Sometimes, to achieve true greatness, you have to give something up. Many of fantasy and science fiction's greatest heroes have lost a hand along the way, but it just makes them more awesome. Here are the greatest severed hands, ever!
No matter how you slice them, they're still spooky. Long after being separated from their bodies, these hands still go wandering.
The Crawling Hand This 1963 movie was featured in Mystery Science Theater 3000, and it's one of the great classics of the genre. This particular severed hand belongs to an astronaut, and it plummets from the skies before starting to menace people.
The Beast With Five Fingers Peter Lorre, the Severed Hand King, stars in this film as the victim of a hand formerly belonging to an evil pianist, who's dead... but his hand still wants to play the piano and kill people. The pianist hand apparently never having heard about living in perfect harmony on your piano keyboard.
The Hand Did you know Oliver Stone had directed a cheesy severed-hand movie? Adapted from Marc Brandel's novel The Lizard's Tail, this film features a comic book artist who loses his hand in a car accident — and then the hand starts killing his enemies.
Demonoid: Messenger of Death Workers at a Mexican mine live in fear of an ancient curse that possesses your left hand and makes you do evil — until you lop your hand off, after which... well, you can probably guess the rest.
"The Body Politic" by Clive Barker. In this short story, a man's hands rebel against him, deciding to lead a hand revolution. The left hand chops off the right, which scuttles off to recruit other hands to the rebellion. This was made into one half of the movie Quicksilver Highway.
The Addams Family Actually, we're not quite sure if Thing was ever attached to anyone or anything, but he's definitely a severed hand now. And he's pretty darn snappy.
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors Christopher Lee plays a pretentious art critic who looks down on the work of poor struggling artists — until he gets tricked into praising a painting by a deranged chimpanzee. Then in a bizarre accident, he loses his hand — but the hand wants revenge.
And Now The Screaming Starts Stephanie Beacham is chased around a forest by a malevolent hand that may or may not have belonged to a local scarred woodsman. Eep!
Coraline thinks she's won when she manages to shut the door on the Other Mother, severing the Other Mother's hand in the process... but hands have a way of being very resourceful.
The Four Fingers of Death Rick Moody's elaborate tribute to The Crawling Hand includes the requisite four-fingered hand which goes around killing — and occasionally sexually pleasuring — unsuspecting people, as well as spreading a zombie plague.
Idle Hands The Devil possesses the right hand of Anton, a stoner slacker — so after his hand starts getting up to too much mischief, Anton finally lops it off with a meat cleaver. Unfortunately, the hand is just getting started.
Doctor Who, "The Hand of Fear" Eldrad must live! But first, Eldrad must show off the mad bling, and clasp hands with Eldrad's new bestie, Sarah Jane Smith. Together, they will go on a radioactive, sensational outing.
Robert E. Howard, "The Right Hand of Doom" A necromancer named Roger Simeon controls his own severed hand to commit one last, terrible act of revenge. Howard describes "a hairy severed hand crawling on its fingers like a great spider, blindly, through the dark night-time forests to scale a wall."
Bride of Re-Animator. This classic, directed by gore-meister Brian Yuzna, goes the zombie severed hand one better — we get a makeshift hand with an eyeball at its center. Much more useful!
You might get very attached to a new hand, but that doesn't mean it'll always do your bidding. Some hand donors will leave you with a cursed appendage.
The Hands of Orlac is the classic hand-transplant story, in which a pianist gets a new pair of hands which have a homicidal life of their own. The 1924 movie was remade in 1960, and also adapted into 1933's Mad Love (with Peter Lorre!) and 1962's Hands of a Stranger.
Body Parts Poor Jeff Fahey — he just can't catch a break. He loses an arm in a car accident, but has it replaced with an arm belonging to a serial killer. Oops.
Angel, "Dead End" Poor old Lindsey, the evil lawyer, gets a hand transplant — and the new hand has wants and needs of its own. Thanks to everyone who pointed this one out.
