Fuck off, Adolf: 15 creative ways to kill Hitler

Illustration: Karl Gustafson

So, you’re still somewhat ambivalent on the morality of punching Nazis in the face, even though they voluntarily adopted an ideology that, on its best day, advocates the disingenuous myth of “peaceful ethnic cleansing.” But what about Adolf Hitler himself, head of the Nazi Party and architect of the Third Reich, the abhorrent regime that murdered millions of people during the Holocaust? You know, the guy who wrote Mein Kampf, in which he lays out a white supremacist viewpoint that’s been making a horrifying comeback in Europe and America alike over the past couple of years? Surely we can all agree he deserves much more than just a sock in the jaw.

Hitler’s crimes have so fascinated the world since his death in 1945—sorry, conspiracy theorists, but the results are in, and Hitler definitely died at the end of World War II—that countless works of fiction have been created imagining a more satisfying comeuppance for the dictator than his actual, ignominious demise. Some even imagine a world where Hitler never existed at all. More recently, video games have allowed players to enact violent vengeance upon Hitler and his minions themselves. And with so many people around the world projecting so much historical horror onto the cave wall of popular media, occasionally things were bound to get weird. Here are 15 of the most inventive ways creators have come up with to do what Danger 5 tried to do so many times: Kill Hitler.

1. Fill his face with maggots, Flesh Feast

Although it’s mostly notable as the final onscreen appearance of fallen Hollywood legend Veronica Lake, the 1970 regional horror film Flesh Feast also contains one of the most creative methods of offing Adolf Hitler ever committed to film. Most of the movie revolves around a reporter investigating diabolical plastic surgeon Dr. Elaine Frederick (Lake) and her mysterious patient who just arrived from South America, but at the end, that patient’s identity turns out to be—Hitler himself! That’s when Dr. Frederick’s secret scheme to get revenge for her mother’s death in a Nazi concentration camp is finally revealed: She stuffs the skin on the elderly Hitler’s face full of maggots, then watches, laughing maniacally, as they eat his flesh from the outside in. It’s two minutes of trash cinema so bizarre, it almost makes up for the 80 stultifying minutes that came before it. [Katie Rife]

2. Decapitate him with a giant cartoon ax, The Simpsons 

They fight and bite, mostly with each other, but sometimes, Itchy and Scratchy team up against a common foe. Their targets have ranged from the controversial—Marge Simpson was only thinking of the children!—to the historical. In season four’s “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie,” the cartoon cat and mouse lay waste to the führer in some archival footage released ahead of the in-show movie premiere. After Scratchy whacks him with a giant wrench, Itchy deals the coup de grace with a huge ax. But before their efforts can turn into a Yalta conference, Itchy turns on Scratchy, decapitating his temporary ally. Poor Scratchy doesn’t live long enough to get a hero’s welcome from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who kicks his corpse as well as Hitler’s. It makes you wonder what was in the cut scene that Itchy & Scratchy steward John Swartzwelder called “the most disturbing, horrible sequence” they’d ever written. [Danette Chavez]

3. Put his soul into a balloon, then pop it, Aqua Teen Hunger Force

Technically, the Bill Hader-voiced Hitler in this sixth-season installment of Adult Swim’s surreal snack-based series is already dead, having inexplicably exploded while trying to smuggle a bunker’s worth of knick-knacks up his own ass. Unfortunately, Adolf’s soul merged with the balloon he was using for the grisly chore, thus ensuring his inevitable return, complete with plans to use “a perfect race of Aryan balloons to control the world.” On the plus side, this particular Hitler is a pretty reasonable guy—as far as the extremely relative scale of Hitler-ness is concerned, at least—so all it takes is a quick explanation that Goldie Hawn and Adam Sandler are both Jewish to turn him away from his anti-Semitic ways. It doesn’t do anything to mitigate his rampant homophobia, though, leading the Aqua Teen Hunger Force to quickly cut their losses. One sharpened poke with a french fry later, the world is once again free of easily inflatable hate. [William Hughes]

4. Crush him with a giant bell, Sniper Elite 3

The title of the Sniper Elite games is a bit misleading: you’re doing more than merely taking people at long distances, often infiltrating bases stealthily and engaging in more double-barreled action along the way. But when you get down to the titular business, the game lavishes attention on the action, providing X-ray insights as the bullet pierces the target’s body and punctures their internal organs. One of the game’s downloadable missions grants the player the honor of taking out the führer, which you can certainly do via the game’s more straight-forward methods like a long-distance rifle or grenade. But true Hitler-killing aficionados can instead aim up, far above the veranda on which Hitler lounges, finding a bell-tower rising portentously overhead. Take out the rope that suspends the bell, and it crashes over a portico, landing with a comic splat on Hitler and presumably saving humanity in the process. [Clayton Purdom]

