Created By: GeekOut on July 2, 2013 Last Edited By: GeekOut on December 22, 2013
Troped

Palm Bloodletting

Slicing open your palm to collect blood.

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Trope
When magic spells call for blood, where do you cut? Right across your palm, of course. Because there certainly aren't any sensitive muscles or tendons there. Plus it heals super fast, and you rarely use your hand anyway, right? Especially in the upcoming boss battle.

The out-of-character reason for this trope is that it's easier to stage blood seeping from a palm than, say, a fingertip: there's more space to hide the tubing or packet for the fake blood, and it doesn't need as tight a close-up for the audience to see what happens, so less-detailed latex appliances can be used to conceal the mechanics of the special effect.

Often used when two people become Blood Brothers. Also see Impaled Palm.

See sister tropes Blood Magic and Paper Cutting

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime And Manga 
  • In Naruto, people who needs their own blood to cast jutsu will often cut/bite their fingertips instead.
  • In Princess Tutu, Fakir revives Mytho's Cool Sword by cutting his hand, and pouring the blood from the wound into a fountain, and reciting a spell in Gratuitous German while dipping the blade into the bloody water.
In Attack on Titan, Eren does this by biting into his palm. he does this to transform into a titan. this is eventually further expounded later on in the story.

    Comics 
  • The Sandman: In Death: The Time Of Your Life, blood from a cut palm is used to power a spell to send the characters to the land of the dead and come back alive.
  • Subverted in Runaways. Nico's spell casting is done through The Staff Of One, which only emerges from her soul when blood is shed. The first time she actively attempts to summon it, she tries this. And she hates it. She would go on to come up with creative ways to shed blood that didn't involve cutting, from averting No Periods, Period to brushing her teeth until her gums bled.

    Film 
  • Done at least twice in the first Pirates of the Caribbean film, when blood is needed to break the curse.
  • At the beginning of Rob Roy Rob Roy is challenged to a friendly duel to the first cut but doesn't feel like participating, so he purposely slices his palm on the other guy's sword in order to lose. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when in the climactic duel he grabs the other guy's sword with his bare hand in order to take it out of play.
  • In Practical Magic, Sally and Gillian slice their palms and clasp hands to cure Gillian's Demonic Possession. It also conveniently works as a Curse Escape Clause.
  • In Hellraiser, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and drips blood on the attic floor. Underneath lie the hidden remnants of Frank's body which the blood partially restores back to life and consciousness.
  • In the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers a human swears fealty to Saruman. When asked to pove it, he slices his palm open and says that they will die for Saruman.
  • In the film The Brother From Another Planet, the protagonist uses a shard of glass to cut his palm in order to use his blood to write a message on a graffiti-covered wall. However, it's no big deal to him, as he is an alien who heals easily and quickly.
  • The Client does this to both himself and Jay in Kill List while Jay is signing a contract.

