Skip to main content

The Worst Ways to Die (A Writer's Guide)

  • Author:
  • Updated date:

Writing is one of my several hobbies, and lists like the one below help me with writer's block every now and again.

Someone screaming in pain.

Someone screaming in pain.

Killing Characters in the Worst Possible Ways

There is no shortage of bad ways to die in life, so coming up with a list of the worst ways to die should be an easy exercise, but you'll quickly find out that most of the top methods are always similar. As an amateur writer, I'm always trying to come up with interesting ways to kill or injure someone in my stories, and unless you have a list you can turn to, coming up with different methods of dying on the spot is almost impossible. You can always highlight a death scene you're not sure about, but sometimes a key death scene can completely change the tone or ending of your tale; that's why I don't like to change them (unless I'm doing a complete re-write).

None of the suggestions below are in any particular order, but that shouldn't be a big deal if you're just looking for ideas. Let me stress that this article is for informational purposes only, and just about everything you read is illegal and will put you in jail (or worse) if you try it in real life. So, be sure to use the info found below to make awesome stories and movies and nothing else. Thanks for giving it a chance.

To Die or Not to Die

Ways to Say You Died

Some Bad Ways to Die

  • Bitten by Poisonous Snake (When Head Has Been Cut Off): Many people don't realize that when you cut off the head of a snake it can still bite you if you handle or brush up against it (reflex). None of the potency of the poison is lost just because a snake is dead, so be careful if someone is throwing snake heads at you, because death by snakebite is a bad way to die.
  • Drowning in a Vat of Milk: Some say that drowning is actually a peaceful way to go after the initial shock of having no air to breathe. Drowning in a bunch of milk would provide a very interesting visual over drowning in a clear liquid like water. Where would this drowning happen, you ask . . . at a milk processing center, perhaps?
  • Stepping on a Pebble: Ordinarily not a serious injury, but if you're a construction worker twenty stories up, walking around barefoot because you just bought new boots and your feet are sore, you may have a problem if you lose your balance. Definitely one of the funniest ways to die if you're making a comedy.
  • Pecked to Death: When in my teens I used to have a recurring dream of being pecked to death by a bunch of crows. The dreams became worse after I found out that crows eat meat and have been known to attack their own kind in the same manner.

Eaten Alive by Animals Is a Really Painful Way to Die





Stray Dogs

Komodo Dragons







Large Catfish




Shocking Super Villain Deaths

Worst Ways to Die - Cashing in Ones' Chips Is Never Easy

  • Walking into the Rotor Blades of a Helicopter: Depending on where the blades hit, the visual effect could be spectacular. I've always wondered why people bend down when getting in a running helicopter even though the blades are clearly above their heads (no chance of survival if wrong).
  • One-Punch Killings: These occur more often than one might think, and don't forget about the fabled martial arts punch that can kill its victim days later.
  • Death by Energy Drinks: Drinking too much caffeine can cause you to have a heart attack. Not a problem in normal circumstances, unless you like downing concentrated energy drinks with abnormally large doses of caffeine.
  • Two-for-One: A wannabe hero tries to drag a very large person who has fainted out of the road. As he struggles, he falls and hangs his foot in the armpit of the unconscious person just a semi-truck is coming their way. The ending is not good.

I don't want to die without any scars.

— Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

More Painful and Unusual Ways to Die

  • Swallowing a Poisonous Lizard: There are all kinds of non-poisonous lizards, newts, and worms, but there are a few that are deadly poisonous. Protein is always a good thing to look out for if you're lost in the woods without food; just be sure to avoid any brightly colored insects or lizards.
  • Random Item Falling on You: Just about anything with a little weight and dropped from high enough can kill or seriously injure a person if it hits them in the head. A few things that pop into my head are medicine ball, laptop, collectible belt buckle, roll of quarters, fork (pointy side down), and a CGC graded copy of New Mutants #89 (1st Deadpool). All weird ways to die, but will make your story more interesting.
  • Picking Your Nose Can Be Hazardous to Your Health: People pick their nose; it's a fact of life. However, when you pick your nose with such intensity while driving a car during a snowstorm . . . it can lead to not only your death, but the death of others if you have an accident. I'm sure your passengers wouldn't appreciate it either.
  • Death by Toothpick: Be careful to never swallow a toothpick. The damage to your internal organs could very well send you to the afterlife. Those that taste like cinnamon are especially dangerous because instead of using it to pick, you continue to chew.
Scroll to Continue
Electrocution, First State

