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Maybe you ran out of time to fix the killer poison. Maybe you're made of paint or something. Maybe someone froze you and then heated you up really fast. Or, maybe you opened the Ark of the Covenant. Maybe you fell into lava or acid or something else that makes people melt. Point is, you're about to learn how a snowman feels in the spring.
Im Melting is when a character or other life form, for one reason or another, has a literal meltdown. In most illustrated fiction, this can be shown in four basic ways:
- Type A: Collapsing into lumpy goo:. Probably one of the best and nastiest looking meltdowns one can find, it basically occurs when the subject slowly turns to goo all over, flesh falling and dripping from their body onto the floor. It doesn't usually leave a viscous puddle either, so much as a pile of soggy dough.
- Type B: From the ground up. The most classic example, in which only the part of the subject that touches the ground actually turns to liquid. Of course, this means that, sequentially, every part of the body will touch the ground, often giving the illusion of sinking into a shallow puddle (conversely, the easiest way to stage this effect in live-action settings is to do exactly that, lowering the actor on a hidden trap door. See The Wizard of Oz or any of several Star Trek episodes.) Oddly, the victim will never be considered dead until their head has melted, which will be alive and speaking until the end despite their heart and lungs melting beforehand.
- Type C: Soda pop. This one was quite popular with Disney cartoons in the mid/early 90's. In short, this one is very similar to From the ground up, except with the added effect of being very, VERY fizzy. Bubbles tend to actually rise off of the subject and pop in mid-air. Imagine an alka-seltzer sitting in a puddle of water, and you've got the idea here. Sometimes this will leave a nice clean puddle, but other times, the subject may completely dissolve into a shrinking pile of fizz.
- Type D: Bones. One of the rarest types of meltdown, this is when everything but the skeleton is reduced to puddle of Pepto-Bismol. Truth in Television, since bones, especially human bones, are very difficult to completely destroy. Cremated remains are mainly bits of bone -- everything else evaporates.
- Type E:(vaporation). This is regarded as melting, but looks like it didn't just stop with turning the victim to a liquid. In fact, often, the liquid isn't even seen. It's as if they skipped a step, steaming and sublimating from the ground up.
Due to the fact in fiction people often say this when they are melting, this could be considered an example of Captain Obvious.
- Several football players begin to suffer a Type B meltdown thanks to the heat, until Boomer Esasion passes them all bottles of Pepsi. As they chug, the melting is not just stopped, but reversed.
Anime & Manga
- In Detective Conan, due to the action of APTX (discussed in depth in Art Major Biology), victims eventually melt--even for our survivors (to them APTX became a Fountain of Youth), they did feel their bones melting, and smoke came out from their bodies.
- Elfen Lied has a particularly gruesome case of Type A in the last chapter. Lucys psychic powers slowly damage her body on a molecular level and during the finale she uses them to such a great extent that parts of her slowly start to liquefy. In her moment of redemption, she uses all the power she has to save Kouta and his friends which literally causes her skin and flesh to melt. First the arms and legs fall off and during the death scene she is only a melting skull and torso and asks to be covered by a jacket so the others (and the readers) don't have to see her like that during her final minutes.
- End of Evangelion has everyone getting hugged by a hallucination of their most loved person and then promptly collapsing into primordial soup. Anti-AT field: quick, painless and 100% effective.
- Episode 20 has a similar thing happening to Shinji: he immersed into his berserking Eva so much his body melted into LCL and they had to figure out how to rebuild it and bind his soul in it. Same thing happened to his mother while he was watching, by the way.
- Happens twice in Guyver - the first time to Lisker when Guyver II's damaged control medal was smashed, and again later in the series when Sho as Guyver I has his control medal torn out by Enzyme. Temporarily subverted in that the second occurrence didn't immediately result in melting, but Guyot psychically causing Enzyme's body to burst apart when the berserking Guyver I tackled him behind reduced both Enzyme and Sho to a rapidly-disintegrating mound of bioflesh and bones.
- Amayo Jingorou from Basilisk can turn his body into semi-liquid ooze by covering himself with salt. This is why he's absolutely terrified of the sea, since the salt water dissolves his body completely. This is exactly how he meets his end.
- It would appear that this was the ultimate fate of Dr. Light. Although he was first turned into a candle by The Spectre.
- Would you believe that wholesome Archie Comics published not one, but two stories featuring this trope (both Type D)?
- The original Life With Archie series (1958-1991) featured longer, more "adventure" oriented stories than the typical Archie titles, including one with a mysterious Satanic box that melts people's faces off.
