A character, typically evil or sadistic, immersing oneself in a bathtub containing nothing but blood. Often, any blood used for this purpose will be a type of Applied Phlebotinum that is intended to cause some fantastic effect on the bather.
The Trope Maker comes from folklore stories about Hungarian Countess Elizabeth Bathory, who is said to have bathed in the blood of young women and/or virgins in order to restore her beauty and her youth.
While the real Countess Bathory has been accused of many unpleasant, cruel things, it's certain that her baths in blood are only the stuff of legends. However, the Blood Bath is very much a key component to be found in any story with her or about her, and any stories that feature a Blood Bath without Bathory as a character will often allude to her motives for doing this (lifted directly from the legends) and may also mention her by name (or, at least, give a character partaking in this a similar name as a Shout Out).
Characters who bathe in blood occasionally exhibit qualities associated with vampirism, especially when alluding to blood being rejuvenating or how they come to acquire their blood in the first place; Blood Lust and fangs can be commonly noticed as well. In cases not involving outright vampiric entities, characters may be dabbling in The Dark Arts, especially Blood Magic. The trope itself can also follow the Rule of Symbolism to deliver An Aesop about the evils of vanity and Immortality Immorality.
A less common, but much older, variant of the trope takes after the story of the warrior Siegfried from the Nibelungenlied, whose body was made invulnerable after bathing in the blood of a dragon.
This trope is NOT to be confused with instances where bloody corpses are found in bathtubs or any kind of small body of water, like in Bath Suicide or any grisly murders in bathrooms (unless the blood from the victim(s) of said suicides and murders are used for someone else to bathe in, of course).
See Also: Liquid Assets, Life Drinker.
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Anime And Manga
Based on both the Elizabeth Bathory legend and Vlad the Impaler, one of the scariest villains of Ghost Hunt was a Japanese lord who bathed in the blood of numerous servants in the hope of extending his life and took up the moniker "Urado" (Vlad).
In the Korean ManhwaHorror Collector, the protagonist seeks to resurrect Elizabeth Bathory from a doll that she had apparently sealed her spirit inside of through one of her blood bathing rituals. Bathory herself is shown to be surprisingly compassionate, despite bathing in the blood of her victims.
Alpha Siegfried of Saint Seiya (Anime only) shares his Achilles Heel with his namesake from the Nibelungenlied— he slays a dragon and bathes in its blood, making himself invulnerable, but at that very moment, a tiny leaf falls on his back (coincidentally over his heart), preventing that bit of skin from being touched by the blood, and therefore making that spot the only part of his body that can be dealt a mortal blow.
In Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust, the spirit of the main antagonist, Carmilla, is brought back to her physical body by bathing her corpse in Charlotte's blood.
Nikolai Dante's invitation to a gathering of the Cadre Infernale led to him meeting the High Priestess of the order, CamillaLe Fanu, bathing in what Nikolai at first thought was red wine. She alludes to the rejuvenating effects of Blood Baths being discovered by Bathory but insists that, unlike Bathory, she gets her blood from young women who are willing to donate a few pints in exchange for a tax exemption. However, it turns out that jobless women who can't pay taxes are bled for all they got.
Readers first meet Solomon Ravne from 2000 AD's Caballistics, Inc. in the middle of one such bath, surrounded by the naked, bleeding corpses the blood had to have come from. Because Ravne is suggested to be Really 700 Years Old, it may be that such a bath is needed to maintain his age and appearance or prolong his life.
Garth Ennis once wrote a Batman comic where the villain was a drug lord who got people hooked on a drug so he could kill them, fill a pool with their drugged-up blood, and get high by bathing in it.
In Batman The Cult, Deacon Blackfire bathed in blood, supposedly to make himself immortal.
Hellboy: Wake the Devil references the original legend about Elizabeth Bathory. The blood baths are only mentioned, not shown, but the iron maiden that was used to obtain the blood plays a pivotal role in the plot.
