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Torn Apart by the Mob

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When a Torches and Pitchforks mob 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 and 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 sentient mobs (or mobs that would be sentient 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.

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As this is a death trope, it will have unmarked spoilers.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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 Sandman: 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 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.)

    Film — Animated 
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    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!: 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.

    Literature 
  • 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 On— 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.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the second book, the High Septon is torn about 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 a 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.

    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 Dionysos.

    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.

    Theatre 
  • In The 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.
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, if Abba Kovner's troops manage to capture Jeckeln or Meyer-Landrut, they will be torn to bits by the mob.

    Western Animation 
  • 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 they whose houses they bombed.
  • On 1946, most of the Bolivian government, including the President himself, ended up beaten to death by mobs of protesters and strikers.
  • On 1672, in The Netherlands, Johan de Witt and Cornelis de Witt were beaten to death by a disgruntled mob.
  • The 2000 Ramallah lynching had two Israeli reservists beaten to death by a Ramallah mob.
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