Blood or brains are seen splattering against a wall and the rest is left to the imagination.
Most often used on women and children, while it seems to be okay for guys to undergo whatever onscreen suffering Hollywood can think of. Often found in the form of a Reaction Shot as the reacting characters's expression (or lack thereof) can serve as a commentary on the action, the character, or the world they inhabit. Sometimes combined with Blood Spattered Innocents, as the gore splatters on or near them.
A Japanese variation of this trope involves seeing the silhouettes of the participants from behind a translucent washi screen, typically a shouji sliding door, on which the blood gets spattered. The form has since been widely adopted by the west and is often used to give a sense of art. A similar variation is to have the splatter hit the other side of a pane of glass or a window. Another variation shows blood seeping out under a door, through an opening or across a sill or a threshold to imply that violence has occurred on the other side.
A Gory Discretion Shot can serve to keep the rating PG-13 to reach a wider audience. It may also be done for budgetary reasons: red dyed corn syrup splashed over a window: cheap. Showing someone's head explode: expensive*
Although Scanners managed an effective budget version by filling a rubber head with chicken giblets and blood and firing a shotgun at it from below and behind. Still more expensive than the syrup/dye, though
Combine it with Bloodless Carnage, and you get the Sound Only Death — the audience hears the gunshot and the body hitting the deck, but what they see is (for instance) the victim's hat falling to the ground with a hole through it. Or the killer walks through a door and we hear gunshots and screams after it closes behind him. Also crosses paths frequently with Scream Discretion Shot.
A related trope is the camera cutting away when things get nasty. Say if someone is getting whipped, we'll only see their face contorting in pain. Alternately, a cut similar to a Screamer Trailer may be used, showing a split second worth of the carnage. In the same vein, the aftermath of a murder may be demonstrated minimally with a Dead Hand Shot, hopefully one still attached to the body.
Contrast Gorn. Compare and contrast Nothing Is Scarier; while this may be less "scary" than not showing anything at all in a less overtly violent work, in Gornographic works this can be used for horror - with all this overt violence running around, what is so horrible you don't get to see it...? See also Empathy Doll Shot and Pink Mist. May precede a Mortal Wound Reveal, especially if it's unclear who exactly got injured - note that this is a Subversion of sorts, when it does happen.
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Anime and Manga
Tower Of God: Kang Horyang beating up Rapdevil. All we see is a door. Lurker eviscerating Nia. It is only heard over the com line.
In Sora No Woto, Filicia's old tank platoon's communications officer, Anna, is killed by a HEAT round (along with everyone else). The viewer gets a Lightning Reveal of Anna's arm, still holding her trumpet, protruding from under a heap of twisted metal.
Combined with a reaction shot in Serial Experiments Lain: when the shooter in the nightclub turns the gun on himself all we see is blood spatter on Lain's face. In this case, it's her lack of a visible reaction that's significant.
The Lupin III movie In Memory of the Walther P38, where someone apparently thought they were making an animated John Woo film, frequently employs these. The film opens with an assassination where the victim's blood is seen splattering over his own birthday cake. Near the end, they get creative; Jigen and Fujiko are seen dealing with a Wire Dilemma, Lupin is preparing to kill the film's Big Bad, he pulls the trigger... Cut to the island rigged to explode not exploding.
The first episode of Weiss Kreuz shamelessly abuses the non-gory Gory Discretion Shot when Aya kills the target of the day with a dramatic slow-motion horizontal sword cut... and the target's death is immediately illustrated by a shot of his mask falling to the ground in two pieces, having somehow been cut in half vertically.
An earlier episode has a berserk Eva 01 pummeling an Angel-possessed Eva 03 into a fine meaty paste, mostly shown through blood splatters covering entire buildings and turning an entire river pure red. Though later, there is a scene of what can best be described as 'angel squish' being pressure-washed off Eva 01's hand.
In one shot, only Eva 01 can be seen, while the Angel is hidden from view by a hill. But the river running around the hill is deep red.
A variation occurs in Fullmetal Alchemist; in a flashback scene where Colonel Mustang is about to immolate a child soldier with his flame alchemy, the camera suddenly pans off to the side at the critical moment, showing the wall behind them lighting up and his shadow stretching.
Let's not forget Scar killing the chimera-fied Nina with his signature alchemy. The screen blacks out and Ed (along with the viewers) merely see her splattered remains on the wall.
And yet another occurs in Eureka Seven, in a scene where a Coralian attacks a fleeing civilian; again, the camera immediately pans away once the creature reaches him, and only a large amount of blood, along with an arm, is seen.
Saiyuki: Flashbacks of Koumyou Sanzo's death are usually shown in this sequence (or any one of the three alone): him shielding Kouryuu; his shadowed coronet, arm and head lying in puddles of blood; Kouryuu looking up from the sight, drenched in blood.
Kanan's suicide: she holds the knife to her neck, tells her lover good-bye, cut to him him screaming her name with drops of blood on his face. Shadowed shot of Kanan lying dead on the floor optional.
The last two episodes of Narutaru were filled with this. Contrast with the manga, which was considerably less shy about showing blood and gore.
Used almost perfectly by the book in the first episode of Code Geass. The Britannian soldiers put the guns to their throats and pull the triggers, then the camera immediately cuts to Lelouch as we hear the gunshots and blood splashes on his face.
In episode 8 "The Black Knights", Lelouch (as Zero) meets with a Japanese Liberation Front commander who has taken a number of civilians, including some of his classmates, hostage and has made chucking one off the roof of a hotel building a means of negotiation. When the terrorist leader learns of Euphemia being among the hostages, he tries to chop Zero off the block; cue multiple thuds when the camera shifts outside the room and one of the commander's men goes in to investigate. That poor fool was the only guy Zero blew away in that scenario, as the viewer saw Lelouch geass them to die before the GDS. Expect more of the same in subsequent episodes.
Tenshi Na Konamaiki cuts away to a passing train before a big fight, and cuts away from other scenes of violence.
Used occasionally in the anime of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni. This makes the scenes like Rika headbutting a kitchen knife in Meakashi-hen and Watanagashi-hen or a shot of Rina's face after Rena kills her in Tsumihoroboshi-hen that much more disturbing. The manga on the other hand...
The sequel, on the other hand, has no problem whatsoever with Gorn, and Japanese TV has actually had to censor it many times now.
Mnemosyne uses this, thankfully. One such scene involves a sadistic research scientist torturing the protagonist, and it pans up to her face right before the woman's long, sharp knife is driven through her breast, splashing blood on both her and the scientist's face.
Used in Episode 1 of Macross Frontier, when the vajra picks Henry Gilliam up in one clawed hand and squeezes him to death in front of Alto. All the viewer is shown is blood and bits of armour falling to the floor in a messy puddle. This was also frequently used in Episode 20 where the vajra brutally cut someone in half and crush another into a long smear of blood.
Axis Powers Hetalia has Switzerland blowing France's brains out in silhouette during the Christmas Episode.
In another strip, after Japan pulls a sword on China the next panel consists of a panda eating and China's screams.
Like the above, when France is captured he's shown tied to a chair and, after trading a few words, the camera cuts away and France's screams can be heard.
In Elfen Lied, this trope is both played straight and subverted. The first instance is in Lucy's epic escape, as she knocks down one of the guards, all we see is Lucy's masked face with a blood stain flashing here and there and hear the guard beg for his life as the sickening crack of various bones and organs being crunched is heard. We never even see the outcome. Later, the camera cuts away as Lucy supposedly rips a dog to shreds. It turns out she was actually just cutting the leash.
Also if you ever see a discretion shot after this point, you can assume nobody died, or at least not who you though was going to.
In Chapter 437 of Naruto, when Pain stabs a downed Hinata, the camera cuts away to the sky while a sound effect of her getting stabbed is heard, and then blood is shown dripping from the nearby stones. This also hid the fact that the wound wasn't fatal.
Well, it was, but not IMMIDIATELY fatal. No immediate medical attention would've made one dead Hyuuga heiress
During the fight with Zabuza, a Gory Discretion Shot is used when Zabuza attacks Sakura and Tazuna, accompanied by Sakura's scream, to imply that he killed them. It is soon revealed, however, that he injured Kakashi, but Tazuna and Sakura survived.
When Sasuke is put in an illusion functioning as a Pensieve Flashback by Itachi, he gets a full-view of Madara pulling out his brother Izuna's eyes, while all we see is him staring at it while some of the blood splatters on his face.
In the pilot, when Takeshi gets killed, the last we see of him is a gun pointed at his head.
Both played straight and averted in Now and Then, Here and There; the camera pans away when Boo, a six-year-old, is shot to death; you expect the same sequence to occur when Soon, a seven-year-old, meets the same fate, but the camera focuses on her bloody collapse the entire time, complete with slow-motion falling and wailing from the protagonist.
Season Five of Yu-Gi-Oh!, we get one when a character is eaten alive by an insect monster, we only see the silhouette of him being crunched up (though we do hear the bones crunching, the swallowing, etc). Also seen in a less gory scene in Season Two as the camera cuts away when Yami Malik stabs his father to death, although we do see his bloodied corpse lying against the wall afterwards.
About three quarter through Soukou No Strain Ralph takes over the Deague ship by killing everyone aboard except Medlock. The discretion shots come in every time he kills someone, of course.
