"He said pepul see things in the ink. I said show me where. He said think. I told him I think a inkblot but that wasnt rite eather. He said what does it remind you—pretend something. I closd my eyes for a long time to pretend. I told him I pretned a fowntan pen with ink leeking all over a table cloth."Whenever someone in fiction gives or receives a Rorschach test, the one where the patient looks at a blot of ink and says what he sees, the test is misrepresented. Instead of finding a reason for the patient to see something, the psychiatrist focuses more on what the patient sees. If the patient sees a butterfly, he's innocent, if he sees a corpse, he's guilty. Also, obsessed characters are always shown to see the same thing, no matter what the blot looks like. In some comedic situations, inkblots sometimes will be created spontaneously with a sheet of folded paper and whatever ink or inklike substance might be handy. In very comedic situations, such a blot will spontaneously form a perfectly clear image of whatever the plot requires the character to be diagnosed as obsessed with. Incidentally, most psychiatrists don't value the Rorschach test as it requires that the person administering it to provide much of his own judgment on the patient's answers. However, there are many scoring (and administration) methods. The Exner scoring system is statistically validated and, as such, presents very little "interpretation" issues. Psychiatrists still tend to dismiss it based on how it struggles to consistently be more than about 66% accurate. (Incidentally, some of the factors scored are: how long it takes to come up with an interpretation, how novel or common the interpretation is, how much the interpretation actually resembles the blot, bias towards color vs shape, whether the patient is deliberately being difficult, etcetera.) Note that any inkblot seen in a movie and TV show will not be one of the actual Rorschach blots, but a blot made up for that production. The American Psychological Association has attempted to keep them reasonably secret so that when the test is actually administered, the patient's reactions will be spontaneous. However, at this point the test has been widely distributed on the Internet and is now considered defunct. Also, fictional blots are almost universally simple black ink on white paper — but in the actual test, two of the ten blots are black and red, and three are multicolored.
open/close all folders
- A Pepsi commercial from The '90s featured Michael Richards as a psychoanalyst administering one of these to a young man.
Doctor: What do you see?Patient: A cool, refreshing Pepsi.Doctor: What do you see here?Patient: A cool, refreshing Pepsi.Doctor: What do you see here?Patient: A cool, refreshing Pepsi.Doctor: What do you see here?Patient: It's my mother. She's browbeating me. She's making me take accordion lessons! I wanna play the drums!
- A car ad has a psychiatrist/psychoanalyst sitting with a patient conducting this test. After he gives quite extraordinary (nature-based) responses to each blot, the psych concludes, "You bought a Jeep."
- This commercial has superstars being tested when WWE SmackDown was returning to Thursdays.
- In a commercial for the Seattle Mariners baseball team, an opposing pitcher sent to therapy over psychological trauma from having to pitch to Ken Griffey Jr. is shown a variety of inkblots, and sees Griffey in all of them.
Anime and Manga
- A Rorschach test featured prominently in Tokyo Mew Mew a la mode. The villain started using the regular tests on Berii's classmates, then moved to the "special tests" - blindingly obvious pictures of the Quirky Miniboss Squad's namesake items - to mind control them.
- An antagonistic duelist in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's used a monster called Symmetry Rorschach, which essentially looked like a living ink blot. After summoning it, he asked Ruka what she saw; she saw a fairy, while Rua saw a butterfly, and Yanagi saw a crystal skull. After that, while the POV made it look like a fairy, it turned demonic and attacked.
- In Problem Child, the prison psychiatrist is giving a Rorschach test to the Bow Tie Killer, only the "inkblots" are actually bloodstains left by his victims. While the warden is in the room he lies, saying he sees things like butterflies and bunnies hopping across fields. This enrages the warden, and the psychiatrist forces him to leave. Once the warden leaves, the psychiatrist continues the test, and the Bow Tie Killer says he sees blood, and kills the psychiatrist, puts on his clothes and drives out of prison. Why no one was watching what was going on from behind a two-way mirror is anyone's guess.
- In Take the Money and Run, Woody Allen's character's troubled youth is highlighted when he interprets an inkblot drawing as "Two ostriches making love to a glee club."
- Parodied in Blank Man, which injects an upper chest into the set of blots. Even better, Damon Wayans' character has no idea what the obvious breasts are, even when the man administering the test holds the card against his own chest as visual reference.
