Creepy Things You Didn’t Know About Dying In The Electric Chair

The electric chair is no longer used as the primary method of execution in the United States. But at the time it was invented, it was considered the best method available to carry out a capital punishment sentence. This list explains what it's like to meet your end via the electric chair. As you would expect, there are no first-hand accounts of what it's like, but we've pieced it together from witness accounts as well as accounts from survivors of severe electrical shocks.

These facts about the electric chair will make one thing clear: this is not something you ever want to experience. It may be hard to believe that this method of execution used to be considered humane. 


  • The Electric Chair Quite Literally Cooks You

    The Electric Chair Quite Literally Cooks You
    Photo: cyclonebill / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
    According to some reports, the electric chair can occasionally cause people to catch fire. Witnesses to executions have sometimes heard a sound "like bacon frying."
  • You Might Not Perish On The First Try

    You Might Not Perish On The First Try
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Multiple executions by the electric chair have been botched, meaning the prisoner did not perish after the first electric shock. In many of these cases, the prisoner actually caught on fire and still had a heartbeat. Most of the botched procedures were attributed to human error.

  • No One Is Sure How The Electric Chair Ultimately Works

    Obviously, the person is alive when strapped in and not after receiving get the shock, but the actual way in which the electric chair ends someone is up for debate. The most likely causes: cardiac arrest and paralysis of the part of the brain that controls respiration.

  • It Can Make Your Eyeballs Pop Out

    Being electrocuted can cause the body to swell so much that the eyeballs pop out of the head. The sudden extreme temperature in the body can also cause the eyeballs to melt. That's why prisoners often have their eyes taped shut before they are executed.

  • Some Skin Can Burn Off

    Your flesh will resist the electrical current passing through you, and this resistance creates heat, which can cause your skin to be severely burned. When prisoners are electrocuted, some of the skin can completely burn off.

  • They Can't Do An Autopsy Until You Cool Down

    They Can't Do An Autopsy Until You Cool Down
    Photo: Jamie C2009 / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Lethal electrocution heats the internal organs so much that coroners must wait until the body cools down before they can perform an autopsy. The body is so hot right after the procedure that it might blister anyone who touches it.