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Severed Head Sports

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Do they yell "Forehead!" before the swing?

"If you let me go, you can use my friend's head as a polo ball."
Emmett Fitz-Hume, Spies Like Us

After violence, either to emphasize how much one character glorifies in it, or to lighten the mood, one or more characters will kick around a severed head as if it were a soccer ball. Alternatively, if there's a hoop conveniently nearby they may try to throw it in like a basketball. Other options are only limited by the number of ball games requiring something close to the size of a head.

Often also a side-effect of certain video game physics engines is to allow you to do this.

Reality check: A human head weighs around 7 kg (or for those living in the US, 15.4 lbs., which is as heavy as a bowling ball gets); however, few shows manage to portray this realistically.

Related to Off with His Head!. See also Decapitation Presentation for another fate of the severed head. Not to be confused with Head Sports. Can cross over with Losing Your Head if said head is somehow still alive and is being humiliated/harrassed in their helpless state. A more comedic relative involving the entire body is Be the Ball.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • EC Comics:
    • In the story "Foul Play," an evil baseball player is murdered by the members of the opposing team. After killing him, they play a game where they use his head as the ball, his leg as the bat, his intestines to mark the base liner, and his organs to mark the bases. They even use his scalp to dust off home plate.
    • In another story, this happens with a bigamist who is found out by his golf and bowling-playing wives.

  • A Lighter and Softer example in the Jojo's Bizarre Adventure fic Sapphire Heartverse, given that Jonathan Joestar's head is very much alive and snarky. He gets treated like a ball by Steely Dan and Alessi, which later backfires karmically on them when they're reduced to living severed heads by Dio as punishment.

    Film — Animation 
  • When the ancestor ghosts are celebrating at the end of Mulan, the headless one gets his thrown around like a beach ball.
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, the vampires are seen playing hockey with a jack-o-lantern. This was bowdlerized from the original, deleted version, in which they used the severed head of Tim Burton.
    • "There's children throwing snowballs instead of throwing heads."

    Film — Live Action 
  • Bill & Ted;
    • In Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure Genghis Khan goes into a sports store and uses a baseball bat to knock the head off a mannequin, sending it flying through a basketball net.
    • Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey plays this for laughs, with Evil Robot Bill using Evil Robot Ted's detachable head to play basketball.
  • Rutger Hauer vehicle The Blood O Heroes features a game of what is essentially Medieval (American) football, but with the severed head of a dog used as the ball, which can only be touched by a player designated as the "quick." This in turn inspired the common LARP game of Daneball (with some enterprising groups actually making fake skulls rather than just using a conventional ball for the dog skull).
  • A deleted scene from Full Metal Jacket showed soldiers playing soccer with a severed head.
  • Funny Man: The Funny Man uses one of his victims' severed heads to play football.
  • The cover of the "Balls Out Bootleg Edition" of Gutterballs shows a head being used a bowling ball. This doesn't occur in the actual film, which instead has the victim's head get shot out of a ball return.
  • Hostel Part II ends with a group of juvenile delinquents playing soccer with the head of the woman that betrayed the protagonist and her friends to an organization of serial killers.
  • Although the heads aren't severed, Labyrinth has the fire-starters who remove their heads and use them to play something akin to volleyball. While singing. Naturally, this concerns the protagonist. She gets even more concerned when they try to remove her head.
  • Night of the Demons 2 has a scene where a character runs into a possessed guy playing basketball with his own severed head.
  • In The Man Who Would be King, people in Kaffiristan are shown playing polo with the head in a bag of a chieftain who was deposed. Part of the reason the narrator takes his friend's severed head with him, is so that he avoids this dishonor.
  • In Men in Black 3, Jay and young Kay are questioning an alien who runs a bowling alley. They wind up using his head as a bowling ball to get him to answer their questions (don't worry, he's fine afterward, just annoyed).
  • In Shredder Orpheus, after killing Orpheus via decapitation, the Furies throw his head around like a football.
  • In Snuff Movie, the three murder groupies play catch with Jack's severed head.
  • Tales of Terror: In "The Black Cat", Montressor has a nightmare where Isabel and Fortunato rip his head off and then toss it back and forth between themselves.
  • Varsity Blood: When the lingerie-clad Diane is attempting to flee the killer through the gymnasium, she sees that they have tossed someone's severed head into the basketball net.