In Baccano! the Sacrificial Lamb murder of the train conductor is given what is probably the only Non-Gory Discretion Shot in the entire series, as the gunshot rings out at the exact moment the credits come in. Probably to hide the fact that it's the "murderer" who ends up shot.
Though the series is generally not shy about showing gore, it does also employ a couple of standard Gory Discretion Shots on some of the occasions that main characters are shot in the head - for example, when Gustavo has his mooks gun down the Gandor brothers late in the series. On other occasions, not so much.
The death of the Combat CyborgDue in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha StrikerS. We see the character that's about to kill her break out of his bonds, then we cut to a scene in the hallway where a character who's rushing to the scene hears a loud crash. When we get back to the room, we now see the Combat Cyborg lying in a pool of her own blood with the implication that she was impaled. Kinda weird in a way, since we had just seen Vita get impaled in a graphic, uncensored manner a few episodes ago.
Also, in episode 17, Ginga's defeat shows her Power Fist lying in a pool of blood and far away from her body, greatly implying that her hand had been severed. Implication became fact later, when we see her now sporting a detachable hand.
Ayashi No Ceres also showcases an example of this trope. Miori, Aya's cousin whose genes were altered to make her a Tennyo, flies to the top of a very, very tall building, lets herself fall and then goes SPLAT. The look on poor Aya's face as she witnesses this (which is Miori's Take That against Ceres for killing her mother in a rampage), as well as her hysterical cries, is enough to tell us that a Gory Discretion Shot is MUCH better than showing the outcome.
Dragon Ball Z, which is normally not gore-shy, gets one of these when the scene really would have been too horrific to contemplate (or hard to draw). In the Buu saga, Piccolo is turned to stone; Trunks accidentally tips him over, shattering the majority of his body. When the character who cast the spell is killed, Piccolo is changed back while he's still in pieces. Trunks sees the aftermath, but we don't - and judging by the look on his face, it's the bloody mess you'd expect. However, fortunately for both our hero and Trunks' delicate eight-year-old psyche, Piccolo can regenerate lost limbs and is good as new a few seconds later.
While Black Butler is often not afraid to show Sebastian's hand impaling bad guys and blood spewing all over, this trope is played straight during the end of the Jack the Ripper arc. Ciel and Sebastian are standing outside Mary Kelly's home, who was the Ripper's last victim (in the series and believed to be in real life), so they can catch him. We hear a scream from inside and as Ciel throws the door open a single drop of blood hits his face. Afterwards we see Grell Sutcliff walk outside with blood covering her face and clothes. We never see the body, just a very shadowed shot of an arm and a pool of blood.
In real life the Mary Kelly murder was believed to be the most gruesome out of the Ripper's five victims. So, perhaps leaving it up to the viewer's imagination was worse than showing us what the Ripper really did to Mary in the series.
Although Monster has a good bit of overt blood and violence, some shootings are shadowed or otherwise implied.
In the movie version of AKIRA when Tetsuo murders Yamagata, all you see is Tetsuo pointing his hand at his head as he screams in terror and the scene cuts away, while in the manga version we get to see what happens.
In Katsuhiro Otomo's earlier work Domu: A Child's Dream, one of the policemen who arrives at the scenes of the apparent "suicides" remarks that it's far gorier than it should be, and another mentions that he's never eating spaghetti again. We have to take their word for it.
Not really much gore in this instance, but Pokémon does this with liberal use of the Hit Flash trope, though we still see the aftereffect of the hit. One instance of this is from Primeape Goes Bananas, when Charmander starts getting beaten up by the titular Primeape. After a few seconds of Charmander getting punched in full view of the audience, we get shown shots of Pikachu and Ash just sitting there and watching. During this in the background there's the very noticeable rapid-fire delivery of "whackwhackwhackwhackwhackwhack" as Primeape continues turning Charmander's face into pulped meat. When we get a shot of Charmander's tail, its body is still jerking around as Primeape keeps punching. Then the fight clears up and we see Charmander get punched more before it beats Primeape.
In Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle, a rogue Syaoran Clone decides to gouge out Fai's left eye to gain magical power. We only see the poor blonde's eyes trembling in fear just before seeing Kurogane is rushing down the stairs to meet everyone watching a big cyclone of water. Right when he gets there, the cyclone falls apart, and we only see the result of the eye-gouging. Luckily Kurogane was able to stop the clone from biting out Fai's other eye.
In Cowboy Bebop Pierrot Le Fou is crushed under the heel of a giant mechanical toy dog. The scene shifts from focusing right on him to Spike's perception a ways away. We see nothing but his silhouette disappearing.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica uses this in a way that doesn't make it even slightly better when Charlotte devours Mami's body. While you can't see it happening, you can hear it. In the manga, this is averted. Unfortunately.
It's funny to say that this happened in the first episode of the 1997 adaptation of Berserk, where all we see is a shot of a table top being splattered with blood when Guts cleaves a mook in two with the Dragon Slayer. Coming from a series that thrives on grossing the audience out with as much graphic violence as possible, that is.
We would have seen Guts splattering Giant Mook Bazuzo's head in two with the added bonus of his eyeball popping out from blunt trauma like in the manga, had there been no Gory Discretion Shot in the second episode as well.
Though not really any gore, there is a moment in Monster Rancher where Evil General Durahan confronts Lilim on his ship, raises his sword, and is about to stab her... Cut to Moo's troops firing on Durahan's ship, eventually blowing it up.
In the Sailor Moon anime, when Ann and Prince Diamond are both stabbed, the actual stabbing is not shown onscreen. Although we do see blood trickling from Ann's mouth before she dies, and about a second's shot of Wiseman's energy blades embedded in Diamond before they disappear, and a bit of blood.
Also, when Zoycite nonfatally stabs Tuxedo Mask not once but twice, the stabbing is not shown onscreen, although blood is seen on the first occasion.
Averted in that when Neflite dies; the thorns are clearly shown stabbing him, remains embedded in him, and there is green blood everywhere.
Edouard Manet unintentionally did this in The Execution of Maximilian. The section of Maximilian and his dying generals was cut from the canvas. It's odd because he didn't cut the deaths out of later versions of the painting.
While Manet would sometimes cut up paintings by him he felt failed artistically and rework any salvagable fragments(he notably did this with an "Incident" at The Bullfight" from which the Dead Toreador in the National Gallery and the Bull Ring in the Frick come from), Mo MA claims that in this case the London Maximilian painting was cut up after Manet's death.
Garth Ennis' Preacher is heavy enough on the directly-portrayed bloodshed, but one scene is particularly noteable: When Jesse's friend Billy-Bob is attacked by T.C. in the second volume chapter "How I learned to love the Lord", the comic cuts to T.C.'s bloodied knife... And then, two panels later, we see Billy-Bob clutching his slit throat. This is sometimes used straight, though such as when Tulip is killed by Jesse's family, but for style rather than for censorship.
The only instance where this might be used for censorship is the death of God. Even Garth Ennis might not have been able to get away with showing that particular messily-killed corpse.
Garth Ennis did this again in the Hellblazer issue Confessions of an Irish Rebel. John and Brendan return to their hotel suite to find a friend tied from the light fixture being held hostage with a shotgun stuck up his arse. Squick. The hostage-taker loses the plot and accidentally fires. Cut to John looking horrified with a blood spattered face. Admittedly, two pages later you do see what remains of their friend, asking, quietly, "What's that on your coat?" Very nasty.
Sin City plays this trope with many different variations (Blood sprayed on the killer's face, a silhouetted headshot, etc.). This is mostly for artistic purposes, as the film had no problem showing other gory scenes.
In the last comic of the X-Wing Series, Isard got rid of one of her superiors by having a left-handed shopkeeper kill him with a Sith lanvarok he'd been wanting to buy. We never see the lanvarok or the death, but Isard looks through◊ a little, bloody window and muses that being left-handed is a distinct advantage when using a lanvarok.
Happens many times in Watchmen, most notably during Rorschach's prison break. After Big Figure's attempt to kill him fails, Rorschach follows him into the men's room, to the annoyance of Laurie and Dan, who are trying to rescue him. A few moments later, he exits the restroom and leaves with them, and we see blood flowing under the door. It's far more disturbing than the violence that's actually shown.
Even more impressive is the fact that, even though they turned the gore Up to Eleven in the movie, this scene remained intact, and was still way more unsettling than anything they actually showed. Keep in mind, those included a man's forearm bone puncturing through the skin as his arm was broken, Dr. Manhattan literally exploding people with his mind, and a mook getting his arms sawed off with a grinder. The gore is relatively easy to accept once the shock value wears off; trying to imagine what happened is far more likely to keep you up at night.
When Gammid rips Javi's sigil-enhanced arm off in Negation, a silhouette is used to imply the action.
Features in thisGarfield strip, where the cartoonist elects "not to show this panel due to its graphic nature".
The Ultimate Spider-Man comics were much more open with dark and edgy topics, but still refrained from graphic violence, being a mainstream comic aimed mostly at teens and young adults. One discretion shot in particular stands out, though, when the Kingpin executes an insubordinate...subordinate by crushing his head between his massive hands. Most of the event takes place in a panel that shows only Fisk's tower viewed at a distance, though later on in the comic a clip of security footage does show the moment where the man's head caves in (still a discretion shot, however, because Fisk had put Spider-Man's confiscated mask over his head).