5. Throw a grenade at the jar containing his severed head, They Saved Hitler’s Brain

The title of the infamous cinematic turkey They Saved Hitler’s Brain (1968) is somewhat misleading: They saved his whole damn head, not just the brain. You’ll have to disregard history as well as biology to accept this premise: In the film, fleeing Nazi officers manage to separate the führer’s still-living head from his body at the end of World War II (if you recall, Hitler committed suicide by shooting himself in the head, which would have rendered that whole exercise, let’s say, sloppy) and spirit it away to a fictional South American country, where they stick it in a jar and promptly resume their plans for world domination. That’s some pretty impressive mad science, although they did make a major oversight by not making the jar grenade-proof. [Katie Rife]

6. Go back in time to when he was a baby, steal the baby, and jump off of a bridge, The Twilight Zone

It’s the classic question: If you had the power of time travel, wouldn’t you be duty-bound to kill a young Hitler, saving millions of lives in the process? On the UPN’s ill-fated 2002 Twilight Zone reboot, a pre-Grey’s Anatomy Katherine Heigl is tasked with just this heavy burden. Of course, the ugly reality of killing Hitler as a baby is that you’re then forced to kill a baby, a task that Heigl struggles with mightily, even chickening out once when she has an opening. When she finally works up the nerve—remembering that it’s Hitler we’re talking about here—she seizes the baby in the dead of night and leaps off a bridge to both of their deaths. This being The Twilight Zone, there’s a twist ending, heavily implying that a separate baby might still grow up to be the Hitler that Heigl sought to kill. But time paradoxes aside, you’d have to judge it a successful effort. [Clayton Purdom]

7. Sterilize his dad, Making History

The heroes of Stephen Fry’s 1996 novel Making History enact possibly the least violent “time travel to deal with Hitler” plan imaginable: rather than any grisly baby-Adolf murders (with all the requisite moral hang-ups therein), they simply use a time machine to drop a permanent male contraceptive into the water supply of the town where he was conceived. It works, too, effectively deleting the führer from history. But, as is so often the case with time-travel Hitler plots, things end up going in a disastrously worse direction thanks to their well-meaning intervention. Not only is Rudolf Gloder, the German leader who replaces Hitler in this new timeline, far more sane and savvy (while still being just as ambitious and evil), but the Nazi discovery of the tampered water allows them to “humanely” sterilize every Jewish man in Europe, allowing for a Final Solution that’s no less final for its relative lack of bloodshed. In the end, Fry’s heroes have to set out to un-kill Hitler in the hopes of restoring a 20th century that’s only moderately fucked, instead of the Hitler-free dystopia they’ve found themselves trapped within. [William Hughes]

8. Give him syphilis, The Man In The High Castle

Unlike the new Amazon TV adaptation, which used Hitler in a notably different manner, Philip K. Dick’s original novel included the führer in a much more symbolic fashion. Yes, he’s still alive at the start of the alternate-reality “What if the Axis powers won WWII?” scenario that powers Dick’s book, but by the 1960s he’s an ailing old man. The reason is brutally simple: Adolf Hitler has an advanced case of syphilis, and it has completely incapacitated him, necessitating his withdrawal from authority despite remaining as a figurehead of the Nazi government. Dying slowly of syphilis is an unpleasant proposition, but Dick—who considered writing a sequel, but was so repulsed by the concept of spending more time thinking about Nazis that he refused—clearly wanted to give a little payback to one of history’s greatest monsters through one of the more demeaning and wasting diseases he could imagine. [Alex McLevy]

9. Mow him down with a machine gun in a burning theater, Inglourious Basterds

Many time-travel plots and alternative visions of history give their heroes the satisfaction of putting a bullet or 10 into Adolf Hitler, but leave it to Quentin Tarantino to give it that little extra ultraviolent je ne sais quoi. Nazis get what’s coming to them throughout Tarantino’s 2009 World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds, and the climactic scene saves a few magazines for the führer himself. Hitler is mowed down in a barrage of machine-gun fire by two of the Basterds—one of whom, Eli Roth’s Bear Jew, blasts his bullet-riddled corpse into jelly for good measure—in the burning movie theater where Jewish theater owner Shosanna (Melanie Laurent) has barricaded the majority of the Nazi top brass, ensuring all of their fiery deaths. That’s one way to end a war. [Katie Rife]

10. Ruin his robot suit and disintegrate his body with bullets, Wolfenstein 3D

We’re still waiting for the day Wolfenstein’s audacious modern reimagining gives us the chance to kill Hitler, but the folks at MachineGames have a solid template to work from thanks to the grandaddy of all first-person shooters, Wolfenstein 3D. In its final act, American commando B.J. Blazkowicz goes on his most dangerous mission of all: to infiltrate a secret bunker below the Reichstag and go face-to-face with the führer himself. B.J. blasts his way through a labyrinth of secret doors and Hitler ghosts before the dictator’s true form is revealed: He’s stuffed himself inside a robot suit, complete with four massive chain guns, but not even that is enough to stop B.J. First, you shoot apart his armor. Then you pour a few more bullets into him until he lets out his final words—“Eva, auf wiedersehen!”—and disintegrates into a pile of gore. It’s a death animation so lovingly rendered, the game immediately goes into an instant replay and forces you to watch it a second time. [Matt Gerardi]

