25 Most Gruesome Methods Of Execution Ever

Posted by , Updated on March 21, 2024

From burning at the stake to being hanged, drawn, and quartered these are the 25 most gruesome methods of execution ever.



Breaking Wheel

violent executions

Also called the Catherine Wheel, the victim would be tied to it and then spun around as the executioner delivered bone shattering blows to their body.


The Gridiron

violent executions

This basically involved broiling the victim over a bed of hot coals. The death was not a quick one.


Blood Eagle

violent executions

Mentioned in some Nordic Sagas, it involved breaking the ribs of the victims out of their chest to resemble wings and then pulling their lungs out through the opening. Salt would then be sprinkled on the wound.



violent executions

This involved removing a person’s skin from their body. Quite often it would then be hung in public for all to see.



violent executions

Used in Asia and Europe, the victim would be hung upside down and then sawn in half starting at the groin. This would ensure that enough blood was in the brain to keep the victim conscious until the large vessels of the abdomen were severed.


Upright Jerker

violent executions

Originating in the US, this method of capital punishment is now often used in countries like Iran. It is similar to hanging, but instead of being dropped from a height to sever the spinal cord, a crane jerks them upwards.



violent executions

The victim would be led to a scaffold in a public square with nothing more than an executioner and a coffin. The executioner would raise a mallet and bring it down on the victim’s head. Typically this would only stun the victim so their throat would be slit immediately afterwords.



violent executions

The Romans would throw political prisoners in an arena naked and watch as they were devoured by wild animals.


Execution by Elephant

violent executions

Mainly used in southeast Asia, the elephants were trained to prolong the death of the victim and many times this method was used to show that the ruler was even in command of nature.



violent executions

This is pretty much exactly what the elephants would do except in Europe and America it was typically used to extract a plea. Every the time the victim refused, more weight was added to the their chest.


Cement Shoes

violent executions

The preferred method of execution by the American mafia, your feet were placed in cement blocks and you were thrown in the river


Republican Marriage

violent executions

Another form of execution by drowning, rather than using cement blocks, the French would tie a man and a woman together before throwing them in the water.



violent executions

Possibly the least violent on this list, the guillotine was the first method of execution operating under the assumption that capital punishment was intended to end lives rather than inflict pain. The last execution by guillotine in France was in 1977.


Walking the Plank

violent executions

Although the intention was for the victim to drown, they were many times eaten by the sharks that tended to follow the ships instead.



violent executions

This ancient Persian method of execution involved leaving the victim in a tree trunk with only their head, hands, and feet protruding. They would then be thrown in a stagnant pond and as their feces accumulated insects would begin to breed in within their skin. Death could often take up to 2 weeks.


Colombian Necktie

violent executions

Practiced by many drug cartels in South America, this involved cutting open the victim’s throat and pulling their tongue out through the opening.


Brazen Bull

violent executions

Famously used in Italy, it was just large enough to fit one person in its torso. A fire would be lit beneath it and as the person slowly cooked their screams would be acoustically converted to “bull sounds” emitted from the mouth and smoke from their body would be expelled from the nose.



violent executions

Practiced by Samurai this was a form of suicide that allowed warriors to die honorably. They would first disembowel themselves and then immediately be beheaded.


Hanged, Drawn, and Quartered

violent executions

As the name implies this English execution typically came in three parts. First, the victim was dragged on a wooden frame to the place of execution (drawn), then they were hung until nearly dead (hanged), and finally their abdomen was cut open and their intestines were removed and burned as the victim watched. They were then emasculated, beheaded, and cut into four parts (quartered) which were put on display around England. This punishment was only for men as women were burnt at the stake as a matter of decency.


Premature Burial

violent executions

Pretty much self explanatory, many governments in history would execute condemned prisoners by burying them alive.



violent executions

Often used in Asia, the victim would be tied over several bamboo shoots. Because bamboo can grow up to 1 foot in a day it would quickly impale them.



violent executions

Designed for maximum pain and suffering, the Romans often made the victim carry their own cross to the location of their death. They were then nailed or tied to the cross after which it could take several weeks to die.


Burning at the Stake

violent executions

A historically popular method of capital punishment, if the victim was lucky they would be executed with several others. This would ensure a larger flame which would lead to death by carbon monoxide poisoning rather than actual burning.


The Spanish Tickler

violent executions

Also called the cat’s paw, this device was used to rip and tear the skin off a victim. Death was usually not immediate but would occur due to infections that eventually set into the wounds.


Ling Chi

violent executions

Outlawed in China at the turn of the 20th century this involved pieces of the victim’s body being removed slowly and methodically while the executioner tried to keep them alive for as long as possible.