Follow TV Tropes


Targeted Human Sacrifice

Go To

"Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult."
Lord Summerisle, The Wicker Man (1973)

Uh-oh...Alice finds herself captured and strapped to a wall/altar in the center of a big magic symbol. Candles are set in very specific places while an Ominous Latin Choir hums in the background. It's obvious that she is going to be used in a dark ritual to summon an evil god of sorts, or alternatively, unlock a magical lock to a Macguffin. There can be several reasons why the evil forces go to the trouble of specifically capturing Alice, instead of just capturing a random innocent victim:


  • The Big Bad comes back stronger this way.
  • They need it to overcome some specific power seal. Overlaps with but is not identical to 1.
  • The ritual literally can only be done with Alice's blood/life force.
  • They want Alice dead for other reasons, so sacrificing her accomplishes two goals at once.

The actual sacrifice factor can range anywhere from just needing Alice's fresh blood to needing her full life force. Not that it changes much, since whoever is leading this dark ritual is not going to leave her alive.

Subtrope of Human Sacrifice. The key difference between this trope and Human Sacrifice is that that one would work with any John Doe picked up from the street, this trope specifically needs Alice or someone fulfilling the same set of criteria as her to make the ritual work.

Barrier Maidens tend to be prime targets for this, for obvious reasons. If the criteria for making a proper sacrifice include being a virgin, see Virgin Sacrifice.



    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • A group from Naruto called Akatsuki tries to do this not once, but nine times! They search for the nine Jinchuriki, including protagonists Naruto and Gaara, to extract their inner demons.
  • Boruto takes this to extremes. In Chapter 13, we learn that Tento has been kidnapped, and to make things worse, the Big Bad doesn't plan to just kill him or collect a ransom; he wants to perform a Kinjutsu that gives him the victim's memories and appearance. How is this jutsu accomplished? Biting off the top of the person's head while they're still alive and eating their brain tissue.
  • In Blue Seed, it is said that to stop the Aragami, the "Kushinada" (a human literally bred to be a human sacrifice) must be sacrificed. Problem is, this time there are two twin sisters who qualify as Kushinadas, Momiji and Kaede... and Kaede has grown so embittered from her Kushinada role that she's had a Face–Heel Turn. (Or so it seems.)
  • In Digimon Ghost Game, it's revealed that Ruli's family have been acting as Barrier Maidens against a "werewolf" haunting their ancestral village for six centuries, sending a maiden from their family to it to serve as a sacrifice every century. Ruli and her friends just happen to visit at exactly the right point in time for it to be her turn as a monster begins terrorizing the village. The superstitious villagers begin blaming Ruli, and she volunteers to be the sacrifice to prove there is no monster and clear her name. To nobody's surprise the Monster of the Week ends up being real and abducting her, but rather than it being a werewolf it was a Manticoremon that ate data detailing the legends and brainwashed itself into thinking it was the werewolf.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Father needs people who not only can open the Gate, but have done it once before and survived: this ends up being the Elric brothers, Hohenheim, Izumi Curtis, and Roy Mustang. Without them, he can't perform his ritual and capture the power of God. They are targeted more because of their skills and experiences than some particular power or bloodline, but finding replacements would be extremely difficult, so it counts. Particularly, Mustang didn't qualify, so Pride and Wrath sacrificed the Gold-Toothed Doctor to force him to perform human transmutation against his will, fulfilling the requirement.
  • Bleach: Memories of Nobody. A Shinigami girl named Senna (who is also the Memory Rosary) is captured and tortured by the Dark Ones (exiled Soul Reapers). They try to sacrifice her in order to collapse the Valley of Screams and destroy both the World of the Living and the Soul Society. They fail, but Senna still dies.

