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Hit Flash

A moment of violence is replaced with a flash of light, a cloud of dust, or some other momentary obstruction. Lasts less than a second. Used to cover up the actual action while still revealing cause and effect. Can be used to good effect in a Fight Unscene, may be present with a Second Person Attack, or when a character is hit by something that will immobilize them.

See also Big Ball of Violence, Flash of Pain, Hit Stop, Battle Discretion Shot, Black Screen of Death, Second Person Attack.

Looks like this, in case the trope description wasn't clear enough.


Examples

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    Anime 
  • The first season of Dragon Ball Z, when it was dubbed, was one of the worst offenders of this. The company that dubbed it took special care to delete every frame where a hit connected and replace it with a sloppily-drawn star on a black background. (And in a show where the main draw are the big fights, it's not hard to understand why this was so horrible.)
    • Same goes for the edited version of Dragon Ball Kai, where many hits are replaced with this and barrages of punches or blasts are completely removed.
  • The Rurouni Kenshin OVAs combine it with the Diagonal Cut every time someone lands a sword cut, with gruesome results afterwards.
  • Ranma ˝ did this most times it had a Megaton Punch, and it even included Super-Deformed versions of characters faces.
  • While the first seasons of Digimon merely relied on cuts for censoring of physical violence, Digimon Savers' dub used an insultingly childish impact screen to censor a Groin Attack, and was rightly derided for it.
    • The first example in Digimon Adventure 02 came in episode 4, where Gabumon gets punched in the face by Red Vegiemon. A white flash is put in its place, and also is inserted from time to time during Veemon's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown by Red Vegiemon.
  • Lampshaded in Yu-Gi-Oh! The Abridged Series, where one of the running gag catchphrases is "it is implied that you are punching me!".
  • Pokémon uses this quite a lot, considering the amount of violence in the battles, though a large number of hits are still shown. Mostly they're just flashes, but like the Digimon Savers episode above, A Johto Photo Finish used a very cartoonish hit flash just to disguise Charizard getting punched in the face by Harrison's Blaziken. While the aftermath is still shown (Charizard's cheek has a sort of dent in it from the blow), the attack itself isn't all that violent. Episodes like Pasta La Vista and A Shroomish Skirmish pretty much disregarded the hit flash entirely during their climactic fights.
    • Sometimes the hit flash is actually two moves exploding and creating a field of dust; this is plot-relevant-ish and used to create suspense as we wonder which of the Pokémon survived the explosion.
  • YuYu Hakusho is desperately in love with these, and they often last for about or more than a solid second.

    Film 
  • Occurs at least twice in Ryuhei Kitamura's film Versus. The most noticeable example is that of a crook who goes into hysterics and is becalmed by a pistol-whip from his partner.
  • The Christian-themed, possibly-fake, and terminally-Canadian movie The Rev had a habit of slowing the scene to a freeze, fading to black, and jumping to the next action with no fade-in. It's as if they sat around and asked "What is the most noticeable way we can think of to avoid showing violence?"
  • Happened in The Incredible Hulk. When Blonsky hit Spars in the face with a chair, the POV was hers and there was a split second of blinding white.
  • Used during Wez's fatal headbutt attack in The Road Warrior. Not exactly censoring anything, since it shows the limp body being thrown over the wall immediately afterwards.
  • Occurs twice in Kung Fu Panda: First when Po crashes into the exhibition/ceremony, and later when the Furious Five battle Tai Lung on the bridge.
  • Used in an unusual scene in the 1983 Lou Ferrigno film Hercules, where the title character fights a bear. When Hercules punches the bear from the POV of the animal, his fist flies towards the camera repeatedly, and each time, strange strobe lights flash and lasers sound, due to the cheap FX used in the low-budget film. [1]
  • In the Hitchcock film Spellbound, a character commits suicide. Filmed from his point-of-view, the gun is pointed at the camera, and a bright red flash is seen in the otherwise black & white film. Some copies don't bother preserving this...

