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Torn Apart by the Mob

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He didn't rest in peace, he was rent in pieces!

When an angry lynch mob carrying Torches and Pitchforks descends upon a helpless victim, they will often find themselves strung up from the nearest tree or lamppost. However, sometimes the mob is so incensed that they cannot even be bothered with the niceties of the rope, and instead extract an immediate and bloody vengeance with their hands: ripping the unfortunate soul to pieces with their bare hands.

This trope is Older Than Feudalism, going back at least as far of the legend of Orpheus in Classical Mythology, with some modern uses of this trope being a specific reference to Orpheus.

Only applies to sapient mobs (or mobs that would be sapient if they weren't gripped by mob mentality). Zombies, etc. need not apply.

One potential outcome for the Powder Keg Crowd.

Compare Devoured by the Horde. Also compare Do with Him as You Will.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Dark Gathering, the Ghost of City H's phonebooth is last seen being torn apart by the ghosts in Yayoi's room.
  • This is the fate of Miki Makimura and her little brother in pretty much every version of Devilman once the existence of demons is revealed to the world at large. When Akira arrives too late to save them, the mob's parading around of their heads and limbs is the final straw that causes him to snap out and kill the whole mob.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: The Cult: Batman defeats Deacon Blackfire by denying him the death he's asking for at Batman's hands, instead beating the crap out of him until Blackfire is begging for mercy. This turns Blackfire's followers against him, as they see that their leader is unable to ignore the pain and sacrifice as he preached, and they fall on him.
  • The Eternals: In The Herod Factor, Brother Visara has taken control of the Deviant city of Lemuria after the fall of its corrupt priesthood, executing anyone deemed a 'leader' or associated with the priests. Kro manages to turn the citizenry against him, pointing out that Visara himself has become a leader like any other, making decisions that endangered the whole city - and the angry mob dismembers him.
  • The Sandman (1989): The Sandman Special (later reprinted in Fables & Reflections) tells the story of Dream's son Orpheus. At the end of the story, Orpheus is gruesomely ripped apart by the Maenads after he refuses to cavort with them (echoing the events of the actual Greek myth of Orpheus), leaving only his immortal head.
  • In The Sensational She-Hulk #20, Jack Serious (a parody of The Joker) flees from She-Hulk and Nosferata but loses his footing and falls to the ground floor of Dorkham Asylum, where he is brutally attacked by the inmates he had tormented in his role as Chief of Staff, who beat and tear him to death. (Although he would much later turn up alive in the pages of Deadpool.)

    Fan Works 
  • The Night Unfurls has a couple of examples.
    • Implied to be the fate of Barnum Bailey, who roughs up anyone that fails to pay protection money. He is last seen being beat up by the fists and boots of angry townsfolk.
    • During the Rebel Scum Arc, several reports indicate that some of the rebels are on the receiving end of this trope. Aside from the classic sight of "carrying dismembered body parts on pikes", one particular aristocrat, named Lord Sherrin, is forced to eat hay and beheaded after choking. Two of his heirs are trampled by horses when they are caught trying to escape the peasants' vengeance. All of the above are quietly approved, even encouraged, by Sir Kyril's company as punishment for supporting the Black Dogs / not supporting the crown.

    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live Action 
  • At the end of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, the monster is overpowered by the inhabitants of the insane asylum and ripped to pieces after it attacks Sara.
  • Inception - In the first dream we see it is implied that the projections in Saito's dream ripped Nash apart in the opening dream sequence.
  • Mad Max: Fury Road: At the end of the film, Max returns to the Citadel. To intimidate the city's guards into not imprisoning him again, Max pulls out the lifeless corpse of the Citadel's dictator Immortan Joe and kicks it to the floor. Immediately, the city's peasants rejoice that their oppressor is dead and descend on the body to rip it to pieces.
  • mother! (2017): Him gives his and mother's baby over to the mob against her wishes. As they pass him around increasingly roughly, his neck snaps. As mother desperately tries to reach them, they rip the baby's dead body apart, start eating him, and passing the pieces around.
  • The prisoners rip apart the sadistic warden in the climax of Natural Born Killers. We get a shot of the rioters parading his head on a stake.

