The Top 7... Badass beheadings

Today is Valentine’s Day, and you know what that means: pre-packaged romantic gestures, depressed single people and the usual round of sappy articles from gaming websites for whom holidays are a convenient substitute for actual ideas. We’re no different, having used Valentine’s as a springboard for our own custom Valentine cards, as well as pieces on gaming’s best couples and some of its worst. But Valentine’s Day is about more than just candy and flower sales; at its core, it’s about honoring a Catholic saint who was martyred in ancient Rome.

Above: Probably the guy we’re talking about 

While there were several saints who went by the name Valentine, the one we’re thinking of was a priest who married Christian couples at a time when being a Christian was pretty damned illegal. After trying to convert Emperor Claudius II himself, Valentine was beaten and beheaded. And who else do we know that gets beaten and beheaded on a fairly regular basis? That’s right: videogame characters. And that’s pretty much all the justification we needed to do this.

7. Bloody Rotors

The game: X-Men Origins: Wolverine

Wolverine may not be the greatest movie-adapted superhero game we’ve ever played, but it’s the most unexpectedly bloody, with a digitized Hugh Jackman who cuts loose from the movie’s PG-13 restrictions and just carves dudes the hell up. As Logan does his thing, blood and limbs fly everywhere in a spectacle that’s so remarkably violent as to make the film seem cartoonishly neutered by comparison.

Amidst all the severed arms, impalements and eviscerations, there’s one moment that makes XMOW particularly worth playing, and it happens in the early moments of the game. While strolling around some cliffside ruins, Logan is suddenly attacked by his natural enemy: a helicopter. Literally leaping into action, he stabs the shit out of the chopper’s fuselage, punches through its windshield and… well, this happens:

As in-game decapitations by whirring machinery go, it’s over just a little too quickly, and the purple blood on the rotor seems like an odd step back for a game that so frequently revels in dismemberment. Still, we can’t really think of any more awesome way to dispose of an enemy chopper pilot than to feed him to his own bird. If anything, this was long overdue.

6. Three-in-One

The game: Mortal Kombat II

The Mortal Kombat series has always been rife with decapitations, each seemingly messier than the last. In MK’s 19 years(!!!) of existence, we’ve seen heads torn off (frequently with the spine still attached), sliced to pieces, swallowed whole, melted, burned, skeletonized, transformed into a vomited spume of femurs and bisected with razor-sharp hats. Choosing just one out of that awful mess is no easy task.

Above: Ew 

But even with this incredible wealth of gruesome decapitations to choose from, there’s one that sticks out in our minds more than any other: Johnny Cage’s spine-severing uppercut from Mortal Kombat II. Specifically this version:

That’s right: Johnny Cage, blue-eyed actor from Venice, California, is so fantastically badass that not only can he punch with enough force to knock off a grown man’s head, but he can do it three times (apparently creating a new head with each subsequent punch). We don’t know why it happens, but we do know there’s no feeling quite like brutally murdering your opponent three times in quick succession and leaving heads littered everywhere. Particularly at an arcade in 1993, back when that sort of thing was considered cool.


Top 7

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  • JackSkellingtonsSkin - February 14, 2011 10:51 p.m.

    So romantic
  • Thegynecologistwithchipmunkcheeks - February 14, 2011 10:52 p.m.

    Perfect for valentines day
  • Genocide4Jawas - February 14, 2011 11:02 p.m.

    I've played through RE4 a few times, but I've never seen the Dr. Salvador chainsaw death because I NEVER let those creepy fuckheads get close enough for that noise
  • Outlander - February 14, 2011 11:16 p.m.

    Wow. I had never played Duke Nukem 3d... I never knew he literally ripped someone's head off and shit down their neck. That's what valentines day should truly be about.
  • Hullonotna - February 14, 2011 11:17 p.m.

    Brilliant. The last 2 were epic, and the duke still has it. Can't wait to see what he does in DNF
  • Nin10DOH - February 14, 2011 11:20 p.m.

    I hope they have some of that badassery in Duke Nukem Forver. I'm sure it will though...
  • RicePuddingUK - February 14, 2011 11:21 p.m.

    Ha! I love how Duke Nukem is coming back everyones like "OMG Duke Nukem! Best series ever" and completely forgets everything else, like sheep! Never spoke about it before.
  • BigDannyH - February 14, 2011 11:22 p.m.

    RE4 bag head dude sawing off my loaf of bread is hands down the scariest thing I've experienced in a game. Agree with G4J, when you hear that saw ... peg it!
  • Yaro - February 14, 2011 11:30 p.m.

    @ RicePuddingUK Well to be fair the series was pretty much dead for the last decade. Anyway, awesome top 7 Mikel. I spit my drink at: Natural enemy: a helicopter. =)
  • juicenpancakes - February 14, 2011 11:38 p.m.

    Happy VD everybody! Yeah! The videos do so much for this article. Thanks for going the extra mile, Mikel. Here are some loving valentines for you that I found on some fantastic website:
  • batmanboy11 - February 14, 2011 11:39 p.m.

    Awesome list!
  • CancerMan - February 14, 2011 11:40 p.m.

    I personal favorite decapitation omitted from this list were the glaive decapitations in Dark Sector. Satisfying slow motion gore that never got old. Also that Legend Decapitation is fucking Metal!
  • fetalspray - February 14, 2011 11:48 p.m.

  • wiitard07 - February 15, 2011 12:10 a.m.

    I was hoping Eddie's decapitations would make it up to number 2 or one, but I love helios and Duke's! Also I think that the rapid tap A kills in Dead Space II where you put the Puker's head over your shoulder and rip it off, and the one where you pick up the pack and punch its head off deserve some love. Also from Dead Space II *MASSIVE SPOILER ALERT* The one where you fail to correctly use the Needle machine and it lifts Isaac's whole head off and the one where you javelin off Tiedman's head.
  • NightCrawler_358 - February 15, 2011 12:17 a.m.

    Awwwwwww, lovely! These were all great entries, I couldn't even think of some that I would've added! WAIT! the Demoman's Highlander sword in Team Fortress 2 decapitates every enemy it hits, so thats a pretty cool one too.
  • WickedSid - February 15, 2011 12:24 a.m.

    Eddie's was awesome, Kratos' was awesome, Duke's was the best and he tops it off with whistling his own theme song.
  • trojan12 - February 15, 2011 12:24 a.m.

    Duke doesn't lie when it comes to kicking ass!
  • deadpool125 - February 15, 2011 12:29 a.m.

    @#5: When the Gatekeeper to Hell asks you who sent you, Tell 'em it was Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams. I've been on a Mass Effect binge and only just noticed that Ashley and Shinobi have the same voice.
  • Pruman - February 15, 2011 12:45 a.m.

    No Dead Space? Something like 80% of the death animations in the game are decapitations. The Brute one in particular stands out as the most brutal for me.
  • Strangleme - February 15, 2011 12:51 a.m.

    GODDAMN this Top 7 is EXCELLENT!! I Love you mikel!! Happy Vagintines Day!!!