Blood is a primal fear
, which makes it, and other things you'd usually like to keep in your body, ripe for scaring people with in fiction. If someone is bleeding out you know they've been attacked or are in danger of dying, and when there's blood puddling in an everyday place you know that place is no longer safe and should fear for a character's life. This is a staple of the Horror Genre
. Appearing in hauntings and Survival Horrors
such as Zombie Apocalypse
stories. It's also used in Murder Mysteries
, and Serial Killer
stories that have elements of horror.
This trope is the reason why Blood-Splattered Innocents
, Blood Is the New Black
and Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress
are horrifying, and that fear is why Evil Is Visceral
. Blood from the Mouth
is often combined with Incurable Cough of Death
to induce horror and signal to the viewer they should fear for a person's life.
There are many ways blood can invoke fear. Haunting stories sometimes have blood supernaturally "bleeding" and dripping down/out from furniture, and architecture, for unnaturalness and creepiness. Blood can also signify danger is nearby, and that somebody was wounded or worse killed
. Murder Mysteries
with horror elements have gorey murders specifically for this reason, some going beyond just blood, and showing the victim's internal organs or separated body parts. Finally blood and gore is very often used as Gross Out Horror, which also makes it pretty common in Medical Dramas
, to show the character's health is declining or it's shown during surgery. Either way it signals the audience should fear for the patient's life.
There's no question, psychologically why this is the case. The fears of blood and death are very common, and most people like to keep their blood inside their body, and the rest of their body intact. This trope is why kid's show's tend to use symbolism
in place of bleeding, use non standard colors
for blood or just have Bloodless Carnage
to get around the censors. This is because blood horror is often seen as too scary for young children.
Since this has a lot of overlap with Death Tropes
, and thus is ripe with spoilers spoilers will be unmarked
and Body Horror
are Super Tropes
to this. Related to Overdrawn at the Blood Bank
, High-Pressure Blood
, Evil Is Visceral
, and Afraid of Blood
which is about specific characters that freak out at even minor sights of blood like paper cuts and donor blood packs. Some Subtropes are Blood-Splattered Innocents
, Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress
, Blood Is the New Black
, and Couldn't Find a Pen
. Chest Burster
is a variation. Compare Paint the Town Red
and Symbolic Blood
. Also see Blood Magic
for when blood is used for magic by ritualistic sacrifice. Contrast Bloody Hilarious
, where blood is played for Black Comedy
, and Bloodless Carnage
where scenes where characters would normally bleed are censored to be less scary. Not to be confused with Gorn
which isn't intended to make people afraid, but uses gore to "thrill" the audience instead.
See Did Not Do the Bloody Research
for "bloody" as a curse word. Compare A Bloody Mess
when the horror turns out to be a false alarm—it was just ketchup.
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Anime & Manga
- A Certain Magical Index: On his way home Touma sees now-familiar habit-wearer Index sprawled on the floor near his apartment door. Knowing Index's appetite, Touma can expect her hunger to be the cause again, and proceeds to perhaps help her up, quickly getting whiplashed by not knowing what's with all the blood pooling under her.
- In Another Mr. Kubodera dies by stabbing his own throat repeatedly in front of his students and causes them to be splattered by his blood
- Attack on Titan The Titans (giants) love to play with their food (humans), and will bite off people's bodies in bits spraying blood everywhere in the process. Or even just injure humans so they bleed out and leave them to die. The scariest part is that they don't even need to eat to survive. They eat humans for fun, and just throw them up later. So all the casualties in battle are pretty much killed for no reason.
- Elfen Lied: Lucy is frequently covered in blood after killing people with her psychic powers. When Kouta finally witnesses this in the anime it's extremely traumatic for him since he had been trying to protect her and befriended her throughout the series, and because he has PTSD from a traumatic past.
- Eureka Seven: When Eureka discovers the "The Children" they're covered in the blood of their family that Eureka just killed.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- Scar is a Serial Killer bent on revenge against alchemists. He can tear apart the alchemic makeup of his victims with an alchemic circle tattoo on his arm, often leaving bloody mess in his wake. The only real reason for him to kill the alchemists in such a bloody way, instead of disintegrating them completely, and leaving no evidence behind is the fear factor.
