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A character for one reason or another can't go to a hospital, or even get another character to help, so they treat their own injuries. An oft-seen version of this trope (to establish the Badass credentials of a character) involves sewing the injury up, with or without the use of anaesthetic. They may also Heal It with Fire.

May involve We Have to Get the Bullet Out or Life or Limb Decision. If the character isn't medically trained, it's probably an examplle of Worst Aid. If they are, it's a particularly extreme example of One of Our Own.

Compare Pulling Himself Together.

Examples of Self-Stitching include:

Anime & Manga

  • Black Jack once performed a full surgery on his own abdomen, while being circled by hungry dingos. Black Jack also talked a quack doctor through performing surgery on him, which the quack had never done before. Soon after, the quack declared his intention to go to medical school for real.
  • Heero fixes his own broken leg in Gundam Wing. Heero's leg was dislocated and he relocated it by himself, which is technically possible but extremely painful. (But because Heero's The Stoic he didn't bat an eye and, unrealistically, was able to walk fine afterwards)
  • Though perhaps different, Franky of One Piece completely rebuilt himself as a cyborg after suffering tremendous injury from being hit by a sea train. He did this with his own hands, without any assistance, and was thus only able to modify everything but his back, which he couldn't reach or see to work on.
  • This is basically Faust XIII's shtick in Shaman King. He keeps himself all hopped up on morphine so he can freely modify his own body whenever he needs to.


  • During a battle between Lobo and his daughter they slash each other up so badly their regenerative powers can't keep up, so they take a break to stitch themselves up.
  • The Ultimate Pyro is covered with scars due to cauterizing his wounds whenever he gets shot during one of his mutant protest.
  • Hush from Batman can perform surgery on himself, including plastic surgery to make himself look like others as he did in the comics and Batman: Arkham City.


  • Career Killer Leon returns to his apartment and is seen patching himself up in the shower, showing that he had been injured carrying out one of his hits.
  • Chigurh does this in No Country for Old Men, as if he wasn't Badass enough. He torches a car so he can steal the antibiotics he needs from a chemist shop unobserved. Moss has to patch himself up as well, but his attempt is considerably more amateur.
  • The Terminator can do this as he Feels No Pain.
  • The antagonist in Pan's Labyrinth sews his forcefully extended smile shut on camera.
  • Played with in Silent Running when the protagonist reprograms a robot to perform surgery on his badly injured leg.
  • The Fugitive (1993). After he reaches the hospital, Richard Kimble sews up the wound he received in the bus crash. Justified because he's a doctor.
  • Predator 2. The Predator applying hot coals to the stump of its amputated hand to cauterize the wound.
  • Rambo sews up his wounds in the first movie, and in Rambo III digs shrapnel out of his side and then cauterizes the wound with burning gunpowder.
  • I'm Gonna Git You Sucka has a parody of the above Rambo scene when Jack Spade digs a splinter out of his finger.
  • The title villain in Dr. Giggles is shot in the leg at one point, and not only does the surgical work to remove the bullet and stitch up the wound himself, but he does it as if he had a full medical staff, down to requesting (and handing himself) various tools to work with. Of course, this was less him being Badass and more him being bat-shit insane.
  • In Legion, the archangel Michael sews stitches into his back after cutting off his own wings. It's his second scene in the movie, as if they wanted to establish right away that he's a badass.
  • Happens in Gladiator.
  • Dalton in Road House sews his wounds from the opening scene, to establish how Badass he is. The Agony Booth's recap humorously captioned this with "Warning: Do not try to be this much of a badass at home."
  • Near the end of Death Proof, Stuntman Mike pours liquor on a wound to prevent infection. Subverted in that he was cringing the whole time.
  • Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas completely sews herself back together... but then she is a rag doll.
  • Wade, The Medic from The Squad in Saving Private Ryan, gets hit by enemy fire a little more than halfway through the movie. He tries guiding the others through some things, until he comes to realize that his case is hopeless. At which point he just tells them to give him lots of morphine.
  • The crazy psychiatrist in The Front Page is last seen rolling away on a gurney demanding a scalpel and a ceiling mounted mirror so he can operate on himself; he being the only doctor he trusted.
  • In Saw, the Big Bad often requires his "students" to perform grievous injuries to oneself to pass his trials. More often than not, they are given appropiate surgical equipment for the task. One scene in the first movie involves a surgeon chopping his foot off with a bonesaw in order to escape.
  • Cast Away features a scene where Chuck has to extract a bothersome tooth. Using an ice skate. Yeah.
  • Lampshaded and subverted in The Dark Knight Saga when Alfred finds Bruce stitching up a dog bite on his arm and remarks "Whenever you stitch yourself up, you do make a bloody mess" before taking over.