In the milestone issue #225, Sonic and Sally infiltrate the newly-built Death Egg Mark II, where they are then immediately confronted by Silver Sonic Mark II. Sonic decides to fight, while Sally runs down a corridor to trace Eggman's intercom signal, where she encounters a giant gun turret that pops out of the wall and blasts her off-panel. (The reader's imagination about the fate of Sally is possibly made worse by the art detailing in the onomatopoeia of the blasts.) The only thing we see afterwards of her is her shattered goggles and a silhouette on the floor of her lifeless hand, while Mobius reboots.
Another one occurs in issue #234. Antoine D'Coolette is charged with protecting King Elias while Dr. Eggman launches another assault on the Freedom Fighters and the Royal Family. Metal Sonic Mk. II is about to infiltrate the Royal Family's escape vehicle, when Antoine catches up and distracts Metal Sonic enough to let go. Eggman, in frustration, activates Metal Sonic's self-detruct mechanism, catching Antoine's entire body, throwing him to the ground, unconscious, and presumably mortally wounded. Every other panel scene with Antoine in it after the explosion obscures his face, whether by special angles, or someone obscuring his face. For example, Sonic's head while speeding as fast as he can with Antoine off to the hospital.
Subverted in an issue of the Archie ComicsTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series. Bebop and Rocksteady are at the zoo when they see all the animals trapped in cages. They point their guns and start shooting, and it looks like they've killed the animals...but when they meet the Turtles we see that Bebop and Rocksteady actually shot out the bars of the zoo cages to free the animals. They take the animals back to a Garden of Eden-like alien planet that they've decided to call home, stopping off only to drop the villains the Turtles have defeated back on the prison planet they escape from.
Shows up in, of all places, Issue #3 of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW). Chrysalis grabs one of the luvcats and taunts the CMC for their "innocence". What she does with the luvcat in the following panel is never shown, but the splattered black amongst the blank white panel, the "THUMP" and the CMC's screams makes it clear that it is for the best.
In the same issue, right after Fluttershy points out a natural species rivalry in the monsters that were chasing the ponies, the ponies look epically horrified while said monsters presumably disembowel each other just off-panel.
In Pocket God, the more gory deaths tend to be obscured.
Many Astérix comics offscreen fights or block them with big dustclouds. In one comic the narrator pulls an actual curtain over the fight, explaining that it is entirely too violent to watch.
The Direct-to-DVD Superman: Doomsday makes use of this, while still remaining ten times more graphic than anything in Superman The Animated Series or Justice League combined. The most notable part is when the camera cuts away when the Superman clone removes a piece of kryptonite in his body by using heat vision, x-ray vision, a mirror, and a pair of scissors to preform improvised surgery on his own brain. Eww.
Disney usually accomplishes this through the obvious means (where they have a folder to themselves), but they're also known to dispatch villains in non-gravity-related yet still excessively vicious manners, and still manage to obscure it in a way that makes it perfectly G / PG-13 as far as the censor is concerned but even worse for the impressionable kiddies who now get to imagine in as much detail as they like what just happened.
Pinocchio: Monstro slams himself into a seaside cliff, and we cut away before we see more than the first part of a decidedly non-comedic accordion effect.
Cars 2: Rod "Torque" Redline's (an offscreen explosion is reflected onto a computer monitor after he is blasted away by the Lemons' radiation cannon) and Tony Trihull's (another offscreen explosion, this time from an above view of the river Thames in London as he is blown up by Finn Mc Missile's bombs) deaths.
Aside from Sparky's death, this is completely averted in Frankenweenie. All other deaths are depicted in gruesome, violent, and gory detail. Just what the fuck were they on when they gave this a PG rating and marketed it to kids???
In Batman Under The Red Hood when Batman and the Red Hood fight the armored assassins, the Red Hood breaks one of their helmets and sticks a taser into it, the man screams and writhes in pain just before his head explodes, we then cut to his blood splashing on a wall.
Film - Live Action
Perhaps the definitive version on screen has to be the famous shower sequence from Psycho Not only is the knife never seen touching the victim, at no point does the knife, killer, or victim ever appear in the same frame. All violence is implied by the moving knife, the victim's screams, and the final shot of blood circling down the drain.
In Pirates of the Caribbean 2, there is a scene in which Will is on the Flying Dutchman, and when he and his father see each other, in their shock they lose hold of a rope, resulting in serious damage to one of the sails. Will is to be whipped as a punishment, with his father doing the whipping, rather than another member of the crew who prides himself on cleaving flesh from bone with every swing. During the actual whipping, the camera is on Will's upper body from the front, showing his face contorting in pain as we see his father wielding the whip behind him and hearing the snapping, but we don't actually see the wounds until Will is untied and pushed down a set of stairs, his back clearly shown, with the lashes sliced into it.
Avatar has no fewer than three of these in its final battle. The first is a marine who in a mid-air collision with another helicopter is clearly about to be torn apart by its rotors before the camera switches to an exterior shot of both helicopters exploding. The second is an AMP driver being crushed inside his suit by a Pandoran rhino, only hearing a scream before an exterior shot shows the rhino crushing the driver canopy. The third is a marine being crushed between two bomb pallets, but avoiding a closeup or showing blood and again only hearing the marine scream before his apparent gory death.
The film Red Dragon has the camera cut to the blind woman's face being spattered with blood after the villain shoots himself with a shotgun. The cut away is important because he didn't really shoot himself, he just blew the face off of someone he had killed earlier, but he wanted to spare her without letting her think he was still around. This also happens in the book.
More important than just sparing her, he needed a witness to tell the investigators that he was definitely dead.
This is the Jurassic Park films' favorite way to kill off characters, especially when it involves smaller dinos which would generally be messier to show. They generally have the characters be yanked (or trip) offscreen, or pan away from the attack, and then have said doomed character give out a horrifying scream to show they've been killed.
It should be noted the aformentioned giant mooks were both played by the same stunt man. A similar scene was set up and filmed with the same stunt man for The Last Crusade, but, unfortunately, the scene was ultimately cut.
The Last Crusade: Near the beginning is a classic example with a hat, except the hat floats by on the water while Indy clings to a lifebuoy.
The Saw films don't usually use this trope, but the camera did zoom in on Dr. Gordon's face in the first movie as he cut through his foot with a rusty hacksaw
Zepp's death near the end of the same movie. All you see is the toilet seat cover getting bloodier and bloodier as Adam bashes him with it, but not much else. Both this and the above shot are directly related to the first film having a markedly lower effects budget.
Notable in Sinister, because most of the death scenes up until that point had not been shied away from. The deaths were recorded on a series of home videos with seemingly innocent titles. For instance, Family Swim was a group of people being drowned alive. When Ellison, the main character, watches the video entitled Yard Work, the camera cuts to him looking away in shock and horror. The Cinema Snob felt that it was actually one of the most effective death scenes in the film.
Though that wasn't entirely for discretion - it kept the identity of the killer a mystery until The Reveal.
The teahouse shootout in John Woo's Hard Boiled ends with one of these, as a flour-covered Tequila finishes off his Uzi-wielding opponent with a single shot to the head at point blank range that splatters his blood all over Tequila's face.
The Usual Suspects was quite artful, with a scene with three men in an elevator. It goes dark and when the lights come back on there's two bloody smudges on the glass behind the remaining man.
Although Scarface doesn't shy from bloodshed most of the time, the death by chainsaw of Angel is shown by blood spattering onto Angel's own face and then the walls of the bathroom.
Such a part can be found in the 1954 animated film adaptation of Animal Farm. When Napoleon's Dobermans execute the animals that attempted to revolt, it's so gruesome that not only do we the audience not see it, but the raven that's watching looks away in fear. A rather clever subversion of the raven's connotation with death, but it's nonetheless one factor that makes the movie unsuitable for minors.
Also, when the animals rebel once again in the end and kill Napoleon, all you can see is the portrait of the Big Bad falling to the floor and shattering.
Cloverfield makes use of the silhouette variant, when Marlena explodes from her infected bite.
"Hud? I don't feel so good..."
Reservoir Dogs has possibly the best uses of the Gory Discretion Shot in modern cinema, including the scene in which Mr. Blonde lops off the cop's ear - the camera pulls away to show a corner of the room while the cop's screams are heard over "Stuck In The Middle With You" playing on the radio.
Bonus points for panning over to a sign labeled "WATCH YOUR HEAD". 'Tis a funny Gory Discretion Shot!
When Vincent Shoots Marvin In The Face in Pulp Fiction, the camera cuts to behind the car just in time to show the rear window getting splattered with the poor guy's guts. The rest of the scene avoids showing Marvin's corpse in favor of the angry front seat passengers, now covered in blood and brains.
In classic noir film The Big Sleep, when Eddie Mars is forced to walk out of Geiger's house by Philip Marlowe, into the street where Mars' goons are waiting for Marlowe to step out so they can shoot him. Mars leaves the house screaming "Don't shoot!", but it doesn't stop his goons as the door closes behind him.
In Die Hard, Hans demands that Takagi give him the security code for the vault or he'll kill him. He says, "I don't have the code, you'd have to jet to Tokyo to ask the Chairman. You're just going to have to kill me." Hans then says, "Okay," points a handgun at Takagi, pulls the trigger and splatters his brains across the glass door.
Part of the reason there's so many cut-away shots in Die Hard is because Alan Rickman who played Hans could NOT stop flinching whenever he fired the gun, so they always cut away whenever Hans shoots.