  • In The Big Rain by Poul Anderson, Lucifer is a uranium mine on Venus which is used by the planet's dictatorial government as a political prison; all convicted "enemies of the state" are left in the pit to dig (without radiation gear) until the horrific working conditions kill them. When the nascent resistance movement storms the mine and liberates the prisoners, the leader attempts to have the captured Guardians running the place locked up in its holding cells, but is later awoken to learn that they were literally torn to pieces by the freed convicts guarding them. Having seen for himself the kind of treatment they had inflicted on the convicts, he can't bring himself to give them more than a dressing-down.
  • In the horror novel Dominion by Bentley Little, Maenads are eventually revealed as the main antagonists for the first half of the story, during which they tear their victims to shreds and conspire to reawaken Dionysus.
  • In The Fall of Hyperion, Meina Gladstone dies that way after giving the order to destroy the interstellar Portal Network, and the civilization with it.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's If This Goes Onó the Prophet ruling theocratic America is torn to pieces by his own Sex Slaves just before the rebels breach his fortress.
  • In the Marcus Didius Falco novel Venus In Copper, a shoddily built Roman tenement building collapses killing all the people inside it. The estate agent who has been selling or renting apartments in the building, and assuring tenants the creaking noises are due to a new building "settling" in its foundations, is grabbed and lynched by survivors and distraught relatives of the dead. Cossus does not have an easy death.
  • Perfume: A bizarre (and self-inflicted) example. After completing his murders and creating a perfume so intoxicating it allows him to command any human how he pleases, Jean-Baptiste realizes he'll still never truly be happy. So he approaches a crowd of beggars and pours the perfume all over himself; enchanted by the scent, the beggars surround him and tear him apart... and it's implied they devoured whatever was left.
  • In Prelude to Foundation, one of the attempts to get Hari Seldon to the Emperor involved tempting him to commit an act of sacrilege in an extremely religious community, and then offer him a choice between an appeal to the Emperor and this trope.
  • In the Conan story "The Scarlet Citadel" when Conan returns to Shamar, the usurper king Arpello is killed by him personally, while a good amount of the traitor's forces is ripped apart by crowds.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the second book, the High Septon is torn apart by the angry mob that is rioting over the lack of food. Preston Greenfield attempts to rescue him, but gets hacked to pieces and his body was barely identifiable.
    • One possible cause of Maelor Targaryen's death is that he was torn apart by a mob at Bitterbridge.
    • Ser Glendon Goode was torn apart by an angry mob while trying to retrieve the body of Joffrey Velaryon for his bereaved mother.
  • We Sold Our Souls: Kris's one ally, J.D., commits a Heroic Sacrifice by getting between her and an angry mob that are aiming for her and is ripped apart by them in front of her as she drives to Terry's last gig.
  • In the Alternate History story A World of Laughter, a World of Tears, President Disney's refusal to send the National Guard in during the Little Rock crisis results in Ernest Green being torn to pieces by an angry racist mob.

    Live Action TV 
  • Game of Thrones: During the Riot of King's Landing, the first High Septon is torn to pieces by starving smallfolk. One even holds up his arm in triumph, which is pictured in the page image.

    Myth and Legend 
  • In Classical Mythology, the minstrel Orpheus was ripped to shreds by Maenads: female followers of Dionysus who would go into an ecstatic frenzy during their rites. Depending on the version of the legend, the Maenads were either angered by Orpheus no longer honouring his previous patron Dionysus, or they were feeling spurned by Orpheus for taking only male lovers following the loss of Eurydice. His head survived and went on to become an oracle.
    • Pentheus, king of Thebes, suffered the same fate, by the hand of his own mother, no less, and his aunts along with all the other women of Thebes frenzied by Dionysus.
    • Dionysus in general has a tendency to do this if people make him mad, and one of his epithets is literally "the Render of Men."

