuman. So she convinces Julian and Iris to perform surgery on her while she guides them through it, looking at the wounds in a mirror.
  • Much like in the movie, the 2000 remake of The Fugitive had Dr. Richard Kimble tending to himself following a shoot-out.
  • Mark Sloan makes his debut on Grey's Anatomy like this, immediately establishing everything you need to know about him:
    George: Why is he suturing his own face?
    Christina: To turn me on?
    Alex: 'Cause he's Mark Sloan! He's, like, the go-to plastic surgeon on the East coast.
    George: That's the guy Adison was sleeping with?
    Izzie: You can't really blame her, can you?
    Christina: No, not really.
    George: Yes, you can!!
  • Grimm: In "Island of Dreams", a Wessen who had a chunk bitten out of his leg during a robbery gone wrong stitches up the wound himself.
  • Halo (2022). In "Emergence", John-117 uses a combat knife to remove the hormone pellet that suppresses his emotions. As it's surgically implanted in his back, Cortana has to guide him as to where to insert the blade.
  • The 2020 miniseries The Head has the injured doctor advising on their own treatment version, in this case because they're in an Antarctic research station in the middle of winter. They don't have to get the bullet out because it went through her and hit someone else, but they do have to cauterize a vein with only a local anaesthetic because she can't afford to be doped up.
  • Happens semi-regularly on House.
    • Perhaps one of the most unpleasant examples came when House discovered he had several small tumours in his leg and was forced to cut his leg open to remove them.
    • Hovering somewhere between hilarious and absolute nightmare is the clinic patient who attempted to circumcise himself to mollify his girlfriend.
  • In the finale of The Knick, Dr. Thackery insists on performing surgery on himself to fix his ischemic intestines, despite his colleagues telling him how absurdly dangerous it would be, especially when he is surrounded by skilled surgeons. He goes through with it anyway in the surgical theatre, complete with an audience of medical students. He's able to do so because of the spinal block technique he developed in the pilot, which completely numbs his abdomen downwards. While successful at first, he accidentally hits his abdominal aorta, which causes him to pass out from blood loss. The ending does not show whether or not he survives.
  • On Law & Order: SVU, Dr. Warner is shot in the chest by a grief-deranged mother and must instruct Olivia in how to insert a chest tube so her lung won't collapse.
  • Lost:
    • Subverted when Jack insists on being awake so he can talk Juliet through performing an appendectomy on him, but after she begins they decide to knock him out as he's in too much pain.
    • A notable aversion occurs in the pilot. Jack is ready to stitch up a cut he sustained but it is on his side and he can't reach it properly. This prompts a Meet Cute moment with Kate when he asks her to stitch it up for him.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: Used as a punchline in the episode Devilfish. A scene opens with a close-up of someone washing a lot of blood off their hands, so one of the riffers quips, "I performed my own splenectomy... and saved!"
  • In Nip/Tuck there is a scene where Christian tries to do plastic surgery on his own nose.
  • The Punisher (2017)
    • In "Danger Close", Micro has to talk Frank Castle out of trying this trope, as his arm has been recently dislocated. Castle reluctantly allows Micro to do the stitching himself (apparently as a boy he would stitch up animals wounded by the neighborhood cats).
    • Likewise in "Fight or Flight" when Frank gets Shot in the Ass. He starts patching up himself but can't reach back properly to get the bullet out, so he has to get Amy (the woman he's holding prisoner) to help. She gets annoyed with the suggestion that she knows how to sew him up, but Frank says he doesn't care how pretty her stitches are.
    • In "The Dark Hearts Of Men", Pilgrim is beaten up by a gang of neo-Nazis, and is shown treating his injuries including removing teeth from his head from when he headbutted a man, and resetting his dislocated jaw. He uses booze and cocaine to numb the pain as he does this, causing him to go Off the Wagon.
    • In "Collision Course", Amy shoots Pilgrim with a Sawn-Off Shotgun, and he's later shown painfully removing the pellets from his bloody leg. Amy meanwhile has tracked him down to his hotel, and is able to locate the specific room by the sounds he's making.
  • Ace Rimmer operates on his own broken arm in the Red Dwarf episode "Dimension Jump".
  • Shadow and Bone. Inej has to stitch herself up after being wounded, having learnt how to in the brothel she used to work in. She does have friends there to help her, but Jesper is squicked out at the sight (despite him being The Gunslinger, she points out) and Kaz clearly wants to help but can't bring himself to lay hands on her.
  • Silo. In the first episode; Allison Becker cuts out her own contraceptive implant when she realizes that the Silo's doctors are only pretending to remove implants from some people in order to control who has children.
  • This seems to be the only kind of medical attention the boys of Supernatural ever receive. Sam falls back on it while playing a doctor during the Trapped in TV Land episode.
    Sam: I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!