In Die Hard With A Vengeance, we get one of these when one of the Mooks is sliced in half by a snapping cable. We see the cable whip towards him, we see him catapulted backwards by the hit, but cuts away before we see him bisected. Then McClane and Zeus come across his body. "I'll get his arms, you get his legs." They start out carrying the body normally, until Zeus turns until he's side-by-side with McClane.
The Alien series uses this to substantial effect in each film. With one exception (Parker), the only two people killed by the eponymous Aliens on screen in the first two movies were both killed by chestbursters, while everyone else killed were done so via use of this trope. It fits very well with the extensive use of Take Our Word for It.
In Alien, the creature advances towards Lambert and sticks its tail between her legs. As Ripley runs toward Parker and Lambert's location, she can hear strange noises mixed with Lambert's final, piercing scream. The end result of that encounter is (mercifully) never shown on-screen.
In Aliens, a xenomorph attacks Ferro as she's piloting the dropship towards the Marine's location. Ferro doesn't have time to act, and we see her bloodsoaked hand hit the windshield.
In Alien³, a maintenance worker finds the newborn xenomorph in a air duct. He is hit with acid spit from the creature and tumbles downward into a fan, where the camera shifts the focus to a perspective behind the fan. Blood and gore spray everywhere. The fate of Supervisor Andrews (blood pouring down from a shaft) and other prisoners also follow this trope.
In Alien: Resurrection, most noticeably when the alien gets inside the escape pod and the occupants' blood and viscera splatters on the window amid screams.
The 51st State: the characters are in a guest box at Anfield Stadium, and a chemical reaction makes Meat Loaf explode. From outside, the box's window suddenly fills with blood.
In The Mist, the final scene where David shoots his son and the three other passengers, the camera pans away to the outside of the vehicle. Later all but one of the corpses can be seen. Guess which one.
Also earlier, when the biker goes out into the mist. Even if you don't see what happens to the unfortunate biker, you probably don't WANT to know what happened to him after his TORSO is dragged back in from the fog. Same thing when the fog rapidly rolls in, one man panics and runs out to his car, and the mist swallows him, where we hear horrifying screams.
In The Ring, you never quite see what Samara does to her victims to leave them looking like that.
Also, during the ferry scene, we see the black horse fall down the side of the boat and into the water - our only clue that it was chopped up by the propellers is the red water that flows out from under the ship.
In Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, there is a scene where the leader of the anarchists kills himself in front of Holmes and Watson; when he pulls the trigger, rather than show him blowing off part of his head, the scene immediately cuts to patrons in the tavern upstairs reacting to the shot and going to investigate. The only idea of how gory the death was is the horrified look on Simza's face.
The x-ray vision deaths at the beginning and end of The Final Destination are particularly noteworthy.
Serenity has a scene with a holographic recording of a scientist. She begins to panic as she describes a Reaver attack. The sounds of Reavers at her door can be heard untill one breaks in, overpowers her and knocks her to the ground and out of the audiences view. Her screams continue, and even Jayne doesn't want to see what's happeneing to her. Since Reavers are known for raping, dismembering, flaying and devouring their victims, it's probably pretty bad.
The scene in the Tom Cruise version of The War of the Worlds where the hero's daughter sees lots of empty clothing floating down the river. Presumably with people dust still on it.
A tripod drops a man out of sight behind a tractor, then we hear him screaming as a tube sucks all the blood out of him.
Doomsdayplays with this a bit: A character is about to commit suicide, and as he puts the gun in his mouth, the camera pans up. When the gun goes off, however, a colossal amount of blood and sizable chunks of flesh splatter into frame.
Played straight in Leon when the title character "cleans" the first of the fat man's mooks. Most of the rest are disposed of in a gunfight behind window blinds. Later killings, particularly those of Mathilda's family, but not her brother, are shown in all their gory... er glory.
Parodied in the Mel Brooks spoof Dracula: Dead and Loving It. At one point the protagonist has to drive a stake into a vampire whose body is obscured by a coffin, but in doing so he gets sprayed with a ridiculous amount of blood.
"You never told me there'd be this much blood!" "Of course there is! She just ate recently! Why do you think I'm behind the wall!?"
The Terminator series has this sometimes, such as the death of Scott, Katherine's fiancee, in the third one (the camera cuts to a photograph on his apartment, a buzzing sound is heard and blood splats on the photo)
In Evil Dead 2 when Ash puts the chainsaw to his recently reanimated dead girlfriend's head (which is in a vice, by the way), all that we see of the carnage is, surprisingly red, blood on the lightbulb.
Evil Dead 2 uses a lot more of these shots than the first one (for example, compare the axe dismemberment in the first with the similar scene in the second), presumably to try to get an R rating instead of an X. (It didn't work).
Used, with comic effect, in Terry Gilliam's Jabberwocky: King Bruno, his daughter and Passelewe sit watching the tournament that is held to decide which knight will go and slay Jabberwocky. They get increasingly more covered in splattered blood, up to there being very little un-red surface left.
Also, at the start of the movie, a hapless poacher falls prey to Jabberwocky. From the moment the man spots his doom, contorting his face in fear, we only see his face centered in the shot with the background rapidly moving every which way. Then, after a few seconds, the man ends up on the ground and the shot pulls back to reveal, well, quite a bit less of him than just shortly before.
While we get to see a lot of the deaths that occur in the nightclub massacre in Hellraiser III Hell On Earth, the scene ends with the survivors running to the exit doors as they are sealed shut. The camera then pans backward from the other side of the door showing an series of puddles of blood expanding from underneath the door while the audience hears horrible sounds coming from within.
Even more terrifying, as the blood slowly spreads, we hear fewer and fewer screams coming from inside—not because the people are calming down, but because there are fewer people left to scream.
Hellraiser: Inferno did something similar in the scene where Joseph's parents get killed.
Used subtly to make a point in 8mm. When the protagonist watches the Snuff Film found in the safe at the film's opening, the camera cuts to his reaction when the snuff film reaches its kill shot. Later on, however, the camera doesn't move from the kill when he watches snuff films purchased from an underground porn shop. This hints that while the films from the porn shop are fake (they both use the same "starlet"), the one in the safe was real.
In The Thief And The Cobbler during Zigzag's death scene he falls into a pit and is eaten alive by a pack of crocodiles we see him as a silhouette and a pair of eyes being munched by the crocs' teeth and until all that remains is his still talking head which is then eaten by his pet vulture it cuts to complete darkness as his head is eaten.
Funny Games is fairly bloodless. When the child is killed, it happens in another room, and we only hear the sounds and reaction, then cut to a blood-spattered television.
Gone With The Wind The amputation of the gangrened leg scene. The surgeons and the patient are only seen in shadow, but we can hear the soldier screaming for them not to cut...
Also in the beginning of Glory, Matthew Broderick watches on as a Union soldier's wounded leg is hacked off while said soldier is still conscious. The actual hacking is covered by a sheet but we see blood splatter on the sheet as the soldier screams in agony.
Shown in the movie Snatch, when Turkish says that "The Gun shot himself." We see him pointing a gun to his head, and then the camera pans to the right, showing the white bathroom wall. Next thing we know, there is a gunshot and a splatter of red blood on the wall.
The 2008 film The Children both plays this straight and avoids it. Only one of the adults get a death scene, otherwise they're all Gory Discretion Shots. The children's deaths are all shown fully.
In Tess, there is a bit of blood dripping through a crack in the upstairs floor, just after Nastassia Kinski's character has left the inn where she, it turns out, killed Alec d'Urberville.
In Creepshow 2 there is a literal shot of blood splattering against a wall accompanying a silhouetted murder.
Subverted in Audition. The trope is played straight occasionally at first, for a burn injury and a decapitation. However, any one who thinks that implied violence is stronger than graphic violence should try sitting through the final 20 minutes of the film.
Used in the Bond film Moonraker. Incensed when he discovers that his assistant Corrinne has been helping Bond, the villain Drax sets his dogs on her. Pursued by them, she hysterically flees into the woods. Despite running as fast as she can, the dogs keep gaining on her. She lets out one final desperate scream as they leap on her and knock her to the ground. . .and the camera pans upward to the beautiful, sunlit sky, leaving the rest to our imagination.
Used twice in Osmosis Jones first when Thrax slashes the throat of a mafia germ we see his fluids splash like blood as his finger slashes him offscreen, and second when Thrax kills a white blood cell technician we see him leap down from the ceiling and extend his finger and we see the technician's fluids splatter on the window.
Occurs in the The Rocky Horror Picture Show when Frank kills Eddie. We hear Eddie's horrified screams, and we hear Frank hacking him to pieces with a pick-axe. But, instead of seeing the murder itself, we see Columbia's horrified reaction.
Brilliantly used in Kung Fu Hustle: The Musical Assassin that kills with slicing sound waves fires his "weapon" at someone as that person is walking down an alley. We see the things he just walked past get cut in two as shadows. Quite threatening....until you see a cat getting sliced in mid-air
The most recent (non-musical) adaptation of Anna and the King uses this for Tuptim's execution scene. At the moment where her head is chopped off, the camera cuts to a shot of her hands holding a plant in between them. There is a spray of blood, and her hands drop apart, letting the plant fall.
Almost played straight in the remake of The Wolfman 2010 at the beginning, when Ben Talbot is killed by the werewolf. When the werewolf makes its first strike, you get a closeup of Ben's pained and shocked expression (which was all that was shown in the trailers), until the camera pans down to show his intestines beginning to leak out. Played partially straight when the werewolf slaughters the members of the hunting party who get trapped in the pit (the shots are too close and dark to see much beyond blood and flesh flying). In the same scene, one of the hunters fires his shotgun, and in the muzzle flash you see the werewolf standing behind him before the scene cuts.