In Conan the Barbarian, when the malicious King Numedides expressed a desire to become immortal, he enlisted the services of the Evil Sorcerer Thulandra Thuu, and together, they sacrificed young women in order for Numedides to bathe in their blood.
The Journey to the Center of the Mind one-shot Carnage: It's A Wonderful Life has a sequence where Carnage (wearing swim trunks, goggles, and a bathing cap) is shown high-diving into a luxury pool filled with blood, as two babes cheer him on.
One chapter of the 2000 AD strip "A Love Like Blood" features the vampire king Karkossa lounging in what appears to be a blood jacuzzi while also being fellated by female vampires.
Emily Christy of Hack Slash resorts to something akin to this in order to retain a human appearance in Tub Club, manipulating students into weird bloodletting pool orgies as a part of being in the titular secret society. Cassie is also depicted as partaking in one on a cover◊ from the same Story Arc.
In Warlord of Mars #17, Commandant Keisari, military commander of the Vathek (a race of vampires who dwell on Saturn), is shown bathing in a tub that is being filled from draining corpses suspended above it.
A Judge Dredd strip published in the "Judge Dredd Mega Special 1995" concerns a pop singer who retained his youth and good looks through The Dark Arts, human sacrifice, and bathing in blood—the literal blood bath being implied to be the most crucial step in the singer's rejuvenation rituals. Strangely enough, 22nd Century technology has made several means of rejuvenation (including some that are legal) readily available to Mega-City One citizens, which makes it a bit odd to see somebody taking this route, instead.
In Hostel II, one of the clients of the Elite Hunting group is a woman who slices up a suspended female captive with scythes and sickles, and bathes in the blood that spills out of her wounds. The client happened to be named Mrs. Bathory.
The German film Nekromantik, which follows the everyday lives of a pair of necrophiliacs, has a scene where one of the main characters takes a bath in blood-laden water.
Las Vegas Bloodbath ends with a police officer finding the killer hanging out in a bathtub filled with the blood and body parts of a group of people he had just massacred.
The Countess, a drama about Elizabeth Bathory, depicts Bathory as having first applied the blood of virgin girls as a cosmetic but gradually demanded more and more blood until, eventually, she was bathing in it.
The character Elizabeth Bartholdi appears in Mercedes Lackey, Eric Flint, and Dave Freer's Heirs Of AlexandriaHistorical Fantasy series. She bathes in a special tub carved from a single slab of marble, and the blood keeps her eternally young in an attempt to avoid the price of her deal with the Devil.
One of the Magpyr ancestors in Carpe Jugulum is a parody of Bathory (although her name's Carmilla). The modern Magpyrs believe the story of her bathing in the blood of two hundred virgins is highly exaggerated. The bath would overflow if you used more than eighty. They've checked.
James Follett's book and radio play Ice has a bizarre variation on this one. When the heroine is dying from hypothermia at sea, one of the heroes cuts a human-sized hole in a Blue Whale's skin, which promptly fills with warm blood.
In The Day of the Dissonance, a group of fairies decide to sacrifice a young girl who they have captive, believing that bathing in virgin's blood will help them. The sacrifice is called off, however, when the girl breaks into hysterical laughter after being told this. It seems she was held captive by pirates for quite a while and is no longer a fitting sacrifice.
In the Dragonlance stories, Maladar's backstory contains a few details about slaughtering thousands of nobles' sons, just so he can bathe in their blood.
Erzebet Bizecka of Alisa Libby's Blood Confession has a habit of killing her servants in her dungeon and bathing in their blood in order to preserve her youth and beauty.
The eponymous demonic Villain Protagonist from Clive Barker's Mister B. Gone bathes in a tub full of blood from dead babies. He complains how difficult it is to keep them alive long enough for the bath to be warm when he empties their blood into it.
In the Godspeaker Trilogy, Mijak's godspeakers bathe in animal blood to commune with their god.