Futurama, "The Devil's Hands Are Idle Playthings" Fry gets a hand transplant from the Robot Devil so he can serenade Leela... but the Robot Devil didn't get his name just by being a robot. (Thanks to GregIsNotanAlien for suggesting this one!)
Sometimes, saving the day means making some sacrifices — but don't think of it as losing a hand, thinking of it as gaining maximum hero-cred.
The Doctor, Doctor Who David Tennant's barely even stepped out of the TARDIS for the first time, when he finds himself in a sword fight with an evil alien conqueror. The Doctor loses a hand... but wins the fight. And the Doctor's severed hand becomes a major prop, first on Torchwood and then on Doctor Who, eventually becoming another, more marriage-minded Doctor.
Ash, Evil Dead II and Army of Darkness Actually, this is both a one-handed hero thing and a zombie-hand thing. Ash's hand gets infected by a bite from his girlfriend Linda, and tries to kill him with a cleaver. Ash cuts his hand off with a chainsaw, but that doesn't stop it from trying to off him. Ash does fine without a hand, though — he replaces it with the much more useful chainsaw.
Luke Skywalker, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back Poor Luke. That trip to Cloud City doesn't turn out quite the way he hoped — although he does gain a better understanding of his messed-up family, which is worth a few digits. And it turns out his dad, Anakin, also lost a hand at one point — like father, like son.
Fables Poor Boy Blue — his hand gets infected by the Witching Cloak, and has to be gotten rid of. Not that the rest of him is doing all that much better at this point, either.
Aquaman Back in the 1990s, when every hero had to be EXTREEM and "minty-fresh," Peter David started writing Aquaman. Almost immediately, Arthur Curry gained a douchey beard and lost a hand due to an angry fish or something. At first he replaced it with a harpoon, because that was EXTREEM. Then, eventually, that was replaced with a hand made out of blue water. Just go with it. Eventually, Aquaman died of extreme silliness. Thanks to BullfightsonAcid for this one!
Sometimes owners of severed hands weren't human in the first place. Sometimes a hand gets chopped off someone who's already a zombie. Not that makes hand-chopping okay, mind you.
Unsympathetic Magic by Laura Resnick Speaking of zombies, there's a guy named Darius Phelps, whose severed hand turns up at the most inconvenient moment and creates a huge mystery... and then it turns out Darius is not an ordinary dead guy.
Against All Things Ending by Stephen Donaldson The evil Roger, brought back from the dead, grafts the severed hand of an evil spirit onto his own wrist — and uses it to toss eldritch lava at our hero.
Harry Potter Everybody has a "Boggart," which assumes the shape of the thing you fear most — and Dean Thomas' Boggart is a walking hand.
Waxwork II: Lost in Time A zombie hand chases those wacky kids around after they escape from the burning waxworks, and manages to strangle Sarah's stepfather before she squelches it in the trash disposal.
Return of the Living Dead Chopping off a zombie's hand does absolutely no good — the hand will just chase you under its own steam. This is one of the most famous zombie hands, and has inspired tons of fan reproductions.
Splinter After Lacey is killed and possessed by the spines of an ancient creature, she turns into a kind of zombie — which tries to kill her boyfriend Dennis. And even after she's separated from her hand, they both want to try and kill Dennis.
Phantasm III: The Lord of the Dead The latest version of the horrific Tall Man is chasing Reggie and Jody, but Reggie manages to lop his hands off — and then they morph into weird monsters.
Severed Ties Harry Harrison's arm gets hacked off, so he tests out a new limb regeneration serum on it — which results in a new evil lizard snakey arm that has — wait for it — a mind of its own.
Pirates of the Caribbean A detached zombie hand has designs on Governor Swann in this film.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, "Life Serial" The Mummy Hand causes Buffy no end of trouble — she's just trying to learn a little customer service and get better at helping people out, but that danged hand won't cooperate.
Additional reporting by Chelsea Lo Pinto.