    Comic Books 
  • In the volume of My Boyfriend Is a Monster with vampires, much of the plot centers around a book that essentially is a vampire's almanac, predicting which humans provide the most energy when sacrificed at the best time. The protagonists use this to scramble to save their teacher, when they find out he's the next in line in the almanac.
  • Wonder Woman: Ares has targeted Steve Trevor to sacrifice in at least two separate occasions, though Steve was rescued by Diana both times:
    • Wonder Woman (1987): When Ares sends a plane through the protective barrier around Themyscira to destroy the island (and it's defense of Doom's Doorway and the path from the mortal world to Olympus) he chooses Steve's plane as Steve's mother died on the island, tying him to it despite the island being cut off from the mortal world. This doesn't work out since Ares is only able to corrupt the mind of Steve's co-pilot and Steve fights him off and crashes the plane in the sea off the island.
    • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Ares needs to bring in an outsider and an innocent to have sacrificed on Themyscira to pervert and destroy the barrier he chooses Steve since his priest cannot drag in someone who is not a soldier and it has to be someone alone over the sea, like a lone pilot, and because Steve is so good hearted Ares' cannot corrupt and influence his mind despite him being a soldier meaning he fits the requirement of innocence.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, to reverse a curse, the blood of a specific pirate is required — or that of his descendant Will Turner. They only need a small amount, as we learn when they attempt to use Elizabeth and later when Will cuts his own hand to provide the needed blood himself. But by the time they got Will, they were angry enough at him that they decided to slit his throat instead.
  • The villain from the first Scooby-Doo movie needs a pure soul for his ritual. The only soul meeting the requirements on the whole island is Scooby's.
  • In The Wicker Man (1973), Sgt. Howie is slated to be the sacrifice because he's still a virgin, because he's acting as a representative of the Crown, and because he has been tricked into coming to the appointed place, making him the perfect combination of Virgin, King, and Fool.
  • In Lesbian Vampire Killers, the blood of the last of the McLarens is required in the ritual to resurrect Carmilla the Vampire Queen.
  • The Cabin in the Woods. To say any more would be to spoil the whole film.
  • Jug Face: Whenever a sculptor has a trance and makes a jug depicting someone's face, the redneck community sacrifices that person to a mud pit to replenish the pit's healing powers and to contain a Sealed Evil in a Can.
  • In Big Trouble in Little China, the Big Bad is an Evil Sorcerer who is cursed to remain either as a feeble old man who needs a wheelchair to move or a powerful non-corporeal magician. In order to break the curse and make himself a powerful corporeal magician, he needs a girl with green eyes for a special ritual. When he tells that to the heroes, Kurt Russell's character wonders how likely is it that, in all those centuries, he has never found a "broad to fit the bill" (granted, green eyes are rare in China, but it's made pretty clear that the woman doesn't need to be Chinese herself). The sorcerer admits that there have been others, but they weren't quite right, and the ritual failed to work. However, this time, he manages to find two green-eyed girls (who happen to be the two heroes' Love Interests) and tries to perform the ritual with both of them.
  • The Creeps: Dr. Berber tells the monsters that he needs to sacrifice Anna specifically, as she is the one he calculated the machine for, to bring the monsters up to full height. At first, the monsters try using Christina, since she was the one they found at the library, and have Dr. Berber use her. All it does is turn her into an archetype.