- It's pretty common place whenever Fuhrer Bradley fights for him to Paint the Town Red, as well. People (even his own soldiers) are clearly terrified of him when he does.
- Ed and Al's teacher Izumi coughing up blood is played for fear for her condition. It turns out the reason is because she's missing some of her organs after an attempted human transmutation.
- Quite a few witches of Gokukoku No Brynhildr are shown to be on the run from the organisation responsible for creating them. Even eluding the more direct methods of disposal, they are not exempt from having to regularly take the now unprocurable death suppressant capsules to push back the certain gory melting to death. Your skin ruptures a bit or nose starts bleeding? Congratulations, that's an indication of entering the 5-hours final countdown stage. And if the drug supply you had is used up by now...
- Highschool of the Dead: Nearly every cast member is covered in blood at some point due to having to fight off hordes of zombies.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: Gendo takes control of Shinji's biomech and forces it to kill Unit 03 against his will. Shinji experiences (through the mech) ripping someone apart and having blood splattered all over him, and is utterly powerless to stop it from happening. It was traumatic enough to teach Shinji to never disobey Gendo's orders, and only furthers his psychological deterioration.
- In the Rebuild films, the fact that Unit-03's pilot was Asuka causes Shinji to snap and attempt to destroy NERV's HQ himself before being knocked out.
- Rurouni Kenshin: This is most often invoked by the villains since Kenshi is a peaceful person and is against killing. The villains tend to kill people in very bloody ways to make a point they're horrible murderers. Although quite a few characters Cough Up Blood after sustaining heavy hits causing life threatening organ damage, making the other characters fear if they'll come out alive. The Animated film with Kenshi's backstory is also very fear inducing with it's high amount of bloody deaths, and Blood-Splattered Innocents like Tomoe. Some of the characters also have a Bloodbath Villain Origin.
- ×××HOLiC: In one story a woman makes a wish on a monkey paw and inadvertently causes a man to fall in front of a moving train. His blood sprays onto the platform and onto her shoes
- American Psycho: Patrick Bateman kills an annoying coworker which results in his face being covered in blood. Then he takes off his raincoat that was keeping his suit clean, sits down at the desk facing the coworker's corpse, and smokes a cigar.
- The Amityville Horror: A specific part of the wall in the Amityville House's basement starts dripping blood at night and forming a stream leading George to it. It's revealed later on that the basement used to have a morgue, and that people were also tortured there.
- In Italian horror films there's Lucio Fulci's City of the Living Dead which involves a girl who begins bleeding from the eyes. Followed by her intestines and stomach being ejected from her mouth. The effect is...disturbingly realistic.
- Ghostbusters. During the scene in the mayor's office where people are describing the weird events going on in New York City, one man says "The walls in the 53rd Precinct were bleeding."
- Indiana Jones
- In The Machinist, Trevor Reznik is an anorexic insomniac who works heavy machinery. While working at the factory he accidentally makes a machine rip somebody's arm off. And then, he hallucinates about a man who has an equally mutilated hand, with his thumb replaced by a toe.
- Marebito There is a lot of focus on blood. The voiceless girl only drinks blood, and Masuoka kills two women and bottles up their blood for F to drink.
- There's a scene where one of the characters hallucinates ripping his face off in the bathroom, and dripping blood into the sink
- There's another scene nearing the end of the film, after rescuing the daughter the mother and the daughter come out of the ghost's world, and fall into a bathtub full of blood.
- One of the iconic images from The Shining is the scene with an elevator full of blood pouring out and flooding a hallway.
- One of the characters who moves in the haunted house of the film finds a home movie titled "House Painting" in super 8 film. The home movie shows a video of a family who used to live there being cut up, and then the walls in the hallway being painted in the family's blood.
- The advertising was pretty bloody too. With a commercial of a girl smearing blood on the walls with her hands with the film's title appearing as the blood drips on the wall.
- The Night Flier: As a vampire story, it makes a lot of use of this. Mutilated, bloody corpses are frequently seen, the Night Flier writes messages in blood, and the inside of his airplane is covered in blood, dirt and maggots.
Live Action Television
- House being a Medical Drama often has bleeding as a symptom both to gross out veiwers, and to fear for the patients life. Whether it be from the mouth, the eyes, the nose, ears, and in one episode a man's penis basically explodes and bleeds all over the toilet. Another episode had a woman's symptoms cause her to have a Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress.
