Bad Ways to Die (A Writer's Guide)
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
What do you find interesting about death scenes?
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 even if 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 wary 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. Imagine the headline "Worker Falls To Death Because Of Pebble". Look out below!
- Pecked to Death: When I was little 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.
Being Eaten Alive by Animals Is a Bad Way 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.
Shocking Super Villain Deaths
More Unusually Painful 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).
- 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.
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, eaten alive by anything would be pretty bad.
- A Slingshot Death: Slingshots are a lot more powerful nowadays and the ammo you can buy for them (steel ball bearings, etc.) make for a deadly 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."
Worst Ways to Die (AKA . . . How to Kill off Someone in Your Story)
Bullet to the Head
Diving Into Shallow Water
Wood Chipper (feet first)
Icepick to the Eye
Mauled to Death by a Bear
Horrible Ways to Die
Ending up Six Feet Under Is Often Easier Than You Think
- Slapping a Bull: I should clarify that you will die from the repercussions of slapping such a beast. 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.
- 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 (informative and fun).
Words and Phrases Associated With Death, Dying, and Killing
One foot in the grave
Not long for this world
Taking a dirt nap
Assume room temperature
Come to a sticky end
Six Feet Under
KIA (Killed in Action)
Mortui (Latin for Dead)
Not Even a Twitch
Feeding the Buzzards
Taken by the Night
Ran Out of Breath
Beyond the Veil
Bad Turn of Events
Necktie Party (Hanging)
Up On the Hill
Put One to the Sword
Wrong Side of the Grass
Traded to the Angels
Not Even a Twitch
Taken by the Night
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