There's the Sexy Discretion Shot
, and then there's this. So you're a big-shot Hollywood producer who wants to let his audience know that Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil
, but you don't want them to actually see the rape. So what do you do?
You put the rape in anyway but you're careful about not actually showing it onscreen. Just how much of the preliminaries the audience sees will be governed by what audience the film makers are going after, or more cynically, what MPAA rating the film makers are willing to take. That said, enough will be shown to make it clear what is about to happen; the rapist(s) will make their intentions fairly obvious in their speech and behaviour, and the victim(s) will make their non-consent equally obvious (a Scream Discretion Shot
may be invoked).
In works with more gritty realism, violence will be depicted (hitting the victim, knocking her down), and perhaps some of the victim's clothing may be seen torn and/or removed before the action leaves the scene. The audience may even see the rapist unfasten his belt and/or trousers just before the cutaway. The discretion may be achieved by having the rapist take the victim to another room (perhaps a bedroom or some other place with furnishings to facilitate sex, thus being a further indication of coming events). Alternatively, the camera will pan away to another character's reaction or some other view, or the shot will end and another will immediately follow.
Because the event is not completely shown, the audience can become confused as to whether the crime actually took place, and to what extent (i.e. whether the victim was also murdered). This can be done on purpose, to instill suspense in the audience, to make them imagine an act more heinous than could ever be shown
, or to subvert this trope and reveal that something far more innocuous, often after a misunderstanding leads to tragedy. This trope also turns up for Black Comedy Rape
scenes, and for many modern iterations of Double Standard Rape sorts of scenes (say, when the supposed victim grants consent
), because graphically portraying rape as the violent crime it is would undermine those tropes.
See also: Gory Discretion Shot
, Sexy Discretion Shot
, Vomit Discretion Shot
Anime & Manga
- Queen's Blade Hide 'n Seek, complete with falling rosebud, makes it clear that Elina rapes Nyx, which is alluded to without having to show it.
- The Black Lagoon OVA has a flashback of Revy's Prison Rape, which shows pretty much everything but the actual act.
- Diva raping Riku in Blood+.
- Used in Golgo 13: The Professional the first time the assassin Snake rapes Laura Dawson. A bit less discretion is used much the second time it happens, unfortunately.
- Used in Noir when the young Altena is about to be raped by a soldier. He's put her on a bed and is about to lie down next to her, and we then see her doll hit the floor.
- Used in the anime version of Ikki Tousen. When Ryoufu immobilizes and then rapes Ryoumou, the screen pans to the nearby woods. And later, we see Ryoumou laying down on her stomach, still paralyzed, and with her bare bottom exposed.
- In School Days, when Taisuke rapes Kotonoha, we see him pining her to the wall and undoing her blouse as she just stands there in an Heroic BSOD. Then, the girl's school tie falls to the ground.
- In the final episode of Berserk, Griffith, now Femto, rapes Casca but we only see him lowering his winged cape over her lower body so we can't actually see the physical portion going on, though we can still see Casca writhing in agony as this is happening to her. The anime depiction was FAR MORE DOCILE than the manga.
- Queen Taramis' rape by Constantius in the Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born."
- Used when The Incredible Hulk is raped by his evil future self's harem in the Future Imperfect miniseries.
- In Starman: When Jack Knight is drugged into unconsciousness and raped by Nash, the second Mist, the scene occurs from his point-of-view as a very strange erotic dream. Additionally, while the implication is there in the initial scene, it isn't until many issues later that the series confirms the fact that a rape occurred with a Wham Line.
- Surprisingly, despite its tremendous profanity, explicit portrayals of sex, and outright gore elsewhere, Preacher keeps Herr Starr's rape by "sexual investigator" entirely off-panel. As with some other examples, this is because the scene runs on Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male. Indeed, all the male-on-male rape in the series is both played for laughs and kept offscreen; the instance we do see is male-on-female, and is played as Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil.
- Censorship wouldn't allow the makers of 1928 silent classic The Wind to show Wirt raping Letty, but they implied it as strongly as possible—Wirt makes menacing advances on Letty, then we cut to the next morning where Wirt is cheerily smug, Letty is near-catatonic, and he assumes that now she's his girl.
- The camera pans up right before the Stranger rapes an impudent woman to teach her a lesson in manners in High Plains Drifter.
- May have happened in Rock 'n' Roll High School judging by the way Mrs. Togar's henchmen approach Riff and her friend right before they steal their tickets. And being the Complete Monster she is, it must be assumed that Togar did NOT lift so much as a finger as she witnessed the double rape. If Riff and her friend really were raped as may have been implied, they're too concerned about having to come out at the top in a freshly kicked-off game of Xanatos Speed Chess to be traumatized.
- Deliverance (the TV edit, at least) does this to the homosexual rape scene.
- The rape scene in Pulp Fiction is mostly off screen, but you know exactly what's going on from the dialogue, and when Butch sneaks into the room wielding the sword you get an eyeful right before he takes the bad guys down.
- The Shawshank Redemption shows "The Sisters" beating up Andy Dufresne, but the camera seems to pan away from the actual rape.
