WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic
Someone is too close to finding out the truth. Or perhaps he or she knows too much for their own good. For whatever reason, this person has been seriously injured or ill, and is now unconscious in a hospital bed. An assailant slips behind the hospital staff and quietly sneaks into the hospital room with intent on killing the sleeping patient. Sometimes they succeed. Sometimes they don't.

Scarily enough, there are cases where this is Truth in Television.

Compare with Room Disservice and Dude, She's Like, in a Coma. May overlap with Make It Look Like an Accident, especially if performed by a doctor or a member of the nursing staff.

Examples of Sickbed Slaying include:

Anime and Manga

  • In one of the arcs of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni , Satoko is killed like this when she is left as the sole survivor of Hinamizawa Disaster.
  • Gaara tries this with Rock Lee in Naruto, pre Heel Face Turn. He is stopped by Shikamaru and Naruto.
    • Of course, Lee didn't know any particular information. Gaara was just nuts enough to want him dead.
      • More specifically, Gaara couldn't comprehend why Gai would risk his own life to protect his protege, when Gaara's own mentor tried to kill him. Rather than try to confront the fact that other people have love and he doesn't, he decided to remove the reminder.
    • Kabuto attempts this with Sasuke. Then Kakashi gets in the way. And we still don't know exactly what Kabuto's motives were.
  • Happens to Rally in Gunsmith Cats. No outside assistance, and indeed she was never more than half awake as she shot the assassin down and threw the bomb under her pillow out the window.
  • Several villains do this to a police detective in the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex episode "The Fortunate Ones: MISSING HEARTS".
    • This is done all the time! When nobody is able to kill the Major in combat, they try something else and send an assassin to kill her when she gets her cybernetic body replaced and is nothing more than a Brain In a Jar for a few minutes. Then the assassin looks away just long enough for the Laughing Man to plug her back in...

Comic Books

  • In the 14th album of the XIII series (Danger to the State) Irina Svetlanova disguised as a nurse attempts to do it to the main protagonist.


  • The Omen.
  • Barely averted in both the first and second Godfather films. In the first Michael Corleone arrives to find the police guards have been 'reassigned'. He gets a nurse to move his father's bed to another room, then bluffs the killers by standing outside (with a friend) and sliding a hand inside his coat when the carload of killers turn up. In the second film the hitman, having distracted the nurses, is about to press a pillow over the patient's face when a squad of Cuban soldiers, who have been tipped off about the hit, march in and shoot him.
  • The climax of the film U.S. Marshals.
  • Elle Driver disguises herself as a nurse and attempts to do this to The Bride in the first volume of Kill Bill. Fortunately Bill calls at the last minute and cancels the hit.
  • Bethany from Dogma saves "existence" by doing this.
    • God
  • Similar thing happens in Hard Boiled, only that the victim is not unconscious but rather, in a plaster cast from tip to toe, which only makes the murder (with a scalpel) crueler.
  • The Steve McQueen thriller Bullitt (1968). A hitman sneaks into the hospital with the intent of finishing off his target, but is recognised and chased off by Bullitt.
  • Telefon. A priest who's been brainwashed to commit sabotage is captured alive. A female KGB agent purchases a nurses' uniform from an on-sight outfitters, while Charles Bronson (posing as a doctor) rings up the duty nurse and tells her that another nurse will be replacing her, as she's to report somewhere else. The false nurse then injects air into the IV tube of the patient.
  • In Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings, it's hinted that Gríma did this to Théodred.
  • Very nearly happens in Orphan.
  • Subverted in The Dark Knight Saga: The Joker visits a badly injured Harvey Dent in the hospital. He doesn't kill him, but his visit is enough to send Dent over the edge and make him fully embrace his new nature as the vengeful Two-Face.


  • Dean Koontz's The Door To December features a hitman sitting in his car, preparing to sneak into a hospital in the middle of the night to whack a certain patient. The next time we see him, he's still sitting in his car -- with his neck crushed by an unknown assailant.
  • Happens very early in A Song of Ice and Fire to Bran Stark after he witnessed Twincest. Subverted, when it turns out Joffrey arranged it as a Mercy Kill. He thought it was, nobody else did.
  • Able Team ("Justice by Fire"). A corrupt FBI agent goes to interview the sole survivor of an Able Team ambush. It turns out he's willing to tell everything about those paying the FBI agent, who notices that the food service workers in the hospital don't have any form of identification. A few hours later, a man dressed as a food service worker presses a pillow over the patient's face.
  • In Bored of the Rings, after the battle of Minas Troney, Farashlax is assigned a private hospital room, where he is visited by an apron-and-stethoscope-wearing Arrowroot (already now claiming the title of "true king of all Twodor"). The Ranger emerges with his apron covered in blood, and explains that Farashlax succumbed to "terminal abrasions and contusions with complications," though Legolam didn't think he was wounded that much.