Con Air has a horribly well done scene which starts with the rapist con in the foreground, with only his head and arm handcuffed to the ceiling in shot. Two paramedics approach with the comment "well, he's dead." they grab the body, pulling it out of shot. But the arm stays hanging by the handcuff.
The bad horror film, How to Make a Monster, has this for the death of the weapons designer. As the robot monster thingy begins to slaughter him, the other characters see him slam into the door window and leave a bloody handprint. After he falls, all that's visible in the window is the robot's hand ready a sword, then it swings down and blood sprays everywhere.
In Iron Man 2, there's the part where Justin Hammer leaves Ivan Vanko in a room with several guards watching him. We cut to somewhere else, then when we get back to Vanko, we see the guards hanging from the ceiling.
The first time Ichi The Killer is seen in action, he charges screaming into an apartment, with blood-splatters and death shrieks coming out of the door he entered. Two men are watching from a closed-circuit television from another apartment, but we only see their expressions and a blurred figure of Ichi. Disturbing at first, but the explicit Gorn levels the film follows with later severely overshadow this scene.
Used in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow when the horseman beheads a woman we see him slash at her with an axe we then she her severed head hit the floor and also when he comes back to kill her young son we see him yank him from beneath the floorboards and hear him scream then we cut to him putting his severed head in a bag.
M doesn't bother with a cut when the Thieves' Guild prepares to torture a watchman—instead, a crowd of beggars rushes to watch, obscuring the view.
Law Abiding Citizen thankfully doesn't show the horrid torture and dismemberment of the murderer, but it is described to him beforehand in detail, and the pieces are shown when the police arrive.
Gangs of New York uses a door frame to block out the crushing of Monk McGinn's head by the Butcher when he kills him with his own weapon. Strange, given the brutality and gore that fills the movie.
As gory and nasty as Silence of the Lambs is, the movie focuses on Lecter as he beats Officer Boyle's head apart with the baton. It also refrains from showing Pembry without his face.
High Tension: While Alex's parents are shown to be brutally killed on screen, the audience only sees a glimpse of gunfire when the killer shoots Alex's kid brother in a corn field.
Used throughout Braveheart, including Wallace's drawing-and-quartering execution at the end.
In The Bad Seed, little Rhoda takes care of caretaker Leroy, who knows what she is, by starting a fire in the locked cellar where he's sleeping. As he burns to death we only hear his agonized shrieks - probably as done in the original stage play where such an approach would be expedient.
Mystery Team does this to prevent the audience for seeing the effects of a cherry bomb HITTING A MAN SQUARE IN THE FACE
In the 1946 Roy Rogers classic My Pal Trigger, a Gory Discretion Shot is used when the cougar attacks Trigger's mother, and later when Roy surveys how badly she's been hurt. Of course the extent of the injury couldn't have been shown on screen back in '46, but Roy's reaction to it creates a Nothing Is Scarier moment because you can't see the gruesome injury, freeing your mind up to conjure horrible things.
It's very difficult to see in Peter Jackson's King Kong, but during the fight with the final V-rex, Kong BITES THE V-REX'S TONGUE OFF, then spits it out and resumes fighting. The film covers it up by cutting from a close-up view to an outside so fast it's nigh difficult to spot. Look closely in this clip.
In Tomorrow Never Dies a Mook is thrown by James Bond into a printing press; all that's seen is the baddie falling through the paper and the ensuing copies coming out stained red.
During the song "Worthless" from The Brave Little Toaster, as soon as a car is very close to the Car Crusher, we immediately either cut to said car already crushed into a cube, or show car parts flying from offscreen after the car finishes singing and is killed.
In the film version of Miami Vice, an informant (who has just learned from Sonny and Crockett that his wife was murdered by Cuban drug-runners) steps out onto a freeway into the path of an oncoming truck. The camera cuts away just before the vehicle hits him, and (as the sound cuts out and the duo look on in shock), the truck brakes to stop - in a split-second shot, you can see a streak of blood dragging out behind the truck.
In I Know What You Did Last Summer, Barry's death is in a dark shadowy area, and all we see is a little bit of blood, and Helen is killed from behind a tire-stack, in extremely low-light conditions, with occasional flashes from fireworks. Also, Elsa has her throat slashed, but all we see is a little bit of blood splatter on a glass pane behind her.
Used to its full advantage in The Hunger Games. Whenever a character suffers a particularly gruesome death, the cameraman starts up the Jitter Cam to show violence without the audience being able to see it clearly. This is mainly due to the director’s attempts to try and slip by with a PG-13 rating to keep the movie appropriate for younger viewers.
In the original version of Cape Fear, a half-closed door is used to make Cady's beating of Diane Taylor much more disturbing.
Early in the film, Dr. Stephen Maturin amputates Midshipman Blakeney's arm. The viewer doesn't see the actual operation, but seeing one of the other midshipmen looking away as he holds down his friend, then later a shot of Blakeney nearly crying in pain is enough to illustrate the point.
Later, Dr. Maturin himself gets shot in the gut. He has to operate on himself, with *no* anesthesia. The best the viewer sees of this operation is a blurred view through Dr. Maturin's mirror, and the surgeon's own grimaces.
Lawrence of Arabia employs this when Lawrence is captured in Dera'a. While T.E. Lawrence's autobiography describes the attempted rape and the beating in great detail, including the shocking (for the 1920s) admission that Lawrence enjoyed it, the movie manages to be *more* creepy with the Turkish official coughing as he watches, the look on Lawrence's face as he braces for the first blow, and Lawrence's friend seeing him get tossed outside afterwards.
The Land Before Time does this when Sharptooth jumps onto Littlefoot's mother and bites a chunk out of her neck. (we see it in shadow though.)Interestingly, this was not the original plan, it was altered late in production.
Predator 2. When Danny is killed off screen by the Predator in the apartment, we hear him pleading and firing his gun, and blood drips down and puddles on the ground.
Then there's Aliens Vs Predator Requiem, where an Alien pulls Nick through the window, after which his blood is shown splattering on the window. Although the Alien is later shown dragging his corpse into the previous room with the stab wound on his chest.
In The Hobbit when Gollum is preparing to eat a wounded goblin on his rocky outcropping, he is shown smashing the goblin's head with a rock before the camera switches to Bilbo who is watching the fading of Sting's glow (a sign that live goblins are near). When Bilbo looks up at the outcropping next, the rock is bare.
Jack The Giant Slayer: The film always cuts away whenever the giants devour the humans, only allowing the viewer to hear the sounds. Averted in the case of Fallon.
In Prisonerof Azkaban, Harry, Hermione and Ron looked away when Buckbeak was being slaughtered. This, of course, serves the narrative purpose of preventing them from seeing Harry and Hermione's future selves rescue Buckbeak.
The Miserable Mill, book four in A Series of Unfortunate Events has the Baudelaire children being threatened by one of Count Olaf's henchmen in an active sawmill. They manage to escape, but not before the henchmen trips and "there came a most gruesome incident indeed."
A variation is used in The Hardy Boys Casefiles and the Nancy Drew Files. Whenever somebody had to die when the Boys or Nancy were present they usually did so in a way that no blood was actually spilt. An example is a No Celebrities Were Harmed Howard Stern called Ron Minkus getting electrocuted at a mall whilst the Boys were there.
In Sourcery, Carding, an important wizard dies from a horrible curse. The only thing that is described that is his skin began to blister.
Most of the wizards managed to turn their heads away. A few - and there are always a few like that - watched in obscene fascination.
In The Plague Dogs, you never see the Tod's death. He jumps over the stone fence, pursued by hunting dogs who jump after him, you hear one last agonized yelp, and the dogs' owner holds his dead body up by the tail, angled in such a way that you only see his backside and not what the dogs had likely done to him. Which is just a little ironic since there is plenty of gore and horror to be had in the whole movie.
In a very early version, Ancient Greek Tragedies often used this trope. In the Medea a woman is given a dress that melts her skin; in the Bacchae a group of women tear a man to pieces and prance about with his body parts; in Oedipus Rex, Oedipus uses pins to claw out his eyes; in the Agamemnon the title character is brutally murdered in his bed. All of these gruesome scenes are described but never seen, given all the more detailed description precisely because they are hidden from sight; the death of Agamemnon is noted for being particularly gruesome.
General Woundwort's death from Watership Down we last see Woundwort clash with the dog, later no trace of his body is found, there is just blood at the site of the battle.
Hidden: Chloe and Gabriel struggles for a gun, and it fires, out of view, and blood splatters on the window. For a few horrible moments it seems that Chloe was shot (won't be too much of a difference because she couldn't stop the missile anyway and Clark was also shot by Gabriel just before) but then Gabriel went limp.
Static: A few during the rampage of Alder. Unfortunately subverted by some scenes. Kindly keep your Brain Bleach handy.
Trepass: The blood under the door version. Subverted later.
Tess kicking a man to death with the blood spewing onto her face.
In Turbulence, when Doomsday apparently kills Chloe in front of Jimmy, her blood is splattered all over a window.
The MacGyver episode "The Heist" has a non-gory gory discretion shot in which the death of an embezzling accountant is represented by a shot of his glasses falling to the ground with a bullet hole through one lens (but no bloodstains).