- Truth in Television for quite a long time, as shown in 1946 documentary film Let There Be Light. The inkblot test is part of the therapy that psychiatrists used with the deeply damaged PTSD victims at the hospital.
- A viral ad for Prometheus takes the form of a Weyland Industries advertisement for the David 8 model of artificial human. This includes David taking a futuristic version of the test; subverted in that his bland corporate-approved responses give no indication of his true nature as revealed in the movie and its sequel.
Narrator: David, what do you think about?David: I think about anything. (test images) Children playing...angel...the universe...robots...
- A very old joke involves a man being shown a set of inkblots, and interpreting them all as pictures of people having sex. When the tester announces that he's clearly obsessed with sex, he says, "Me? You're the one with the collection of dirty pictures."
- In Robert Pirsig's novel Lila, Phaedrus claims that the true purpose of the Rorschach test is to gauge the subject's imaginative ability, such that if the person says "I don't see anything," or "I see an inkblot," that's allegedly a potential sign of severe mental illness. It should be noted that there is no evidence to support this claim. At most, such responses would indicate a lack of creativity.
- Played dead straight in Alex Rider, when Alex is being assessed for suitability as an assassin. Most applicants saw a man lying in a pool of blood. Alex saw a guy with a bookbag.
- In Flowers for Algernon, Charlie is given a Rorschach early on, and to highlight his severe mental retardation, he's unable to understand the concept, thinking that he's supposed to find some sort of hidden picture. A few weeks later, he's given the test again, and gets angry because he thinks they changed the test on him.
- Big Secrets by William Poundstone had black-and-white illustrations of each blot, with full descriptions, including colors. Published 1985.
- The Silence of the Lambs : Rorschach is mentioned in passing as one test Billy likely took while seeking gender-reassignment. A whole scene is devoted to describing "House, Tree, Person."
- In Gravity Falls: Journal 3, after the events of "Not What He Seems" and "A Tale of Two Stans", Ford gives Mabel an inkblot test. Her responses:
Inkblot that looks like a skull: Bunny.Inkblot that looks like an explosion: Lollipop.Inkblot that looks like a dagger: Friendship wand.
- One episode of The Addams Family had Cousin It administer inkblots as part of an intelligence test. He gives a series of odd answers (like a sunset over Phoenix), and the tester is astonished that It "got them all correct".
- The titular character in Sledge Hammer! received one, where he identified each picture as some violent scene... except for the last, which he claims is, "A duck handcuffing a naked woman". The psychologist remarks, "Funny, I've never seen the duck."
- On The Golden Girls, Sophia is taking an inkblot test in an attempt to become a nun. She identifies all the blots as increasingly elaborate religious imagery: an angel, a dove perched upon the throne of God, the Blessed Virgin smiling as she pours love upon the hearts of the righteous, until Dorothy interrupts exasperatedly that the blot is obviously "John Forsythe lying naked in a pool of honey." The nun administering the test agrees.
- A doctor attempts to give Vala one on Stargate SG-1, but abandons it when she keeps claiming to see abstract concepts like courage in the blots.
- On Empty Nest the Lothario Charley finds Carol's inkblots and asks why she has pictures of naked women, (before putting them in his pocket for later.)
- Stephen Colbert blames his therapist for giving him inkblots that all look like the same thing - either a butterfly in bondage, or a mushroom cloud. He sees the same things in the outlines of countries (except for Italy, which doesn't look like anything at all, and Canada, which is Shaped Like Itself).
- In one Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank invent "erotic Rorschach blots": they look just as indistinct as regular inkblots, but they suggest Filth. Things get awkward when one of them reminds Frank of his mom.
- During the abstract credits of The Leech Woman:
Crow: Ah, it's a Rorschach test.
Mike: I see a lot of spilled ink, congealing in random patterns.
Servo: That means you're a sexual predator.
- During the abstract credits of The Leech Woman:
- Parodied and then some in Scrubs where Turk asks his marriage counselor if the image hanging above him is one of those psychological inkblot things, because if it is, then Turk sees a duck. Cut to a view of the image, and it's actually a perfectly normal portrait of a duck.