    Light Novel 
    Literature 
  • Casting spells with Wild Magic in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory requires a blood sacrifice, usually done by a simple nick on the hand. However, in When Darkness Falls Idalia slashes her palm open with a dagger to summon the Starry Hunt to help battle the demons.
  • Averted in Sword of Truth. Richard goes for the inside of his elbow instead.
  • In Game of Thrones, Xaro Xhoan Daxos cuts his hand and shows the blood as part of his oath to stand for Daenerys and her people.
  • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, Kilda has to bleed to get the grass that can act as a guide. She even has to pull it by the bleeding hand.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry and Dumbledore encounter a door that requires a blood sacrifice. Upon entering, Dumbledore cuts his hand - but it happens to be the hand that is dead from a curse, so it's not as inconvenient as it normally would've been. When they leave again, Harry uses blood from the palm of his hand, but he didn't cut it intentionally; he had accidentally scraped it on a rock.
  • In The Bishop's Heir, Kelson recalls the day he and Dhugal became foster brothers. Each of them used the other's dagger to slice open a palm, then they clasped their wounded hands together and Dhugal bound them with a handkerchief before they swore their oaths. Years later, they both retain faint scars across their palms.
  • This is the means Tenskwa-Tawa uses to produce blood — and pain — to work large magics in The Tales of Alvin Maker, and Alvin learns to do the same; for added messianic symbolism, when large quantities of blood are needed, like Tenskwa-Tawa walking onto Lake Michigan to raise a crystal tower inside a tornado, they pierce their feet too.
  • Justified in On Stranger Tides, in which Shandy has to draw blood from his sword-hand's palm to maintain the mystical connection between his blade and his bloodstream.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural uses this very often. Season 3 Episode 9 Malleus Maleficarum has a witch slicing her hand open in the first few minutes.
  • Charmed
  • Angel: Darla cuts her palm when a shaman needs a blood sample for a spell, after he is reluctant to do it to her.
    Darla: Men are such babies.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Private Little War". When Nona uses the Mahko root to heal Kirk, her husband Tyree cuts her hand first so that her blood joins with the root before it's applied to Kirk's wound.
  • Done at least twice in Babylon 5, by Narn. Once by G'Kar to make a point to Vir, once by Ta'Lon to satisfy a tradition that his sword must draw blood before being sheathed again. Seems to be a Narn thing.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine establish this as a Klingon habit. If they're putting on any kind of ceremony, it's a safe bet that shedding some blood this way is going to be part of it.
  • V had a scene where someone approaching the resistance for help did this to prove they were not a visitor.
  • In one episode of Lie to Me, Cal slices open his hand to show that the guy they are interviewing has a phobia to blood.
  • In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren cuts his hand in order to show a suspect is too squeamish about blood to have committed a very bloody crime.

    Music 
  • The Blue Öyster Cult song Unknown Tongues is about a Catholic schoolgirl called Margaret, who lies in bed at night contemplating the mysteries of Glossolalia and the Holy Stigmata (ie, the voices in her head tell her to self-harm with a razor blade)

    And then she took/Her father's razor;
    And watched it cut into her palm;
    She put her hand up to her mouth
    To taste the blood, so holy and warm....

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign Spawn of Azathoth. During a Cthulhu Mythos ritual each participant must cut the palm of his hand and smear the blood over a severed hand, which animates and acts like the planchette of a Ouija board to point out symbols and provide a message.
  • GURPS Illuminati. The sidebar titled "Blood Samples" describes Illuminati initiation procedures that require using the applicant's blood, such as signing a contract, filling a chalice etc. The accompanying illustration shows a knife cutting the palm of a person's hand.
  • Dungeons & Dragons. In module CM1 "Test of the Warlords", the PC's can participate in the ritual of blood sharing with a barbarian chief. They do so by cutting their palms and clasping hands, thus mixing their blood.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • The Road to El Dorado: The wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan slices his palm to smear blood upon a stone relief of one of the two founding gods of El Dorado. He does this to emphasize that he has seen through Tulio and Miguel's masquerade. "Gods. Don't. Bleed."
Community Feedback Replies: 62
  • July 2, 2013
    Generality
  • July 2, 2013
    DAN004
    In Naruto, people who needs their own blood to cast jutsu will often cut/bite their fingertips instead.
  • July 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Looks usable, but flagged with Needs A Better Description. Also, how's this for a page image? (From The Obsidian Trilogy)

    For a title, how about Slashed Palm Blood Sacrifice? (Current might run afoul of No New Stock Phrases.)

    Literature:
    • Casting spells with Wild Magic in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory requires a blood sacrifice, usually done by a simple nick on the hand. However, in When Darkness Falls Idalia slashes her palm open with a dagger to summon the Starry Hunt to help battle the demons. The image was used on the book's cover, as above.
  • July 2, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Needs a better name. But a good trope nonetheless. I came in to saySupernatural and Pirates.
  • July 3, 2013
    Arivne
    Quite often used when two people become Blood Brothers.