In the episode "Father's Day", we don't see Rose's father get run over, but we do see the vase he was carrying shatter on the road.
The death of Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister in the series 4 episode "The Stolen Earth"—though it seems that this was used more for dramatic effect than actual discretion, as many similar deaths have been shown onscreen.
In "Rise of the Cybermen", we don't see the actual process of cyber-conversion, but we do see the array of spinning blades and cutting beams as they do their work.
In "Silence in the Library", we never actually see anyone get eaten by the shadows - just their bare skeletons. The gory process is censored by the spacesuits' opaque visors, or otherwise done offscreen.
The Weeping Angels are pretty much governed by this trope. Considering how they move/kill, it is literally impossible to witness the incident itself.
Specifically, "The Time of Angels" and "Flesh and Stone" have the lights turn off before Bob's death and the camera cut away before Father Octavian's death.
The death of Vivien Rook by being sliced up by a Toclafane is only witnessed via the Master's pained reaction as he peers through the door.
We don't actually see Jack being gunned down on board the Valiant in "Last of the Time Lords", only the sound of gunfire. Likewise, pretty much every Ood casualty through gunfire is off-camera.
In The Awakening, used when the trooper is decapitated by the Malus' psychic projections.
In the Reaper episode "The Cop", we see a body fall and the blood splattered wall.
The American version of the television mini-series Kingdom Hospital uses this when showing Mary's death at the hands of Doctor Gottreich.
The 1988 cult series War of the Worlds featured quite a few instances of the discretion shot; most notably, a scene in a salon where an alien uses a handsaw to cut into the head of an unknowing victim, with a spray of blood landing on his face as he dives in. However, the show then averted it by making the second season ridiculously gory, with aliens being shot and graphically melting into goo, with closeups of their melting faces for good measure.
Due to MTV's restrictions on violence, the live-action version of Snoop Dogg's music video for "Vato" employs Non-gory Gory Discretion Shot. The camera shows Snoop walking towards one, PLOW, the person falls. Snoop turns to face another, PLOW, the person falls. Only scene contains a split-second image of Snoop Dogg lowering his pistol.
Supernatural: It seems to be a trend to use this shot in the more perfunctory, less important deaths, for example those that begin most episodes with hitherto-unknown characters, one of which almost always blunders into the monster of the week. Climactic death, on the other hand, tend to be anything but discreet.
They also had several of these kill Dean in Mystery Spot, when you hear Sam and Dean arguing over an axe, then hear a thunk and see blood spattering the walls and the tied-up owner of the titular Mystery Spot. Other deaths include slipping in the shower and being mauled by a dog.
This was used to awesome effect in Simon Says where Sam had a vision about a man who walks into a gun store, killing the clerk and then himself. When the man places the gun under his chin, the camera pans up to reveal a sink on the wall near the ceiling, on which the blood gets splattered. It's then revealed that Sam is in a bathroom and was looking at the sink when the vision hit, hence the bleed-through of the sink into the vision.
Spoofed in the eighth episode of the fourth season: A colossal living teddy bear has a shotgun to its head. The camera pans away to the wall, and we see stuffing spray across the room.
In LOST's pilot episode, the pilot of Oceanic 815 is yanked by something out of the cockpit, and seconds later blood spatters on the windows.
It happens again in "There's No Place Like Home" when Sayid shoots a man who is apparently keeping tabs on Hurley. The shooting occurs in the car and leaves a spatter of blood on the window.
The Wire varies with the use of this trope, playing it straight with Snoop's death but averted with Bodie and later Omar.
In the Firefly episode "Bushwhacked," the crewman who has been converted into a Reaver attacks several Alliance soldiers with a bread knife. One cut shows him swinging at a soldier, and the next shot has blood splattering all over their commander.
Used again when Derek shoots Jesse. The audience sees him pull the trigger, but the shot cuts away before we even hear the gun go off.
Of course, the second time it's left intentionally vague as to whether he actually did shoot her or not.
In Highlander, just about every decapitation was done this way by only focusing on part of Duncan MacLeod's sword. It looked like he was just cutting air every single time.
You could show us long extended scenes of Angelus torturing Giles for information. Or, you could shoot one short, quiet scene from a camera positioned behind Giles' back and let Tony Head tell us everything we need to know with a wince, a few drops of blood on his sleeve and a very slight tremor in his voice. And GIVE US ALL NIGHTMARES.
Buffy is very fond of this when some character deaths are implied to be too grusome to show.
Innocence shows the gang reacting to Jenny's Uncle Janos who was killed at the hands of Angelus. Only his shoes are shown, although whatever Angelus did to him, it loosed enough blood for him to write "Was It Good For You Too?" in blood on the wall.
Helpless shows us established badass Giles reacting in horror to awful fate of Hobson. Hobson's bloody arm is shown, to which Giles gasps, drops his stake, chokes back the urge to vomit, and flees in terror. Ripper doesn't do that often.
No gore involved per se, but otherwise a strong candidate for the trope: In Season 5 one of Glory's minions snoops into the Magic Box and gets caught by Giles. At first he's determined not to say anything, but then Giles orders Willow and Anya to fetch twine to tie him up. In the couple of seconds their backs are turned he does something, and suddenly the minion starts pleading for his life.
Also Caleb's death in the series finale when he get's sliced up from groin to his head happens out of shot.
In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus," an elephant trainer has his head crushed by the foot of his own elephant. Rather than actually show the gory nature of this, when the elephant crushes the victim's head, we immediately cut to Monk and Sharona reacting to the murder.
In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame," when a shooter steps up to the car in which his victims are waiting, the moment he opens fire, we cut to an external view of the shooter firing into the car.
In "Mr. Monk Gets Fired," when a victim is being cut up with a chainsaw, we only see an exterior shot of a garage window as blood streaks appear.
In "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra," when the author is being beaten to death with a set of nunchucks, we see closeups of blood splattering against a poster on the wall, implying that the blows were pretty strong.
In "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk," when a janitor falls into a garbage compactor and is torn to pieces, as the victim falls in, we cut to blood splattering against a safety record sign.
Criminal Minds usually shows the characters' reactions instead of the gore that you come to expect on the show.
The season four finale had an UnSub chopping up his victims, but the camera always cut away to showing the criminal's pigs (which he fed his victims to) while the audio had both the sound of the chopping and pig squeals.
Once, the UnSub sent the team a video of a girl being eaten alive by rabid dogs. Garcia's horrified reaction is enough.
"True Night" had another really effective use of this trope; the UnSub's last victim is the one he had the most reason to be angry at, and the only one the BAU hadn't found. His previous crimes had been, in Morgan's words "off-the-charts brutal", and this one was likely to the worst one of all. The BAU arrive at the crime scene, and you don't see the victim, you just see the walls, which are drenched in blood.
In The X-Files, series 1 episode, "Roland" - in the sequence before the credits, one man forces another's head into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Then lifts his head back out, moves it slightly to the left, and lets go of the head. You hear a "crash", and the man walks off, stepping on a frozen ear. The next scene features a shot of the feet of a chalk outline on the floor, and the camera pans up the body of the chalk outline to the neck, where you see the chalk outline has no head, and that there are several smaller chalk outlines scattered about on the floor.
In Skins series 4 episode 7 "Effy" Effy's psycotic counselor John Foster beats her boyfriend Freddie to death with a baseball bat. The attack itself happens behind a door, but the splash of blood that hits the window says everything.
In Campion's "Sweet Death", the main villain is crushed to death by a mill wheel. There's a lot of screaming, then the wheel starts to drip blood. Urrrrrghhh.
In a seventh-season episode of the Canadian cop show Cold Squad, "C'Mon I Tip Waitresses", a dentist is being investigated due to the disappearance of several of his patients. One woman visits the dentist, and is restrained to a chair while the doctor prepares to murder her and perform dental surgery to contort her face. The camera pans to her trying to futilely move her arms as the dentist operates on her (while she's still conscious).
Garo, being an action/horror combination series, mostly does this whenever a Monster of the Week devoured its victims.
CSI NY did this in the flashbacks of 'Blood Out'. The victim was being sawed up with a chainsaw, so it was pretty much a requirement.
In Garth Brooks' ''The Thunder Rolls'', it jumps from a woman pointing a gun at her husband to a window that suddenly shatters, thus avoiding the onscreen shooting.
At the end of Pearl Jam's "Jeremy" music video, Jeremy shoots himself in the mouth, splattering blood on his classmates. In the edited-for-TV version, the shot of him putting the gun in his mouth is cut.
BioShock uses Non-Gory Discretion Shots to hide its violence against children. When you "rescue" a Little Sister, the veins of light that cover you and her during the process magnify to a blinding flash that obscures the actual scene of her reverting to human and the parasite inside her dying. Meanwhile, if you "harvest", noxious-looking green-black mist inexplicably forms to cover up the scene of you snapping her neck and tearing a parasitic sea slug out of her body.
Interestingly, in BioShock 2, if your decision to harvest Little Sisters influences Eleanor to do likewise, a similar mist appears to conceal the act.
While Samurai Shodown usually averts this, a couple of characters use this for particularly gruesome Finishing Moves. Kusageredo, for example, hauls the enemy offscreen before devouring them, and he then lumbers back onscreen and coughs up their skull. Another character (Suija) lifts his enemy offscreen, crushes and liquefies him/her and let their blood rain down on him!
And then there's another (Basara's) in which the killer pulls the foe with them into a pit where we see blood... and eventually the defeated foe's HEAD fly up from, cackling madly the entire time...