    Live Action TV 
  • The 1960's Batman TV series would often cover the impacts of blows (and ineptitude of fight sequences) with a full-frame color card splashed with descriptive words like "POW!" or "BAM!" or "WHAMMO!". Initially, the cards were not used for concealment, but for economy. In the early first season episodes, the comic-book sound effects were optically superimposed on top of the fight scene footage, often with animation (spinning into frame, changing size, etc.). However, this was expensive, so the cheaper method of cutting the full-frame card into the shot a la silent film captions was used in later episodes, and found to look even better.
  • The 2010 remaster of Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers adds these in where previously they didn't exist; apparently, Standards And Practices was less strict in 1994...

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Some Professional Wrestling shows (at least in the UK and Canada) do this, but only when one of the combatants is hit with a foreign object. Depending on the show it will either (a) freeze-frame just before impact but play the sound of the chair/ladder/battleship hitting the guy or (b) momentarily cut to some stock footage of a crowd. The transmission will then cut to the victim writhing in pain on the ground. It should be noted that this is mostly due to Executive Meddling on the part of the networks; the same footage generally airs unaltered in the US.
    • More important to note that the Executive Meddling comes from the US who seem to think that outside the US we shouldn't be able to see violence. The main culprit is the WWE who used to edit their PPVs before sending them to channel 4.

    Video Games 
  • Graphic adventure game Déjŕ Vu used intertitle cards that covered the entire first-person view window, like the ones in the 1960s Batman series, when you fired a gun ("BLAM") or punched someone ("SOCKO").
    • Shadowgate used it as well when you hit something, giving you a view-covering "POW!"
  • In The Sims, a cat killing mice gets the same "censor pixels" as a nude Sim. Sims fighting or dying in fires invoke no censor pixels, however.
  • Then there's BioShock, which uses the flash of either white light when saving a Little Sister - and a red one when harvesting them.
  • In every Street Fighter game where you can play as Akuma, when you do the Shun Goku Satsu and it connects, the screen flashes with these before cutting back to the famous "Shoushi!" pose.
  • Fire Emblem: Blazing Sword and Sacred Stones use this for the Assassin's instant-kill critical. Additionally Blazing Sword uses it in the cutscene where Eliwood kills Ninian with Durandal.