    Live Action TV
    • Star Trek The Original Series episode "A Private Little War". When Nona uses the Mahko root to heal Kirk, her husband Tyree cuts her hand first so that her blood joins with the root before it's applied to Kirk's wound.
  • July 3, 2013
    eowynjedi
    • Star Trek The Next Generation and DS9 establish this as a Klingon habit. If they're putting on any kind of ceremony, it's a safe bet that shedding some blood this way is going to be part of it.
  • July 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Angel: Darla cuts her palm when a shaman needs a blood sample for a spell, after he is reluctant to do it to her.
    Men are such babies.
  • July 3, 2013
    MattStriker
    Done at least twice in Babylon 5, by Narn. Once by G'Kar to make a point to Vir, once by Ta'Lon to satisfy a tradition that his sword must draw blood before being sheathed again. Seems to be a Narn thing.
  • July 3, 2013
    randomsurfer
    At the beginning of Rob Roy Rob Roy is challenged to a friendly duel to the first cut but doesn't feel like participating, so he purposely slices his palm on the other guy's sword in order to lose. This becomes a Chekhovs Gun when in the climactic duel he grabs the other guy's sword with his bare hand in order to take it out of play.
  • July 3, 2013
    1810072342
    Agree that it needs a better name. Given the description, this could probably fit in Acceptable Breaks From Reality with a little tweaking.
  • July 3, 2013
    Slayermaster
    Done a ton in the Dragon Age games, blood mages will do this all the time. There are even non-magic sequences where this is done, (Ashes of Andraste quest I believe).
  • July 3, 2013
    SharleeD
    The out-of-character reason for this trope is that it's easier to stage blood seeping from a palm than, say, a fingertip: there's more space to hide the tubing or packet for the fake blood, and it doesn't need as tight a close-up for the audience to see what happens, so less-detailed latex appliances can be used to conceal the mechanics of the special effect.
  • July 3, 2013
    Exxolon
    V had a scene where someone approaching the resistance for help did this to prove they were not a visitor.
  • July 7, 2013
    tachyonTrail
    More violent Sister Trope: Paper Cutting

    Suggested "better" name: Practical Bloodletting
  • July 9, 2013
    oneuglybunny
    Western Animation
    • The wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan slices his palm to smear blood upon a stone relief of one of the two founding gods of El Dorado. He does this to emphasize that he has seen through Tulio and Miguel's masquerade. "Gods. Don't. Bleed."
  • July 11, 2013
    qazwsx
    • In Game Of Thrones, Xaro Xhoan Daxos cuts his hand and shows the blood as part of his oath to stand for Daenerys and her people.
  • July 11, 2013
    MattStriker
    You know, it's been a while since I've seen it, but doesn't something like this happen at one point in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves?
  • July 11, 2013
    kjnoren
    The description and the trope name doesn't really fit together to me. What about Purposeful Bloodletting?

    • In the Vorkosigan Saga, Barrayaran seal daggers were used by the Vor to sign important communications. The most formal colour is red-brown, signalling that the seal had been made with the signer's blood. Miles does this on occasion, eg in his famous letter in A Civil Campaign.
  • July 11, 2013
    Arivne
    Several of the examples on the Blood Magic page mention cutting the hand/palm. They can be copied over here.

    Anime & Manga
    • In Princess Tutu, Fakir revives Mytho's Cool Sword by cutting his hand, and pouring the blood from the wound into a fountain, and reciting a spell in German while dipping the blade into the bloody water.

    Comics
    • In Death: Time of Your Life, blood from a cut palm is used to power a spell to send the characters to the land of the dead and come back alive.

    Film

    Literature
    • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, Kilda has to bleed to get the grass that can act as a guide. She even has to pull it by the bleeding hand.
  • July 12, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    If memory serves, in the Deryni books when Kelson and Dhugal became foster brothers and swore a blood oaths to each other, they made cuts across their palms and years later still have the scars. I'll check this over the weekend.
  • July 13, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • Call Of Cthulhu campaign Spawn of Azathoth. During a Cthulhu Mythos ritual each participant must cut the palm of his hand and smear the blood over a severed hand, which animates and acts like the planchette of a Ouija board to point out symbols and provide a message.
  • July 13, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    Wiki Worded and namespaced the examples.
  • July 15, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    I think SharleeD's point made above about the technical problems of simulation should be in the description. Perhaps even a point about how hands are used in social gestures (showing empty hands to show a lack of threat, an open palm as an offering, that kind of thing).