- From 1972 to 1974, Archie published a Sabrina the Teenage Witch spinoff, Chilling Adventures in Sorcery as Told By Sabrina. It had the odd combination of straight-up horror stories with art in the familiar Archie house style and Sabrina acting as Horror Host. One story in particular stands out, featuring a boy who teases a stutterer at school. The kindly teacher happens to be a witch, and gives him an enchanted book that melts his face off, and possibly kills him!
Films -- Live-Action
- Subverted in Sky High, in that melting into goo was actually Ethan's power.
- This happened partially in Electroma, where two robots, wishing to be human, had masks that looked like human face. Unfortunately the masks melted in the sun.
- The Wizard of Oz is the Trope Namer, for a scene where Dorothy accidentally splashes the wicked witch, who does not react well to water. Type E in this case, though the book typically regards it as an A or B.
- The Incredible Melting Man tells the unfortunate tale of an astronaut who is slowly, painfully, experiencing this effect.
- Seen in X-Men, after Senator Kelly befriends Storm.
- The rare Type D can be seen in Raiders of the Lost Ark: "Whatever happens, KEEP YOUR EYES SHUT!"
- The ghostly trio of Casper are melted away when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, this is merely a ruse.
- Major type A in Gremlins II, when Gremlins melt into puddles of green goo (leaving only a skeleton behind) when exposed to sunlight. Somehow, you get the same effect when you get them wet then electrocute them, too.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit? didn't show it often, but did bring it to disturbing levels with the dip.
- Terminator 2: The T-1000 after he is shot in the gut with a grenade by the T-800. He falls into a vat of molten steel, where he shrieks (and transforms into his victims) as he melts away.
- Volcano: Stan when he jumps into the lava to save the train conductor, and in the process, has his entire body melted into the lava. One wouldn't think so, but due to the circumstances, its a type B.
- The Joker subverted this trope(what else?) in Batman, when Vicki Vale threw a pitcher of water at him in order to distract him. After impersonating The Wicked Witch and crying "I'm melting!" for a few seconds, he then shouted "Boo!" at Vicki, just before Batman arrived.
- A particularely disgusting example happens in Cube Zero when one character gets completely sprayed with some sort of odorlous tissue-eating acid (leading him to believe initially that it's water).
- Happens to an unlucky guy in the The Fly II.
- In RoboCop, one of Clarence Boddicker's goons gets soaked in industrial waste. He starts slowly melting, Type-A style (while still alive!), while shambling around in pain. Clarence eventually hits him with his car, at which point he's so melted that his body literally explodes into goo on impact. Being Clarence, he seems more upset over the mild inconvenience the goon goo had on driving than the death of his lackey, the jerk.
- In Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, the main villain gets thrown into a pit of black acid-like liquid. He spends a few dozen seconds thrashing around while his skin and muscle slowly melt off him.
- The climax of The Devil's Rain shows the satanic cult melting due to the titular occurrence.
- Street Trash is about a deadly liquor that will cause those who drink it to melt into streaming, day-glo colors. Type-A
- Happens to Godzilla at the end of Godzilla vs. Destoroyah as he's dying of a literal nuclear meltdown. His body tempurature has reached the critical 12,000 degrees which causes the flesh to start melting off of his bones.
- One close-up shot even shows his own dorsal fins melting away.
- The bizzare Australian Exploitation Film Body Melt features some of the strangest examples of this trope, including one melting that starts with an excessive discharge of mucus from someone's nose.
- Several of the vampire deaths in From Dusk till Dawn 2 resemble Type D, as the staked vampires' partially-fleshed skeletons remain intact while a nasty black fluid flows out of them, forming a puddle on the ground.
- The eponymous Monster Clowns from Killer Klowns From Outer Space use Type D on one of their victims.
- In the film adaptation of The Guyver, after Sean has the unit literally pulled out from his head by a couple of Zoanoids. It's in Type B example.
- The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Possibly the true Trope Namer.
- Hans Christian Andersen's original version of The Little Mermaid warned of the Type-C variety for the titular character.
- Enchanted Forest Chronicles had wizards that reacted the same way to soapy water with a little lemon juice in it. (They recover somehow, but it does put them out of commission for awhile.)
- Later on, Telemain develops a spell that replicates the effect. It's more portable than buckets and can be used multiple times in rapid succession without having to reload (again unlike a bucket), but it doesn't last quite as long as an actual bucketful of soapy lemon water (possibly because the puddle is pure wizard, without the melting agent mixed in).