  • In the Aubrey-Maturin novel HMS Surprise, Dr. Stephen Maturin performs surgery to remove a bullet from his own ribs after being wounded in a duel (also seen in Master and Commander The Far Side of The World after Maturin gets shot accidentally).
  • Miss Gard of The Dresden Files series once stuffed a portion of her own intestines back into her body and used Super Glue to seal the wound. Probably made easier by being a Valkyrie, but still damn impressive.
  • Eve Dallas does this after being injured by a random criminal in one In Death book. Her captain later calls in an actual medic to look at the wound, much to her displeasure.
  • M'k'n'zy of Calhoun does this in the very first book of Star Trek: New Frontier. He closes his own facial wound. With a laser welder. The scar is one of his defining facial features as The Captain.
  • Stephen King had a grisly short story about a doctor who survives some kind of wreck and winds up on a flyspeck island in the middle of the ocean. Eventually the good doctor has to turn cannibal on himself, cutting off certain parts, eating them, then taking care so that the area around the sacrificed part wouldn't get infected or anything. At the very end of the story the doctor, who is a surgeon and has been taking very good care of his hands the whole time, finally gets desperate enough to start looking at them... (Apparently when King first had this idea, he ran into a local doctor he knew at the supermarket and asked about whether the idea was at all feasible in real life. The doctor gave him a very odd look before replying that yes, it was theoretically possible).
  • Igors in Discworld do surgery on themselves all the time. Subverted, in a way, in that they don't actually feel any pain while doing this, so it's never an ordeal unless they have difficulty keeping the mirror steady. Even the visible scars are an affectation - they're perfectly capable of stitching seamlessly.
  • In the Doctor Who Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor pops his own dislocated shoulder back in. It's not that he's alone, but he probably figured it's better to do it himself than to make Fitz feel guilty for hurting him.[1]

Live Action TV

  • A variation on Firefly: Simon did not do the surgery on himself, but he did talk Zoe through the whole process while she removed a bullet and dressed the wound. Once she was finished, Simon declared his intent to immediately pass out.
  • Possibly subverted on Lost. Jack insists on being awake so he can talk Juliet through performing an appendectomy on him, but after she begins they decide to knock him out as he's in too much pain.
  • This seems to be the only kind of medical attention the boys of Supernatural ever receive.

 Sam: I need a pen knife, some dental floss, a sewing needle, and a fifth of whiskey. Stat!

  • Happens semi-regularly on House. Perhaps one of the most unpleasant examples came when House discovered he had several small tumours in his leg, and was forced to cut his leg open to remove them.


Web Original

Western Animation

  • Moral Orel: Dr. Chosenberg tries to sew his own Jesus-looking chest wound because everyone else thinks it's a miracle and won't touch it.

Video Games

  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Part of the gameplay is that, rather than just eating Rations to heal, you have to perform first aid on yourself to recover from most injuries. That includes digging out bullets and arrows with your knife, sewing up wounds, and the like.
  • Robinsons Requiem, also known as 'the masochist game'. Basically a 'survive on an empty planet' game, one of the main challenges is that you have to perform realistic first aid on yourself - sewing up and dressing wounds, making splints, and - if necessary - performing amputations.

Real Life

  • Professional chefs regularly keep superglue in their knife kits just in case they give themselves a serious knife wound while working. And by serious, we're talking "cut to the bone" serious. Anything less and its "slap a blue bandaid on it and move on".
  • In 1961 Dr. Leonid Rogozov performed a self-appendectomy at a Soviet research station in Antarctica, as he was the only physician there.
  • In 1998 Dr. Jerri Nielsen, the only doctor at a South Pole scientific station, discovered she had breast cancer and had to operate on herself to extract tissue samples for testing.
  • The Other Wiki page on Self-surgery has a number of media examples.
  • The top four entries of this article.


  1. Later in the same book, Fitz feels obliged to make it up to a budgie for startling it, so... he's pretty clearly a bit of a sensitive chap.
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