  • Capitol Steps' "Suture Yourself":
    You can suture yourself at home,
    Suture yourself in front of your family.
    We'll do it for just a song.
    Who cares if maybe we get it wrong?

    Tabletop Games 
  • When a young Victor Mordenheim of Ravenloft was bitten on the ear by one of his father's hunting dogs, he amputated the ripped lobe himself. His stoicism in doing so convinced his father that the boy was serious about his ambition to become a surgeon.
  • Wraith of Sentinels of the Multiverse has Suture Self, which allows Wraith to heal 3 HP. The art has her stitching up a cut on her arm.
  • Epideromancers in Unknown Armies gain power from Self-Harm, but are forbidden from allowing anyone else to alter their bodies in any way. This includes any form of surgery, so if they need to remove or repair something, they have to do it themselves.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, Ork special character Mad Dok Grotsnik is such a loon that he regularly amputates his own limbs and swaps them with those of his (often unwilling) patients, "just to keep his hand in."

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham Series provides two examples:
    • Early on in Batman: Arkham City, a medic within the city is talked to regarding a patient, who is apparently a doctor, who has been stealing supplies and cut off his own face. It's Tommy Elliot, AKA Hush, who later uses pieces of other people's faces to surgically reconstruct his own into a copy of Bruce Wayne's.
    • It's implied in Batman: Arkham Knight that Scarecrow had to do this to his own face after his mauling by Killer Croc in Batman: Arkham Asylum. It's probably because said face was kinda eaten and possibly because Crane's a psychiatrist, not a surgeon, that the result is hideous and terrifyingly undead-looking; it's impossible to tell the difference between grafted-on burlap and actual flesh.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth has you collecting bandages, splints, thread and antidotes to treat the various wounds you incur while you play.
  • d20 Modern Neverwinter Nights includes the surgery kit, an item which allows healing another character. Using it on yourself doesn't bring any specific bonus or malus to the action.
  • This comes up in the Flash game Dark Cut 2. Partway through the third surgery, the Confederates suddenly attack your position. When you wake up, there's a piece of shrapnel the size of your forearm in your leg. The only answer is amputating your own leg. Amazingly, the player character survives this, as the ending shows a letter stating the Union was so amazed they want to give him a medal.
  • In Evil Genius, One of the henchmen you can recruit, Ethan Asia (aka The Butcher), was performing surgery on a Papa New Guinean tribesman, when his patient suffered a fatal heart attack while Ethan simultaneously suffered pancreatic failure. Seeing no other options, Ethan transplanted his patient's pancreas into his own body. Oh, and the pancreas was cursed, so now he's a cannibal.
  • Forget Me Not: My Organic Garden: The doctor Man has a plan to implant a magical Kidney into himself, relying that humans have Spare Body Parts with two kidneys, to keep him safe:
    Man: Ha, since it's just a Kidney it will be fine even if I mess up with one.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Part of the gameplay is that, rather than just eating Rations to heal, you have to perform first aid on yourself to recover from most injuries. That includes digging out bullets and arrows with your knife, sewing up wounds, and the like.
  • In Persona 4 it never happens for real, but Naoto's Shadow expresses a desire to carry out a sex change operation on her(self). Representing her insecurity from being patronized by the police.
  • At one point in Red Dead Redemption II, Arthur is forced to remove a bullet from his own shoulder after being kidnapped. He heats a file in a candle flame and uses it to dig out the bullet, then uses some gunpowder from a shotgun shell and the candle flame to cauterise the wound.
  • Robinson's Requiem, also known as 'the masochist game'. Basically a 'survive on an empty planet' game, one of the main challenges is that you have to perform realistic first aid on yourself — sewing up and dressing wounds, making splints, and — if necessary — performing amputations.
  • Team Fortress 2 somehow has multiple instances:
    • It is implied that the medic has done this on his HEART to make him a candidate for Ubercharge.
    • Other background materials also suggest that Soldier has had to treat his own injuries before, by virtue of stuffing fourteen feet of his intestines back into himself and presumably holding the wound closed until something worked out.
    • A secret hidden image in the Engineer update reveals that both Engineer and his grandfather hacked off their own forearms to install the Gunslinger in its place. Another cosmetic item for Engineer, the Roboot, implies he did the same to his left leg.
  • Clementine has to do this in the first episode of The Walking Dead Season 2, disinfecting and suturing her own arm up to help heal a dog bite. She screams and cries while it happens, too, which just makes it all the more horrific. You need to force her to do every stitch, and then a walker tried to get her two seconds later. Talk about dark.
  • Warframe introduced a Solaris cyborg by name of Chipper. Being a cyborg isn't new. Hacking off his own limbs and head to do the cyborg enhancements himself just to avoid going into debt is not normal for the Solaris people.
    Chipper: "I also do mods...did all me own, actually. Stuff goin' into debt, when a fella's got a perfectly good workshop with a handsaw lying around. Neighbors did not like the screamin', let me tell you. Should tell ya how I got me head off sometime. There's a story."
  • XCOM 2 has a thankfully off-screen instance of this trope. Dr. Richard Tygan serves as the resistance's scientific advisor, and defected from an ADVENT-run gene therapy clinic due to the alien regime's security measures. This meant that he had to remove a neural implant from the back of his own skull, without the benefit of a mirror. He still managed to get it out without any side effects beyond some nasty scarring.