    FWIW I don't mind the tone of the current description stub, but there must be more to it than that.
  • July 15, 2013
    paycheckgurl
    Subverted in Runaways Nico's spell casting is done through The Staff Of One, which only emerges from her soul when blood is shed. The first time she actively attempts to summon it, she tries this. And she hates it. She would go on to come up with creative ways to shed blood that didn't involve cutting, from averting No Periods Period to brushing her teeth until her gums bled.
  • July 18, 2013
    StarSword
    Fixed italicization of When Darkness Falls.
  • July 18, 2013
    zarpaulus
    I recall Maybourne in Stargate SG 1 cutting his palm in one episode to prove that he was human when other people in the SGC were being replaced by aliens in disguise.
  • July 18, 2013
    Larkmarn
    How about Palm Bloodletting, or something that mentions the palm? The problem with Impractical Bloodletting is that it's less clear, and honestly sounds more like about how the act of bloodletting as a medical procedure is impractical.
  • July 18, 2013
    Dawnwing
    Literature:
    • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry and Dumbledore encounter a door that requires a blood sacrifice. Upon entering, Dumbledore cuts his hand - but it happens to be the hand that is dead from a curse, so it's not as inconvenient as it normally would've been. When they leave again, Harry uses blood from the palm of his hand, but he didn't cut it intentionally; he had accidentally scraped it on a rock.

    Video Games:
    • In The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim, at one point a door needs to be opened with the blood of the Dragonborn. They cut the palm of their hand to do so.
  • July 18, 2013
    Arivne
    Seconding Palm Bloodletting.

    Tabletop Games
    • GURPS Illuminati. The sidebar titled "Blood Samples" describes Illuminati initiation procedures that require using the applicant's blood, such as signing a contract, filling a chalice etc. The accompanying illustration shows a knife cutting the palm of a person's hand.
  • July 21, 2013
    69BookWorM69
  • July 29, 2013
    Larkmarn
    I'll throw a hat on once someone adds all the examples.
  • August 5, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    The OP edited a bit on 7/28. Perhaps s/he will be back to add the examples soon. Meanwhile, I'll go dig up specifics on that Deryni example and get some sleep.
  • August 23, 2013
    Geekout
    I'm still learning how to make links/folders/allthethings work. If anyone has time, can you help by correcting things I've missed?
  • August 23, 2013
    Paradisesnake
    ^ Ok, I think I managed to fix everything that needed fixing.

    You know, there's a lot easier way to copy others' examples: 1. click the pen-shaped "edit this reply" icon on the left 2. copy the text with code and all 3. click the icon again to close it 4. paste the text in the draft.

    Also, if you need help with text formatting, you can get more information here: Text Formatting Rules.
  • August 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
    Hat added.
  • August 23, 2013
    Chernoskill
    • In Hellraiser, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and drips blood on the attic floor. Underneath lie the hidden remnants of Frank's body which the blood partially restores back to life and consciousness.
  • August 23, 2013
    Alucard
  • August 25, 2013
    AgProv
    [[folder/Music]]
    • The Blue Oyster Cult song Unknown Tongues is about a Catholic schoolgirl called Margaret, who lies in bed at night contemplating the mysteries of Glossolalia and the Holy Stigmata (ie, the voices in her head tell her to self-harm with a razor blade)

      And then she took/Her father's razor;
      And watched it cut into her palm;
      She put her hand up to her mouth
      To taste the blood, so holy and warm....

    [[/folder]]
  • August 25, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Literature:
    • In The Bishop's Heir, Kelson recalls the day he and Dhugal became foster brothers. Each of them used the other's dagger to slice open a palm, then they clasped their wounded hands together and Dhugal bound them with a handkerchief before they swore their oaths. Years later, they both retain faint scars across their palms.
  • August 26, 2013
    kjnoren
    Checked again, and the Vorkosigan Saga isn't this trope, since it's the thumb that's cut, not the palm.
  • August 27, 2013
    Antigone3
    Inspector Chen in Snake Agent cast spells by cutting the appropriate Chinese character into his palm with a scalpel. At least once in the novel, someone makes a point of noting all the scar tissue he's developed as a result.
  • August 27, 2013
    chicagomel
    Highlander had Methos cut his palm but it wasn't for magic, but to show someone his immortality..,does that count?
  • August 27, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    It might. The swearing of a Blood Oath isn't magical, strictly speaking.
  • August 27, 2013
    reub2000
    Is this an example?
    • In one episode of Lie To Me, Cal slices open his hand to show that they guy they are interviewing has a phobia to blood.

