Pink Mist

"Everything above yer' neck's gonna be a FINE red mist!"
The Sniper, Team Fortress 2

This is the polar opposite of Pretty Little Headshots, usually found in military fiction and gorier video games. As the above quote says, it's after a sniper has shot someone, and all that delicious blood-jelly bursts into a bloody cloud, which, from a distance, appears to be pink. Usually some part of the cranium is blown off in the process. This type of headshot is almost invariably seen from the sniper's point of view.

The thing that keeps this from falling into Ludicrous Gibs is that it actually happens, although it requires a sufficiently high-velocity bullet to produce the effect. Typical pistol bullets can (and often do) produce a blood-splattering exit wound in headshots, but the vaporization of enough blood and brain tissue to produce an actual mist requires a supersonic velocity of the sort most typically found in rifle bullets (thus partially validating the Pretty Little Headshot, at least if the shooter is using a pistol). The .357 revolver suicide of R. Budd Dwyer on live TV could be clearly seen to produce no visible pink mist, despite involving a powerful pistol caliber to the brain at point-blank range.

The most easily accessible real-world evidence for Pink Mist is surely the Gross-Up Close-Up provided by the Zapruder film of the Kennedy assassination. A 10.5 gram rifle bullet traveling at 2,300 feet per second into a large, homogenous mass with the consistency of a custard pie can be clearly seen to support the trope, although not quite as strikingly as one might expect.

See also Chunky Salsa Rule, Gorn and Boom, Headshot. Compare Your Head A-Splode and Ludicrous Gibs. Contrast, of course, Bloodless Carnage and Pretty Little Headshots.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Baccano!! features many headshots, at least two of which are animated in all their gory glory. The conductor who takes a bullet to the head splashes blood all over the place and is later shown with a substantial hole in the back of his head. Poor Czeslaw, who takes two shots to the head with a shotgun, gets his head blown off completely. At least temporarily.
  • Black Lagoon during Roberta's Blood Trail, several FARC troops get shot by Roberta while she's wielding an anti-material rifle that was previously shown blowing large holes into a stone building. Against the FARC troops, it more or less vaporized everything above the navel.


     Fan Fiction 
  • In the Harry Potter fanfic Jamie Evan's and Fate's Bitch, in the final chapter, after The House of Yaxley kidnaps Jamie's adopted daughter, she goes after them in a truly magnificent Roaring Rampageof Revenge. One of the wizards is turned into a full-body version of this trope, with the use of a modified paint stripping charm. She puts enough power behind it that he turns into nothing but a skeleton and a large cloud of pink mist.

  • The memorable restaurant scene in The Godfather has Michael Corleone turning both Virgil "The Turk" Solozzo & Captain McKlusky's brains into this.
  • The ending of Chinatown has a disturbingly realistic exit wound where somebody's eye used to be.
  • The first Young Guns has a scene in which Emilio Estevez shoots an accused traitor in the head. Unlike the usual modest blood-splats found in Westerns, another character flinches when a huge splash of gore hits his hat from about ten feet away.
  • David Mamet's Spartan has someone's head do this after being hit by a sniper's bullet.
  • Sadly (maybe) the lead characters of Jarhead never got to see the pink mist they so longed to see due to a airstrike taking out their targets just before they took the shot.
  • In the Jodie Foster film Anna and the King, a Thai servant is beheaded for treason against a king. As her head is lopped off (just offscreen) a fine pink mist sprays out across the screen.
  • A variation happens in Once Upon a Time in China; the villain that Wong Fei Hung is fighting gets his throat cut with split bamboo. At first it looks like nothing, but slowly a little red line begins to form, get longer, and suddenly a pink mist spews from the wound as he drops dead.
  • Happens in The Matrix when Trinity challenges an Agent to dodge a bullet at point blank range. The resulting headshot produces this.
  • There are some impressive instances of pink mist in Apocalypto. All the more so because there are no firearms, only clubs and arrows.

