Palm Bloodletting

When magic spells call for blood, where do you cut? Right across your palm, of course. Because there certainly aren't any sensitive muscles or tendons there. Plus it heals super fast, and you rarely use your hand anyway, right? Especially in the upcoming boss battle.

The out-of-character reason for this trope is that it's easier to stage blood seeping from a palm than, say, a fingertip: there's more space to hide the tubing or packet for the fake blood, and it doesn't need as tight a close-up for the audience to see what happens, so less-detailed latex appliances can be used to conceal the mechanics of the special effect.

Often used when two people become Blood Brothers. Also see Impaled Palm.

See sister tropes Blood Magic and Paper Cutting.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • In Naruto, people who needs their own blood to cast jutsu will often cut/bite their fingertips instead.
  • In Princess Tutu, Fakir revives Mytho's Cool Sword by cutting his hand, and pouring the blood from the wound into a fountain, and reciting a spell in Gratuitous German while dipping the blade into the bloody water.
  • In Attack on Titan, Eren does this by biting into his palm, in order to transform into a titan. This is eventually further expounded later on in the story.

  • The Sandman: In Death: The Time Of Your Life, blood from a cut palm is used to power a spell to send the characters to the land of the dead and come back alive.
  • Subverted in Runaways. Nico's spell casting is done through The Staff Of One, which only emerges from her soul when blood is shed. The first time she actively attempts to summon it, she tries this. And she hates it. She would go on to come up with creative ways to shed blood that didn't involve cutting, from averting No Periods, Period to brushing her teeth until her gums bled.

  • Done twice in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, when blood is needed to break the curse. The first time, Barbossa does it to Elizabeth. Will does it to himself the second time, having to hurry things along before Barbossa killed either Elizabeth or Jack.
  • At the beginning of Rob Roy Rob Roy is challenged to a friendly duel to the first cut but doesn't feel like participating, so he purposely slices his palm on the other guy's sword in order to lose. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun when in the climactic duel he grabs the other guy's sword with his bare hand in order to take it out of play.
  • In Practical Magic, Sally and Gillian slice their palms and clasp hands to cure Gillian's Demonic Possession. It also conveniently works as a Curse Escape Clause.
  • In Hellraiser, Larry cuts his hand on a nail and drips blood on the attic floor. Underneath lie the hidden remnants of Frank's body which the blood partially restores back to life and consciousness.
  • In the extended version of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers a human swears fealty to Saruman. When asked to pove it, he slices his palm open and says that they will die for Saruman.
  • In the film The Brother From Another Planet, the protagonist uses a shard of glass to cut his palm in order to use his blood to write a message on a graffiti-covered wall. However, it's no big deal to him, as he is an alien who heals easily and quickly.
  • The Client does this to both himself and Jay in Kill List while Jay is signing a contract.
  • In National Treasure, Ben cuts his palm then presses it to the handle of the carved pipe they've found, so they can press the bloody pipe on a piece of paper and see what the words on it are. He couldn't find ink in the arctic.
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves has Robin slice open his palm during his oath to avenge his father, then he wraps it with a rag and continues battling for the rest of the film seemingly without pain or disability.

    Light Novel 

  • Casting spells with Wild Magic in The Obsidian Trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory requires a blood sacrifice, usually done by a simple nick on the hand. However, in When Darkness Falls Idalia slashes her palm open with a dagger to summon the Starry Hunt to help battle the demons.
  • Averted in Sword of Truth. Richard goes for the inside of his elbow instead.
  • In Andre Norton's Dread Companion, Kilda has to bleed to get the grass that can act as a guide. She even has to pull it by the bleeding hand.
  • Subverted in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Harry and Dumbledore encounter a door that requires a blood sacrifice. Upon entering, Dumbledore cuts his hand - but it happens to be the hand that is dead from a curse, so it's not as inconvenient as it normally would've been. When they leave again, Harry uses blood from the palm of his hand, but he didn't cut it intentionally; he had accidentally scraped it on a rock.
  • In The Bishop's Heir, Kelson recalls the day he and Dhugal became foster brothers. Each of them used the other's dagger to slice open a palm, then they clasped their wounded hands together and Dhugal bound them with a handkerchief before they swore their oaths. Years later, they both retain faint scars across their palms.
  • This is the means Tenskwa-Tawa uses to produce blood — and pain — to work large magics in The Tales of Alvin Maker, and Alvin learns to do the same; for added messianic symbolism, when large quantities of blood are needed, like Tenskwa-Tawa walking onto Lake Michigan to raise a crystal tower inside a tornado, they pierce their feet too.
  • Justified in On Stranger Tides, in which Shandy has to draw blood from his sword-hand's palm to maintain the mystical connection between his blade and his bloodstream.
  • In Aztec, Chimali's signature is the slap of his bloodied hand. This appears as a recurring theme throughout the novel. It's fitting, because Chimali becomes Mixtli's sworn enemy, and whenever he's done evil to Mixtli's loved ones, he leaves a handprint where Mixtli can find it.

