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This article is about how Grounders handle crime and punishment. You may be looking for Sky People/Crime and Punishment.

Among the various human factions on the ground and in space, punishments for various crimes take many forms depending on the severity of the crime and the age of the criminal. Prisoners of war are also confined and/or tortured.

Death by a Thousand Cuts

Commander Lexa executing Gustus

Capital punishment in the form of Death by a Thousand Cuts occurs when every single member of the clan takes a turn cutting the convicted person before feeding them to bugs. For more egregious crimes (as in the case of Finn Collins), they start with fire and take the hands, tongue, and eyes. Everyone gets a turn with the knife before the Commander ends it with their sword if the person is still alive by then. In other variations, the number of cuts the person is sentenced to correlates with the number of deaths the person is charged (as in the case of Carl Emerson).

Notable Crimes

Lincoln Treason (Octavia) Saved by Octavia Blake (traded for Nyko) Inclement Weather
Finn Collins Massacre of 18 villagers in Tondc Mercy-killed by Clarke Griffin Human Trials (crime)
Spacewalker (death)
Raven Reyes Attempted assassination of the Commander (poisoning) Saved by proof of innocence Remember Me
Gustus Treason Executed by the Commander Remember Me
Carl Emerson Caused the deaths of 49 Sky People in the destruction of Mount Weather
Death by 49 Cuts or Banishment
Banished by Clarke Griffin Ye Who Enter Here (crime)
Bitter Harvest (captured and charged)


Kane and Jaha are imprisoned

The Grounders also have their own holding cell for prisoners. After Thelonious Jaha was sold to a bounty hunter, he was delivered to the Commander and imprisoned in an underground subway station. When Marcus Kane followed Rivo to a Grounder village, he was also apprehended and placed into the same room with Jaha. The Commander expected the two to battle to the death in retribution for the Tondc massacre, however, ultimately ended up releasing both of them in an attempt to get the Sky People to leave their lands.

John Murphy Prisoner of war Released to infect the Delinquents
(biological warfare)
Murphy's Law (banished by Delinquents)
I Am Become Death (returned to the Delinquents)
Thelonious Jaha Prisoner of war Released by the Commander Inclement Weather (captured)
Human Trials (imprisonment)
Fog of War (released)
Marcus Kane Prisoner of war Released by the Commander Human Trials (captured)
Fog of War (imprisonment)
Spacewalker (released)
Roan Prisoner of war Crowned King of the Ice Nation Wanheda (Part 2) (imprisoned)

Watch the Thrones (released)

Clarke Griffin Prisoner of war Made Ambassador of the Sky People Wanheda (Part 2) (imprisoned)

Ye Who Enter Here (released)

John Murphy Prisoner of war Escaped with Pike and Indra Hakeldama (arrested for theft)
Bitter Harvest (tortured by Titus)
Stealing Fire (remained behind in Polis with Ontari)
Indra Refused to take the chip Escaped with Pike and Murphy
Charles Pike Refused to take the chip Escaped with Indra and Murphy


In the Grounder culture, there are Grounders who have no clan because they or a family member may have been seen as a "stain on the bloodline" due to birth defects and cast out, as in the cases of Zoran and Emori. Grounders can also be banned for committing certain crimes, such as theft or cheating.

Notable Banishments

Delano Theft Banished with other outcasts Reapercussions (executed by Finn Collins)
Zoran Deformed face Wandering the Dead Zone with his parents, Osias and Sienna, in search of the City of Light. Many Happy Returns (from birth)
Emori Deformed hand Bandit with her brother, Otan, in the Dead Zone Rubicon (from birth)
Octavia Blake Refusing to leave when the Commander sounded retreat Disavowed by Indra Blood Must Have Blood (Part 1)
Lincoln Traitor
Refusing to leave when the Commander sounded retreat
Imprisoned by the Commander, escaped, and had a Kill Order placed on him I Am Become Death (Octavia)
Fog of War (Reaper)
Blood Must Have Blood (Part 1)
Roan None; Banished by Lexa to allow the Ice Nation to join the Coalition. Brought Wanheda to the Commander to get it revoked but was locked up instead. Wanheda (Part 2)
Carl Emerson Caused the deaths of 49 Sky People in the destruction of Mount Weather. Banished by Wanheda Bitter Harvest
Echo Trying to cheat during the Final Conclave. Banished by Roan Die All, Die Merrily

Other Forms of Punishment


Torture is used by the various factions to get information out of prisoners of war. In Season One, Murphy was captured by outcast Grounders, including Delano, and was tortured for three days for information on the Delinquents, which he ultimately provided. He was later released to spread a hemorrhagic fever infection to the Delinquents. Later, Murphy ran away from the Camp and was recaptured and tortured by Grounders again, this time by Tristan and Anya. In Season Three, Murphy was captured by Grounders for a third time after stealing from the Commander's forest and was tortured by Titus for information.

Lexa mentions that the Ice Nation tortured Costia for information before beheading her.

Kill Order

The Commander can place a kill order on someone's head and only she can remove it. A kill order was placed on Lincoln's head as a result of his disobeying the Commander by going to help Octavia fight Mount Weather (in violation of the truce between the Coalition and the Mountain), leaving him effectively imprisoned at Arkadia.


According to Brell, a Sangedakru delegate, her clan's capital punishment law is stoning to death.

Notes and Trivia

  • Death by a thousand cuts is a real-world ancient form of execution, in which the condemned person was subjected to a number of less devastating wounds over time prolonging his agony.

See Also