  • Bazil Broketail: In the second book Relkin, Lagdalen and Bazil get kidnapped then scheduled to be sacrifices in Ourdh, as the followers of a goddess there believe that she'll protect them from the Sephites after they're offered to her. This does not work out, of course, since they soon break free.
  • The Dresden Files likes this trope.
    • In Summer Knight, Aurora needs Lilly, because she holds the power of the Summer Knight, and killing her at that time and place will give the power to the Winter Court.
    • In Blood Rites, Lord Raith needs to kill both Harry and Thomas to break the curse their mother laid on him, because it's tied to her bloodline.
    • Changes: The Red Court needs to kill Harry's daughter so that the spell will trace her bloodline back and hit both Harry and his grandfather Ebenezar, one of the most powerful wizards in the world.
  • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Voldemort casts a ritual requiring the blood of an enemy. As Wormtail points out, nearly the entire wizarding world qualifies, but of course he wanted Harry Potter's, to circumvent his protective ward.
  • In The Raven Tower, voluntary sacrifices provide vastly more power to a god than any other kind, so this comes up at times:
    • The state Physical Religion of Iraden promises a suite of ongoing divine blessings in exchange for the rulers sacrificing themselves to their Patron God on demand. The book's plot begins when the sitting ruler vanishes right before he's due to die.
    • Mawat leads an emergency mission to capture a willing sacrificial victim before they can be offered to an enemy god. Since the death is the only part of the ritual that really matters, they have to take just as much care to keep the "victim" from killing themself afterwards.
  • In Sard Harker, the black magician Hirsch wants Margarita Kingsborough, specifically, to take the starring role in an unspeakable rite. The original reason for his choice is not explicated; whatever it was, by the time Harker gets involved it's been reinforced by a grudge from her having already evaded him once.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In service to Stannis’s ambitions to take the throne, Melisandre seeks to sacrifice Edric Storm to the fire god R’hllor specifically because he has "King's blood" (he's a king’s bastard son), because sacrificing royalty provides more power than sacrificing common men. Stannis, the king’s brother and rather less eager to burn a child alive, is able to put her off for a while by sacrificing leeches filled with his blood instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, the demon Yeshka has the pretty exacting sacrifice requirements that people have to sacrifice their daughter, she has to be a virgin, and it has to be done on the father's fiftieth birthday.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • The beginning of season two has an intended Targeted Human Sacrifice of Willow, Giles, Cordelia, and Jenny, as they were the people closest to The Master when he was killed. Ironically, they're also the people least responsible for his death.
    • In season five, Glory needs Dawn because she's The Key, an interdimensional gateway recently turned into a human being. The fact that activating its power will involve killing her is basically incidental.
  • Doctor Who
    • In "The Masque of Mandragora", part of the Mandragora Helix sneaks on board the TARDIS and forces it to land in Renaissance Italy, where a cult is waiting to kidnap Sarah Jane Smith as a Human Sacrifice to bring the rest of the Helix to conquer Earth.
    • In "The Girl in the Fireplace", the clockwork androids pursue Reinette because they are using human body parts to repair their ship, and they think hers will be the best for the job because the ship is named after her. They also need her to be the same age as the ship, as they believe that her brain will then be "complete".
  • Game of Thrones: One of the setting's gods, R'hllor, seems to provide more power if the sacrifice had royal blood. Gendry, one of Robert's bastards, narrowly escapes that fate and Shireen's death ends up happening because the need for enough magic to lift a winter storm shows up later in the series.
  • In Once Upon a Time, casting a Dark Curse requires you to sacrifice the person you most love. The implications and loopholes of this are explored repeatedly through the show.
  • In The Vampire Diaries, Klaus needs to sacrifice Elena, the latest "Petrova doppleganger", to break the curse binding him. He also needs a vampire and a werewolf, but those are easier to get hold of.

  • Westeros: An American Musical: Edric Storm gets captured to be used as a sacrifice by Melisandre because her god requires King's blood and Edric is King Robert's bastard son.

