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left hand washes the right don't let your left hand know what your right hands doing
—Stephen King, "Survivor Type"
How do you take the already disturbing concept of cannibalism and make it even more screwed up? Why, by making the diner what's also being served, of course!
The reason for why the Hell someone makes a meal of themselves tends to fall under one of the following three categories - an extreme last resort due to imminent starvation, a form of Cold-Blooded Torture inflicted upon someone by a particularly sadistic captor, and simple insanity.
A character eating a clone or duplicate of themselves also counts. Also see I Taste Delicious, which tends to be about characters finding themselves irresistibly delectable after becoming or being covered in food (try to keep examples of that on its page). Some of the more disturbing examples of Let's Meet the Meat (like the image of that page) can involve this.
Your body will also actually do this automatically in the later stages of starvation; breaking down redundant organs and muscle to keep the more vital parts running.
Anime and Manga
- In a plot point exclusive to the manga, Zeff from One Piece cut off and ate his own leg while stranded on a deserted island with Sanji, who he had secretly given all the stockpiled food to.
- Later, a villain gifted with Munch-Munch Fruit eats himself to make himself thinner when he gets stuck in an entryway.
- In Naruto, Chouji suffers from the medical version (body devouring itself) after overclocking his metabolism with his clan's Dangerous Forbidden Technique stimulant pills.
- In Toriko gourmet cell users will suffer from "the autophage" (which they are at constant risk of due to their Hyperactive Metabolism) which gives them a power boost but kills them rather quickly.
- In Madoka Magica, Kyubey, who has multiple bodies, eats his own corpse after Homura shoots him.
- DC Comics villain Vandal Savage, having lost his immortality in one story, restores it by eating a disfigured clone of himself.
- Universe X had Multiple Man eat a duplicate of himself while lost in the frozen wilderness. This result was him becoming the new Wendigo.
- A bodybuilder in the first issue of Hellblazer falls victim to a demon's curse that makes people ravenous for what they desire most- he starts devouring his muscular arms.
- In Knights of the Dinner Table, while playing Weird Pete's new game "Fairy Meat", Brian Van Hoose has his character eat its own arm to demonstrate that the rule for recovering hit points via cannibalism is broken.
- Stem Cell of Livewires (an android) is forced to chew off most of her own artificial skin to digest and recycle into giant, flaming, self-replicating robots as a gambit to complete her team's botched mission.
- Wolverine was forced to do this during a storyline where he was stuck in a snowstorm. Unlike most of the people here, his Healing Factor made this less of an issue.
- In another story arc Wolvie encountered a Wendigo the had gotten afflicted with the curse in this manner. He was a lumberjack who had been pinned beneath a tree in a accident that also severed two of his fingers. After a couple of days trapped hunger and desperation drove him to eat his own fingers to survive.
Films — Animated
- In Yellow Submarine, the vacuum monster eats everything in its universe; as a last resort it eats itself, mouth last.
Films — Live-Action
- Nikos's last dying act in The Anthropophagus Beast is to start gnawing on his own spilled intestines.
- Wrong Turn 4 Bloody Beginnings reveals One Eye and Three Finger acquired their trademark deformities this way.
- When he isn't collecting it in a box, Goldmember from Austin Powers enjoys eating pieces of his own skin.
- The Japanese horror film Splatter: Naked Blood depicts a gluttonous woman eating herself after being given an experimental drug.
- The uncut version of A Nightmare On Elm Street 5 The Dream Child reveals that the stuff Freddy is force feeding Greta is her own innards.
- The "Sloth" victim in Se7en bit off and ate his own tongue.
- Pizza the Hutt from Spaceballs got locked in his limo and ate himself to death.
- One of the creepiest examples ever - in an already incredibly creepy category - is The Shunned House. A young woman obsessively plays her violin to ward off evil spirits. Her violin strings break, whereupon she gnaws her own arm open until the sinews are exposed - and then plays the sinews with her violin bow!!! Shudder.
- The second victim in The Christmas Season Massacre had his ripped off testicles shoved down his throat.
- At one point in Land of the Dead, the group going out to reclaim Dead Reckoning from Cholo comes across one of the city's military commanders, who has recently been zombified. The zombie of the commander appears to be finishing the job that the other zombies started, and is eating bits of itself.