- In the Isaac Asimov short story Rain, Rain, Go Away, a family of nosy neighbors nonetheless makes friends with a new family that moved in. They noted that the new family seems to be deathly afraid of rain, but writes it off as everyone having their own special quirks. They invite the new family to a carnival, where everyone has a good time until they see storm clouds. The new family is desperate to get home, up to and including crying when they hear radio reports that the rain is going to strike soon. When they finally get home, they only make it halfway:
Mother: Honestly! You'd think they were...(rain suddenly starts at the family proceeds to melt)...made of sugar and afraid they would melt?
- A messy Type D happens to Messalla when he is caught in a pod with a laser of golden light in Mockingjay, the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy.
- In H.P. Lovecraft's The Dunwich Horror, Wilbur Whateley's non-human heritage is revealed when his furry, scaly, tentacled, nine-foot corpse dissolves into paste, leaving nothing behind but some discoloration to the floor.
- Septimus Heap: This is how DomDaniel ends in the climax of Flyte, by melting down in a puddle of slime.
Live Action Television
- An entire episode of The X-Files revolved around an assassin erasing clones from existence by using a powerful acid in his blood. Due to the nature of it, it can be categorized as a slow Type-C.
- Vampires in True Blood melt into horrible bloody goo when they get staked. Type-A.
- The Doctor Who story Dragonfire had the villain Kane, a low-temperature lifeform, commit suicide by exposing himself to strong sunlight, causing him to melt. Probably one of the most gruesome sequences in the history of the show (you see his face drip off his skull), and astonishing when you think it got broadcast in an early-evening family show.
- This is what Witchblade in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers says after being destroyed by the Shogun Megazord, except this trope is averted, as instead of melting, she topples over and explodes while saying:
Witchblade: Oh no, I'm falling... falling... what a world...!
- In the Goosebumps episode based on "Attack of the Mutant", said mutant's supervillain power was his ability to turn into anything, with one exception: If he turns into a liquid, he can't turn back. The Kid Hero defeats him by telling him he should try turning into acid. This is depicted as a Type-E meltdown, with the villain evaporating away while his costume (and mask) crumple up flat, into a steamy pile of clothes.
- In the Halloween special of Phil of the Future, the evil cyborg Debbie melted into black goo after overheating when the students disobeyed her orders.
- The album Death Valley High by Zombina and the Skeletones is a concept album that tells the story of a troubled young girl who slaughters her classmates in the song "Janie's Got a Dissolvo Ray".
- This happened to Little Nemo once when he had hoped to merely thaw out of a block of ice.
- Also in this strip by 19th century German artist Wilhelm Busch. Boy Peter leaves the house on a very cold winter day despite being told not to for ice skating, where he promptly freezes in the cold. Fortunately, the hunter finds him and brings him home; but in the oven heat, this trope happens, and all the dolorous parents can do is wipe up the liquid and store it in a jar, which they keep in the larder.
- In The Goon Show episode "The Childe Harold Rewarde," Grytpype-Thynne and Moriarty reduce Seagoon to liquid in a steam-bath and trap him in a bottle. They then threaten to drink him as part of an extortion scheme. Because this is The Goon Show, Seagoon begged the audience for help from within his bottle.
- In Bionicle, it is implied that Zaktan may have done something like this to a Toa of Plasma, since the only sign of him left was an orange puddle, although it's still ambiguous as to what actually happened in that room. Tahu also partly melts Nektann using his heat powers in self-defense, but manages to avoid killing him.
- Characters in the Army Men games who are attacked with a flamethrower will flatten out and fade away.
- In The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time, Like-likes will slowly melt into a puddle before burning away.
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past features an enemy made of ice completely resistant to everything but fire magic, which reduces it to a shrinking puddle.
- In some older 2.5 betas of Zelda Classic, there was some unused sprites of Wizzrobes, depicting them as melting into a pile of clothes, and reappearing elsewhere. Since there is no way to place these sprites in a Wizzrobe's animation (they just flicker with their normal sprites), this never took off.
- Super Mario Sunshine has several enemies and even allies that appear to be made of paint. Don't fall in the water with Yoshi. You may cry.
- A Type C in Zelda: Wand of Gamelon, quoted above.
- Shoot tinbots with the plasma beam in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and they will sink into bright puddles.
- Type D with Crocomire in Super Metroid, can fall into a pit of lava/acid/coca-cola, which will cause its flesh to graphically melt off, until only a skeleton remains.
