Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
So, after all the UST, Alice and Bob are finally going to kiss...wait, why is the camera looking away?
The Kissing Discretion Shot is what happens when a kiss is implied, but not shown directly, usually by creative camera angles or by cutting away right before the characters' lips touch.
Usually, this is done for at least one of these reasons:
To help avoid potential controversy. This is particularily common with gay kisses (although it's on its way to becoming a Discredited Trope), but is sometimes used for other "taboo" kisses, such as ones between interracial couples in older works. This is often used for all kisses in Bollywood films due to the taboo against public kissing in India.
The actors weren't comfortable with kissing, for whatever reason.
The actors want some privacy, often away from the Fourth Wall
Done with Ryoko and Kitano in the Grand Finale of Angel Densetsu. Also an in-universe example, since Ryoko deliberately distracts the Date Peepers so that they don't see her kissing Kitano. Of course, the said date peepers were quick to voice their disappointment.
Used twice in Revolutionary Girl Utena: the only time Utena and Anthy are seen kissing is in the second ending credits, and it's just barely offscreen. Likewise, there's a "did they or didn't they?" kiss between Kozue and Anthy in "Miki's Nest Box" which takes place off-camera. However, this trope was thoroughly averted in The Movie.
In the end of one episode of Gash Bell, Wonlei and Li Yen are sailing away and standing on the prow of a ship. They hold hands, look deeply into one another's eyes, their faces move together, and the camera cuts away just before we see their lips touch. I can't tell if this is a Bowdlerization, but it seems like a silly thing to cut, considering kisses have been considered appropriate fare for all ages for a long time now.
But there is a different factor there - Li Yen is human while Wonlei is a creature from another dimension (and, literally, a demon in the Japanese version).
The School Rumble manga has (at least one) example of this, with an implied kiss between Akira and Hanai being distracted by a panel showing the pair's feet.
This happens in Windy Tales, when Miki and Jun make up after a fight.
A variety occurs in Blue Drop, where Hagino and Mari's big moment gets obscured by massive bubbles. That's what you get when kissing underwater—or being lesbian.
Camera slides away during a kiss in Mari Mite, but it's pretty clear that they were in fact kissing.
In the second season of Magic Knight Rayearth, just before Caldina and Lafarga kiss, Caldina holds up a sash in between their faces and the camera.
In the manga Black Lagoon, incredibly Creepy Twins Hansel and Gretel are introduced with a kiss, but the "camera" pans down right before their lips meet.
Strangely, the next time they kiss (right before splitting up) this trope is averted.
In the Dragon Ball Z anime, the camera pans to Kamesennin watching Goku and Chichi's "Yay, you didn't die of a heart attack in your sleep!" kiss. You can see their shoulders lean together, but that's about it.
Done particularly well in Macross Frontier when Sheryl, breaking down from her possibly fatal illness, clings to Alto for support. The tension of the scene combines with the affection they feel for each other, and the camera discreetly pans upwards as they kiss. The aftermath of the scene is extremely ambiguous about whether it went even further than that.
When Yasuko and Fumi in Aoi Hana share their first kiss in the library, the viewer is confronted with a view of the steel bookshelves—though the kiss can be seen in full view at the start of the next episode.
Entirely averted in Kanamemo, in which canon lesbian couple Yuuki and Yume kiss outside the newspaper office in the first episode, requisite flower background and all.
The last TV broadcast episode of Bakemonogatari pans to the sky rather than show us Senjogahara and Koyomi kiss. Rather than avoiding controversy or anything, most likely it was because an actual shown kiss would be a bit of a let down after the preceding dialogue.
Nisemonogatari, episode 8. While waiting for their younger sister to return home to murder them, Koyomi and Karen are shown embracing and falling toward the bed, faces tantalizingly close to each other. Cue an image of white feathers flying up toward a bright blue sky.
In the manga Change 123, this trope was used twice (so far) by showing a panel with a big sound effect on it instead of the actual kiss scene - both times when Hibiki kisses Kosukegawa. But in this case it's not about discretion, but to indicate how powerful Hibiki's kisses are.
Subverted with a lesbian kiss in Kannazuki no Miko: the camera cuts away right before their lips meet...and a few seconds later, it cuts back, and the kiss continues for several more seconds!
Parodied multiple times in the Violinist of Hameln manga with Hamel and Flute. Every time it seems the two of them are having a "moment" and one or the other draws in for a kiss, the panel cuts away... and cuts back to reveal that Hamel has somehow accidentally kneed her in the face.
There is one in Naruto, between Yahiko and Konan. There is a scene where the latter is attending to the formers wounds on a bed, and then they gradually lean in as though for a kiss. The next scene is outside the door, where Nagato is smirking. It's ambiguous if it was merely a Kissing Discretion Shot, or if they went further.
Done towards the end of the Fate/stay night anime, between Saber and Shirou. No ambiguity, though, and it's handled rather well.