- In Adaptation, Donald is writing a horror film where the killer does this to his victims. But given the villain, the protagonist and the leading lady are the same person, once the killer forces the girl to eat herself he dies.
- A character in Cannibal coerces another into cutting off his penis. They cook and eat it, though judging by the looks on their faces as they do so, it isn't quite as tasty as they thought it would be.
- In Hannibal, Hannibal manipulates a drugged Mason Verger into cutting off and eating his own nose, and also feeds Paul Krendler his own brain.
- The Stephen King short story "Survivor Type" centered around a surgeon and drug runner who becomes shipwrecked, and is ultimately forced to eat himself by cutting off bits.
- In the Silence of the Lambs books, Hannibal Lecter manipulates a drugged Mason Verger into cutting off and eating his own nose, and also feeds Paul Krendler his own brain.
- In Misery, Annie cuts off Paul's thumb, uses it as a candle on a birthday cake, and threatens to make him eat it.
- When injured in battle, the perpetually hungry Taxxons from Animorphs may begin to consume themselves.
- The Shel Silverstein poem "Hungry Mungry" ends this way.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the leader of the Brave Companions, Vargo Hoat, gets hacked to pieces one part at a time by Gregor Clegane while he is imprisoned. The flesh is then fed to Hoat and the rest of the prisoners.
- Earlier, a minor character is locked in a tower and left to starve. She is found dead with her fingers chewed off.
- A mercenary captain known as the Tattered Prince recounts an incident where one of his troops tried to desert because of the bad quality of food. The Tattered Prince chopped off the deserter's leg, roasted it, and fed it to him, and then made him company cook. Oddly, the man didn't hold a grudge, and willingly signed up for another tour of duty.
- It's mentioned in Monstrous Regiment that while cannibalism in dire circumstances is acceptable, eating your own leg is frowned upon.
- In the Hawk & Fisher story Guard Against Dishonor, a teenager doped out of her mind on super-chacal has her belly ripped open by her equally-berserk boyfriend. When Hawk and Fisher find her, she's nibbling on her own exposed guts.
- In Jeff Long's Deeper, a Complete Monster gets his comeuppance when he's paralyzed from the neck down and left to starve to death in a desolate cavern. He regains partial mobility in his hands, but it happens so very slowly that he realizes he'll die before he can crawl his way to food; he therefore finger-climbs his hand up to his face, and begins eating his own fingers. And then gets attacked and killed before he can move anything else, meaning he chewed himself up for nothing.
- In the Silmarillion, Giant Spider and Eldritch Abomination Ungoliath devours herself while wandering in the wastelands of the Middle Earth.
- One of the people kept in The Attic in Dollhouse is a man forced to eat his own legs as sushi.
- The Valentines Day Episode of Supernatural had Famine overwhelm a short order cook with hunger, causing him to dunk his own hand in a deep fryer, then eat it.
- Leviathans who fail are forced to eat themselves, a punishment called "bibbing" since all that's left in the end is a bloody bib.
- A fake political ad from This Hour Has 22 Minutes claimed Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper cuts himself so he can collect and drink his own blood.
- Gary, a Fae butcher, in the Lost Girl episode "Death Didn't Become Her"
Gary: You know what they say-- sometimes a flesh-eater is just too tired to get out of bed, go to the fridge, know what I mean? [bites off his own index finger].
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Referenced as one of Anya's past vengeance curses in "The Prom":
Anya: "... then, this one time, a girl wished that her ex would cannibalize himself. Even I had a hard time watching that one, let me tell you--"
- A Saturday Night Live skit with Chevy Chase as Jeffery Dahmer had him trying to convince his lawyers to let him act like he's insane during the trial so they can try for the insanity plea. They try to convince him that no shenanigans are necessary. He seems confused that someone might think he's insane without acting insane... as he begins to calmly eat his own fingers.
- The Vocaloid song "Evil Food Eater Conchita" depicts a deranged aristocrat who devours everything she can get hold of, including her servants, before finally turning on herself.
