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Fan Fiction

  • There is a bit of controversy in Teen Titans fandom over whether the fate of Terra, who was transformed into stone at the end of season two and possibly revived in the series finale, involved this or not. Creepily, a few particularly vindictive Fanfic writers have her remain conscious during her stone imprisonment, going against the fan consensus that she is/was probably unconscious or in a death-like state. Those who see her as The Woobie sometimes do this as well to portray her in a more sympathetic and tragic light.
  • Early in a Werewolf: The Apocalypse fan fic, the main character suffers sleep paralysis in his bathtub and wakes up right before drowning. As if that wasn't Nightmare Fuel enough, the character is later kidnapped by the villains and forcefully possessed by an evil spirit. He likens it to the episode he suffered earlier, except he actually drowns.
  • The Silent Hill fanfiction Praying in Vain. Over the course of the story the protagonist finds and frees the victim/s and the murderer/s of several killings throughout the town's history, trapped in its Dark World ever since they were killed and continually experiencing their moment of death (including but not limited to bleeding to death, dismemberment and immolation). It's heavily implied that every single person killed there is in a similar state, forever tortured to sustain the town's Genius Loci and at the end, though pissed at the loss of its food, the personification of the aforementioned loci assures the protagonist that she has accomplished nothing, and that there is plenty more where they came from.
  • In a The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time fanfic titled "The Legend of Link: Lucky Number 13" a god imprisons a mage in a Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere, where his honey covered heart is painfully devoured by insects over and over again for thirteen years.
  • In a Final Fantasy VII fanfic, Need for Control, Hojo had put Vincent through this as a method of torture that left him unable to function as a 'free' human being:

 Vincent: "After my arm was removed, I was rendered unconscious again. When I awoke, I had no idea where I was. I found myself in the dark, unable to move. I couldn’t feel my body or hear anything. Even the air around me seemed to lack any type of smell whatsoever. At first, I found this to be a relief, thinking that if nothing else, that I wasn’t being tortured. However, that complete lack of external stimulation began to do something to me. Time seemed to have stopped, and I had no idea of how long I had been in there. I began to wonder if I was even alive… Not being able to feel, see, or hear anything does something to you after a time. I began to long for the torture. At least when that had been happening to me, I knew that I was alive."

    • However, that's not even the worst of it, as it's stated that all the time that Vincent was in the coffin before you find him? He's in that state. Twenty-seven to thirty years of it.

  Vincent: "He put me back in the dark…I never even knew what it was that I’d done wrong… He just put me back in the dark and forgot about me… Twenty-seven years, Cid… I was in there for as long as I had been alive before Hojo had put me in there…"

  • The Ranma ½ fanfic Song of the Phoenix. The souls of certain victims of Jusenkyo—the ones who originally drowned in the springs to create the curses in the first place—are trapped in the waters. Some of them "sleep" in blissful oblivion... others exist in absolute, endless darkness as nothing but thinking souls, for however many thousands of years it takes for someone to fall in the spring and, if they're exceedingly lucky, hitch a ride in their body. They can only watch from within the body, unable to interact, until the cursed person dies and the other soul is allowed to manifest briefly. And then they go right back into the spring, and the darkness... It is explicitly stated that the soul of the Drowned Girl from the spring that cursed Ranma went through this for 1500 years, to the other characters' horror.
  • The people whose minds Kodachi Kuno of Divine Blood devours in order to take over their body as part of her collective are eventually shown as having fragmented pieces of their mental identity remaining in her collective mind as well as their entire souls enslaved to her will. When she manifests in a mindscape shortly before finally being exterminated, the mouths of the multitude of people she'd devoured are shown to be either gagged, sewn shut with needle and thread, ripped out or simply not there.
  • Poke Wars has two particular instances of this:
    • Mewtwo's fate at the hands of Ho-oh, who turned him into a conscious puppet that can't take any action, even self defense, without some sort of command.
    • Manaphy gets frozen in a pyramid of of ice by Kyogre.
  • Much like in Sailor Moon, Jadeite's Expy Phaedos gets the same freezing treatment in Power Rangers GPX. And it might be worse...
  • Progress has Luna trapping Discord in a dream-world and turning his mental self to stone. Since his physical body also suffered this fate, Discord is effectively sentenced to Eternal Waking.
  • Not fanfiction-wise but RP wise this happens a lot to Yama's character Kuro. Ditto for Tonic as well.
  • Bluman08's RPs always seem to follow this pattern/trope especially when RPing with BrandonKong, as the latter almost always gets muted and unable to even make a single sound when the goo, rubber, or inflatable costume moves up his head.