    Tabletop Games 
  • This can occur under a number of circumstances in The Republic of Rome: during the Population Phase, if the Senate leader fails to placate the people of Rome, an angry mob storms the Senate, killing a random number of senators present; during the Prosecutions, an accused senator can launch an appeal to rile the plebs to his side — depending on how popular he is (and on a dice roll), the mob can rip either his accusers or himself to shreds (or stay uninvolved) in response; finally, there is a special "Mob Incited to Violence" Intrigue card, usable only when a player uses an Intrigue to counter someone else's Tribune, which punishes the former by randomly killing some of his senators for messing with the democratic process.

  • In Bacchae, this is King Pentheus' fate after he tries to shut down Dionysus' revels in the Glens of Cithaeron; Dionysus has his frenzied followers, including Pentheus' own mother Agave, tear Pentheus apart limb from limb.
  • Julius Caesar: The mob that Marc Antony incensed find a poet unfortunate enough to share the name of Cinna, one of the conspirators responsible for Caesar's assassination. Either not hearing or not caring that he is not Cinna the conspirator, they kill him by tearing him to pieces.

    Video Games 
  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: Following the loss of their boss fights, Masaru and Jataro are torn apart by the crowd of Monokuma Kids, with the only thing left of the former being his headset. It turns out that they are actually fine.
    • Getting a Game Over will see this happen to Komaru.
  • Halo 3: ODST: In the audio logs detailing the events in New Mombasa just before the start of the game, the corrupt police chief Kinsler attempts to escape on a train but a furious mob gets him to first and tears him apart.

  • Unsounded: When the enslaved Inak in the capitol are being forced from their homes into interment camps after Lady Rilursa was killed by Inak in another country an angry crowd gathers to jeer at them. One father turns and claws and the soldier who knocked him down with a spear and a wright in the crowd rips his skin off, setting the crowd into a frenzy as they attack and tear apart any Inak they can get their hands on.
  • Hark! A Vagrant: One strip parodies the fate of Cinna The Poet as mentioned in Julies Caesar under the Theater section above; after Cinna proves that he's not Cinna the Conspirator by reciting a (terrible) poem, the mob instead decides to lynch him because of his awful poetry.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Smiling Friends Halloween episode, Pim spends most of the episode running away from a forest demon, and it chases him to the party, and then the crowd rips out its limbs and burns them in a pyre and feast on its insides because they thought it was wearing blackface.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In the episode, "Innocents of Ryloth," when Tactical droid TX-20 has Obi-wan and a Twi'lek child, Numa, in sight, a mob of released Twi'lek prisoners charged at the droid and tear it into pieces.

    Real Life 
  • After World War II, several Nazis and collaborators suffered this fate.
  • Bomber pilots can often expect this fate from the civilian populations whose houses they bombed.
  • On 21st July 1946, the dictatorial President of Bolivia, Gualberto Villarroel, suffered this fate posthumously after being shot by an angry mob of strikers. His corpse was thrown out of the palace window, then badly mutilated and deliberately hanged on a lamppost like Mussolin's.
  • In The Netherlands in August 1672, two Dutch statesmen, Johan and Cornelius de Witt, were lynched by an angry mob who blamed Johan for a string of disastrous military defeats against the French and Cornelius for conspiracy against Prince William III. The mob mutilated their bodies and fed pieces of their flesh to dogs, and it was reported that a few particularly agitated members of the mob kept bits of the de Witt brothers as trophies or ate their flesh themselves.
  • The 2000 Ramallah lynching had two Israeli reservists beaten to death by a Ramallah mob.
  • Hypatia of Alexandria, who appeared near the end of The Good Place, was a philosopher in early Christian Alexandria, Egypt. She was popular among Christians and pagans alike, and served as an advisor to the Christian governor, who was having serious trouble with the Bishop. The bishop ended up siccing a mob on her that stripped her naked, cut her eyes out and ripped her flesh off with "ostrakoi" a term that could be translated as either "oyster shells" or "roofing tiles".