- In the PC games Crusader: No Remorse and its sequel, Crusader: No Regret, shooting a human target with the most powerful weapon in the game, the PL-4 Plasma Rifle, causes their flesh to melt off most of their flesh before the obviously still slightly meaty skeleton crumples. Anyone attempting to use a teleport pad with an Inhibitor nearby suffers the same fate.
- In at least the third Fallout game, and presumably the first two, plasma weapons have a special effects death where the victim dissolves into a puddle of green slime. In Fallout 3, this is accompanied by a wet, slurpy sort of sound -- lasers, which burn the target to ashes, have a crisp, crackling, burning sort of noise.
- The Fallout 3 versions are considerably different from 1 and 2, though plasma still reduces its victim to goo. Or rather, it melts the flesh off the bones, which promptly collapse into the resultant puddle for a stereotypical 'Bones' version. Lasers just cut victims in half (or thirds depending). Fallout 3's lasers actually act more like Fallout 2's pulse rifles in that regard, incidentally.
- In Sierra's Space Quest being hit by a drop of acid has it "sear its way to your feet" (through your head), but the VGA remake dissolves Roger the protagonist top-down, into a puddle of goo and a really stupid-looking head in a protective helmet.
- In Space Quest II, Roger can fall into a death trap of green acid. Contrary to type, it kills him gradually, complete with descriptive text!
- In Space Quest III (and an easter egg in Space Quest IV), going unprotected on a volcanic world causes Roger to melt into a puddle. Roger can also (rather easily) fall into the lava, and the Have a Nice Death picture was accompanied with a half-melted, mostly skeletal Roger trying to get out of the goo.
- In Space Quest IV, being caught by a slime monster causes Roger to fall straight into it, with a suitable shot of his half-skeletal form trying to claw his way back out.
- Nobody melts in Space Quest V. We thought we'd mention that for the novelty value.
- The Pukoids seem half-melted, though.
- In Space Quest VI, Roger can fall into a pool of acid, with a suitable scene of flailing around and bobbing to the surface with his flesh melted off before a ground-up sizzling into oblivion.
- In Mass Effect 2, this is the final fate of those captured by the collectors, and not rescued in time; or a random colonist if you save everyone...well, everyone else, that is.
- In Duke Nukem: Time to Kill, enemies you kill melt into puddles of blood regardless of the method used to kill them.
- In Fun Orb's Miner Distubance, the Trope name can be your epitaph in case of death by lava.
- In Mortal Kombat, one of Shang Tsung's fatalities inflicts Type A, while Reptile's acid and knocking an opponent into the Deadpool are Type C.
- The Particle Beam in F.E.A.R. does Type D. Alma also does it to several FEAR and Delta soldiers.
- Memorably, hilariously/disturbingly, and unintentionally occurred in the early releases of Dwarf Fortress v.2010. Due to a mistaken in the materials files, if a dwarf got wet in hot weather, all of their body fat would melt off and they'd bleed to death.
- There exist a couple of Pokémon (especially blobby or water-based ones) that can learn a move called Acid Armor, which is sort of invoking this trope. Contrary to the trope's outcome, though, it doesn't kill the pokemon, it just raises its defense a lot.
- At the end of the video game, Freddi Fish and The Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds, after the credits, Luther will sometimes say this if you hit the "Stop" button at the end of the first game: "Freddi, I'm melting!"
- Seen in Metroid: Third Derivative when a Pirate challenged Samus. Unfortunately, he was standing in a high concentration of phazon at the time. Samus delivered a spin on the Trope name, in response to this.
- The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob: When Molly's steam-powered robot snowman (unsurprisingly) melts, Jean quotes the Wicked Witch: "What a world! What a world!"
- In Goblins, K'seliss the "lizard-ogre" gets dissolved bit by bit by a horrifying undead abomination. (And still manages to take the damn thing down with him with all four limbs and his tail gone.)
- Professor Corwin's Apsinthion Device does a Type B version of this to coeds in Tales Of Gnosis College. They love it.
- In The Noob, the ZERG team encouners a "cute little squirrel" in a high level forest. It doesn't end well.
- Happens to the Mean Six in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic when they get exposed to the Elements of Harmony.
- Batman: The Animated Series, when several of Poison Ivy's "children" (and seemingly herself) come in contact with weed killer. Type-A.
- Darkwing Duck had a lot of fun with Type C. Honker dispatches a pair of slugs with the salt packet from his french fries. One of Bushroot's failed experiments in creating companionship for himself results in "Intelligence, Indigestion, Insanity, and In A Puddle" -- and almost kills Gosalyn when she gets exposed to it (she still hated the cure; plain soap and water). In a Type-B example, Splatter Phoenix, a villainess who could turn any painting into a Portal Picture, attempted to kill the heroes in this manner by dousing the picture they were trapped in with turpentine. Too bad for her that that particular picture was penciled as well as painted. However, she herself was just painted, making her demise a case of Death by Irony.
