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5 of Fiction's Most Brutal Spinal Injuries

Updated on July 23, 2013

The spine is arguably the most important bone structure in the human body. It provides balance, stability, and even protection. Without the spine, we would be little more than sacks of flesh with almost no movement capabilities. It's a part of the body so important that injuries to it can take weeks or even months of surgery and recovery.

But no matter how many of us may suffer from back problems as we age or damage our backs in some way, we can always take comfort in that no matter how severe our back pains are, they will never be as painful as the injuries depicted in fiction.

It could always be worse, as demonstrated by these: five of fiction’s most brutal spinal injuries.

Bane's Knee Drop

This is not just one of the most iconic spine injuries in comic history, but one of the most iconic injuries of any kind. Even people who don’t read comics have at least heard of Bane’s triumph over Batman.

For the few of us who haven’t, Bane was and still is a great Batman villain because he has the brains and brawn to succeed. After a cunning plan in which Bane released several criminals out of Arkham Asylum to wear Batman down, and he discovered Batman's secret identity, Bane brutally beat him at Wayne Manor, finishing him off by snapping his spine, which rendered Batman paraplegic for quite some time. It not only hurt Batman physically, but emotionally as well, making Bane one of the very few villains that has been able to do both.

The move is so iconic, it’s practically mandatory to reference it in any Batman incarnation Bane appears in (Batman and Robin doesn't count). Such recreations include a pivotal scene in The Dark Knight Rises and as a grab move for Bane in Lego Batman. If someone says “I must break you,” and they aren’t referring to Ivan Drago, they’re most likely referring to Bane.

Kenshiro's Muscle Pull

For those who know nothing about Japanese media, Fist of The North Star revolves around Kenshiro, a man who wanders around a post-apocalyptic world where brutish punks take advantage of innocent people and think might makes right. Think of a kung-fu Mad Max, and you’re not far off.

Kenshiro never stands for injustice, and fights the punks of the ruined world using Hokuto Shin Ken, an ancient and special martial art that destroys and manipulates the body from the inside by striking specific “power points” all over the human body. You have to try not to question the biology of it.

Most of the time Kenshiro just hits power points to send a deadly pulse through someone’s body and make a part of it explode (most famously the head). For some unforgivable monsters though, Kenshiro likes being especially torturous.

In this case, Kenshiro’s victim was a one-off villain named Club, one of four particularly strong men named after card suits, led by a man known at the time as King. Club spent his time forcing people into cage matches with him and his Vega-style bladed gloves.

In the original manga, Club told the innocents that he would set them free if they could touch him. One did after Club impaled him through the shoulder, but Club reacted with disgust at the man touching him and trisected his head with one clean swipe (the manga is very violent). In the anime, he didn’t even have the touching rule, making him even more despicable.

In retaliation, Kenshiro killed the two men guarding the cage and went in himself. Club’s confidence promptly went down the tube when Kenshiro made his fingers explode. In the English dub of the anime, Kenshiro delivers a particularly scathing line afterwards: “You must not be used to opponents who can fight back.”

Kenshiro then proceeded to do a somersault over Club’s head and struck him in the back with his knees, but that’s not where the spine-breaking occurred. Kenshiro’s knees struck power points in Club’s back that forced his back muscles to contract and eventually snap his spine after exactly one minute (30 seconds in the anime).

In both versions Club begs for his life, but Kenshiro brushes him off with a line of irony and leaves Club's spine to break in two while still on his knees.

In  the manga, blood also spews out of his waist.
In the manga, blood also spews out of his waist.

There’s a life lesson in this story, as well as the entirety of Fist of the North Star: be nice.

Clark's Super Argentine Backbreaker

In The King of Fighters, Clark Steel (sometimes spelled Clark “Still”) is an orthopedic surgeon’s nightmare. Clark specializes in grappling moves, with the most prominent being his Super Argentine Backbreaker. Unlike other fighting game characters that just lift an enemy up and throw them down, Clark tosses his opponent a good 10 feet into the air, grabs them on the way down, and smashes their back against his neck (and his last name is Steel).

For the longest time, Clark’s partner Ralf was also able to use the Argentine Backbreaker up until the most recent King of Fighters games. But with Clark’s emphasis on grapples and the move’s exclusivity to him in his and Ralf’s appearance in Metal Slug 6, the Super Argentine Backbreaker is the move most commonly associated with Clark.

At the time of King of Fighters 13, Clark's use of the move has even reached critical levels!

You can even hear the bone crunch, yet his opponents can get up after that!

Strangely enough though, the backbreaking part of the Super Argentine Backbreaker is missing when Clark uses it in Metal Slug 6. In that game, all Clark does is toss enemies over his head like he’s rummaging through a pile of boxes. I can only assume his awesome muscles break their back with his throw’s sheer force.

He must dominate at caber tossing.
He must dominate at caber tossing.

My favorite part of using Clark’s backbreaker in Metal Slug 6 is if you hold down the button used to perform the move, he does his signature thumbs up pose like he knows he’s awesome. Truly this man is an American hero.

"Haha.  I just subjected someone to months of hospital recovery and massive medical bills."
"Haha. I just subjected someone to months of hospital recovery and massive medical bills." | Source

Sub-Zero's Spine Rip

If there’s anything more painful than breaking someone’s spine, it’s outright ripping it out. Sub-Zero’s klassic fatality from Mortal Kombat is one of the defining fatalities of the original game, and one kould argue that it put the franchise on the map before the Mortal Kombat killings got especially ludikrous. When the older generation of gamers think of Mortal Kombat fatalities, it’s the spinal rip that komes immediately into their heads. It was simple, yet effective; flashy, but not budget-pushing.

One has to wonder how the man is able to pull the spine klean out of someone’s body without any nerves dangling off of it though.

However it’s done, many notoriously violent games have all done their own take on the move, possibly out of inspiration. Such games inklude God of War, the Splatterhouse remake, Madworld, and even the most recent Mortal Kombat game, Mortal Kombat 9.

It’s perfektly justified for the (anti)heroes to do this, of kourse. You kan’t just leave them there.

But not even having your spine ripped out can match what is possibly the most brutal, devastating, bone-shattering spinal injury that can possibly be inflicted.

Spinal's Brutality

In the button mashing-heavy realm of Killer Instinct, it’s only natural for people to be brutally maimed, but much less natural for a reanimated skeleton to dish out the punishment. Armed with a shield and sword, Killer Instinct’s Spinal is able to slash, electrocute, impale, and even burn his opponents with flaming skulls! Like the franchise’s other characters, Spinal has the potential to mess up his opponents in all kinds of sick ways, and if what we know about the new Killer Instinct game is any indication, Spinal’s strengths are only going to get stronger (assuming he will be in it, which is likely).

This walking lab model truly and definitively inflicts the ultimate Spinal injury.


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