    Web Animation 
  • XIN combines this with a touch of Supernatural Martial Arts: the eponymous Xin has a special technique that allows him to use qi to set broken bones so he can keep fighting. This is only a temporary measure, however: he still needs medical attention once the fight is over.


    Web Original 
  • The Courier in Courier's Mind: Rise of New Vegas often has to remove bullets and sow his own wounds, while out in the desert without a doctor. Sometimes even using non-medical tools in his makeshift surgeries.
  • Happens twice in the Dark Cut Meat Grinder Surgery series of flash games.
    • In the second game, you're operating on a patient on a American Civil War battlefield, when there's an explosion and you wake up to find a giant piece of shrapnel through your leg pinning you to the ground. You then have to amputate your own leg to survive (...with whiskey and a hacksaw).
    • In the third game, you're operating on patients via a virtual interface in the future, and eventually end up having to cut off your own arm instead to save yourself from being taken over and controlled by the AI helping you when it turns rogue, since the AI keeps you from removing the interface any other way.
  • Fat, French and Fabulous has an entire episode on the topic, including two auto-appendectomies and a self-cesarean.
  • The SCP Foundation has SCP-542, a stitched-together Frankensteinian Herr Doktor type who routinely did this in order to replace his organs as they failed before he was taken into the care of the foundation.
  • Survival of the Fittest version 4: Helen Wilson, being familiar with medical symptoms, starts to realize that she has the symptoms of a Ruptured Appendix and attempts surgery on herself to remove it. She succeeds, but stops just short of the escape boats before bleeding to death.
  • Void Domain: Eva uses her Blood Magic to amputate body parts, including her own, among other operations.