- Johnny Bravo, when Johnny accidentally hoses down a candy-themed supervillain in a striped costume. Type C.
- In a much later episode, a frost giant swallows him while he's having extremely spicy food as last meal. The next moment, Johny is drowning in a large puddle.
- Goof Troop, when Goofy introduces a monster made of toxic waste to a whiff of fresh air. This scene is interesting in that while it qualifies as Type C, the monster's puddle actually swirls into nothing, with a hilarious toilet flushing sound effect.
- This is what happens when the Warners get really, really, really bored in Animaniacs.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog, at least twice. Once when a snowman removed the "anti-melting gene" from Eustace, and again when courage overcomes his personality issues in the last episode, which causes the anthropomorphic personification of his self depreciation (that looks like a Sadist Teacher) to dissolve in a black puddle. Both cases were Type-B's.
- The new series of Duck Dodgers saw Dodgers and the Cadet do this to a vampire after getting him to eat garlic. Type-C taken to its extreme.
- Batman Beyond, when Inque comes in contact with water.
- And later, when her protege tries to become like her. Oh, he survives. Unfortunately.
- Ed Edd and Eddy, when the boys try to cool off in a freezer. They get kicked out as one large block of ice, which quickly melts in the sun... ...taking the boys with it.
- Another episode had Jimmy melt down into a puddle because Ed removes his "outer lines" (in other words, he pulled off of the ink outlines like they were wires and left the colored part to melt away). The show later has Sara confront Ed about it, holding Jimmy in a lemonade pitcher. Turns out it was just their imagination and never happened...or did it?
- Late in the animated movie Scooby Doo On Zombie Island, Freddy, Daphne, and Velma are tied up, as wax voodoo dolls of themselves are tossed dangerously close to a fire (Oh, and btw, the supernatural stuff is for real this time.) The actual character's faces visually start to melt before Scooby runs in and pulls the voodoo dolls away from the fire.
- Arthur himself on Arthur, but it was only a Dream Sequence of D.W.'s.
- This happens a lot on Kim Possible:
- When Drakken sent clones of Kim and Bonnie to attack Kim, Kim was able to melt the clones by spraying soda water at them.
- Kim and Ron held an army of zombie snowmen at bay by melting them with a flamethrower and packets of hot-sauce.
- Eric met his defeat when Rufus bit him in the ankle, causing his syntho-gel to leak.
- Shortly after Kim and Ron got together, Ron had a recurring nightmare that, after their first dance, Kim turned into a syntho-drone and melted.
- June once did this (using a magnifying glass against the sun) to both her and Henry in an episode of Ka Blam!!...
- In a scene near the end of Transformers: The Movie, a number of anonymous Cybertronian robots are shown dissolving in a pit of molten metal inside Unicron's "belly", in order to set up a Big Damn Heroes moment when Daniel and the Autobots come to rescue the ones we actually care about. Their demise is accompanied by the usual splashing, struggling, then turning cherry red and sinking out of sight.
- He was already basically made of acid, but Meltdown from Transformers Animated collapses into a puddle when exposed to a malfunctioning 'genetic modifier'. The episode's last shot was of his face appearing in the liquid, but nothing came of it.
- The Type-D version happened to Rasputin in Don Bluth's Anastasia when the heroine smashed the artifact he gained his power from. It's been foreshadowed several times that he's technically a zombie, and the relic is the only thing keeping him alive, so it was pretty obvious this would happen.
- Type-A can be found in a Celebrity Deathmatch episode with Rebecca Romijn-Stamos vs. Naomi Campbell, in which Rebecca is sprayed with stomach acid, reducing her to a puddle of mush.
- Stunt Dawgs: When Richard P. Fungus destroyed the old camera that somehow allowed the ghost of his deceased Grandfather to exist, said ghost started disappearing and shouted that he was melting. Fungus (correctly) pointed out his Grandfather was shrinking instead.
- Gastropods. Small, harmless creatures (on land anyways), some with shells. Most of their body is held together with water, so when a little salt is applied...
- With many common breeds of snail, especially when poisoned by predators, this elevates into the extremes of Type-C.
- What happens to snowmen in the spring, obviously.
- Also happens with ice cream in intense temperatures.
- Jellyfish on beach. They are 98% of water...