  • Oh so very used in military fiction. Case in point: Tom Clancy. The shootout sequence that opens Patriot Games actually describes "a wet, pink cloud" as Jack Ryan shoots one of the bad guys.
  • In the John Ringo novel Unto the Breach, one of the commanders of a Chechen battle group gets this treatment. On live international TV. By a sniper roughly two miles away. It crosses into Ludicrous Gibs territory, with the man literally explodes upon being hit by the round due to hydrostatic shock.
  • Mitch Albom's The Five People You Meet in Heaven. Eddie's former commander during World War II blows up when he steps on a landmine. What happens to him, though, is more like Pink Salsa.
  • In Battlefield Earth (the novel), Jonnie is thinking of running away, but is stopped by Terl, who says "If I shot you with it, you would turn into a pink mist." (Paraphrased slightly.)
  • In First Casualty the protagonist witnesses a whole foxhole of soldiers being hit by a shell. It was raining pink afterwards.
  • In Inside Delta Force, the narrator describes a mission in which he and a teammate are tasked with sniping enemy shooters that always fired from within groups of children. Once the shots were fired and the guns came back down from recoil, all that was visible in the scopes was a mist, a "fading pink chimera in the sunlight."
  • In Raising Steam, Discworld engineers learn superheated steam is not good if the boiler explodes: quite a few would-be George Stephensons end up wafted into the afterlife as clouds of necessarily pink steam.
    • And a would-be saboteur finds out, very very briefly, that the archetypal steam locomotive, Iron Girder, is apparently sentient enough to vent live steam in self-defence. The effect on the saboteur possibly convinces them that they shouldn't have tried it.
  • In The Crossing, "Bosch felt a fine mist of blood hit him full in the face" after another cop puts a bullet through the skull of the bad guy.

     Live-Action TV  
  • This effect is described in detail in one episode of In Plain Sight, by the main protagonist, Mary Shannon.
  • One of the last episodes of Dollhouse has Bennet shot in the head by whoever Whiskey is at the time. The pink mist surrounds a stunned Topher.
  • Explained to Christina Ricci and later demonstrated by the bomb squad guy on the season 2 Super Bowl episode of Grey's Anatomy
  • The X-Files would mostly use Pretty Little Headshots, but when Mulder shoots John Lee Roche in "Paper Hearts", it's this trope: lots of blood spattered on the window.

     Tabletop Games  
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Dialled Up to Eleven by the main weapon of the Space Marines is essentially a fully automatic rocket-propelled grenade launcher. A few ONE good hit can turn your entire body into Pink Mist/Pink Salsa. Even the humble lasgun, much-derided in the fandom with the nickname "flashlight" due to being the weakest standard weapon, is described in-universe to be roughly equal in power to such classic full-power rifles as the M1 Garand, and entirely capable of taking a limb or head off a target.
    • The fluff for a Tau railgun describes a Leman Russ tank with two matching, perfectly circular holes on either side... and the red spray on the exit hole, the remains of the crew that were instantly misted and sucked out by the hypervelocity round.
  • Paranoia sourcbooks regularly make references to turning Troubleshooters into "fine red mist", either due to post-mission interrogations from Friend Computer or just the latest experiments from R&D.