The final scene of '"Super Robot Wars Original Generation: The Inspectors'': after a tender conversation, Kyosuke and Excellen draw close and fade to black.
In Fairy TailJellal and Erzafinally kiss after the timeskip. Except maybe they don't, because after they spend three pages with their lips slowly getting closer and closer the actual kiss is silhouetted. They may still be about to kiss when Jellal suddenly decides he has no right to kiss her and shoves her away, making up a story about a fiancee so she'll give up on him.
In Genshiken, in the scene of the final resolving of Unresolved Sexual Tension between Sasahara and Ogiue, their first kiss is shown by hiding the face of one character behind the head of the other.
Shaman King had a scene where Yoh and Anna were talking with their silhouttes leaning forward and Amidamaru quickly looking away while blushing.
In the scene in Shrek, just as Shrek and Fiona start to kiss, Shrek breaks the fourth wall and covers up the camera.
Played straight in Puss in Boots. Finally, after all the UST between the two, Kitty and Puss finally kiss. Which is hidden behind Puss's hat which Kitty lifts off his head and holds over their faces. Likely done just the give the two some privacy, though they hadn't really been discreet about their attraction before. Could also count as a (covered up) The Big Damn Kiss, because of the dramatic lighting behind them.
The discretion's also a handy way of dealing with the fact that cats can't kiss without straying down the Alternate Animal Affection path.
Ginger and Rocky almost kissing was a Running Gag in Chicken Run, initiated because the animators couldn't figure out how to make two chickens kissing look anything but ridiculous. When the big kiss finally comes, it is with the characters turning away from the camera, obscuring any actual contact of "lips".
La Muerte and Xibalba get in a few smooches in The Book Of Life, but always obscured by La Muerte's enormous hat. It serves dual purpose- Xibalba is a lot less humanoid than La Muerte, so actually showing the characters sucking face might look rather strange, and the combination of Nice Hat plus Xibalba's spread wings forms an image of the Sacred Heart.
Subverted in the mini-series Bollywood Hero; At the end of part one, Chris, unaware of the taboo, kisses Lalima after dancing with her, a faux pas which is exploited in the next episode as he witnesses ugly news coverage of the scandal.
Possible Ur Example: in the 1919 Conrad Veidt film Different From The Others, when Paul and his boyfriend are caught kissing. Before their lips touch, the camera cuts away to the teacher's shocked face.
The kiss between Will Smith and Anthony Michael Hall in the otherwise-awesome Six Degrees of Separation. Rumor has it Denzel told Will not to do it.
The "big clinch" in An Affair To Remember. You don't see it, you see them FILMING THEIR FEET. (Oddly enough, smaller kisses go on throughout the movie.)
Used a lot in the Twilight film when Edward and Bella kiss.
Vertigo plays with a restriction not against kisses entirely, but a kiss being shown for longer than 3 seconds. In a passionate kissing scene, the camera pans around the two, and wouldn't you know it? Something always obscures their lips every 3 seconds.
The Brazilian film Casseta & Planeta: A Taça do Mundo É Nossa (), by comedy group Casseta & Planeta, employs it for "man and a man playing woman" action. Their TV show does it sometimes as well.
Any film where Kirk Cameron or Chelsea Noble have to kiss anyone other than each other will have this, as neither believes it is acceptable for them to kiss other actors. Films of note have been: Left Behind (Camera cuts away as Chelsea kisses Brad Johnson) and Fireproof (where the woman is actually Chelsea in a wig).
The shot is pulled back and seasoned with a shooting star when Doc Brown and Clara Clayton kiss in Back to the Future, Part III, probably because Christopher Lloyd was deemed too old to do so up close.
Harry's first kiss, with Cho Chang, in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: The paragraph ends with a description of Cho moving in closer until Harry can see her eyelashes, and then... The next paragraph has Harry stumbling into the Gryffindor common room in a daze.
Lampshaded in the A Series of Unfortunate Events book The Slippery Slope. A scene involving Violet and Quigley sitting on a ledge halfway up a cliff is interrupted by the author's monologue. The next thing we're informed of is the two of them continuing on their climb with 'small, secret smiles on their faces.'
Live Action TV
Despite the controversy over Kirk and Uhura's famous kiss in "Plato's Stepchildren", the two of them are never actually shown locking lips. (However, the scene does not cut away; the camera angle simply blocks the details.)
Parodied in a Kids in the Hall sketch where the Steps guys go to see an Oscar Bait gay-themed film. The romantic leads don't even kiss until the end, and the garage door closes so you don't actually see anything. Made even funnier by the fact that this trope is defied within the sketch itself - Scott Thompson's character gets bored and makes out with another guy in the theater, which is shown on screen.
Also parodied on Will and Grace when Will, Jack, and Grace are disappointed that a widely-hyped male/male kiss is subject to one of these. Most likely a Lampshade Hanging of the show's squeamishness when it came to showing same-sex physical affection, although Will and Jack kiss in protest later in the episode.
