The Most Bizarre Deaths in History

Voting Rules
Vote up the most bizarre deaths.

It's a common wish for most people to die peacefully in their sleep, but this doesn't always happen. Some people's deaths are mysterious; some die in freak accidents or otherwise strange, unusual, or downright weird manners that are just plain baffling to the living.

Whether you find this list creepy or thought-provoking, vote up the bizarre deaths you find the most mind-boggling.

  • Gloria Ramirez — 1994: Death By Bodily Toxic Fume Emission
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    10,530 VOTES

    Gloria Ramirez — 1994: Death By Bodily Toxic Fume Emission

    Gloria Ramirez entered the hospital while suffering complications related to cervical cancer, but when the staff attempted to administer medications, perform heart defibrillation, and draw blood, they noticed a garlic-like smell coming from Ramirez's lips and strange, manila-colored chunks in her blood. The syringe also smelled of ammonia.

    At this point, members of the staff began to pass out, and some later suffered medical complications, which they attributed to whatever had happened with Ramirez's body. A HAZMAT team was eventually brought in to decontaminate the hospital room. The case was never been satisfactorily resolved.

    10,530 votes
  • Dozens of Strasbourg Citizens — 1518: Death By Dancing
    Photo: Woodcut by Pieter Bruegel / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    8,226 VOTES

    Dozens of Strasbourg Citizens — 1518: Death By Dancing

    We don't have exact records of just how many people died during this "Dancing Plague," nor do we know what exactly caused the epidemic. It began with a woman known to history as Frau Troffea, who, in July of 1518, stepped out of her house and begin to dance fervently in the street. Soon others followed her lead, and in a month's time, a crowd of about 400 citizens were boogying through Strasbourg, many succumbing to starvation, malnutrition, and extreme exhaustion.

    It is even reported some continued to dance as they lay dying in the streets. Was the plague a result of mass hysteria, poisoned or drugged food, or something supernatural, as many believe? While there is probably a scientific explanation of the event, it remains of one history's secrets.

    8,226 votes
  • Polonus Vorstius — 1470: Death By Spontaneous Human Combustion
    Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY
    6,875 VOTES

    Polonus Vorstius — 1470: Death By Spontaneous Human Combustion

    Spontaneous human combustion is a bizarre way to die, in part, because we're still not sure exactly what causes it. Many scientists even refuse to admit these fires, which seem to randomly arise without any source of ignition, are actually sparked internally. Whatever the cause and however valid, there are numerous cases of this phenomena recorded throughout history, Polonus Vorstius is the first of these, having been recorded in the Historiarum Anatomicarum Rariorum, a tome of strange medical phenomena by Thomas Bartholin.

    As Jackie Rosenhex of Doctor Review writes, "Apparently, the hapless (and soon headless) horseman enjoyed a few glasses of strong wine at his home in Milan in 1470, and then began to belch fire. Then, the story goes, he proceeded to burst into flames and die, in front of his horrified parents."

    6,875 votes
  • Aeschylus — 455 BCE: Death By Falling Turtle
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
    5,051 VOTES

    Aeschylus — 455 BCE: Death By Falling Turtle

    From J.C. McKeown's A Cabinet of Greek Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from the Cradle of Western Civilization, as summarized by chronolit:

    There is a tale that Aeschylus... died from being hit on the head by a falling tortoise. He was spending a lot of time outside due to a prophecy that he would be killed by a falling object, when an eagle flying past mistook his head for a rock and dropped the tortoise it was carrying on him to smash it open (the tortoise, not Aeschylus’ head).

    5,051 votes
  • Draco — 620 BCE: Death By Coats
    Photo: Oyez / CC
    2,938 VOTES

    Draco — 620 BCE: Death By Coats

    According to the Suda, "a massive 10th century Byzantine Greek historical encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world," this Athenian lawmaker "was being honoured by the Aeginetans in the theatre, but they threw so many hats and shirts and cloaks on his head [a customary show of approval] that he suffocated, and was buried in that selfsame theatre."

    Oddly enough, Draco's name became literally synonymous with overbearing and unnecessary laws, as it is the origin of the term "draconian." 

    2,938 votes
  • Henry Taylor — 1872: Death By Coffin
    Photo: Unknown / BBC / Public Domain
    3,385 VOTES

    Henry Taylor — 1872: Death By Coffin

    Or perhaps, death by irony is a more appropriate categorization for this one. According to the BBC:

    [Henry Taylor] was a pall bearer in London's Kensal Green Cemetery, and was midway through a funeral when he caught his foot on a stone and stumbled. As he fell to the ground, the other bearers let go of the coffin, which fell on poor, prone Henry... The greatest confusion was created amongst the mourners who witnessed the accident,' said the Illustrated Police News in November 1872, 'and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics.'

    3,385 votes