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The Martyrium of the Hippolyt by Dieric Bouts, shows a man about to be dismembered.

Dismemberment is the act of cutting, tearing, pulling, wrenching or otherwise removing, the limbs of a living thing. It may be practiced upon human beings as a form of capital punishment, as a result of a traumatic accident, or in connection with murder, suicide, or cannibalism. As opposed to surgical amputation of the limbs, dismemberment is often fatal to all but the simplest of creatures.

Dismemberment was carried out in the Medieval era by tying a person's limbs to chains or other restraints, then attaching the restraints to separate movable entities (e.g,. vehicles) and moving them in opposite directions. Also referred to as "disruption" or being "drawn and quartered," it could be brought about by chaining four horses to the condemned's arms and legs, thus making them pull him apart, as was the case with the executions of François Ravaillac in 1610 and Robert-François Damiens in 1757. Queen Brunhilda of Austrasia, executed in 613 is generally regarded to have suffered the same death, though she was tied to the tail of a single horse.

There are many instances of dismemberment in modern murder cases. Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer is infamous for his dismemberment and consumption of his victims.

A famous device used for dismemberment is the rack, upon which the condemned is chained down by the wrists and ankles, on a large bed-like frame, and a wheel is subsequently turned, winding in the chains and causing an immense stretching.

Dismemberment was a form of capital punishment for convicts of high treason in the Korean kingdom of Joseon.

Dismemberment is not known to be used by any modern governments as a form of torture or capital punishment.

The famous execution of Túpac Amaru II (José Gabriel Condorcanqui), who was initially sentenced to be dismembered by having four horses pull out his limbs, an action the Spaniards were not able to accomplish.


  • In Bayonetta, several of the angelic bosses become subjected to dismemberment during the climax finishers either by Bayonetta herself or the demons she summons through using her hair as a medium. Also, the antagonist Balder had Luka's father dismembered by angels and attempted to do the same thing to him, but was stopped by Bayonetta.
  • The anime series Elfen Lied shows the anti-heroine Lucy violently dismembering her fellow Dicolonius Nana during a fight.
  • In Hellsing,the vampire Alucard shoots off both of Luke Valentine's legs and later kills him when Luke proved incapable of summoning any familiars. Later, Walter severs the arm of Luke's violent brother Jan Valentine when he tried to escape from them. Also, the nazi officer Zorin Blitz severs Seras' arm during a fight.
  • In the OVA of Angel Sanctuary, Setsuna Mudo is subjected to dismemberment by demonic golems while trying to rescue his sister Sara from a gang of thugs.
  • In the OVA of Violence Jack, a scene depicts a civilian being violently dismembered by a gang of chainsaw wielding thugs only to be beheaded later.
  • In the Devilman manga series, Akira Fudo begins dismembering various demons after he acquired the power of the demon Amon during a fight at a club, which was a plan orchastrated by Akira's friend Ryo Asuka in order for the two of them to fight demons on equal terms by obtaining demonic power.
  • In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre the character Leatherface kills his victims by dismembering them with a chainsaw.
  • In Bride of Chucky, the demonic doll duo kill a couple in a sleazy hotel by smashing the mirror hanging above them, resulting in the couple being dismembered by the shards of glass.
  • In Devil May Cry, Dante inadvertently does this to Griffin by destroying one of his wings.
  • In Digimon Adventure, Machinedramon kills Warumonzaemon through dismemberment, but the scene is toned down in the english dub.
  • In the video game Dead Space, the necromorphs can only be killed through complete dismemberment. This can include the arms, legs and numerous other limbs of Necromorphs, and in certian situations in death scences where the player chrachter Issac Clake is butallay ripped a parted numerous ways depending on the Necromorph that struck the final strike.
  • In the Mortal Kombat series, dismemberment is a reoccuring fatality amongst certain characters, such as Noob Saibot, Subzero, etc.
  • In God of War III, Kratos dismembers Hermes by severing his legs, resulting in the god's death. He also performs this act on a chimera.
  • In Egyptian mythology, the god Set dismembers his brother Osiris so he could not be resurrected.
  • In Japanese mythology, Izanagi dismembers Kagutsuchi in revenge for the death of Izanami.
  • In Greek mythology, dismemberment occurs several times. One notable example is Cronos dismembering his father Uranus.
  • In the manga Tetragrammaton Labyrinth, the protagonist Angela is frequently subjected to dismemberment either by the villains or when the situation calls for it, by her own hand, but cannot die due to her immortality.
  • In the video game Madworld, Jack dismembers Twirlenkill by severing his arms before killing him with one of the weapons he stole from him
  • In the Yakuza film Ichi the Killer, the mass murderering anti hero Ichi kills various gangsters through dismemberment, such as dismembering a man who was assaulting a prostitue.
  • In No More Heroes, Travis Touchdown kills the assassin Death Metal by dismembering him with his beam katana.
  • In Family Guy, Stewie Griffin dismembers Brian's replacement New Brian off-screen after finding out the new dog had sex with his teddy bear Rupert and later forms it as a suicide.
  • In The Divine Comedy, falsifiers are subjected to dismemberment in the Malebolge by demons, only to be healed and have the process start over again.
  • In Law Abiding Citizen, Clyde Shelton paralyzes Darby with a toxin before dismembering him to avenge the rape and murder of his family. He also straps Darby to a table and places a mirror over him so he will be forced to watch his own dismemberment.
  • In Sin City, anti-hero Marv dismembers several of his enemies refering to it as "showing them all those pieces of themselves".

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