Xander's naughty dream about Willow and Tara in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer ep "Restless." We see Xander ogling them, but not the kissing (In fact, they were forced to cut the oogling since it took too long Yes, that is right, the reaction was cut down... Then in season 5, production dispensed with it and showed them kissing in "The Body."
Xena: Warrior Princess had Xena leaning in to kiss Gabrielle in a dream-like situation, and just as the lips were about to touch they cut to Gabrielle kissing Autolycus because Xena was possessing his body.
As the World Turns had one where popular gay couple Luke and Noah declared their love for each other, lean in for a kiss, and the camera pans up to the mistletoe. However the fans fought back hard and now kissing is a nonevent. The next battle is now against the Sexy Discretion Shot.
Scrubs season 6 ended with this trope. Subverted, since they actually didn't kiss.
Done inconsistently on Hannah Montana where Miley's kisses are usually shown, but when Lilly and Oliver become a couple it always cuts away from their kisses.
This is taken one step further in the final episode. As each couple start to share the "last kiss" before Miley and Lilly fly off to Paris, a piece of large luggage moves past them, just long enough to show both couples leaning back after their "kiss".
Averted on Glee with Kurt and Blaine's first kiss, which is also a spectacular aversion of But Not Too Gay.
Power Rangers in Space had a daydream where the Silver Ranger kissed the Big Bad. Only the shot kept getting blurrier the closer their lips got, and then immediately cut back to the Silver Ranger's reaction of said daydream.
Done in one episode of Zoom reenacting a fairy tale, likely because the actors were still preteens. The actual kiss is covered up by the knight's shield.
Done for the purpose of a joke in Essgee Entertainment's The Mikado. This is played out by having Ko-Ko obscure Yum-Yum's face while he makes slurping noises. The "kiss" ends when he turns back, leaving a clearly-revolted Yum-Yum to say "Thank goodness that's over.
Persona 4 does this between the main character and Margaret, if you max out her Social Link and talk to her on the last day.
The controversial trailer of Rule of Rose ends up with two characters about to kiss. The cut is understandable, since they are both about ten-year old girls. Nevertheless, it's not a "dirty" scene, but quite innocent and adorable, after the dark stuff just before it.
Eternal Sonata does this - Allegretto and Polka share a passionate hug and then begin to kiss, but the camera pans away to the view of the scenery just as they begin to kiss.
In Final Fantasy VII, Tifa tells Cloud that words aren't the only way to tell someone what you're feeling. The camera slowly pans up to the Highwind. Cut to the early morning, with them Sleeping Cute.
In Erfworld, the scene◊ where Wanda drops off Jillian to stage her "escape", with a panel showing their mouths close together followed by one showing their feet close together and the rest of them hidden behind a dwagon.
In F@nboy$, the 'did they or didn't they' type of Discretion Shot is used in a comic between Paul and Lemmy after Sonic the Hedgehog was announced for Smash Bros. Brawl. Of course, a follow-up comic revealed that they didn't actually kiss, but Paul was lifting Lemmy to reach Shenanigans the Pink Lightbulb.
Occurs when Garanos tells the story of how she and her fiance fell in love. The motivation there was artistic, according to the author.
Echo Chamber has Gaelyn and Zack's kiss obscured because the scene is shot in a first person view from the cameras they are both using at the time.
In The Guild's Bollywood-style music video, "Game On", Codex and Zaboo share a "Forward slash almost kiss" (referring to emotes like /kiss in MMORPGs).
In Family Guy's Something Something Something Dark Side, Peter Griffin as Han Solo says [to Leia] "I'm going to kiss you so hard, the scene is going to change to something different."
Avatar: The Last Airbender had an infamous one when Aang and Katara are trapped in a tunnel lit only by their torch, with the clue that "love will light the way". The torch's light goes out just as they're leaning in...and then glowing crystals come on, but it's deliberately unclear whether or not they actually kissed.
In one episode of Beast Wars, Black Arachnia and Silverbolt were about to kiss, when the camera pans down. This could have been to preserve the kids' virgin eyes (but then again, given the the various ways in which BW mauled its characters...) or because good ol' Silvy has a muzzle, being a wolf-bird. Good luck animating that, guys.
Kissing has shown several times in Danny Phantom, but mostly with the main characters. Curiously, the married Maddie and Jack always have their kisses hidden from view whenever they do it. This also happens in an alternate timeline between the married Vlad and Maddie's who's only kiss isn't shown either. What gives?
Ace Lightning - The only time anyone is seen kissing it's either on the cheek, or in Mark and Kat's case, in sillouette in the last episode. The digital characters, however (this is a Mixed media show) are a lot less disguised about it.
Frequently in Classic Disney Shorts, two characters kissing at the end would cover themselves for the sake of modesty. Often subverted by having the faces silhouetted through the cover, or by removing the cover too soon.