  • Discworld:
    • In Unseen Academicals there is a rule explicitly stating that any object that has been kicked by at least three players in a row during an official football match is to be considered the ball. Guess which kind of object triggered the creation of this rule... (Although Dr. Hix, who'd be qualified to talk about this sort of thing, does discuss the fact that human heads would be very impractical to play football with, as they're heavy and, of course, nobody wants to be bitten in the foot.)
    • Earlier, in Soul Music, Jade says the troll sport of aargrooha is played by kicking a human head with obsidian boots until one side scores a goal or the head bursts. In modern, civilized times, this game is not played (because no one remembers how to make the boots).
    • In Jingo, Carrot gets members of the two opposing armies to play football during a cease-fire. 71-Hour Ahmed remarks that a similar game is played by nomads in some parts of Klatch, with a severed head.
  • Grunts! has Orcball, a game played by victorious orcs after a battle using the heads of their enemies. And if there's a shortage of heads, they can always volunteer an orc for the role.
  • A club of Harry Potter ghosts known as the Headless Hunt enjoy such sports as Head Polo. One of the reasons why Nearly-Headless Nick isn't admitted is because, as his head wasn't completely severed from his body, he can't partake on these games.
  • In Head On, the new popular team sport of Hilketa is played using threeps (robots remotely controlled by people with lock-in syndrome using brain implants). The way to score is to rip off the head of one of the opponent team's threeps and bring in it for a touchdown. The heads are designed to be re-attachable.
  • According to J. R. R. Tolkien in The Hobbit, the game of golf got its name from Goblin commander Golfimbul, who got clubbed by Hobbit Bandobras "Bullroarer" Took. The blow was so severe that Golfimbul was decapitated and his head flew into a rabbit hole. The game of golf was invented, and the battle won, in the same moment.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Mentioned multiple times in the first episode, Princesses Don't Do Summer School, all relating to how Our Orcs Are Different:
    • Princess Selvi, half-orc princess, is described by her creator, as "Strong, tough, and plays soccer with the heads of her enemies."
    • êl-sakhar, a sport of the high plains played traditionally with the severed heads of one's enemies, though nowadays, it was usually a weighted ball of rags instead.
  • In Mysteries of Babylon, the main character Prester John can find a bowling stall in Babylon where a skull is used instead of a ball. If you lose your bet against them, your head will be used as the next ball.
  • In the Vorkosigan Saga novel Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, the game of boot polo (Calvinball by way of the Rugby Is Slaughter trope) is traditionally played with a ball painted to look like the head of an enemy warrior. It's implied that during the relevant war they used to use the real thing.
  • The Deptford Mice Almanac'' mentions the traditional autumn Rat Kickabout, where the rats swarm the sewers while tossing around the severed head of the first unlucky sap they find, often another rat.
  • KonoSuba: Being a Dullahan, this is how Kazuma and his party defeat Beldia. First he uses Steal to snatch Beldia's head, and then sends it to the rest of the adventurers who start kicking it around like a soccer ball.

    Live-Action TV  
  • All That. Amanda and Mark are bowling. But, when Danny loses the ball they decide to play with his head.
  • One episode of Big Wolf on Campus had Tommy, Merton, and Lori play "Keep Away" with the head of a crazed robotic school counselor (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Angel: In "Shiny Happy People" a vampire is holding up a head in an apparent Decapitation Presentation, only to throw the head down a bowling alley.
  • CSI: One episode shows in full detail a decapitated head being sent down a bowling ball retrieving system, and a bowler accidentally grabs the head before realizing his mistake.
  • Drop the Dead Donkey: After Damien finally convinces Helen that there is a lighter side to his nature, it emerges that he has done so while editing footage of some soldiers playing football with a man's head.
  • Ghosts (UK): Headless ghost Humphrey is quite relaxed about having his head used as a volleyball by the other ghosts since it means he gets to be part of a game for once.
  • John Leguizamo's short-lived House of Buggin has a skit about a soccer team using severed heads instead of balls to honor their Mayan ancestors, grossing out the rival American team. They have a witch doctor whose job is to find perfect heads and the unfortunate news reporter commentating on the sport happens to have the right-sized head...
  • In Rules of Engagement, Jeff and Adam play hockey with a mannequin head: inventing a complete set of rules for the 'sport'.
  • Vyvian from The Young Ones does this with his own severed head after it talks back to his body.