- The Drew Carey Show: Drew sees a psychologist ("Bring out the inkblots but I can tell you right now, they're all gonna be vaginas.") who tells him that he has low self-esteem.
I don't have any self-esteem issues...[sees an inkblot] hey, where'd you get this picture of my mom making fun of me?
- Parodied in Spaced; as part of his psychological evaluation to re-enter the Territorial Army, Mike is administered an inkblot test... and identifies everything (including a card that clearly represents two people having sex) as being related to war, killing, guts and / or guns. Except for the last one, which he associates with a butterfly, until the disapproving look he gets from the panel inspires him to amend it to "Butterfly with a bomb!" Needless to say, this demonstration of psychological maladjustment makes him perfect material for the TA, and he is re-admitted.
- Big Wolf on Campus had this rather humorous example-
Merton: (Looking at the ink blot tests) Bat....bat....A lonely boy who failed to please his father at every turn...Giger: Oh, sorry, that one was upside down.Merton:...Bat....
- Parodied in an episode of The Detectives
Dave: Well, it's upside down... but that's Greater Manchester, that is.
- An episode of F Troop had an Indian acting as a psychiatrist give Corporal Agarn the "Roaring Chicken" or "Roar-Chick" test.
Agarn: I see a beautiful Indian girl in a short skirt bending over a campfire.
Roaring Chicken: (grabbing the paper and staring at it) Where?! Where?!
Agarn: (who'd looked past the paper, points) Right over there.
Roaring Chicken: I like your ink blot better than my ink blot.
- In Peep Show, Mark is subjected to an inkblot test after being sent to therapy for pissing on his employer's desk.
Doctor: What do you see?Mark (thinking): A hairy twat. A hungry, devouring twat.Mark: A kitten
- In The Amanda Show, Penelope Taynt is seeing a psychiatrist about her obsession with Amanda, and when given an inkblot test, she answers all of them as "Amanda", except the last one as "Judge Trudy"- much to the psychiatrist's relief until Penelope mentions that it's a character played by Amanda.
- On Barney Miller episode "The Psychiatrist", a psychiatrist has the squad look at inkblots. Yemana sees an elephant wearing a hat. "Now turn the picture upside down and tell me what you see." "An elephant standing on his head. Wearing a hat."
- One episode of The A-Team had Hannibal, B.A, and Murdock intentionally get arrested and thrown in prison. The prison psychologist gives Murdock one of these while psychoanalyzing him. At first, Murdock can't see anything until the psychologist explains how the test works and he immediately sees something. He's shown the next inkblot and identifies it as a "trash bag". The next time we see him, he's repeatedly chanting "I want my trash BAGS!"
- The class from Head of the Class was given a group psychoanalysis in one episode. Afterwards, Mr. Moore takes it himself. When they get to the inkblots...
Mr. Moore: Fly...fly...fly...screen door.Psychologist: Why a screen door?Mr. Moore: Too many flies.
- Played with in a The Big Bang Theory episode "S03E08 The Pants Alternative" - when Leonard is counselling Sheldon (as a part of collective effort to overcome Sheldon's stagefright), Sheldon almost immediately says: "If it will help speed things along, uh, my answers to the standard Rorschach ink blot test are A, a bat, B, a bat, C, a bat, and D, my father killing my mother with a hypodermic needle."
- An episode of Eureka has Fargo undergo a periodical evaluation by a psychiatrist sent by the DoD. Unfortunately, this episode also involves Freaky Friday Flips. As the psychiatrist is administering the inkblot test, Carter, who is currently in Fargo's head, starts to answer in the typical manner, seeing ordinary things. The psychiatrist is about to fail his evaluation, when Carter and Fargo flip back, and Fargo answers in his own manner, involving some deeply scientific concepts. The psychiatrist passes him, although it's likely that the issue here was that "Fargo"'s original answer didn't fit his typical personality, making the psychiatrist suspicious.
- Citizen Smith: At one point, Tucker is having marital problems, and for some reason the others deduce that he is becoming mentally unstable. They borrow a psychoanalysis book from the library which has some inkblot tests in it. Tucker reports that all the cards remind him of sex.
- Tucker: Well, what d'you expect when you keep showing me dirty pictures?Wolfie: They're not dirty pictures, they're inkblots! [Looks at the card] Sex? Looks more like a spider with antlers!Ken: [Reading from book] A profound tendency towards megalomania.Wolfie: You see, Tucker? Megalomania! You are warped, son, warped!Ken: No, that's for if you see a spider with antlers.