- Happens in a children's song by Swedish poet Lennart Hellsing. A Reality Warper sorcerer from India is goaded by the Emperor of China to turn himself into a glass of lemonade (presumably because his magic is dangerous or at least annoying, it isn't clear). However, it was a very very warm day and the sorcerer got thirsty...
Mythology and Religion
- The Ouroboros is a snake that eats its tail; it represents eternity and perfection and shows up as symbolism in a lot of works.
- Classical Mythology also has a story of a mortal king punished by the gods with an insatable hunger that drove him to poverty, and forced him to wander the lands with just his daughter to help him scam money out of people for food until she finally left him. He then raised his shaking fist to the sky curse the gods, prompting him to notice how plump, meaty, and juicy his hand looked. The curse then placed on him by the gods then evidently made it possible for him to consume his entire body, including his own mouth which of course had to be eaten last.
- In Zork, the command "eat self" returns the message "Autocannibalism is not the answer."
- From Amnesia: Justine, we get Malo, one of Justine's suitors who was forced to eat his own flesh to survive. He then takes a liking to it, and when he sees another human...
- In Mass Effect 3, Javik mentions that the punishment for traitors in his time was to rip their limbs off and give them a choice between eating their own flesh or starvation. And then killing them anyway if they do eat.
- Dead Island features the Butcher enemy, rabidly aggressive zombies that have their forearms ending in chewed bone. It's implied that they chewed off their own hands as the virus set in.
- The SCP Foundation has SCP-524, an Extreme Omnivore rabbit who is so extreme that his diet includes himself. When the only remaining parts of his body are parts that he can't reach with his mouth, his mouth flips inside out, swallowing himself whole in one final gulp. Half an hour later he'll re-appear, whole and unharmed.
- Happens in an episode of Saladfingers. Or not. Its not very clear just what is going on only that Salad Fingers likes his doppelganger's brains.
- The Christmas Episode of Retarded Animal Babies had Puppy recieve a Gag Penis for Christmas as a present from Satan Claus, and as a result he sucks on it until he explodes.
- Played for Laughs in an episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, where the eponymous character scarfs down a bucket of his own severed arms (they regenerate) like popcorn during Squidward's Ghost Story.
- In an Itchy and Scratchy Show short, Itchy (disguised as a restaurant employee) serves Scratchy his own belly. The unknowing Scratchy's attempt at eating it only results in the bits of it he swallows popping back out of a hole cut in it.
- An early episode of Beast Wars had Dinobot dispose of a fully biological clone of himself by eating it.
Dinobot: I'm afraid he's gone for good. A shame, really. He was such a handsome creature...and quite tasty.
Optimus Primal: Your'e disgusting."
- In the last episode of the 2002 He Man and The Masters of The Universe reboot, Zodak mystically hypnotizes four of King Hiss' heads into eating the fifth, and main, one (had the show gone on for another season he would have regenerated it).
- One episode of Bounty Hamster has Marion discovers his Bag of Holding cheeks are actually a portal between dimensions so, in order escape the dimension they're trapped in, he eats Cassie then himself. (It Makes Sense in Context... kinda).
- Nibbler does the exact same thing in one of the Futurama films.
- In the Mickey Mouse cartoon "Mickey's Garden", a giant caterpillar tries to eat Mickey, who jumps on its tail. In trying to eat him, it bites off its own tail until it's just a head.
- An episode of Sidekick had Master XOX mention creating clones, then eating them.
- Bernd Jürgen Brandes, who infamously consented to being killed and eaten by a man he met online, tried to eat some of his own penis before dying.
- Lizards whose tails drop off when grabbed as an anti-predator defense mechanism will sometimes eat the dropped-off bit of tail if the predator doesn't do so, reclaiming its protein for their bodies.
- Some mammals will eat their own placenta after a birth.
- Ant queens consume their own wings once their mating flight is done, and they are ready to start a hive.
- People who bite their cuticles. Especially those who bite so much they start to bleed.
- Snakes can eat themselves.
- As stated above, in the latest stages of starvation the body will practice this, breaking down itself in order to keep it running. The proccess is called Catabolysis and involves first the use of body's fat and later the breakup of -especially- muscles. The end arrives after the body's machinery to build proteins -made of that- has been recycled.