Mass Effect 2 uses this with the outcome of the duel between Samara and Morinth. If Shepard helps Samara, she straddles Morinth after gaining the upper hand and delivers a full strength biotic punch to her face. Morinth's body is clearly visible, but the angle is such that you can't see her head at all.
Also happens in Samara's introductory scene, where Samara snaps an Asari mercenary's neck with her Combat Stilettos. The camera remains fixed on Samara the whole time. The result was probably not pretty.
There's also one in the intro. After Shepard was killed by being on the Normandy as it was destroyed in orbit over a planet, the following ResurrectionMonatage has an X-Ray scan of the skeleton, which consist of nothing but small shattered bone fragments.
Mass Effect 3: The Citadel DLC uses this for the Shepard Clone's death. When he/she falls from the Normandy, the camera cuts back to the cargo bay of the ship just before his/her body impacts the side of a skyscraper at high enough velocity to reduce him/her into a red smear.
Team Fortress 2 video "Meet The Sandvich" is shot entirely in a fridge, camera pointed at a sandwich. The door bangs open from time to time on what looks like lots and lots of blood as Soldier and Scout scream in comical agony:
Also happens in the "Meet the Spy" video, towards the end:
Heavy: So... ve still got problem...
Soldier: Big problem... All right, who's ready to go find the Spy?
Spy, after removing his scout disguise: Right behind you.
Soldier and Heavy: Huh?
(cries of pain and stabbing sounds as the video ends, the sounds going to the beat of the music)
In Warcraft 3 at the end of the Human campaign you get this as Arthas impales his father on Frostmourne seeing the act play out in the shadows on the wall and watching the broken crown clatter to the floor.
In Final Fantasy Tactics, Cardinal Delacroix expresses dissatisfaction with Ludovich, head of the Baert Trading Company, after the latter fails to acquire the Zodiac Stone. Then the camera pans upwards, there's a horrible crunching sound, and Ludovich's strangled scream. It's heavily implied that Delacroix transformed into the Lucavi Cuchulainn and ate Ludovich.
Later on, when Folmarv transforms into Hashmalum, all Ovelia can hear from her cell is the dying screams of Duke Barrington's guards, until one of them staggers into the cell and dies, terrified.
The American version of Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe avoids showing the Joker's gun fatality and the second half of Deathstroke's impale-followed-by-headshot fatality (though oddly enough, the impalement is shown onscreen.)
Another example that appears in the franchise is in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 with Scorpion's "Annihilation" Fatality. Scorpion assumes his victory pose, then the arena changes to Scorpion's Lair, where many of his dead Shirai Ryu allies rise from the ground to utterly destroy the opponent. However, the screen fades to black, and all you hear is the opponent's scream, never seeing what actually happens.
Used with great effect in Snake's suicide in Metal Gear Solid 4, in order to hide the fact that he doesn't.
Saints Row 2 uses this in the cutscene where Jyunishi beheads Aisha. Jyunishi's body blocks the carnage; the decapitation itself is implied through a nearby vase full of flowers losing their heads.
Mastermind World Conqueror: when Mastermind's mooks are assasinating we see the victim, the gunman in a window, and then a tight closeup of the smirking mook who stopped the target in the alleyway. A couple of drops of blood spatter against his sunglasses to the sound of gunfire.
Parodied in the PC game Harvester. The game itself is ludicrously violent, complete with axes to the face, exploding eyeballs, and so very much more. The game's only Gory Discretion Shot occurs in shadow, when the sheriff smacks a man repeatedly with a rolled-up magazine.
The Arm Arcus' Doppelgänger Attack in Super Robot Wars W ends with the copies rapidly closing in on the target being held by the main mech, then a sudden pan upwards to a full moon (which is odd, seeing as this happens even when you're fighting on the Moon) as splashes of fluid and bits of material splash upwards (note that this is usually done to a Humongous Mecha here), Then it finishes with them flying away from the silhouetted victim, clearly shown with several of their blades still stuck in it's body.
Just before the first Berserker fight in Gears of War, the one surviving Red Shirt squadmate freaks out because there's a Berserker in the area, runs away. All the camera shows is a lot of blood splattering everywhere. Noteworthy, because you can graphically tear enemies apart with a chainsaw rifle in Gears.
Strangely enough for a game where you can mulch enemies with a shotgun or turret, Tai's suicide in Gears 2 is completely off-screen, not even showing the aftermath. Dom's mercy kill of Maria is also treated with discretion, switching focus to Marcus who is off away from them when the shot rings out.
The worst ending of Disgaea 2 where Adell brutally kills and eats Taro and Hanako.
The recent Extend update includes Relius Clover's Astral where he had Ignis transport his enemy to his lab, where he had them strapped to a crucifix and declared on how he's going to experiment the hell out of him. Then the door closed... and knowing Relius, God knows what kind of terror awaits the defeated enemy.
In The Godfather: The Game, Rocco's decapitating of Woltz's horse is shown only from the wrong side of a door.
Used in the original Siren and its remake for the suicides of Akira Shimura and Seigo Saiga respectfully.
The bit from Silent Hill 1 where, if you fail to use a specific item to keep a fridge locked, then the icebox underneath explodes open, "something" grabs Harry, drags him underneath, and presumably eats him... all off screen, just to completely freak you out. The fact that the best scream in the game happens right there helps.
Whatever horrible, squishy, meaty event occurs towards the end of The Darkness video game when Jackie - by now a shadowy tentacle monster - takes out the last of Paulie's crew. The last you see of them, they are crowded in a corner, begging for their lives, framed by the Darkness tentacles - and then the screen goes black and violent sound effects happen, leaving behind a huge black stain.
If you are shot by one of the turrets in Portal, the screen will tint red till you get out of the way - and if you look behind you, all you'll see is blood on the wall (and possibly floor) behind you. Somewhat justified because it is a first-person game, and the only enemies you 'kill' are robots.
Halo: Combat Evolved, despite being a fairly graphic game, tastefully focuses the camera on Master Chief when he slams his hand into Captain Keyes' head and pulls out the neural chips.
In the Japanese Playstation version of Breath of Fire IV, Soniel's decapitation by Fou-lu is shown in a black-on-red "silhouette" washi-screen variation (which could also be considered a Shadow Discretion Shot)...which makes the complete Bowdlerisation of this scene in both international Playstation versions and the Windows port (only released in Europe and Asia) much more mind-boggling (especially considering a bloodyVomit Indiscretion Shot resulting from Fou-lu being at ground zero of a Fantastic Nukewas kept in (with no censorship) in all versions).
When the Comic Book Adaptation of Breath of Fire IV came out...this trope was subverted oh so verymuch in what was apparently a very deliberate Take That in response to the original censorship of the scene, with everything including decapitation depicted very graphically. (In comparison, the depiction of Cray's euthanasia of princess Elina, who has been turned into a near-Eldritch Abominationis depicted in the manga via a Discretion Shot that is actually less graphic than in the original game.)
Subverted in The Thing. When one of the squad mates early in the game commits suicide, it seems like the game won't show it...and then he blows his brains all over the wall in full view. And you can examine the massive hole in his head after you regain control.
Basically everything to do with gore happens off screen in Haunting Ground.
Most notably, the general Game Over screen has the camera move away from the protagonist and her stalker, everything tint red and horrible squishing sounds to boot.
One has Fiona impaled by several iron nails; all we see is blood splatter on a wall of similarly impaled dolls behind her, with one's head falling down (as if dead).
Another has an Iron Maiden activated - with Fiona inside. The only things seen are the level's stalker pulling the lever, and a pool of blood forming on the floor.
The goriest shot in the game has a close-up of the Canine Companion, who has a gunshot wound in his leg. And even the shooting itself was off screen.
The first Dragon's Lair had Dirk's sword or helmet hitting the ground in some of the death scenes.
In one of them, the scene cuts to said sword on the ground, as one of the weapons smash the sword.
Played straight in Dead Rising 2, sometimes to a ridiculous extent. In one cutscene, the characters find a man dead from a gunshot to the forehead. You'd never know it, however, unless you went back to the body and looked at it after the cinema, because the body is only shown from behind and out of focus, and the characters' comments on the subject amonts to, "Hey, look at this!" and "Well, look at that."
In Resident Evil 5, decapitations, such as those by chainsaw, are moved off-screen with only blood splatter being shown. Watching in multiplayer mode reveals that there's no actual beheading animation.
The majority of the cut scenes at the beginning of Ace Attorney cases use this (when it actually shows the murder, that is.) It is often made up of a series of still or only partly animated images, only to have the screen flash to black/white as the victim is killed with a single shot/strike.
Slightly subverted later on, as in most cases you either have to examine the crime scene or the photo of it... in all it's bloody glory.
In Tekken Tag Tournament 2, the camera has the POV character looking up at True Ogre after they lose to him during the Continue screen sequence. As the Continue screen reaches it's last few seconds, the camera goes behind True Ogre and if you don't choose to continue, your player characters will be eaten.
Grim Fandango has a somewhat unusual variation of this trope with the sprouting of the main villain, Hector LeMans. It shows him being sprayed with Sproutella-infected water, then cuts back to the outside view of his greenhouse, with Hector screaming in the background. Approaching the greenhouse results in a scene where a horrible flowery mass splatters against the door, complete with Hector's trademark Nice Hat rolling out. Whatever was between those two shots is not shown, but by the game's standards it definitely was very messy.
