Doom Wiki

"What a name. And what a guy. Killing him is almost as bad as letting him live."
Doom II instruction manual.

The Pain Elemental is a monster introduced in Doom II.

Physical appearance

The Pain Elemental is similar to the Cacodemon; they are both floating spheres with a single eye and a large toothy mouth. The main differences in respect to its counterpart are that its hide is leathery brown, it has two small arms akin to the Spiderdemon's pair of limbs, its single eyeball is bigger and red-colored with a black round pupil, and it is crowned by only two dark curved horns (similar to the Cyberdemon's horns) on the top of its spherical body.

Combat characteristics

Pain Elemental emits a strange, bubbling cackle (almost like if it says "why hello!") upon spotting a player. If it is in pain, it will make a sharp croak, sounding like it is saying "Ow!"

Instead of shooting a standard projectile, the Pain Elemental periodically spews Lost Souls at its opponents from a mouth that flares up with a reddish glow each time one of the minions is delivered. As it does not attack directly, the spherical monster will never be targeted by other monsters in monster infighting (the Lost Soul will be targeted instead). The Pain Elemental is vulnerable to misdirected attacks from its own children, and will retaliate against them.

The Lost Souls produced by the Pain Elemental begin their existence with a charge forwards, after which they float about a bit until attacking again. This initial charge will hurt the target, unless avoided. If the Lost Soul is shot into a wall or a thing from close range when it is produced, it will explode, and if it is created beyond a wall, it may be trapped on the other side.

The designers set a limit to the monster's attack, so as to not overpopulate a level with Lost Souls. If there are 21 or more Lost Souls in a level, Pain Elementals will not produce their projectile when they attack. They go through the attack sequence without any effect.

When killed, the Pain Elemental collapses in on itself and explodes, spawning three Lost Souls. The Pain Elemental is one of two monsters (the other being the Lost Soul) that does not generally leave behind a corpse, and hence will not respawn when the Nightmare! skill level is chosen or the -respawn parameter is used. The only exception occurs when a Pain Elemental is crushed while it is dying, in which case it will leave a small pool of gibs. The gibs can be resurrected by an Arch-vile, creating a ghost monster as a result. This event is one of the most rare occurrences in the game.

There are times in certain maps (Doom II & beyond) in which a Pain Elemental works with one or more fellow Pain Elementals in traps or general placement. They also, at times, are paired up with Cacodemons too as an added challenge. A Pain Elemental/Cacodemon team can prove tricky as the player would most likely want to target the Elemental while avoiding the lightning balls from any & all Cacodemons too. This would also make a player hesitant to rush into the Elementals face as the nearby Cacodemon(s) would easily be able to chomp away health.

Tactical analysis

Pain Elementals move at the same speed as Cacodemons and also have the same pain chance and hit points, but release projectiles which will come around for more attacks and which will not disappear until killed. As such, it is vital to focus one's attention on the Pain Elemental itself as much as possible. Fast-firing weapons such as the chainsaw, chaingun or plasma gun work fairly well and usually keep its Lost Souls at bay, but the rocket launcher, while extremely effective, is not recommended under most circumstances as the Pain Elemental may spit a Lost Soul while the rocket is en route, potentially causing blast damage to the player. If the player finds themselves over-swarmed with Lost Souls and cannot take a clear shot at its parent, the BFG9000 can easily clear them out and, should the blast be point-blank (or close enough), chances are it will kill the Pain Elemental as well.

Pain Elementals will only spawn Lost Souls when in line of sight of the player, or another monster who struck it. Therefore, an effective tactic against the Pain Elemental is to deliver a strong attack, then quickly head for cover. In common with the Arachnotron and Spiderdemon, the Pain Elemental has a relatively wide character sprite, which allows the player to chip away at its flanks without entering its line of sight. This tactic works best if a player can lure the Elemental within zero distance of a pillar or column. This allows a player to chip away, even in sight, while the spawned Lost Souls are destroyed by the obstruction or peek-a-boo shoot.

Also, if the monster opens its mouth at zero distance from the player, i.e. directly at the player's face, the Lost Soul spawned will be instantly destroyed. The same tactic applies to the Lost Souls spawned on the Elemental's death, although as the Pain Elemental sprite is larger than the player this is not easy to achieve. Cornering the monster helps greatly with this tactic. However, in Brutal Doom, a Pain Elemental will explode violently when destroyed (unless via fatality), subjecting anything nearby, including the player, to potentially fatal blast damage.


ID # Hit points Speed Width Height Reaction time Pain chance Pain time Mass Bits
71 (decimal)
47 (hex)
400 8 map units per frame
(93.3 map units per second)
62 56 8 128 (50%) 12 tics 400 4211206

1: 2: 9: 14: 22:
Obstacle Shootable No Gravity Floating Affects Kill %

Sprite name Alert sound Action sound Pain sound Death sound

The IWADs contain the following numbers of Pain Elementals:

Doom II 23 38 64
TNT: Evilution 12 26 40
Plutonia 48 62 74