The German epic poem Nibelungenlied (c. 1200 AD) has the hero Siegfried becoming invulnerable (except for a spot on his shoulder) by bathing in the blood of a dragon that he killed. (This does not apply to Siegfried's Norse counterpart Sigurd.)
According to events in Count And Countess, Elizabeth Bathory's blood baths began as a means to cure her epilepsy. It didn't work.
In Lily Quench, bathing in the blood of a dragon will cause the bather to become immune to fire and fear, although this also comes at the price of the bather's humanity burning away so that even if a good character does this, it's bound to eventually turn him/her evil.
Live Action TV
One prank on Scare Tactics set up the target as a new employee at a health spa "for professional clientèle" that uses "very expensive ingredients". Along with female clients who come in for rejuvenation treatments is a list of younger women and their corresponding blood types. The exact scare prank involved the target walking in as one young woman is being bled over a bathtub that an older client was bathing in.
In a later episode, when Spike thinks he's going to get his Morality Chip removed, he boasts about how he's going to kill Buffy and swim in her blood ("I'm going to do the backstroke!")
The first episode of HBO's Rome features Atia taking a nude shower in the blood cascading down from a slaughtered bull as part of a religious ritual in an unspecified Great Mother cult. The ritual was to provide spiritual protection for her son on a journey to meet his uncle in Gaul.
In The X-Files episode "Sanguinarium", Nurse Waite is discovered lying in wait for Dr. Lloyd at his house, submerged in a bathtub filled with blood.
Metal band Cradle Of Filth released the concept album Cruelty And The Beast about Countess Bathory. The album cover depicts her in a bathtub filled with blood.
The song "Bathe In Blood" by metal band Evile references both using blood to restore youth and the vanity that would entail.
The album cover for Kamelot's Karma depicts a woman in a nightgown waist-deep in a pool of blood. The last three songs on the album, "Elizabeth I, II, & III," are about Elizabeth Bathory's life.
The metal band Bathory not only shares its name with the Trope Maker, but has also written a number of songs about her that also hint at this practice - notably, "Woman Of Dark Desires".
Yoshiki Hayashi took a Blood Bath in a photoshoot for Fool's Mate magazine and, in the past with X Japan, has written a song about Elizabeth Bathory entitled "Rose of Pain".
Venom's song "Countess Bathory" from their album Black Metal is obviously about the Trope Maker and makes mention of this practice.
Eminem is seen taking one such bath in the video for his single "3 A.M.".
Mythology & Folklore
Poet Peter of Eboli alleged that Court of Norman member Matthew of Ajello attempted to cure his gout by washing his feet in the blood of children.
According to Christian legend, when Roman Emperor Constantine I contracted leprosy, the pagan priests told him to bathe in the blood of babies as a cure. Refusing to do this, he allegedly sought counsel from Pope Sylvester I, who cured him. This legend is the background for the Donation of Constantine, now shown to be a forgery, which purported to grant the entire Western Empire to the papacy.
Vampire: The Requiem has a bloodline of vampires called the Galloi who bathe in blood to make themselves more beautiful. They're not related to Bathory, though; they take their unique Discipline from the worship of Cybele, which often involved initiates being bathed in the blood of a bull to symbolize cleansing (and...other things). Additionally, both Macellarius and Noctoku tend to feast on blood in this manner; the Noctoku can absorb blood through their skin.
The predecessor, Vampire The Masquerade, had the Blood Bath as one of the sacred rites of the Sabbat. It wasn't about youth, but more a ritual of baptism and consecration interpreted through the Sabbat's "Crusades-era Catholicism on PCP" lens.
The Hag Queens of the Dark Elves in Warhammer practice this, bathing in a magical cauldron filled with blood to maintain their youth.
Vampires in GURPS Fantasy can only heal their injuries by bathing in blood.
McFarlane Toys included an Elizabeth Bathory figure bathing in a tub of blood in their 6 Faces of Madness line.