In Girl Genius, at one point an airship is fleeing from certain death at the hands of a swarm of "Torchmen" (flaming robotic flying killer gargoyles), disobeying direct orders from their inept passenger. First the captain and his first officer discuss the need to ditch every ounce of dead weight, then their passenger arrogantly screams at them for saving his life, then the two give each other a certain look... and suddenly the captain is rubbing his hands together and affirming that "We're not pirates. He didn't count".
Also, we don't actually see what Von Pinn does to Judy, just the Castle Wulfenbach students' horrified reactions.
For that matter, we don't see what she did to André (but then, neither did Agatha).
When Baron Wulfenbach kills Lars, we don't see the actual blow. We see Lars' sword break and a blood splash, then in the next panel, the Baron has blood on his coat.
Goblins - the comic featuring a man getting crushed to death by his own armor, complete with eyeball popping out - still draws the line at killing children onscreen.
In Abel's Story, some particularly gory scenes are depicted as silhouettes.
There's a particularly chilling example in Lackadaisy Cats, with the Marigold Gang and an unknown guy in a pinstripe suit. The last panel of the flashback is Mordecai raising an axe above his head, saying "Keep your head still."
Something Positive: PeeJee discovers that her boyfriend has been cheating on her. The next panel shows the exterior of the bar where the gang are celebrating Halloween, then blood splattered on the window as Kyle hits it.
Played with in Issue 1 of The Code Crimson during Miguel's surprise death. We see silhouettes of the murder, followed by a sneering blood-splattered reaction shot, and then his bloody corpse awash in a sea of blood. So much blood...
During Entry #49 of Marble Hornets, Jay removed a scene of Alex smashing a stranger's head in with a rock. We were only told what happened.
Protectors of the Plot Continuum tend to do this with more violent or disturbing fics - sometimes a violent scene in a mission will consist mostly of descriptions of the agents vomiting, with a few Noodle Implements from the fic thrown into the description.
Mostly avoided by Happy Tree Friends as just about every injury, no matter how gory (and gory they almost always are) is shown on-screen with no discretion. However there are moments where the death is mostly off-screen, such as one episode where Nutty gets trapped under a vending machine as its spiked dispensers lower towards him. The closest one scrapes his eye before we cut away, blood leaking out from under the vending machine. Another involves Flaky, after swelling up due to an allergic reaction, being popped by a pin. We cut away just as the pin pokes her eye and see blood, limbs and other body parts flying across the screen.
Episode 8 of Sex House has one where the camera goes black as Frank attempts to castrate himself with a hammer.
In part two of To Boldly Flee, 8-Bit Mickey is looking like he's about to snap from Prick's barrage of short jokes. Cut immediately to The Nostalgia Critic wondering what's taking him so long, at which point Mickey walks in, covered in blood, and throws Prick's severed hand to Paw.
Then there's the scene where Mechakara does...something to the Nostalgia Chick involving a power drill.
The SCP Foundation's reports on the things they keep protect the world from include descriptions of what happens when an SCP's behaviour is left unchecked resulting in [DATA EXPUNGED], or a line of research into what it does leads to [REDACTED], with implications of casualties, injuries to researchers, property damage and reprimands for allowing it to happen.
This has happened at least a couple times in Survival of the Fittest, such as in the Second Chances game, when Nicole Husher was found hiding under a bed by Adam Reeves, who proceeded to brutally dispatch her, possibly raping her first.
King of the Hill parodies this trope when a mentally unstable barber puts shaving cream on his head and blows it off with a blow dryer, splattering it on the wall as Hank leaves the premises.
Played straight with Trip Larson, however, when he falls into a meat grinder and is presumably ground up into processed food.
South Park has some fun with this: In Die Hippie, Die, we get this shot when a guilt-ridden Mayor blows her brains out. After the act break, she's among the rest of the townsfolk, perfectly fine and wearing a bandage around her head.
And in "Night of the Living Homeless"? They do it for the scientist committing suicide, but show him soon afterwards, wounded and failing his suicide attempt...multiple times.
In The Simpsons, when Maude dies in "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" we see Maude get knocked off the back the grandstand but we don't see the result due to the crowds gathering around her body getting in the way.
Parodied in Avatar The Last Airbender, when the camera cuts away when Sokka bisects the head of the Melon Lord (a prop of Fire Lord Ozai), and all we see is the top of the head falling on the ground, with Momo running in to gorge on its contents.
Although in that case Aang was disturbed even at melon-Ozai getting sliced in two, so alternatively the use of the shot (not Momo so much...) reflected what Melonlord actually represented rather than being for laughs. Which leads to Fridge Logic regarding Sokka being so straight-forward about the whole business, given that he's never seen hitting a person with his sword.
In the flashback of how Zuko got his scar, the camera cuts from his terrified expression over to the audience reaction, with his scream of pain interspersed with Iroh's look of horror and Zhao and Azula's sadistic satisfaction.
And later on, in the Season 1 finale, we have Zhao's death, of course. We don't actually see the Ocean Spirit drowning him, but we do have a good idea what happens to him after he seizes him in his arms and, despite Zuko's best efforts to save him, drags him down to his doom.
The Legend of Korra: Lin smashes through the cockpit canopy of a Mecha-Tank with blades on her bracers, which the chi-blocker inside is desperately trying to dodge while trapped in the seat. Such is the power of the attack that the mecha is pushed back into a large steel frame that collapses on top of it, with Lin still utterly destroying the crew cabin. The next shot we see of that now downed Mecha-Tank, Lin's almost done stabbing through it, most of the canopy segments are smashed open, and the rest are discolored as though splashed with something opaque from the inside.
In the Tom And Jerry short The Two Mouseketeers, Tom is charged with guarding a king's banquet in 18th century France, and told that if he fails to do this, "off comes ze head". After spending the cartoon (unsuccessfully) battling Jerry and Nibbles, Tom is presumably beheaded offscreen: we get a distant shot of the top of a guillotine and see the blade come down.
In "Mouse Trouble", Tom is hiding in a "suprise package" to ambush Jerry. Jerry SAWS the box in half, looks inside, and then holds up a sign that says "Is There A Doctor In The House?" Tom reappears in the next scene covered head to toe in bandages
Parodied in an episode of Viva Piñata. Fergy goes begging to Pinata Central's Big Boss (who is always shown as a bowl of fruit with an intercom in it) and gets no reply due to the Boss being away. Thinking he is getting the silent treatment, Fergy snaps and bludgeons the fruit bowl with a stapler. Cue various shots with dark lighting, shadows and fruit pulp going flying across the screen whilst Psycho-esque music plays. And considering this is a show created and produced in part by 4Kids, it's amazing how this scene got in in the first place!
After the first Spiderman film there was a teen orienated cartoon spinoff known as Spider-Man: The New Animated Series that stylistically inferred or cut away people having their fingers, hands and heads sliced off, being electrocuted, drowning, and other such nastiness. A good example being Shikata cutting Damien's head off, we only see Shikata with Damien out of frame, where the scene shifts to focus on the animal heads he collected. When Mary Jane finds him lying behind his desk we see him from the neck down, then her reaction to finding him beheaded.
On an episode from the Avalon World Tour on Gargoyles, the characters come upon a panther's carcass in a Nigerian jungle. We never see the actual carcass, only hear the buzzing of flies and Angela's grossed out expression. Goliath questions what kind of hunter takes a skin and leaves the meat.
In BIONICLE 3: Web of Shadows, Keetongu kills Sidorak by slamming both of his fists down on him, effectively pounding him into the Coliseum floor. The shot only focuses on Keetongu from the waist up, and we only see pieces of debris flying into the air when he delivers the blow. Then the movie quickly cuts to Roodaka slowly walking away from the scene in complete satisfaction, while the ground is still continues to shake a bit.
Superman: Doomsday features this immediately after Mercy Graves tells Lex Luthor that the scene of Doomsday's discovery has been sanitized and there is nothing left linking Lex Corp to Doomsday.
Used an episode of Family Guy when Peter attatches several razor blades to a fan because he wants to shave off all his facial hair at once, he brings the fan closer to his face and we cut to blood splashing on the window.
In a season 2 episode of Phineas And Ferb, a character who self-identifies as a bully accidentally does a good deed. Dismayed, he announces that he has to "restore the balance," and runs out of shot. The next sound is a child's scream, and the characters remaining in frame are splattered with red goo from the direction of the bully. The shot slides over to reveal that the bully has jumped on top of his victim's box of jelly doughnuts, spraying jelly onto the other kids. Before the reveal, the implication is disturbingly gory.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker's edited version utilizes this. In the original, a brainwashed Tim Drake shoots The Joker in the heart with his flag-gun, killing him. In the edited version, Tim instead throws the gun away and assaults The Joker, spilling various liquids all over the ground, which eventually get in contact with some live electrical wires, electrocuting the Joker off-screen with a hideous scream. Some consider the edited version worse.
At the end of the three-part pilot of Superman The Animated Series, a bunch of unlucky aliens pick up Brainiac's pod. Brainiac bursts out of the pod and attacks. Cut to a scene of the aliens' blood splattering on the walls as Brainiac takes over their ship.
In the remake of He Man And The Masters Of The Universe, King Hsss devoured a victim on two occasions (once in a Flashback scene) and this device was used both times. (Still, even this would have been unheard of in the original version of the series, and it was far from the only reason the remake was Darker and Edgier.)