- The climax of the "Poor Thing" scene with Judge Turpin and Lucy Barker from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. We're not shown anything beyond Judge Turpin descending upon Lucy with the big cloak, but we are shown the nightmarish vision of the masked crowd surrounding her and laughing as she screams, as well as the Beadle's sinister grin as the musical number/flashback ends.
- The rape and murder of Saladin's sister by Reynald de Chatillon in Kingdom of Heaven is presented this way. To wit: he approaches her from a distance. She tells him who she is, and he replies 'yes, I know' before ripping the veil from her face before the scene cuts away.
- Played for Laughs with the Prison Rape scene in the Norm McDonald comedy Dirty Work. Not only is the rape itself not shown, but Norm's reaction is comically understated.
- Used in the infamous "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization scene from Gone with the Wind.
- In Vampire's Kiss, the villain protagonist Peter Loew rapes his secretary, although it is not explicitly shown. The scene cuts to the moments after the act.
- Famous example from A Streetcar Named Desire, where the last scene we see of Blanche before her complete nervous breakdown and regression is Stanley hitting her and dragging her into the bedroom.
- Happens in 300 when Leonidas's wife Queen Gorgo is raped by the council member in exchange for an audience with them. When he turns out to be a traitor, she rather awesomely has her revenge.
- Happened in the movie Hounddog with the main character, Lewellyn, while she was being raped by a neighborhood teenager. The main character (who had already been coerced into stripping naked) was shown from the shoulders up making faces of anguish and begging her attacker to stop. Made even more unsettling by the fact that the character in question was a twelve-year-old girl played by a pre-teen Dakota Fanning.
- In The King's Justice, Princess Janniver's memory is read by Rothana, who shows it to Kelson. The text reflects Rothana's editing of the vision in its description of Janniver's emotional reaction, emotions an outraged Rothana passes unfiltered to Kelson. Thus, the readers get no explicit details of the act itself, yet there's no doubt what happened, or who did it; Caitrin's elder son Ithel.
- Joan's Bad Date on Mad Men isn't shown—the camera pulls away and we see what she's seeing: the floor under the sofa.
- In Sons of Anarchy when Gemma is raped, we see her still fighting her attackers before the action switches to other characters. However, we are later shown the end of the rape when Gemma notices that one of her rapists has a distinct tattoo on his neck.
- The comedy version for the trope was often used in Married... with Children whenever an Abhorrent Admirer managed to drag Bud off for some unwanted passion.
- In the Firefly episode "Heart of Gold", Burgess is standing in front of a large crowd of men, making an angry speech about how women need to know their place, with the hooker, Chari, standing by him. He tells the crowd "Let us all remember, right here and now, what a woman is, to a man." Then he turns to Chari, says "Get on your knees.", and the camera fades away as she starts kneeling.
- In The BBC's 1967 adaptation of The Forsyte Saga, just as Soames is about to claim his "marital rights" from his reluctant wife Irene the scene shifts to a barrel-organ playing beneath their window.
- Often used on Cold Case if the victim of the week was raped before being killed. Rather than the depicting the murder the way most of the final flashbacks did, the scene would cut away as the assault began.
- The beginning of pretty much any episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
- An early episode of Law & Order had a woman being drugged during a doctor's visit and the scene fading out coinciding with her passing out, horrified at the realization of what has happened and that she's now powerless to stop him from raping her.
- Half the rape storylines on Soap operas use this (the other half being wrenchingly graphic). A classic example is the infamous rape scene for Luke and Laura of General Hospital—he pulls her down to the floor as she cries out, "No, Luke, no!" as the camera pans away. There's some quick shots of the record turntable and various items scattered around the bar, such as her purse and her sweater, before we see Laura huddled on the floor crying with a disheveled Luke standing over her.
- Two episodes of Without a Trace employ this, both during flashback sequences. In one episode, the event in question is recalled by a blind girl who had been kidnapped, along with her tutor, by two teens who did what they were doing For the Evulz; the tutor is assaulted by one of the guys, and though we don't see the act, we do hear the woman's sobs while getting a full camera view of the blind girl's face as she listens in abject terror. The other episode employs this with the revelation of a main character's Dark and Troubled Past: Samantha's sister was raped by a local man, who Sam crept up on and clubbed to death with a shovel during the act.
- The TV movie A Case Of Rape, which treats us to the audio, but not visual, of the attack.
- Although Criminal Minds mostly uses the Gory Discretion Shot, there'll occasionally be a rape scene that requires a discretion shot.
- Man of La Mancha. Just before Aldonza is raped by the muleteers she is either carried offstage or the lights go out so the audience can't see what happens.
- Happens in the City Elf origin story in Dragon Age: Origins; you don't see Shianni being raped but you do see her on the floor next to Vaughn, and dialog after the fact makes it pretty clear that this is what happened.
- In the Family Guy episode "Dial Meg For Murder" Peter gets raped offscreen by a male bull.
- Happens twice on Dan Vs.. ...despite being a cartoon aimed at older children, in Dan vs. the Animal Shelter and the Family Camping Trip.