- Nip/Tuck: In one episode a woman who was put under anaesthetic could still feel and see everything going on during her operation, but wasn't mobile enough to tell the doctors. She's completely traumatized after seeing and feeling the doctors cut into her, and takes legal action over it.
- Monk: In the episode Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk, a maintenance man named Bradley Foster goes down into a garbage compactor to fix a jam. After he fixes it the episode's murderer flips the circuit breaker. The garbage compactor turns on, Bradley falls into it, and is brutally ripped apart.
- The Walking Dead has way too many instances of this to list all at once. But generally the bloody mess is a result of them fighting off Zombies.
- Dungeons & Dragons module X2 Castle Amber was designed for the Expert D&D ruleset. One of the castle's features is the Blood-Stained Arch. A steady patter of blood flows from the underside of the arch, with no apparent source. The blood is in atonement for all of the bloody crimes committed by the Amber family.
- Bioshock Infinite: After killing Jeremiah Fink, Daisy Fitzroy deliberately smears his blood across her face.
- Persona 3: During the Dark Hour any water/liquid in the environment turns blood red. Blood will often be puddling on the floor and dripping off the walls during animated cut scenes.
- Skull Girls Invoked in Ms.Fortune's backstory. She got her abilities when she swallowed a stolen gem with immortality-granting properties, and was promptly butchered alive by a mafia assassin. She woke up later on the seafloor, finding her body in pieces and surrounded by the chopped-up carcasses of her friends.
- Corpse Party has many instances of this.
- It's shown that the ghosts you encounter in the game all died extremely bloody and gory deaths as children. For example all of them had their tounges cut out, one of them was decapitated, and one of their deaths was so morbid and graphic that the news article you originally read about the murders in omits it from the article.
- In the first chapter you encounter blood and guts decorating a wall and the floor in the hallway. You find out in a later chapter that Mayu was killed there when she was thrown into the wall by ghosts so fast that it killed her.
- After Yuka Kizami pushes his friend Kensuke Kurosaki down a pit where he falls down a floor and breaks his ribs. Yuka finds his friend and witnesses Kizami stab him several times and leave him to die in a pool of blood. Yuka eventually runs away terrified with her clothes and shoes now stained with blood from the murder
- It's revealed in a flashback that Sachiko was the real murderer of the children, and she is covered in blood from killing them.
- Higurashi: When They Cry:
- At one point Rika commits suicide in front of Shion, by holding a knife to the wall, and slamming her neck into it. It's a lot more graphic in the anime adaptation, since the visual nover was limited to only describing it and using a blood graphic.
- Similarly many other suicides involve the victims mysteriously scratching open their own necks with their fingers.
- In Hinamizawa there's a ghost story about an old village ritual (that's used for some of the murders) that involved the villagers disemboweling the victim as torture, and showing them their own guts on the day of the yearly festival. This eventually happens to Rika in some of the later chapters.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
- At the beginning of the game the Number Nine Man enters a numbered door by himself and explodes because of small bombs placed in his stomach, foreshadowing the rules for the nonary game. You have to walk past a bloody puddle of his remains if you chose to go through that door. Later on another man dies in a similar way when being thrown into the number 3 door by himself.
- This game infamously has a number of bloody deaths for bad endings. Especially during the axe ending where Clover becomes literally Axe Crazy and brutally murders several people.
- Umineko: When They Cry
- There are multiple instances of what appear to be ritualistic "magic circles" being drawn in blood. And in episode 03 of the visual novel the numbers 07151129 are written in what looks like blood over the door George is found dead in. This serves as a hint for later episodes in the "chiru arcs".
- There's multiple cases of murders that involve bashing people's faces to so that they're so bloody, that it's impossible to recognize who it is.
- The disembowling in Higurashi makes an encore in Umineko, on the first twilight (murder) of the second arc leaving blood and guts all around the crime scene. Played for horror again since they were sitting at a party table when they were found
- In episode 06 of the visual novel it's revealed that Erika decapitated the heads of people who were playing dead, and stuffed them in garbage bags so she could trap Battler (who was GM at the time) in a logic error by making it so nobody could replace the chain lock if he left the room he had "died" in.