    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • The linked video above is from The Batman.
    • For context, she was a plant clone made by Poison Ivy.
  • Used and abused in Ben 10.
  • Freakazoid! - Mostly just when it was funny.
  • Most of the DC Animated Universe, unless a character himself (such as Superman or Batman's cape) obstructs the impact shot. Batman animators were also fond of using silhouettes, which arguably worked with his shadowy image.
    • This is absent in a number of fights after Justice League went Heroes Unlimited. Such as the Justice League Unlimited episode "Panic in the Sky", when Galatea fought Supergirl while taunting her, making the fight seem especially gruesome. Click here for a clip. In the movie Starcrossed, the hitflash is actually an incredibly brightened frame of Hawkgirl crying out in pain from the hit she took.
    • In the edited version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker flashes were added to all the fight scenes. They were removed for the later PG-13 version.
  • Xiaolin Showdown is by far the worst abuser of this trope. Not only is it used when a character is punched or kicked anywhere, the same applies to Jack Spicer's Jack-Bots (and other Mecha-Mooks) and to every single impact that is deemed too harsh for the executives to handle.
  • When Frankie punches out her date on Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
    • Used in another episode when Bloo gets punched in the face by a young girl for taking some toy glow-in-the-dark vampire teeth. The punch is shown from the POV of Bloo, and the girl's fist flies towards the camera before the split-second Hit Flash.
  • Exception: G.I. JoeNo one ever got shot, but the moment of impact was always visible.
  • Often subverted in The Powerpuff Girls, which has exaggerated, Slow Motion impact shots, with green goo and teeth flying everywhere.
    • It will however use it at other times, sometimes with hidden bonuses, such as the episode "Los Dos Mojos", where a hit flash from Bubbles is actually the words "Mojo" rapidly cycled.
  • Used quite often on Looney Tunes.
    • In one Bugs Bunny short, Bugs hits a dog over the head with a club. You see Bugs raise the club, then a flash, and then the dog has a huge bump on his head, while Bugs is holding a broken club. The swing of the club is never seen, ironically making the action appear all the more violent.
    • In Bugs Bunny Rides Again: Chased by Yosemite Sam, Bugs goes through a tunnel and then covers the exit with a brick wall. As Sam enters the tunnel, the screen goes dark - and suddenly we see him silhouetted against the wall for a brief instant.
      • The versions cited above have suffered editing due to concerned parties afraid of what they called "imitatible violence." Since race issues were also treated differently, they likewise suffered this sort of editing.
      • It's worth noting the Golden Collection DVD sets have the unedited versions of the cartoons.
  • Futurama isn't shy about showing violence, but they had a creative variation on this trope in an episode in which time was skipping ahead at random intervals. After Fry delivers a pickup line to Leela, there's a short timejump, and we see Fry with a black eye saying "Oww..."
  • Gargoyles used these particularly well, normally showing punches to the face from the point of view of the victim. Just as the incoming fist is filling the screen, Hit Flash in white and sometimes red, and change to a shot of the punchee getting knocked back.
  • Teen Titans would often have a shot of someone's fist rushing at the camera, a brief Hit Flash, then a shot of the target of that punch being knocked backwards.
    • Got a little odd in "Aftershock Part 2," though, when at one point they had two characters talking, had the Hit Flash and shot of one character getting knocked back, but never even showed the windup to the punch. Was either a goof, or to convey the blow coming so quickly/unexpectedly.
  • The 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series uses a variant - whenever a sword is used, the screen quickly cuts to black and the movement of the slash is shown. Even if it is Bowdlerization, it looks pretty cool.
  • Used in Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, when Pete knocks Mickey out.
  • Completely averted with The Spectacular Spider-Man, which had virtually every blow delivered on screen.
  • Used occasionally in the Donkey Kong Country animated series, most notably when DK punched King K. Rool or another Kremling.
  • Done once on South Park (which is known for its often graphic and brutal on screen violence) in the episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride" when one of the the kids while playing football headbutts Pip who was not wearing a helmet.
  • Dragon Booster used this whenever a character was hit and captured.
  • The SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Pizza Delivery" has this when Squidward throws the pizza at a jerkass customer.
    • This also happens in "The Two Faces of Squidward" when SpongeBob repeatedly hits Squidward with a door.
  • The ending to the Ed, Edd n Eddy episode "Who Let the Ed In?" has this happen to Ed when Eddy hits him with an imaginary potato. "Don't blink."

    Truth In Television 
  • There is a principle in fluid dynamics called 'cavitation'. When impacts occur at extremely high speed underwater, a flash of light as well as sound and heat can be produced, as seen here, in the 'Strike at 20,000 fps' section. It's 11 minutes in. A cooler example would be the pistol shrimp shown here, which uses the same principles of cavitation you just mentioned, but can do it naturally.
  • The phenomenon of "seeing stars" is caused by the fluid in the eyes moving faster than the eyes themselves and slamming into the retina. This likely causes the victim to see a flash, as well as the aftermath, and probably explains the last part of the above comment.
  • When animating pretty much anything (especially an explosion or other...fiery event) one blank frame followed by the aftermath of the strike is a whole lot easier - and is a whole lot more visually appealing - than drawing it manually. Collisions look the best either a frame after contact or a frame before.
  • Some astronauts have reported seeing spurious flashes of nonexistent light while in orbit. One explanation put forth is that this is a visual expression of damage occurring to the retina due to cosmic radiation. Their eyes get hit with radiation, but all they see is a flash.


Gory Discretion ShotDiscretion ShotKissing Discretion Shot
Heavy VoiceAnimation TropesInaction Sequence
Heart LightSpectacleHollywood Darkness
Discretion ShotCensorship TropesLens Flare Censor
High-Pressure BloodFight SceneHit Stop
Classically Trained ExtraImageSource/Live-Action TVKnockout Gas

alternative title(s): The Hit Flash
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