Zigzagged with the Monster High toys. As they are fashion dolls, one can buy accessory play sets related to beautification that are owned by specific characters. The vampire character gets a high backed, clawfooted tub; however, she is a literal Vegetarian Vampire and, therefore, bathes in protein and vitamin supplements, rather than blood.
The female villain in Ninja Gaiden II for the Xbox 360 is seen bathing in a pool of blood at one point and is even named "Elizabet" as a Shout Out.
One monster in Diablo II, dubbed "The Countess", is described as having "bathed in the rejuvenating blood of a hundred virgins" in the tome that initiates her quest.
She can refer to this trope when you meet her, too. "Here for a Blood Bath?"
An old magazine ad for Blood featured some dude, presumably Caleb, in a bathtub full of blood with the tagline "Blood? You're soaking in it."
Okamiden sees the player travel through time to prevent Akuro from becoming perfect through bathing the vessel he wishes to possess in Orochi's blood.
The Sumerian demon Inanna in Clive Barkers Jericho is encountered while taking a blood shower. As a skilled sanguimancer, she can use the blood to summon the Sumerian Puppet God. Some of the pools in the Roman baths are also filled with blood. (In case you were wondering, the other pools are filled with vomit and excrement.)
Variation in theMortal Kombatremake: the stage at the Bottom of the Pit has blood showers. And yes, standing under them gets your character completely drenched in crimson.
DLC character Skarlet is a Humanoid Abomination who gains strength from the blood of fallen warriors (which she consists of). Her fatalities, therefore, involve her enemy's blood spraying/showering over her. Furthermore, her fatality tutorial informs us that Bathory is her favorite historical figure.
Vampire Sion does this in her Melty Blood Actress Again ending.
The human royal couple from Drowtales hunted Elves for this purpose in order to gain immortality. Whether it actually worked is not stated, but given how different fae and human biology are it most likely didn't. Their castle, Chactice, is even named after the modern name for the castle where Elizabeth Bathory lived, Cachtice Castle.
In Be Calm, Ardois wakes up in one after hurling a piece of metal through Richard.
An early Neurotically Yours short with Germaine getting attacked by the Ghostface Killer from the Scream movies ends with Germaine continuing her bath in the killer's own blood while his body is seen hanging from the ceiling in the background.
During the midst of the Harry Potter craze, humor site Cap'n Wacky made a parody review of a book in the series called Harry Potter Bathes in the Blood of Virgins, in which Harry seeks to find some way of staying young forever.
The Gungan Council features a family with the surname Bathory that enjoys partaking in the activity most often associated with their historical namesake.
In The Power Of Darkness, Masochist takes such a bath at one point in the story just because he likes it.
Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron features a vampire named Erzsebet Ondrushko, clearly based on Elizabeth Bathory, who bathes in blood to preserve her youth. She gets killed when Professor Bruttenholm sneaks some holy water into her blood bath.
In an episode of Family Guy, God gets pissed at Peter for creating a religion based around himself and starts attacking the Griffins with the ten plagues of Egypt, one of which sees Stewie's bath water turn into blood. While the rest of the family is freaked out, Stewie is enjoying himself.
Stewie: How positively delightful! It's as if someone stabbed Mr. Bubble!
The Moral Orel episode "Innocence" follows Orel as he tries to obtain blood to profess his innocence to God and stay young forever (after separate conversations with the Christeins and Coach Stopframe "teach" Orel about the powers of blood). This leads to his father, Clay, discovering Orel in a bathtub surrounded by Doughy, Billy, Tommy, and Maryenetta, with their wrists cut open and bleeding into the tub in the episode "Grounded". The show itself, however, presents all this in Anachronic Order with the conclusion to these events in "Grounded" being aired first and the set-up in "Innocence" being shown later.
Older Than Feudalism: The Christian apologist Prudentius accused the priests of the Magna Mater of bathing in bulls' blood in their Taurobolium; he may have been exaggerating, but nonetheless, the trope appears in his anti-pagan writings.
The rituals associated with joining the Mithratic cult supposedly involved bathing in the blood of a sacrificed bull.