Live Action TV

  • Happens in Fringe, episode 1x09
  • New Tricks had a villain from the previous season attempt to smother Jack Halford while he was in hospital recovering from a car accident.
  • Law and Order had this done to a child to make his mother keep quiet.
  • Done in the first season finale of Twin Peaks.
  • 24:
    • In the seventh episode of first season, this happens to Janet York.
    • Season seven's villains love this -- assassins working for them kill both Colonel Ike Dubaku and Ryan Burnett this way after they've outlived their usefulness.
    • This is invoked in season eight -- CTU release a news bulletin saying that the very dead Farhad Hassan is alive and has been taken to hospital in the hope that the villain will send one of his men to finish him off, who they can then capture.
    • Later in season eight, the wounded Samir Mehran is killed by an assassin disguised as an EMT as he's being loaded into an ambulance.
  • In an episode of Family Matters, Carl ends up in a hospital after being hit with a bullet during a shootout. A shooter, seeking revenge for his relative who Carl recently arrested, dresses up as a doctor and sneaks into the hospital room intent on killing Carl. Steve sneaks up behind the shooter and knocks him out with the metal squatting pan.
  • An unusual humorous (if morbidly so) example occurs in Rescue Me, in which a character suffering from kidney cancer awakens from a musical Dream Sequence gone awry to find a well-meaning uncle attempting to smother him as an act of mercy because the doctors say he's taken a turn for the worse.
  • This is attempted at the end of the Grimm pilot.
  • Leverage, "The Beantown Bailout Job." The bank manager behind the whole scam is on his way to the hospital to kill the only witness, who's lying in a coma... only to find the Massachusetts State Police waiting for him when he arrives.
  • The X-Files. After A.D. Skinner is shot Scully thinks this has happened to him when she finds his room empty and the police guards missing. It turns out he's being transferred to another hospital. She decides to accompany Skinner there in the ambulance, which is just as well as that's where the attempted murder occurs.
    • And Skinner himself attempts to do this to the comatose Mulder in "Deadalive", thinking he is saving Scully's unborn child by doing so. It fails, but ends up saving Mulder from a life of alien replication.
  • Castle. In season one, this almost happens to a man in witness protection - luckily, it turns out just to be a trap, and our heroes catch the would-be assassin.
  • In The Pretender Miss Parker is sent to kill Sydney's twin Jacob, who was in a persistent vegetative state after a car accident caused by him wanting to leave The Centre. She faked his murder with Sydney's help. In a later episode this was found out, which lead to sweepers were sent in to do the job properly. They did not arrive on time.
  • After being shot, The Mentalist's Bosco nearly died this way. Luckily, his Action Girl friend/co-worker/one true love, Teresa Lisbon manages to stop the shooter in a Crowning Moment of Awesome. Poor Bosco dies anyway, but at least he and Lisbon get to have their Anguished Declaration of Love before he does.
  • In Boardwalk Empire, one of the gangsters attacked in the first episode turns out not to have been killed by Jimmy and Al and turns up badly wounded. Since Nucky is afraid he will start talking and name names, he arranges things so that his brother will smother the guy with a pillow while pretending to question him. This plan is interrupted by the FBI, but things don't go better for the patient after that, as the Knight Templar Agent Van Allen tortures him for information via Open-Heart Dentistry, and he dies after giving up information.
  • In episode 6 of The Shadow Line, this almost happens to Gatehouse when he's in hospital after being shot by Glickman. However, he's able to overpower and kill his assassin and escape.
  • Attempted on Angel, though for revenge rather than to silence someone.
  • Luther: sociopathic killer Alice Morgan disguises herself as a doctor, hits the fire alarm and then tells the police officer guarding the man she intends to kill that there's some violent patients on the floor below who are hindering the evacuation. She then walks into the room and smothers her target with her bare hands.
  • On Seinfeld, George is in the hospital and keeps going on about how he doesn't want to suffer and just be sick forever so he asks Jerry, that if it comes to that, to put him out of his misery. Jerry says "Like this?" grabs a pillow and start suffocating him while he struggles.

Tabletop RPG

  • Call of Cthulhu supplement The Fungi From Yuggoth. In the playtesting of the first adventure "The Dreamer", the PCs entered Paul LeMond's hospital room to find the cultist Clarence Rodgers strangling him. Rogers had infiltrated the hospital dressed as an orderly.

Video Games

  • Attempted on the main character in Sanitarium.
  • In the end of Dreamfall, Zoe Castillo is drugged by Helena Chang to save the real world via dreaming. After she is done, Helena injects her with even more drug, to make sure she never wakes up again. Apparently, it only works half-way: Zoe cannot wake up but possesses a lot of power even when sleeping.
  • Considered in the first Persona game by Nanjo at upon discovering that their friend Maki is trapped in Kandori's DVA system, which has been the cause of all their problems. Mark decks him for it.


  • The reason Gil from Girl Genius had to send out Captain Vole to try to get Agatha is because waves of assassins were trying to kill his hospitalized father.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.