    Also, I don't think the Harry Potter examples is subverted. I think that would be closer to Justified Trope.
  • August 28, 2013
    ShanghaiSlave
    In Attack On Titan, Eren does this by biting into his palm. he does this to transform into a titan. this is eventually further expounded later on in the story.
  • August 28, 2013
    69BookWorM69
    Yay! Five hats! The OP can add the additional examples and launch this puppy.

    I do still think mention should be made about how hands are used in social gestures (showing empty hands to show a lack of threat, an open palm as an offering). That provides some cover for the practical considerations of the depiction of a hand source for blood rather than some other body part.
  • September 6, 2013
    Larkmarn
    • In the extended version of The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers a human swears fealty to Saruman. When asked to pove it, he slices his palm open and says that they will die for Saruman.
  • September 15, 2013
    m8e
    I think Impaled Palm should be mentioned somewhere in the description.
  • September 22, 2013
    Taper
    Fanfiction:
    • A flashback to the Silver Millennium in Sailor Moon: Millennials shows Endymion giving Princess Serenity a rosebush at her birthday party on the Moon. The princess pricks her finger on a thorn, causing it to bleed, and a local nobleman sneers at the gift and this show of the bloodthirstiness of Earth. Endymion refers to an old legend that roses, which will only grow on Earth, do so because only Earth's fields have been fertilized with battle-blood to allow their growth; he then swipes a dagger across his palm and drips his blood onto the plant's roots, saying, "The injury to the Princess has been repaid tenfold. Perhaps the flowers will grow [here on the moon], now that their price has been paid."
  • September 22, 2013
    Astaroth
    • Vergil in Devil May Cry 3 cuts open his palm with his katana when a magical ritual calls for the blood of Sparda (a legendary demon-knight, who also happens to be Vergil's father).
  • September 22, 2013
    Taper
    Literature:
    • This is the means Tenskwa-Tawa uses to produce blood — and pain — to work large magics in The Tales Of Alvin Maker, and Alvin learns to do the same; for added messianic symbolism, when large quantities of blood are needed, like Tenskwa-Tawa walking onto Lake Michigan to raise a crystal tower inside a tornado, they pierce their feet too.

  • September 22, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    • In the film The Brother From Another Planet, the protagonist uses a shard of glass to cut his palm in order to use his blood to write a message on a graffiti-covered wall. However, it's no big deal to him, as he is an alien who heals easily and quickly.
  • September 22, 2013
    Alucard
    ^^^ I already brought that one up, but I can hardly blame you for that: the OP hasn't been Rolling Updates that much

    Mind if I combine your writing with mine?
  • September 23, 2013
    Frank75
    • In the books and movies of the Winnetou series, where the Apache Winnetou and the white man Old Shatterhand become Blood Brothers.
  • September 23, 2013
    Larkmarn
  • December 2, 2013
    StarSword
    Since there seemed to be no objections to the page image I suggested, I added it.
  • December 2, 2013
    Alvin
    A non-magical example: In an episode of Law And Order Criminal Intent (I think 'The Faithful' but am not sure), Goren cuts his hand in order to show a suspect is too squeamish about blood to have committed a very bloody crime.
  • December 2, 2013
    Snicka
    There are numerous examples in the discussion which would qualify but haven't been added.
  • December 2, 2013
    Folamh3
    • The Client does this to both himself and Jay in Kill List while Jay is signing a contract.
  • December 3, 2013
    Synchronicity
  • December 3, 2013
    SharleeD
    • Justified in On Stranger Tides, in which Shandy has to draw blood from his sword-hand's palm to maintain the mystical connection between his blade and his bloodstream.
  • December 4, 2013
    Arivne
    From Blood Brothers:

    Tabletop Games
    • Dungeons And Dragons. In module CM1 "Test of the Warlords", the PC's can participate in the ritual of blood sharing with a barbarian chief. They do so by cutting their palms and clasping hands, thus mixing their blood.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=ukxm4prla2wcctafqak3ob86&trope=PalmBloodletting