- Get Smart. Maxwell Smart is given this test and sees every picture as a man and a woman either hugging or kissing. When called on this, he gives the "You're the one with the dirty pictures" response.
- In a Dilbert Story Arc, the Pointy-Haired Boss put Alice in the company's drug rehab program, despite her not having a drug problem, so that he would look productive. The doctor gives her an inkblot test at one point, the image on the first card clearly being a profile of the Pointy Haired Boss.
- Gary Larson did a The Far Side cartoon in which a hulking individual is being given the test, and all the blots look like a silhouette of him strangling the tester.
- A Gahan Wilson cartoon has the patient addressing a weird blobby shape— "No, doctor, the resemblance is amazing!"
- A cartoon in Reader's Digest had an insect interpreting a big splotch: "Windshield."
- An early weekend strip of the South African comic Madam & Eve had the two titular characters watching a television interview with white supremacist spree killer Barend Strydom after he was released from prison as part of F. W. De Klerk's 1992 amnesty:
Interviewer: I have here some Rorschach ink-blot tests. Would you mind taking a look and tell me what you see?Strydom: For sure. No problem. Let me see... I've got it! It's a picture of a white man beating up a black man.Interviewer: Uh-huh... and this one?Strydom: ...I would say this is a black man flattened by a steamroller... and this one is a dead black man surrounded by butterflies... Got any more?Interviewer: Well, Barend, I think you have a serious problem...Strydom: ME?!! You're the one showing me all these racist pictures!!
- In the video for Poets of the Fall's "Lift," Poet County Jail inmate and Mad Dreamer Mark thinks he sees a highly defined image of a pinned moth in an inkblot during his psych screening. The video's final seconds confirm we've been looking Through the Eyes of Madness, as the image resolves into an ordinary inkblot with a very dissimilar shape.
- During TNA's Paparazzi Championship Series, when the X-division guys were made to jump through all sorts of comedic hoops, Kevin Nash administered an inkblot test, browbeating Sonjay Dutt by suggesting the images reminded him of steroids, and reacting with incredulity when resident obsessed martial artist Senshi saw every blot as being a warrior.
- On an episode of WWE Raw, Daniel Bryan is given this test, and goes berserk when he sees a blot that clearly looks like a goat (people tease him by calling him GoatFace).
- Parodied in the Adventures in Odyssey episode "Eggshells", where Jared, a middle-schooler convinced of his own psychiatric prowess after a health class, becomes convinced that one of the main characters is in denial after a last-minute breakup. He starts with something that is clearly a hand-drawn "broken heart" symbol (interpreted as "a heart-shaped cookie") and they get more... overt from there.
"That's... a garbage dump.""'Dump'... very interesting. Next?""A dead flower... a bird with an injured wing... (incredulously) a chainsaw cutting through a wedding cake... an engagement ring that's been run over by a steamroller — Jared, what are you doing?"
- A classic Emo Philips routine:
Doctor: What do you see?Patient: I see a horrible, ugly blob of pure evil that sucks the souls of men into a vortex of sin and degradation.Doctor: No, the inkblot's over here; that's a picture of my wife you're looking at.Patient: Was I far off?Doctor: No, that's the sad part.
- In the adventure game Sam and Max: Culture Shock, Sam can get an inkblot test from Sybil Pandemik. Depending on the answers he gives, Sybil will diagnose him with an obsession with money, fame, violence, cars, or animals. This later forms part of a puzzle, where you have to get Sam diagnosed with the fictional psychosis Artificial Personality Disorder.
- Heavy Rain has Ethan see 4 blots. During each blot, you get to choose what image out of 3 option you choose. The first 3 are innocent, while the last one is all death related options.
- In the tutorial/character creation part of Fallout: New Vegas, inkblots are one of the tests Doc Mitchell gives the player character in order to determine your tag skills, along with a word association test. A humorous mod to the game adds an additional, rather obvious answer to one of the ink blots. Once you see it, it can't be unseen...
- In Batman: Arkham Asylum one of the Joker's interview tapes has him receiving one of these:
Joker: "Do you want me to look at the ink blots again? The first one is a kitten I had when I was a child, the second is, hmmm let's see... a dead elephant."