     Video Games  
  • Borderlands. If you get killing headshots (yes, some enemies take multiple headshots to take down) with any weapon on a human enemy, their head literally becomes this. Taken Up to Eleven if you're a high enough level with a good weapon and your headshot does enough damage, their body from the waist up disappears in red mist.
  • Cortex Command: Frequently happens to clones caught in explosions, crushed by dropship debris, or other methods of total overkill. It's not just their heads - their ENTIRE BODIES will be reduced to a mess of red pixels.
  • In First Encounter Assault Recon, shooting an enemy with a high-powered weapon, such as the shotgun at point-blank range, or getting them caught in the immediate blast radius of a grenade, will more often than not result in that enemy's body being reduced to red mist. This leaves no organs, no limbs, nothing, but a stain on the floor. Ouch.
  • Grand Theft Auto
  • This happens in Sniper Elite after you shot everybody at both entry and exit.
  • The Metal Gear Solid series uses a cloud of particulate-rendered blood whenever someone takes a hit as well.
  • Most of your foes in Mass Effect 2 have some variety of helmet/shield/hard carapace, so a headshot will cause a mist of blood (in whatever color is appropriate, red for humans and Vorcha, bluish purple for Asari and Turians, green for Salarians, orange for Krogan and Collectors, etc.) but will leave the outer shell of the head intact.
  • Left 4 Dead includes this trope, as well as an achievement called "Red Mist" awarded for killing many Mook zombies with the stationary minigun.
  • Call of Duty
    • Modern Warfare features this kind of effect when enemies are hit by gunfire, as does World At War.
    • World At War takes it too far, where shooting someone's limb produces massive amounts of blood and screams of pain.
      • Typically only if you use a heavy machine gun, a shotgun, or the PTRS-41 (which is an anti-tank rifle, mind you), in which cases it kinda makes sense.
      • The limb staying on in the lattermost case, however, makes little sense.
  • The Sniper of Team Fortress 2 refers to this trope by name repeatedly ("Everything above your neck is gonna be a fine red mist!"), but the in-game effects are more similar to Pretty Little Headshots. Unless you're using the Hitman's Heatmaker, which takes it to the exact opposite extreme.
  • In the Teen-rated The Conduit, if you get a headshot on the alien Drudge enemies, their heads pop off with a high pressure fountain of yellow fluid. Headshots on humans will yield a loud sound effect but no special visuals.
  • Lampshaded in Unreal when a Skaarj decapitated by a headshot will feel for where his head used to be before dropping over dead.
  • Headshots with some weapons in Army of Two: The 40th Day will completely obliterate everything above the target's neck.
  • A confusing one in Tomb Raider: Legend. In the flashback level, the wraith (given the Fan Nickname "Fluffy") grabs Kent and leaves behind a red mist: it is debatable whether this is the creature's presence, or Kent's blood.
  • Averted in America's Army due partially to the need to avoid a rating higher than T, and partially to the fact that 5.56mm bullets rarely cause that kind of Gorn. Plus, it's a recruiting tool; people are likely to be less open to joining the Army if their death was just rendered in agonizingly gory detail. Those to whom such things would appeal are generally more unstable than Army recruiters would like.
  • Soldier of Fortune has this plus splattered brain matter and shattered skulls.
  • The result of scoring a killing headshot with a hammer or mace in Chivalry Medieval Combat.
  • Vietcong featured this effect whenever a character is shot.

    Visual Novels 
  • Some of the deaths by sniper shot in Rose Guns Days are depicted this way most notably Stella's death at the end of Season 3.

     Web Comics  

     Real Life  
  • Tragically Truth in Television, as anyone who has seen the Zapruder Film (the film of John F. Kennedy's assassination) can attest.
  • Military snipers who use the Barrett .50 caliber rifle will get Pink Mist results - and chunks of body and gear flying around - when hitting any part of the human body. Examples abound on YouTube and other sites. Of course, it's to be expected when you use an anti-materiel rifle as an anti-personnel rifle.
    • As with most armies in 1939-41, the Red Army was issued large-calibre anti-tank rifles. At first effective against lightly armoured tanks and AFV's, as the war progressed and armour got thicker they very soon became obselete in their primary role. The Russians didn't scrap them: a virtue of these massive rifles was that they offered an extemely stable firing platform. They tended to be repurposed as very emphatic sniper rifles capable of turning an entire torso into pink mist.
      • The Fins had the Lahati anti tank rifle, it was more than five milliliters bigger than what the Russians used and they liked to load it with high explosive rounds. Invading Soviet troopers were often described as being vaporized upon being struck.
  • The term was coined during The American Civil War, describing the effects of canister shot on oncoming infantry. Cannon in the Civil War typically fired either solid shot, which was deadly only if it hit you directly, or exploding shells, which sent shrapnel flying and could kill more soldiers than solid shot. When the enemy got close enough, the artillery would load canister, which was tin cans filled with lead pellets—thus converting the cannon into a giant shotgun. Pink Mist was often the result.