  • "Hyperspace Cryogenic Insomnia Blues" by Tom Smith in which the singer is awake during his cryogenic sleep. The "We're two weeks out of Terran orbit Ten years left to go..." line left me shuddering.
  • "One" by Metallica, inspired by Johnny Got His Gun, focuses on a soldier who has his eyes, ears, mouth, arms, and legs destroyed (by a WW 1 German artillery shell in Johnny and a Vietnamese landmine in "One"), but is still conscious. Though he eventually manages to communicate with the doctors and military men keeping him alive, they refuse to disconnect his life support, and he presumably must exist in that condition (unable to communicate with anyone, see or hear anything, go anywhere, ect...) for the rest of his natural life. Now there's an unsettling thought. The song itself tells the story rather well, especially with the lines "Darkness - Imprisoning me, all that I see, absolute horror, I can not live, I can not die, trapped in myself, body my holding cell. Landmine - Has taken my sight, taken my speech, taken my hearing, taken my arms, taken my legs, taken my soul, left me with life in Hell!"
  • The song "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath is about a man from a post-apocalyptic world where everything was devastated by a man made of metal. He travels back in time to warn the people of the past, but something goes wrong during the time travel process and "he was turned to steel." He is aware of his surroundings, but unable to move or speak, and he is completely ignored by everyone who sees him. He is driven insane and when he finally regains mobility, he goes on a rampage and devastates everything.
  • Iron Savior's song "Watcher in the Sky" is from the point of view of the living brain of Iron Savior as the spaceship travels endlessly, out of his control and increasingly unresponsive.
  • Queensryche's "Screaming In Digital" perfectly inverts the Trope Namer, taking the POV of a sentient AI which, though granted consciousness by its domineering maker ('father'), is callously denied the option to exercise free will or communicate with anyone else.
  • The video to Radiohead's "There There" has Thom Yorke turned into a tree. A tree with his screaming face still visible.
  • "Brain Dead" by Judas Priest is about a man suffering from locked-in syndrome who desperately wants to die.
  • Florence and The Machine used this is in the Bird Song.
  • "Blow Up the Outside World" by Soundgarden. The speaker is essentially singing about how much his life sucks, yet no matter how hard he tries, he either cannot bring himself to suicide, or simply fails at it again and again.
  • The second-to-last verse of Current 93's epic I Have A Special Plan For This World:

 There are some who have no voices

Or none that will ever speak

Because of the things they know about this world

And the things they feel about this world

Because the thoughts that fill a brain

That is a damaged brain

Because the pain that fills a body

That is a damaged body

Exists in other worlds

Countless other worlds

Each of which stands alone in an infinite empty blackness

For which no words are being conceived

And where no voices are able to speak

When a brain is filled only with damaged thoughts

When a damaged body is filled only with pain

And stands alone in a world surrounded by infinite empty blackness

And exists in a world for which there is no special plan.