- A variation occurs in one of the psych tests in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. The player is given a selection of ink blots and asked to sort them into two piles: sexual images and non-sexual images. After this is done, the psychiatrist reveals that each image has a second meaning: death.
- Which really speaks to how much he's 'helping' in that they ALL contain this second meaning so no matter what you pick he can claim you're making that association. And if you select none of them he just thinks you're being difficult on purpose.
- Dead Space 2: Although the test is never given inkblot symbolism is rife in the games start up and promotional materials.
- A couple of these happen to lie on a table in 2012 in The Silent Age. If they're examined by the player, Joe comments that apparently someone has spilled ink, but the blot reminds him of his mother for some reason.
- Maze 3: Nightmare Realm has a hidden-object scene where you need to pick the item which most resembles an ink blot in a book.
- The Perry Bible Fellowship has a twisted take.
- In El Goonish Shive, Grace realizes that Mr. Verres had run a series of stealth psychological evaluations on her with one test involving this.
- One of the unseen doctors in Awful Hospital, Dr. Rory Froud is a sentient, floating Rorschach test.
- Dr. Frost has the Rorschach Test in "The Empty Man," the very first episode. A man's date sees the ink blots as a mask, which leads Frost to believe she's being deceptive.
- Done for Dr. Eggman in Level 30 Psychiatry. All he sees is Sonic and friends being injured or a good evil scheme. For bonus points the title and the rant refer to Watchmen.
- Penny Arcade: In this strip, a psychiatrist tells Raikoh from Otogi: Myth of Demons that he has an obsession with demons after he sees them in every inkblot… and the water cooler.
- Parodied in Drawn Together, where a test of this kind is applied to Xandir. All the things he says he sees are homosexual innuendo, but all the "blots" of ink are also figurative representations of those Double Entendres.
- Parodied on 101 Dalmatians: The Series, where a dog "actor" is given such a test. His response is "The destructive power of all mankind" (or something similar); the ink blot looks almost exactly like a daisy.
- Buzz Lightyear of Star Command
- Used several times: a villainous robot sees several types of explosives (including a fluffy bunny- holding a ticking bomb); his mildly sex-crazed brother sees various types of exotic dancers, including his only female teammate as an exotic dancer.
- In another episode, the titular character sees Big Bad Zurg in every ink blot, then at the end of the test the administrator of it holds up a picture of a teammate, leading to one of the best lines of the series:
Buzz: That's Mira. She's happy. Cuz we got Zurg's pen.
- Animaniacs pokes fun at the inkblot test often enough given that Dr. Scrathensniff fits into the role of the stereotypical psychologist. The first episode "De-Zanitized" has him giving Dot the test. When Dr. Scratchensniff gives the test to Yakko, every picture looks like "girls" ("Well, you're the one with all the sexy pictures!")
- Captain Black of Jackie Chan Adventures is given this test after being exposed to the supernatural. All he sees are "Demon. Demon. Demon. Socks...worn by a really big demon."
- This happens on The Simpsons, where Homer is believed to be insane at one point. His first few answers are somewhat normal ("The devil with his fly open... uh, a spill on the floor with bugs going after it, they're gonna eat it...") before seeing one that looks very much like Bart, making him act hostile ("That one looks like...THE BOY!").
- In the VeggieTales silly song "I Love My Lips", Dr Archibald applies the inkblot test to Larry. The first two slides are pictures of lips. Then every slide after that is an obvious picture of something completely unrelated (a flower, an airplane, Avogadro's Number, a photo of Sonny Bono, etc) yet Larry invariably identifies these as lips as well.
- In an episode of Duckman, the titular detective accidentally gets a Rorschach-like stain on his chest:
"A picture of me and Vanna White frolicking naked with a tribe of pygmies!"
"..Synchronized swimmers crocheting mittens in a pool filled with truffles.."
"..A drag queen on a Shetland pony licking a flaming banjo.."
"..Me, a rabbi, and six drunken longshoreman rolling around on a rubber bed.."
- One episode of 2 Stupid Dogs has the two dogs doing one. The first few blots are consistently identified as a ball (Little Dog) and food (Big Dog). The final image, which was actually a picture of a ball and food, completely stumped them.