Electrocution, First State

Scary Ways to Give up the Ghost

  • Exploding Tire: A person puts air into a large tractor tire and just won't stop. Eventually, physics takes over, causing the tire to explode and knocking the person back into a jagged piece of metal.
  • Eaten Alive by Dogs: After smearing peanut butter all over themselves. The real mystery is in finding out why someone chose peanut butter instead of olive oil. Of course, being eaten alive by anything would be a pretty brutal way to be killed.
  • A Slingshot Death: Even back in the day these simple weapons could bring down giants, and slingshots are a lot more powerful nowadays; the ammo of today (steel ball bearings, etc.) make for an even deadlier combo. This can become much worse if taking a shot to the eye at point-blank range. Think twice before taking this dare, kiddies!
  • I Dare You to Die: We all know someone who will do anything when you dare them or offer them the tiniest of incentives. I can't think of nothing worse than the newspaper headline of "Man Dies After Being Dared To Snort Mercury From A Thermometer."

Bad Ways to Die (How to Kill off Someone in Your Story)

Burned Alive




Broken Neck


Bullet to the Head

Bleeding Out


Lightning Strike


Diving Into Shallow Water

Wood Chipper (feet first)

Icepick to the Eye

Mauled to Death by a Bear




Dehydration (One of the Most Horrible Ways to Die)

Ending up Six Feet Under Is Often Easier Than You Think

  • Slapping a Bull: Actually, now that I think about it, there aren't many animals that wouldn't cause you serious harm if you dare to slap them. Some may even try to eat you alive.
  • Buried Alive in a Septic Tank: The ultimate nightmare scenario for many people is to be buried alive. That's why it's used in so many movies and books. In the scenario I've outlined, I would find the in-flow pipe, take off my shirt, and stop up the pipe. Hopefully, the tank will be dug up to clear the obstruction.
  • Objects Falling Back to Earth: Who hasn't thrown objects way up into the air only to watch them come crashing back down with unnerving quickness. As a kid, I used to do this often, but stopped the practice when my brother threw a lawn dart into the air and it came back down with enough force to impale his hand (luckily it wasn't his head).
  • Losing Your Grip: There is no other better test for gauging your toughness and overall grit than hitching a ride on the outside of a plane or helicopter without the pilot knowing. There have been reports of people falling to there death because they couldn't maintain a hold due to extremely high altitude and prolonged wind shear. What wimps, right?

1000 Ways to Die (A Great TV Show)

This show not only showed how people met their end, but showed the scientific reasoning on why and what they went through when their life was snuffed out prematurely. What made it somewhat successful was that it did it with a comedic spin.

Euphemisms for Death, Dead, Dying and Killing

Snuffed out


Taking a dirt nap

Dust to Dust

Come to a sticky end

Done for

Six Feet Under


KIA (Killed in Action)

Mortui (Latin for Dead)


Not Even a Twitch


Feeding the Buzzards

Rigor Mortis

Taken by the Night

Ran Out of Breath

Kill Room

Lead Poisoning

Beyond the Veil

Less Talkative

Bad Turn of Events

Necktie Party (Hanging)


Up On the Hill

Fish Food

Put One to the Sword

Wrong Side of the Grass

Gone Downstairs

Traded to the Angels

Bad End

Not Even a Twitch

Eternal Slumber

Taken by the Night


Exit the Stage

Eating Dandelion Roots

Bag of Ashes (Cremation)

Went Over to the Majority

Beyond Repair

One foot in the grave

Belly up

Not long for this world

Ashes To Ashes

Ran Out of Breath

In the Bone House (coffin)

Above the Snakes (still alive)

Assume room temperature

Live your life, do your work, then take your hat.

— Henry David Thoreau

Dying Violently (Video Game Version)

So Many Ways to Die; so Little Time to Kill . . . Your Character

  • Ice Pick Kill: Anything narrow and with a sharp point can work when dispatching someone, and although it may not be one of the worst ways to die, it certainly sounds cool when police detectives in your story are talking about it. "Needle to the Head" also sounds pretty cool.
  • Pushed Into a Giant Blender: Lots of food processing plants have this kind of machinery. If you want a messy way to kill off a character, it doesn't get much messier than this. You could even have a dedicated killer sacrifice themselves to make sure the target dies.
  • Tripping On Your Hair: Imagine have hair or a beard so long that you tripped on it, falling down the stairs and breaking your neck. I wonder if your family would have the funeral director cut your hair before the viewing?
  • Lingchi (Death by a Thousand Cuts): This was truly one of the most terrible ways to die that humanity has ever come up with. It was used in parts of Asia fairly often until the 1900s, at which time it was banned. Also known as "slow process" or "lingering death".

© 2017 Don

Related Articles