Bad Black Barf

"There's always one zombie with black gunk coming out of his mouth. See? There he is. What is that black gunk? I don't know! No one knows! It's one of the great mysteries of unlife!"
Minmax from Goblins

Maybe you're infected by a zombie virus. Perhaps an alien's made a home in your intestines. Or that demon you were trying to summon got a little too close for comfort. Either way, one of the symptoms is Bad Black Barf.

Black Barf, as the name implies, takes the form of a thick black goo that issues from the victim's mouth, which they will cough up frequently in varying amounts. Sometimes it may ooze out from the nose, ears, or even the eyes (or some other, less savory orifices). Color might vary slightly, from dark brown to burgundy, but it's mostly black. In some cases the stuff might even be acidic, poisonous, or just smell really bad.

Besides the obvious gross-out factor of seeing someone puking, the human body doesn't really produce black-colored fluids, and there are very, very few diseases that cause black discharge of any kind, so combining the two informs the audience that anyone with Bad Black Barf is not just sick, but sick with some unearthly, unholy, or just downright unnatural disease.

See also Black Blood.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Both instances where a boar is turned into a demon in Princess Mononoke, they start to bleed and drool dark purple/black slime. In addition, the Forest Spirit starts releasing massive gobs of toxic black glop that instantly kill everything they touch.
  • Noh-Face from Spirited Away starts coughing and drooling black barf (among other things) after being given medicine from Chihiro.

  • Wikus from District 9 starts coughing up black fluid as a result of transforming into a Prawn; at one point it also seeps from his nose.
  • The Penguin from Batman Returns discharges black goo from his mouth as he is dying.
  • One of the numerous icky signs of demonic possession in the Evil Dead films.
  • Happens in Jennifer's Body when Jennifer is being possessed.
  • The zombies in Rockabilly Zombie Weekend constantly vomit (and occasionally defecate) a thick black goop, the liquefied remains of their intestines.
  • In The Ugly (New Zealand, 1997), the main character sees ghostly entities with black goo running from their mouths.
  • Old black-and-white horror flicks used chocolate syrup as fake blood and other nasty fluids coming out of the mouths of zombies and other monsters.
  • The Possession Of Michael King has the protagonist vomiting black goo when the demons thwart his suicide attempt via swallowing pills.
  • In The Babadook, Amelia starts vomiting a black liquid when she expells the Babadook out of her body.

    Live Action TV 
  • The X-Files. An alien virus called "Black Oil" caused black liquid to come out of the mouth, nose and eyes of its victims.
  • In Teen Wolf, when Derek is poisoned and dying, he vomits black fluid. Erica, also poisoned, has to be encouraged to heal from it, Derek breaks her arm and squeezes black fluid from her veins explaining he is draining the poison from her body. Vomiting similar-looking black fluid also happens briefly to Jackson which Derek explains is his body rejecting whatever it is that turns someone into a werewolf after being bitten.
  • In Supernatural, black fluid from bodily orifices is usually ectoplasm and is one sign of ghost possession. Black smoke pouring out of the mouth is a sign of the end of a demonic possession.
  • In Helix, this is vomited by those infected with NARVIK-B into the mouths of their victims in order to transmit The Virus, and is such an integral visual motif that its featured dripping off the "X" in the series Title Card. Dr. Peter Farragut, the ostensible Patient Zero, often has rills of black mucus at the corners of his mouth, to the point where spatters of it mark his trail around the research base where he works, which Major Balleseros attempts to exploit to hunt him through the base's network of Air Vent Passageways.
  • On Elementary, a suspect who died in a holding cell at the PD is examined by Watson, who takes one look at the reddish-black drool around the body's mouth and immediately orders the room quarantined due to possible anthrax contamination. The man, a known drug mule, had swallowed a balloon full of weaponized anthrax powder, apparently having been told it was drugs by the would-be terrorist who'd cultured the biological agent.

  • Mnggal-Mnggal zombies from the Star Wars Expanded Universe drool and vomit dark gray goo. Worse, the goo is in fact Mnggal-Mnggal itself, and it can go on to infect new victims.
    • The zombie virus from the novel Death Troopers is similar; some people in-universe speculate that it was derived from Mnggal-Mnggal.
  • The Torment, and presumably other Children Of The Spider, from the book series Skulduggery Pleasant are able to vomit inky blackness, which then coalesces itself into hundreds of rat-sized spiders.

     Music Videos 
  • In the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller", one of the zombies encountered is slobbering some sort of viscous black fluid from its mouth.

  • Khran pukes up black barf in Double-U Tea F just after purging himself of Skreel's influence. Raike has to clean it up after his siblings make him do it, much to his disgust.
  • Lampshaded by Minmax in Goblins, also providing the page quote.
  • In Clockwork Game, William Schlumburger is throwing up what is called "Black Vomit"—the final stage of yellow fever (see the Real Life section below).

     Web Original 

     Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: After the boss fight with Laughing Octopus, she proceeds to vomit black fluid till a pool forms around her. It's not clear if this is ink, referencing her codename, or a part of her condition.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, some kind of black mist wafts from Wander's face every time he kills a Colossus and its soul enters him. It's not technically vomit since it seems to be gaseous, but the general effect is the same.
  • The Unclean One from Battle Realms uses this as a weapon.
  • The Reapers, the first gang that Cole fights in inFAMOUS, are a mob of goons in red hoodies who move strangely and occasionally vomit black goo (which in no way impedes their ability to shoot you). It turns out that they used to be innocent civilians who were kidnapped and doused in Sasha's mind-controlling tar.
  • In SOMA, all of the WAU's horrific cyborg creations are covered in thick, black slime, a side-effect of the Structure Gel used to forcibly meld flesh and metal together or bring cybernetics under the control of the mad AI.

    Western Animation 

     Real Life 
  • Some fungal infections of the respiratory tract, such as pneumonia or sinusitis, can cause one to cough up black mucus. Frequent smoking or inhaling polluted air can do the same.
  • The Inky Cap mushroom, so named because it quickly disintegrates into a black ooze shortly after releasing its spores.
  • One of the signs of major upper gastrointestinal bleeding is "coffee-ground emesis," so named because blood that has been digested in the stomach looks dark brown-black and granular, just like spent coffee grounds, when it's vomited back up. Yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers such as hantavirus and Ebola, and severe upper gastrointestinal damage from long-term alcohol, drug and/or painkiller abuse can all cause this sort of thing to occur. This association explains why "yellow fever" (named in English for its association with liver failure) is known as vomito negro ("black vomit" in Spanish). Any way you slice it, it's a bad symptom to have; depending on the cause, morbidity and mortality associated with hematemesis runs anywhere from 11-90%.