11. Blow up his helicopter and watch his head explode, Bionic Commando

The NES era is notorious for Nintendo’s far-reaching censorship, and Bionic Commando is one the prime examples. In Japan, this Capcom classic has a title that translates to Hitler’s Resurrection: Top Secret, which makes sense, given that it’s about a new Nazi army seeking a way to bring Hitler back to life so he can complete his work on a superweapon. But Nintendo was not okay with all these Nazi references, and had Capcom change the title, label the Nazis as “Badds,” and rename Hitler to “Master D.” The family-friendly console maker apparently cared less about pixelated gore, though. The game’s famous ending, in which our hero Rad Spencer blows up the helicopter of the fleeing Hitler and we get a close-up of the tyrant’s head bursting, is one of the most gruesome images in the NES library, and somehow that remained untouched. [Matt Gerardi]

12. Watch him spontaneously combust, Operation Darkness

There are plenty of reasons why Operation Darkness, a horror-tinged World War II role-playing game from the little-known Japanese developer Succeed, is barely remembered these days, not the least of which were the toxic reviews it garnered when it made it Stateside in 2008. But the premise alone makes this a game worth remembering. It takes place in a fantastical World War II, where the Nazi army includes skeletons, vampires, and dragons. Players take the reins of a paranormal British special forces unit deployed to march across North Africa and Europe, stomping out the Axis threat. Your squad includes werewolves, necromancers, and a reformed Jack The Ripper. (No, the time periods don’t match up at all. Just roll with it.) As your campaign reaches its conclusion, you defeat Hitler, who lets out a final taunt before he suddenly lights on fire and collapses. The game doesn’t explain his sudden immolation. The most likely possibility is that it’s the work of your resident fire wizard, but really, does it matter how he ended up burned to a crisp? [Matt Gerardi]

13. Attack him with an army of ghosts, Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn

Believe it or not, Hitler isn’t even the main villain of Dragon Ball Z: Fusion Reborn, the 12th out of 15 movies based on the popular anime series. At the beginning of the film, a careless teenage demon throws the world into chaos when he forgets to change the evil essence tank in a spirit cleansing machine—who hasn’t been there, at least once?—which somehow leads to history’s greatest monsters coming back from the dead to terrorize Earth. That includes a comically indignant, teeny-tiny little Hitler and his teeny little army of undead Nazis, whose claims of superiority are easily disproven by a maneuver that, to our untrained eyes, appears to consist of barfing up ghosts and ordering them to blow the mini-führer to smithereens. There’s probably more nuance to it than that, but even if you do know what the hell is going on, we imagine it’s still pretty bizarre. [Katie Rife]

14. Use demon magic, Persona 2: Innocent Sin

Persona 3­—which stars a bunch of Japanese high schoolers who fight monsters by shooting themselves in the head and unleashing their “Personas,” or powerful manifestations of their inner selves—was pretty weird, but it has nothing on Persona 2. Released only in Japan in 1999 for reasons that will become obvious, it took place in a cursed city where rumors are made flesh. One such myth, written in a fake book of prophecies, is that Hitler survived World War II by escaping to Antarctica with a secret Nazi organization called the Last Battalion, and he plans to rebuild his forces into an unstoppable technological juggernaut before a second stab at world domination. And that’s exactly what happens: Hitler and a bunch of robo-Nazis descend on this city, and it’s up to a bunch of teenagers to infiltrate a UFO buried underground (another conspiracy theory made reality) and put an end to the führer’s second coming. Hitler’s equipped with, what else, the mythical spear used to stab Jesus, but the kids invoke the occult magic of their Personas and in one of the game’s final battles, and put him down like every other demonic threat. [Matt Gerardi]

15. Let him kill himself, Downfall

As cathartic as it may be to imagine creative ways of getting revenge on the man whose racist ideology led to the genocide of approximately 6 million Jews, 2 million Poles, and hundreds of thousands of Romani, disabled, and LGBT people—not to mention the millions who died in World War II itself—let us never forget that the real Adolf Hitler did not go out in a blaze of glory. No, he died in defeat, shooting himself in the head in a Berlin bunker as Soviet forces closed in. The 2004 German historical drama Downfall captures the pathetic degradation of Hitler’s last days, reminding us that, although he was undeniably evil, the real Adolf Hitler wasn’t superhuman. He was just a man—a hateful, power-hungry, contemptible little man. [Katie Rife]