  • The cover of the Genesis album Nursery Cryme features a girl playing croquet with severed heads instead of balls. This doubles as a reference to "The Musical Box", the album's opening track; the story for that song (as featured in the liner notes) opens with a girl knocking a boy's head off during a game of croquet.
  • Song "Älä Astu Kauppiaan Päälle" (Don't Step on the Shopkeeper(s Head) on Finnish band YUP's 1994 album Toppatakkeja ja Toledon Terästä is about severed head bouncing around the town. It once gets kicked by a soccer star.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin builds a snowman that's playing ten-pin bowling with another snowman's head.
  • Played for laughs in a The Far Side cartoon about the invention of headhunting — cavemen are gathered on a volleyball court, and one of them notes that no one brought a ball, and one of the bystanders has a round, bulbous head...
    • One of Larson's childhood cartoons was published which depicted a group of stick men playing volleyball. One that the stick men is holding the severed head of a nearby teammate while screaming "Aaaaaa! This isn't the ball!"

  • Invoked in the Game of Thrones table with the Sword of Multiball; pinballs are queued up beneath the sword, and each time it drops a ball rolls into action.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Trolls in the Mystara setting, which are easily entertained and endowed with Healing Factor, actually do practice a variety of such simple sports among themselves. Presumably the loser gets to provide the ball for the next round of play.

    Video Games 
  • The Windows 3.1 era puzzler Amazon Skulls, which used severed heads as playing pieces. According to the (almost certainly apocryphal and definitely totally irrelevant) backstory, the loser had to donate their own head to the collection.
  • Blood lets you kick zombie heads until they explode harmlessly into droplets of gore. That, combined with Caleb having quite a kicking foot, was one of the game's big selling points. The carnival level even included a minigame where you could win a power-up by managing to kick three heads into a specific place. The sequel tried it, even adding a separate head model for each gibbed humanoid enemy, but the lack of flair to it (like long trajectory arcs, a large blood trail, and sound effects, all of which were present in the first game) didn't make it very noticeable. There's even a deathmatch map dedicated to head football.
  • Several Castlevania games have a skeleton enemy named Soccer Boy that forever kicks its own head while trying to pick it up. If you destroy the head, the poor guy panics and begins fumbling around. The western localizations made an amusing Shakespeare reference by changing its name to "Yorick".
  • The lesser-known game Hyperblade featured this as one of its selling points: the main game was a sport that was some kind of mix of hockey, jai-alai and half-pipe trick skating, using a magnetic "rok" for a puck. Of course, if one or another player ended up decapitated, their head immediately became the rok, including passing and scoring with it. And yes even by the deceased's teammates.
  • The original Silent Hill has you briefly visit a small basketball court hidden in an alleyway to find a key. Right next to it is a severed dog's head, lying beneath a basketball goal with a bloody backboard. Considering the true nature of the town's warped reality, it may simply be a manifestation of Alessa's fear and dislike of dogs.
  • In Six Ages: Ride Like the Wind, the Riders play the game of chadash on horseback and usually the severed head of a foe as the ball (a dead goat may be used if no head is available). Usually they use the preserved heads of old enemies, but occasionally they'll celebrate a victory by playing a game with the head of the defeated warleader.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: An easter egg is to be found by picking up the severed head of a serial killer's victim and throwing it through a nearby basketball hoop.
  • At the end of Banjo-Tooie, Banjo and Kazooie, along with Mumbo, Humba, and Jamjars, go back to the scene of the final battle, and play with Grunty's skeletal head (which has been detached from her body) like it was a ball. See for yourself.