Psychiatrist: YOU ARE BOTH ENTIRELY TOO STUPID TO QUALIFY! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!
- Lampshaded on Invader Zim, which combines this with a career aptitude test:
Dib: What does identifying ink blotches have to do with determining our future careers?Ms. Bitters: Oh you poor, doomed child.
- Daria has its iconic scene from the first episode: Ms. Manson shows her and Quinn a silhouette of two people, and asks them to make up what they're discussing. Daria, however, treats this like an inkblot test and insists that she sees "a herd of beautiful wild ponies, running free across the plains." When the psychologist insists that she do the test right, Daria claims that the people are talking about "a herd of beautiful wild ponies, running free across the plains."
- A tie-in book also includes a questionnaire that Ms. Manson gave them, which includes an actual inkblot. Quinn says it makes her think of how hard it is to get stains out of silk; Daria says it's either the darkness within or a butterfly contemplating the darkness within.
- This gets a Call-Back in the show's final episode (not counting the Grand Finale movie): as a little girl, Daria gets an actual inkblot test from a different psychologist, who lists "herd of beautiful wild ponies" as one of the things Daria could imagine. Daria, however, is confused and insists that they don't look like anything.
- An episode of Beavis and Butt-Head had the boys looking at some inkblots and constantly hinting that it looked like a guy masturbating. When shown a photo of a male singer holding a microphone in a suggestive manner, Butt-Head says "Uh...that's like, just a bunch of shapes."
- ReBoot: Phong gives Bob one of these and asks him what he sees. Bob sees Dot with the haircut she used to have when they first met and she's smiling. Then Phong takes another look at it and says "Oh now I see."
- Used briefly in Hey Arnold! during Helga's session with a child psychologist in "Helga On The Couch". After seeing Arnold in three inkblots, she grabs all the papers and frantically throws them out a window. Admittedly the ones she sees as Arnold are pretty hard not to see as Arnold.
- Used in an episode of Doug where Skeeter is given one after scoring very high on one of those Myers-Briggs type tests. He is given the option to skip ahead to college, but chooses not to, because he doesn't fit in with the college crowd, who smoke and aren't fond of his air guitar.
- Even Johnny Bravo got in on this. To the first four images he just calls them a "blob", and the final image reminds him of "Timmy, the little guy who lives in my mouth".
- The Venture Bros.: When Hank and Gary/21 need to get committed to Dunwich Asylum, they break into a bank, immediately surrender and demand a psych evaluation as licensed supervillains. When they undergo Dean keeps up his villain identity Enrico Mattasa. 21 is mocking his former boss, The Monarch, so he tells the doctor all he sees are butterflies.
- In The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Words", Mr. Small uses the inkblot test on Darwin to figure out why he suddenly becomes a brutally honest Jerkass. Darwin tells him that he sees a very sad middle-aged man wearing sandals, which is what the inkblot actually looks like (it is shown on-screen), but it angers Mr. Small because he is a (very sad) middle-aged man wearing sandals.
- In the Star vs. the Forces of Evil episode "Sleep Spells", Marco gives this test to Star. Star says it's an inkblot. Marco explains the test involves what the blots remind you of. Star says the first blot is a fat porcupine and the second is a little alien guy in a gnome cap. The third blot is just a little black dot, but Star says it reminds her of her overbearing mother.
- Dave is subjected to one of these during a psych evaluation in Code Monkeys. Of course, Dave being Dave, comes up with some rather... bizarre answers.
Dave: "Two turds hugging, no, fighting, no, just arguing, wait, no, they're definitely having sex, but it's angry sex."
Dave: "Oh, that's easy: penis in a blender, or a turtle driving a pickup truck. Dealer's choice."
Dave: "Oh, that's easy, it's a reggae band of ants, and bad news: the drummer, he sucks."
Dave: "Hmm... Ooh, the two of us having dinner tonight. No, wait, having sex, and then you buy me dinner, and let me eat it off your ass."
Dr.Masterson: "Absolutely not."
Dave: "I thought there were no wrong answers!"
- Batman: The Animated Series. In "Joker's Millions", a psychiatrist is shown giving this test to the Joker, but the cards just show the Batman and Robin symbols. He's implied to be a hack that the Joker bribed to give him a clean bill of mental health.