  • Prometheus's fate to be chained to a rock and have his ever-regrowing liver serve as a buffet for an eagle for eternity.
    • In the tragedy Prometheus Bound, lots of people come past his rock—not to point and laugh but sympathize and chat—a chorus of Oceanids, Io, etc. That's probably just one take on the myth, but still. Ultimately, he was rescued by Heracles, who obviously had to know where he was. Is it wrong to find that scenario perversely comical? ("Hey, Prometheus, how're you doing?" "Oh, you know, Julius, same shit, different day." "Say, the 10:15 eagle is running late." "Yeah, that guy's a slacker. [eagle arrives] Hey, where ya been? This liver's not gonna eat itself!")
      • Well, one Horrible Histories book did try for a moderately humorous version in which they refer to each other as "Prommy" and "Eddie". This being an HH book, Prommy announced at the end that he was going to eat the eagle's liver.
      • And in the animated series based on Disney's Hercules, the eagle brings an onion with him because a diet consisting entirely of liver doesn't provide enough roughage. Prometheus hopes he gets indigestion from eating his liver with an onion.
      • Another variation on the story has the eagle being friends with Prometheus, they carry on a brief chat until the eagle goes mad and tears out Prometheus liver. The eagle being forced to do this every day against his will might constitute a minor version of this trope.
    • Prometheus still exults in being able to resist telling Zeus the secret of his eventual overthrow, a fate that Zeus has been anxious to evade ever since the start of his reign.
  • Atlas being condemned to bear the heavens (not the world) on his shoulders for eternity.
    • Then being turned to stone by Athena, using Medusa's head.
    • Although in some versions he asked to be turned to stone, as carrying the heavens had become too much for him to bear.
  • Most of the Greek Titans are bound in Tartarus. As are the giants. Likewise, the Hebrew Watchers are bound in "deepest darkness," rendered in some accounts as Tartarus. The Nephilim were either bound in Tartarus or drowned in the Great Flood. Depending on the source, Satan, too, is cast into Tartarus.
  • Loki, the bad boy of Norse Mythology, was chained to a rock with a serpent eternally dripping caustic venom in his face. His wife, Sigyn, stands over him catching the venom in a bowl, occasionally has to turn aside to empty the bowl before it overflows. When she turns aside to do so, or if she allows it to become overfull and spill, his spasms of pain cause earthquakes. (Considering how many bastard children he's supposed to have fathered with giantesses and the like, one wonders if it's entirely accidental.)
    • Neil Gaiman made Loki's punishment even worse in The Sandman. Same as before, except Loki's neck has been broken and his eyes ripped out, the Corinthian being responsible for both, meaning that now he has snake venom dripping into his eye sockets.
    • Another fun example from Norse mythology: the fate of Loki's monster offspring, the wolf Fenrir. It is bound by unbreakable fetters and gagged by a sword stuck in the roof of its mouth. A river of blood and saliva flows continuously from its jaws. It remains bound and gagged like this until the end of time.
  • Lot's wife was turned into a pillar of salt for taking a last look at the home she lived in for so many years. Whether she was conscious after the transformation is to be debated, but if she was she couldn't move or speak while her salt body was slowly eroded by rainfall and winds (and maybe some local deer).
  • Philemon and Baucis, who were turned into trees. They seemed pretty happy about it, though, and it was a reward. And since they asked to die together, it's likely they weren't conscious any more and the trees were more of a marker.
  • Tantalus is to stand in a pool of water with fruit hanging over him. Whenever he tries to take a moves away. Whenever he tries to take fruit, it moves away.
  • Sisyphus is told to move a rock up a hill. when it reaches the rolls right back on down.
    • Anyone who has ever worked public service can probably tell you exactly how it feels to be stuck like that. (You try to clean something, or you think you finally can catch a breather or clean up after previous customers...and then a bus full of scouts or minivan full of people drives up and...)
  • There were actually a bunch of women who murdered their husbands in Tartarus who had to carry water from one place to the next. The jugs they had to carry it in were full of leaks so by the time they reached it, they would be empty and have to go back over and over and over and over again.
  • In Chumash folklore (Native American tribe from Southern California), souls of murderers and other evil people are turned to stone from the neck down and are forced to watch other souls travel to the afterlife.
  • Lakota mythology features one story dealing with the origin of the sweat: A boy whose uncles were all captured by a witch and dehydrated. As the vapors entered their bodies, they were restored.
  • In Greek Mythology, Tithonus is granted immortality, but not eternal youth. As a result, his body withers and his mind decays; he remains, for all time, forgotten in some hidden room, babbling endlessly. (In another story, he eventually turns into a cricket.)
  • Another Greek myth example: When the gods want to swear the most solemn of oaths, they swear on the River Styx in the Underworld. Some authors simply have the oath unbreakable, but others say it can be broken. The consequences are harsh indeed: for a year the oathbreaker lies unable to eat, drink, move, or breathe (and Greek gods cannot die). The next nine years, in which they merely cannot associate with other deities at all, looks mild in comparison.


  • Gehenna (AKA Valley of Hinnom), a valley near Jerusalem's Old City, has been used in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam as an analogous or symbolic reference for Hell itself.
    • In Judaism, this place is sometimes used to refer to She'ol, where wicked souls are sent for punishment and/or purification for roughly a year's time before being sent to the afterlife. The really wicked souls are destroyed instead.
  • In Mark's gospel, Jesus refers to the Book of Isaiah's description of Hell in one of his sermons, specifically that those in Hell suffer everlasting fire, and that "their worm does not die" (they would be conscious of their perpetually rotting state). This is also where symbolic references to Gehenna (above) are made.
    • Matthew's gospel recounts that Jesus spoke of Hell as "darkness" and "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (sorrow and regret).
      • Later theologians, such as CS Lewis, speculate based on Jesus' statements in Matthew's gospel that the main punishment of Hell is mostly (or exclusively) from the isolation from God.
      • Alice Cooper made the analogy of a toothache over your entire body. For eternity. And then Sesame Street decided to use that in a Muppet short during the episode in which Alice Cooper guest-starred. That's... kinda creepy.


  • Bionicle has the Eldritch Abomination Tren Krom, who had his body sealed to an island and was rendered completely immobile. Furthermore, he was so hideous that anyone who looked at him ran the risk of going insane. Then, he went and tricked Lewa into switching bodies with him, leaving poor Lewa stranded on an isolated island in a monstrous, tentacled body, unable to move around, not being able to speak except via telepathy, and with no hope of rescue since his friends think he's still with them, if acting a bit strangely. It got reversed in the end, and after a while, Tren Krom was finally granted his freedom. And then murdered off screen instantly.
    • In a meta-example, the Bionicle franchise itself is in a state like this. There have been no toys, comics, books, movies or games made since mid-'10, but LEGO agreed to let the storyline go on 'till the end of '11, in the form of online story serials. Those have been on a hiatus for months, and the writer doesn't really have the spare time to interact with the fans. Bionicle can only be seen as being "alive" if you're very technical, but there really isn't anything that would suggest that this is the case when viewed from the outside.