    Live Action TV 
  • Supernatural uses this very often. Season 3 Episode 9 Malleus Maleficarum has a witch slicing her hand open in the first few minutes.
  • Charmed
  • Angel: Darla cuts her palm when a shaman needs a blood sample for a spell, after he is reluctant to do it to her.
    Darla: Men are such babies.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "A Private Little War". When Nona uses the Mahko root to heal Kirk, her husband Tyree cuts her hand first so that her blood joins with the root before it's applied to Kirk's wound.
  • Done at least twice in Babylon 5, by Narn. Once by G'Kar to make a point to Vir, once by Ta'Lon to satisfy a tradition that his sword must draw blood before being sheathed again. Seems to be a Narn thing.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine establish this as a Klingon habit. If they're putting on any kind of ceremony, it's a safe bet that shedding some blood this way is going to be part of it.
  • V (1983) had a scene where someone approaching La Résistance for help did this to prove they were not a Visitor.
  • In one episode of Lie to Me, Cal slices open his hand to show that the guy they are interviewing has a phobia to blood.
  • In an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Goren cuts his hand in order to show a suspect is too squeamish about blood to have committed a very bloody crime.
  • Game of Thrones.
    • Beric Dondarrion does this before challenging Sandor Clegane to Trial by Combat, which seems a foolish thing to do until it causes his sword to burst into flame due to implied Blood Magic. Sandor as it happens is terrified of fire.
    • Xaro Xhoan Daxos cuts his hand and shows the blood as part of his oath to stand for Daenerys and her people.
    • Averted when a teenaged Cersei Lannister consults a witch — she cuts her thumb for the required Blood Magic.
  • Boardwalk Empire. Season 5 has Charlie "Lucky" Luciano's Mafia initiation.
  • The Magicians.
    • Season 2 Episode 3 - Divine Elimination, Margo slices open Elliot's palm to summon Ember using a blood-stone.

  • The Blue Öyster Cult song "Unknown Tongues" is about a Catholic schoolgirl called Margaret, who lies in bed at night contemplating the mysteries of Glossolalia and the Holy Stigmata (ie, the voices in her head tell her to self-harm with a razor blade):

    And then she took/Her father's razor;
    And watched it cut into her palm;
    She put her hand up to her mouth
    To taste the blood, so holy and warm....
  • SJ Tucker's song "Valkyrie Daughter" has this, when the soldier makes his deal with the goddess Hel to forfeit his place in Valhalla, so that his daughter can go from Niflheim to Valhalla and become a Valkyrie.

    The soldier's eyes clouded... But he cut his own palm,
    And signed all his honor away.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Call of Cthulhu campaign Spawn of Azathoth. During a Cthulhu Mythos ritual each participant must cut the palm of his hand and smear the blood over a severed hand, which animates and acts like the planchette of a Ouija board to point out symbols and provide a message.
  • GURPS Illuminati. The sidebar titled "Blood Samples" describes Illuminati initiation procedures that require using the applicant's blood, such as signing a contract, filling a chalice etc. The accompanying illustration shows a knife cutting the palm of a person's hand.
  • Dungeons & Dragons. In module CM1 "Test of the Warlords", the PC's can participate in the ritual of blood sharing with a barbarian chief. They do so by cutting their palms and clasping hands, thus mixing their blood.

    Video Games 
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, at one point a door needs to be opened with the blood of the Dragonborn. They cut the palm of their hand to do so.
  • Vergil in Devil May Cry 3 does this as a part of the ceremony to break the spell on the Temen-ni-gru, using his katana Yamato. In his case, it's doubtful this would slow him down.
  • Averted in Dawn of War: Soulstorm. Where most units capture points by standing at attention/prayer, the Dark Eldar slash their wrists and hold the bleeding hand up in salute.

    Western Animation 
  • The Road to El Dorado: The wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan slices his palm to smear blood upon a stone relief of one of the two founding gods of El Dorado. He does this to emphasize that he has seen through Tulio and Miguel's masquerade. "Gods. Don't. Bleed."