    Western Animation 
  • Played for Laughs in Aqua Teen Hunger Force. The evil doctor Doctor Weird tells his assistant "Gentlemen! I have decided to lose weight...manually!" And he promptly pulls out a chainsaw and begins cutting away at his fat.
    • Other instances include: removing his head, twice, once on his own and once via his assistant Steve; injecting himself with gallons of BBQ sauce and only realizing it's a bad idea about a second and a half before he explodes; doing something that turned himself into a giant head that spat laser beams; and various other things that can't even be explained as being done "For Science!!"
  • Arcane. In "The Boy Savior", Jinx staples up a slash in her leg that the Fireflies gave her. It doesn't help that she's Hearing Voices and Laughing Mad during the scene.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Garfield mentions that Jon once tried to surgically remove his own appendix because it was too expensive to do it at the hospital.
  • While it doesn't involve any actual surgery, in The Legend of Korra, Korra has to metalbend the remainder of the mercury put into her by the Red Lotus during the climax of Season 3 herself as she was subconsciously resisting any other metalbender's attempts to remove the poison from her body.
  • Moral Orel: Dr. Chosenberg tries to sew his own Jesus-looking chest wound because everyone else thinks it's a miracle and won't touch it.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick, who has turned himself into a pickle but managed to regain his mobility by building power armor made out of sewer junk and rat parts, is fighting Jaguar, a John Wick-esque mercenary hired to kill Rick. During a lull in the fighting, both take the moment to tend to their injuries, Jaguar using the powder from one of his pistol cartridges to cauterize the wound, and Rick using a pickle chip from a discarded hamburger.
  • In Season 5 of Samurai Jack, Jack has to stitch up a deep wound in his side with a bit of animal bone and wood fibers. He's audibly and visibly wincing in pain with each stitch, and the emergency stitch-up leaves a permanent, ugly scar.
  • The Simpsons: In "Rednecks and Broomsticks", Doctor Hibbert and his nurse go blind during an operation, leaving Hans Moleman to operate on himself.
    • Moe does dental work on himself in "24 Minutes". Ouch.
    • In "The Bob Next Door", Sideshow Bob cuts off his own face so he can switch it with the face of a fellow inmate as part of his latest plan to kill Bart. The first time around, though, he sewed the new face on upside-down.
  • In Superman: Doomsday clone Superman uses his laser vision on himself to remove Luthor's kryptonite fragment from his brain in the mirror of a beauty salon full of shocked onlookers, one of whom faints at the sight.
  • Transformers: Prime
    • Starscream is seen almost doing this with a T-Cog he harvested from a dead clone of himself so he can transform again, essentially preparing for the equivalent of self-organ surgery. Understandably, when something else comes up, he's perfectly happy for the excuse to put it off.
    • Shockwave presumably did this off-screen to fix his eye and the rest of himself after Arcee shot the former out and he was caught in the backlash of his exploding Space Bridge in a flashback.

    Real Life 
  • Professional chefs regularly keep superglue in their knife kits just in case they give themselves a serious knife wound while working. And by serious, we're talking "cut to the bone" serious. Anything less and it's "slap a blue bandaid on it and move on".
  • In 1921, Evan O'Neill Kane of Kane, Penn., wanted to prove that ether — the primary general anesthetic at the time — was being used far too often when less-dangerous local anesthetics could be substituted. As his test case, the good doctor used himself, removing his own appendix using only local anesthetic by propping himself up on the operating table with a mirror over his abdomen. With three other doctors in the operating room as backup, Kane made the large incision needed to remove the appendix and his assistants sutured him up. (This was before new techniques allowed doctors to make small 'Band-Aid'-size incisions for appendix removal.) The doctor recovered nicely.
    • In 1932, at age 70, Dr. Kane performed an even more complicated surgery on himself to repair an inguinal hernia. Because of the close proximity to the femoral artery, it was a particularly delicate operation — Kane performed it in just under two hours. Reportedly, he was relaxed and joking even as he sutured within millimeters of the important blood vessels.
    • In 1944 Jock McLaren, an Australian prisoner of war who had escaped to the Philippines, removed his own appendix in four and a half hours while deep in the jungle, with only a couple natives for help.
  • In 1961, Dr. Leonid Rogozov performed a self-appendectomy at a Soviet research station in Antarctica, as he was the only physician there. His appearance in Badass of the Week attests to the impressiveness of the act.
  • In 1998, Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only doctor at a South Pole scientific station, discovered she had breast cancer and had to operate on herself to extract tissue samples for testing. A similar story was later used in an episode of House.
  • The Other Wiki page on Self-surgery has a number of media examples.
  • The top four entries of this article.
  • Any veterinarian who treats cats is bound to resort to this sooner or later.
  • The joke exam that says "Under your desk, you will find a bottle of rubbing alcohol and a scalpel. Now take out your own appendix."
  • A bottle of alcohol, superglue, and duct tape will fix most deep muscle cuts.
  • This is what "bathroom surgery" is; that's a slang term for doing things in a bathroom or restroom such as removing a pimple or wart, pulling out a splinter, getting rid of an ingrown toenail and more. These actually can be done, and some are even recommended to be done (like popping a purulent zit — however, if the zit's just sore, you're better off waiting for it to calm down, for example).

Alternative Title(s): Self Stitching