Killing Intent

Particularly common in Eastern works is the idea that when someone intends to inflict pain or death, their "Killing Intent" can be felt as a slight pressure or chill, even to people unaware of their presence. The effect is amplified if you look into their eyes, or if they want to hurt you in particular. Trained and vigilant warriors generally radiate low levels of Killing Intent at all times, and anyone who constantly radiates high levels of Killing Intent is either evil or obsessed with combat (and may feel kinship towards other people who possess it). There's generally a noticeable difference between "hot-blooded" and "cold-blooded" Killing Intent too. Sometimes this is considered a form of Ki, or has an effect on Ki.

While most people can only detect Killing Intent subconsciously, people who have enough combat experience (or are just perceptive) can notice it so well that it borders on Spider-Sense or Detect Evil. Likewise, some particularly vicious characters hone their Killing Intent to the point where it can leave people nearby paralysed with fear or even inflict hallucinations. In either case, this will be treated as a mundane skill and not a supernatural ability. Some people will even tell you it's possible in Real Life.note 

While having some degree of Killing Intent is normally required to fight effectively, sometimes a character will be able to attack without exuding any Killing Intent at all (through Lack of Empathy, controlling their emotions or even spacing out while fighting), making them an unpredictable combatant or even a Hero Killer.

In some works Killing Intent can be used as a rough way to measure Power Levels, as someone with sufficient willpower to resist an enemy's Killing Intent will necessarily be at least as strong as them.

Since it's hard to depict a sixth sense through a visual medium, Killing Intent is often represented in Anime and Manga by Art Shift towards a more serious style, or even a Battle Aura (the metaphorical version), though this has become less common over time. When Killing Intent is considered a form of (or augments) Ki, it can be represented by a non-metaphorical aura.

The Japanese term for this is sakki (short for satsu ki), which is primarily used by practitioners of Ninjutsu; "Killing Intent" is the most literal translation.

Compare Detect Evil, Allergic to Evil, Spider-Sense, The Force Is Strong with This One, and Kung-Fu Clairvoyance. See also Death Glare, Ki and Magic Realism.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • In Kung Fu Hustle, Sing is sent to retrieve The Beast near the end of the movie. When he ends up right outside the room The Beast is in, he hallucinates a wave of blood bursting through the door Shining-style.
  • In Hero, the emperor keeps a number of candles between himself and any visitors allowed to come within a hundred paces, claiming that the flames are disturbed by "murderous intent" (all of them blowing towards the emperor when Nameless is thinking of killing him, and then blowing in random directions when his resolve wavers). No sort of magical explanation is given for this, and Nameless' unquestioning acceptance of it suggests that he is familiar with the idea, presumably making it a variation of this trope, rather than a separate sort of Detect Evil magic.
  • In the live-action adaptation of Rurouni Kenshin, Jin-e can stop people from breathing by looking into their eyes. He explicitly states that it's not supernatural, despite the fact that it can supposedly only be broken by killing Jin-e.

  • In Full Metal Panic! Sousuke's past as a child soldier has given him the ability to sense killing intent, which he uses to set traps for assassins targeting him.
    • This was also used to torment him. One of Mithril's agents would observe him via the scope of a rifle, and find that Sousuke actually got visually agitated when he did this. It's implied that much of Sousuke's misbehavior in school is caused by him sensing the agent's killing intent without being able to tell where it's coming from, causing him to lash out against people nearby.
  • Sword Art Online refers to the ability to sense killing intent from monsters in the game as "Hypersense", which may or may not actually exist.
  • In Overlord, Sebas can control his Killing Intent with incredible strength and precision, to the point where he can stare into a group of hardened warriors and reduce one of them to a gibbering wreck without alerting the others. Normal people exposed to his Killing Intent could literally die of fright. At one point Sebas even uses this as a form of Training from Hell, teaching Climb a "mental overclock" ability by having him experience what it's like to be a hair away from death.
  • Lina Inverse of Slayers has been known to use this to tell when somebody's sneaking up behind her in a fight. Gourry and Zelgadiss may also be capable of it - they've been known to react to attacks they couldn't have seen coming.