    Web Comics 
  • Looking for Group: Two undead children after a battle are seen in the background playing soccer with a soldier's head.
  • Belkar from The Order of the Stick does this with a kobold head he severed himself.
  • In Genocide Man, someone taunts the title character by mailing him a crate of skulls from an outbreak of Bio-Augmented feral Tykebombs he'd quashed years before. Being a Genocide Man, he's... less than fazed.
    Girii: Are you seriously playing golf with children's skulls?!
    Jacob: Don't be silly. I'm just practicing my drive. It's not like I could putt with them, their little teeth would be hell on the green.

    Web Video 
  • In "Deadpool: The Musical 2," Deadpool beheads a mook with his katana and sends the severed head flying into a makeshift basketball hoop labeled "heads only!" The basket head sets off a goal buzzer, air horn, and lights, and Deadpool celebrates the shot and says the setup time paid off.
  • At the end of Phelous's review of Animal Soccer World, Wabuu decapitates Harry the reporter for badmouthing him, then scores a goal with Harry's head as the ball, injuring poor Wuschel as well. Phelous reports on the gruesome game in Harry's place.

    Western Animation 
  • Action League NOW!:
    • Towards the end of the episode, "Roughing the Passer", The Mayor tries to sabotage the NFL's football game by sawing the chains off the billiard lampshade above it. However, a coin toss from The Flesh knocks him off the lampshade and causes the saw to slice his head off. The football players mistake his head for a loose football and tackle it.
    • At the end of the episode, "What's Eating the Flesh", a body-eating virus consumes the Action League's bodies. Bill cures the league, and The Chief still needs a golf ball for his tournament, as he lost the ones he hit earlier. At the tournament, he uses The Flesh's head as a golf ball and gets a perfect "head-in-one".
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has a non-lethal variant where Soccer Mom has the majority of Sector V captured with Numbuhs 2, 3 and 5 tied in the goal netting. As revealed when she says they can be the ball instead of the net if they don't keep quiet, Numbuh 1 is buried up to his neck in the ground with his bald head painted like a soccer ball.
    Numbuh 1: I don't know what's worse. Being kicked in the face? Or the humiliation?
  • Kaeloo: Mr. Cat blasts off Quack Quack's head with a bazooka in Episode 74, and Stumpy plays soccer with it.
  • The end of The Simpsons episode which was spoofing MMORPGs shows Marge's player character playing with the head of Moe's.
    Moe: Why am I paying $14.95 a month for this?
    • Also happens on one of the "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, again with Moe as the victim of a Mayan sacrifice. His head rolls down the stairs and is used by kids as a soccer ball.
      Moe: Wow. Even for the ball, soccer is boring.
    • Yet another "Treehouse of Horror" had the zombified bullies use Zombie!Principal Skinner's head like a hacky sack.
    • A deleted scene in "Treehouse of Horror IV" (which was eventually shown in "The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular") featured demons using Homer's head as a bowling ball when he spent the day in Hell (which then cracked open against the pins to reveal a note reading "I.O.U. one brain, signed God").

    Real Life 
  • Several Mesoamerican cultures played a game of sport similar to soccer using human skulls as the ball.
    • Similarly, according to some accounts, in the ancient Chinese game called tsuchu (one of the documented ancestors of soccer), decapitated enemy soldier heads sometimes were used for balls.
  • The Romans had Equus October, a festival of the god Mars, in which the right-hand horse of the winning Chariot Race team was sacrificed and the inhabitants of two competing neighborhoods would fight over possession of the severed horse head.
  • The head of Kitbuqa Khan, the commander of Mongol forces, ended up as the ball for an impromptu polo game for the victorious Mamluks after the battle of 'Ayin Jalyut, 1260.
  • This allegation has been made against ISIS insurgents in the Middle East, who are known to behead people whose commitment to Islam is not sufficiently enthusiastic. Videos are out there showing other forms of disrespect for the recently decapitated, if you have the stomach for them.
  • As noted under Film above, a common LARP game is a variation of American football called Daneball, inspired by the Rutger Hauer film The Blood Of Heroes. Although (hopefully) no actual decapitation is involved, the ball is still traditionally referred to as the "dog skull" in tribute to the film. Some enterprising groups even make fake skulls (using foam, rubber, etc.) for this purpose, rather than use a more conventional ball.