    Video Games 
  • The Carronade in Breath of Fire IV is fueled by the sacrifice of humanoids tortured to despair and insanity in order to fire a Hex (a hideous black-magic curse that taints the land for years to come at minimum) at a given target, and the sacrifices are chosen explicitly due to their connection to the target. Mami was captured and sacrificed in an attempt to Hex Fou-Lu himself due to the emotional attachment she had to him, and his first instinct after he realizes this fact is to slaughter every member of the Fou Empire who stands between him and the throne.
  • Happens in several The Legend of Zelda titles.
    • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Ganon's followers are gunning for Link because they need to sprinkle his blood on Ganon's ashes in order to resurrect him.
    • In A Link to the Past, Aghanim/Ganon uses this on the descendants of the seven Sages to release the seal to the Dark World.
    • In the Oracle Games, sacrificing Zelda is needed to revive Ganon. When foiled, the perpetrators sacrificed themselves instead, and Ganon comes back as a mindless beast.
    • In Skyward Sword, Ghirahim must sacrifice Zelda's soul to release the seal on the demon king because she is the reincarnation of the goddess who imprisoned him.
  • In Persona 3, Shuji Ikutsuki tries to sacrifice the heroes to bring about The Fall, but it doesn't work.
  • Colette Brunel in Tales of Symphonia was to be sacrificed by the Big Bad Mithos, to resurrect his sister in her body. Though it is stated that several other people were used for the ritual before, it has never worked before, most likely due to the body not matching or whatever.
  • In The King of Fighters, the original ritual to awaken Orochi 1800 years ago included plans for the sacrifice of eight Barrier Maidens, known as the Kushinadas. Seven of these girls were sacrificed note , but the last one was rescued by the Kusanagi, Yasakani, and Yata leaders, who then went on fighting and sealing Orochi away. In the present, the New Face Team (Yashiro, Shermie, and Chris) kidnap the currently last descendant of this surviving Kushinada, a Girl Next Door from Osaka named Yuki, for the same thing... and commit the HUGE mistake of gloating about their evil plans to Kyo Kusanagi, Chizuru Kagura, and Iori Yagami, the descendants of those who fought and sealed Orochi: since Yuki just happens to be Kyo's girlfriend, they piss him off BADLY. Obviously, Yuki is saved from them and Orochi is re-sealed.
  • In the Knights of the Old Republic Fan Game The Jedi Masters, a Dark Side Player Character has the opportunity to perform one in order to resurrect and enslave Darth Nihilus using the body of the Jedi Exile as a vessel at the behest of their master, Freedon Nadd.
  • It's revealed partway through Radiant Historia that the ritual to hold off the end of the world requires someone who's died and been brought back to willingly give up their soul to power it. There are two potential candidates. Too bad one of them is more inclined to let the world end. In the True Ending, he accepts his role as the Sacrifice. Not to save the world, which he would still gladly see burn, but to save the other potential sacrifice, whom he had truly grown to love.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Sam. While the Solarii Cult had tried several other sacrifices before, they realise that they need her specifically because she is a descendent of Himiko, and therefore the only one fitting to serve as her new vessel.
  • In Kult: Heretic Kingdoms, the sword Godslayer can be empowered by the blood of people descended from Arkor, its original wielder. Taryn Arkor, who was using the sword to keep himself alive, recharged it via his fellow descendants, splitting them into sacrifice victims and breeders of future sacrifice victims. The protagonist, Alita, grew up in a dungeon as one of the planned sacrifices, but Taryn Arkor was overthrown in a rebellion just before she was old enough.
  • In Sonic and the Secret Rings, Erazor Djinn reveals that once the seven World Rings have been gathered together, the only way for someone else to gain control of their full power is to sacrifice the collector. Having forced Sonic to gather them together via shooting him in the chest with a cursed flame arrow, Erazor prepares to do just that to him, but Sharha throws herself in front of the strike and dies instead. The Imperfect Ritual results in Erazor turning into a deformed Eldritch Abomination and Sonic stealing three of the Rings to unleash his newest Super Mode and crush him into paste.
  • Fable I: The power of the Sword of Aeons can only be fully unlocked by the blood of the Archon's Heroic Lineage. The Big Bad kills the Hero's mother when he claims the sword for the Final Boss fight, and the Hero gets the Last-Second Ending Choice to destroy the sword or sacrifice his own sister to master it himself.

    Web Comics 
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, the first generation of the Court hits upon a self-defence scheme that involves killing a particular person, and immediately afterwards splitting the soul of their grieving lover, so the negative parts of their soul become an angry superpowered spirit, trapped at the place they died. The man who came up with this scheme insisted that the chosen targets were the only ones who would work as a sacrifice, but it's implied that he also selected these two because one of them was the target of his unrequited affection.
  • Unsounded: Gefendur shrines pay handsomely for sets of twins, who are raised in comfort at the shrines until the younger one is sacrificed and cannibalized and the older enters the priesthood. Ssaelit families take great pains to make twins look as different as possible, for fear of Gefendur kidnappers. In theory, the practice is entirely voluntary... but if a kept twin chooses to leave, their parents and hometown have to repay a huge amount of money, to say nothing of the fear of the gods' displeasure.