    Live Action TV 
  • In one episode of Lie to Me, the Lightman group try to use their observational abilities to find an assassin by detecting his or her Killing Intent. The nature of the Lightman group's abilities means that they have to see the person's face for detection.
    • Played with at one point. Lightman thought someone had murderous intent and was planning to kill someone else, but it was actually suicidal intent. They managed to stop her her before she goes through with it. Just because you have killing intent doesn't mean you're planning to kill another.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Worf once stated that Klingons can see murderous or violent intent in a person's eyes.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 has the detect hostile intent psionic power. While active you can sense the presence of people with violence on their minds, are immune to surprise attacks (unless the attackers' minds are somehow shielded), and can use the Sense Motive skill as a free action.

    Video Games 
  • Street Fighter utilizes the Ki-based version as a major element known as the Satsui no Hadou (Surge of Murderous Intent). Akuma is considered a master of this energy and as such fights and kills anyone who faces him. Ryu also temporarily gets possessed by this energy as Evil Ryu, and tends to go further than Akuma. This is an especially present element in the Alpha series and the Ryu Final Manga.
  • In the Nasuverse, skilled fighters can do this. In the Unlimited Blade Works route of Fate/stay night Shirou is able to sense that he is being followed by Archer because he is taunting Shirou with his killing intent. When Shirou calls him out on it he is impressed that such an unskilled magus could detect it. Shirou also uses Archer's killing intent to tell from where he is launching his attack against Berserker during their fight in the graveyard, and notes that it's directed at more than just Berserker.
    • And then there's True Assassin's Presence Concealment skill, which renders him virtually impossible to find, unless he's preparing to attack a target in which case his own massive Killing Intent betrays him and makes he much easier to find. Though, in all fairness, when this time comes it generally is already too late.
  • Angela from Princess Waltz is right there with with the likes of Kenpachi in terms of bloodlust. In many occasion her glare has caused hardened warriors to flinch and even think that they were vomiting blood after being Impaled with Extreme Prejudice just from being 'hit' by it.
  • In Vampire Savior/Darkstalkers 3, B.B. Hood, a bloodthirsty Special S-Class Darkhunter, is so malevolent that her stare alone can instill a paralyzing fear into the lower-ranked Darkstalkers of Makai. This same darkness in her heart was what caught Jedah's attention and allowed her to enter his Majigen. Let it be said that B.B. Hood is the Token Human of the cast.
  • In Super Smash Bros., while chatting with Otacon, Snake mentions Ganondorf is "giving off a murderous vibe." He's also uneasy with trying to fight him - "even getting close to him makes my skin crawl."
  • The Pokémon game franchise has the attack Dark Pulse, introduced in the fourth generation. It's described as "a horrible aura imbued with dark thoughts", and may cause enemies to flinch.
  • In Higurashi: When They Cry, Keiichi refers to being able to feel (or not feel) "murderous intent" and sometimes uses that to decide if someone is trustworthy.
  • Undertale:
    • Killing intent is actually the entire reason your attacks damage monsters at all. As a result, bosses in a No Mercy run tend to be One Hit Killed. Conversely, in a Pacifist Run, when Undyne challenges you to a rematch during her "date", you'll deal only 1 damage whether you use the "Fake Hit" command or Fight her for real, because to even get to this point you have to go out of your way to never kill anyone.
    • Monsters seem able to pick up on your killing intent pretty easily. Despite the fact your appearance doesn't change at all whatever run you're doing. Some people will comment on the aura of malice and even start mistaking you for a monster.

    Web Comics 
  • Early in The Dragon Doctors, the invisible Murder, Inc. assault is detected in advance due to so many people radiating killing intent at the same time.

    Real Life 
  • As mentioned above, Killing Intent can occur in everyday life, to an extent; i.e. body language, verbal cues, and the way you can just FEEL it when someone is glaring at you.
  • Ever been walking along and all of a sudden you feel the hair on the back of your neck start to stand, or you feel a twinge in your gut, you look around and realize that a person or an animal is staring at you? You may not see, hear, or smell anything consciously, but your subconscious mind still picks up on these cues and reacts to them.