Torture isn’t particularly fun to think about, so we can only imagine how horrific it must be to actually have it done to you. Fortunately, we as a society have pretty much done away with forms of brutal torture unless you’re name is Jack Bauer and you’re just trying to save the world again.

But looking back at the way the world used to be is pretty eye-opening when you think about the sick depravity that must have been involved in devising these horrific torture devices that people used to use, often just for kicks.

17The Judas Cradle

The Judas Cradle

This one makes our butts clench just thinking about it, as the victim would be strung up above a sharp pyramid and slowly lowered down and impaled on it through the rectum.

16The Rack

The Rack

One of the all-time classics in the world of torture, a victim would have his hands and feet tied to the four corners of the rack and be stretched until his limbs were literally torn from his body.

15Rat Torture

Rat Torture

This one has actually been used in pop culture, notably the second Fast and the Furious movie, and it involves placing a rat in a metal box or cage on a victim’s stomach and heating it up, giving the rat no escape but down – burrowing into the stomach of the victim.

14The Catherine Wheel

The Catherine Wheel

It couldn’t be much fun to find yourself tied to a large, revolving wheel to be slowly rotated and pummeled with an iron hammer, which is exactly what happened with the breaking wheel – not exactly the most clever machine of death, but brutal nonetheless.

13The Brazen Bull

The Brazen Bull

One of the oldest methods of torture on this list, the Brazen Bull was a large brass bull with the victim being trapped inside, a fire burning beneath its belly and cooking the victim alive, with the screams of pain being amplified and emerging from the bull’s mouth.

12Iron Maiden



No, we aren’t talking about the hard metal band, but the device they took their name from, which is basically a small closet full of spikes that would jab and impale the victim after he’s placed inside and the doors are closed on him.

11Pear of Anguish

Pear of Anguish

If you want some cringe-worthy torture, we give you the pear of anguish, a device that was inserted into the victim’s mouth and slowly expanded, obliterating the victim’s face and jaw in the process.

10Iron Chair

Iron Chair

This one is pretty self-explanatory, considering it’s a chair made almost entirely of little spikes, causing countless extremely painful punctures and making us really, really yearn for a plush bean bag chair right about now.

9Cat’s Paw

Cat’s Paw

Also known as the Spanish Tickler, this is a device that the guy doing the torturing would attach to his own hand, basically turning himself into Freddy Krueger and ripping away at the victim’s flesh.

8Lead Sprinkler


It’s really annoying when someone keeps flicking water at you, right? Well now imagine that water being replaced with molten lead, and you can imagine that it’s elevated from “annoying” to downright horrifying.

7Scold’s Bridle


Designed specifically for women, because back in Medieval times dudes really wanted to tell their ladies to just shut up, this mask would lock the woman’s mouth shut while also piercing her tongue in order to teach her to stop nagging or gossiping.

6Crocodile Shears


One of the most terrifying prospects for a man is to lose his, um, manhood, and the Crocodile Shears were designed specifically for that, as they were heated and used to rip the penis right off of the victim’s body.

5Heretic’s Fork


This would be strapped around the neck of the victim, with the sharp prongs jammed under the jaw and into the clavicle area, making virtually any movement of the head or mouth impossible unless you wanted to have the underside of your jaw pierced.



Also known as a hanging cage, gibbeting was the basically putting a living victim into a tight cage in public and, basically, just leaving them there, incapable of moving or eating, until they died and became food for the crows or vultures.

3Punishing Shoes


It’s uncomfortable enough to walk around with, say, a little rock in your shoe, so imagine tight metal shoes designed specifically to jab your heel with little spikes every time you take a step.

2The Boots


Let’s move from shoes to boots as we talk about something straight out of the movie Misery, as this method of torture involved placing blocks of wood between two planks of wood, with wedges being hammered to tighten them, shattering the shins of the victim in the process.

1The Head Crusher


The name pretty much says it all here, as this horrific device would pin a victim’s head into what is basically a giant, skull-shaped vice, slowly crushing the head with each tightening twist of the screw.