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Gory Discretion Shot / Live-Action TV

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Gory Discretion Shots in live-action TV.


  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The season 4 premiere opens with Ghost Rider massacring a gang of white supremacists. One of the skinheads is dragged off-screen, and after some screaming, a bunch of blood splatters against the side of a car. It's later revealed that the skinhead was found with his spine ripped out.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer is very fond of this when some character deaths are implied to be too gruesome to show:
    • You could show us long extended scenes of Angelus torturing Giles for information. Or, you could shoot one short, quiet scene from a camera positioned behind Giles' back and let Anthony Head tell us everything we need to know with a wince, a few drops of blood on his sleeve and a very slight tremor in his voice. And GIVE US ALL NIGHTMARES.
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    • "Innocence" shows the gang reacting to Jenny's Uncle Janos who was killed at the hands of Angelus. Only his shoes are shown, although whatever Angelus did to him, it loosed enough blood for him to write "Was It Good For You Too?" in blood on the wall.
    • "Helpless" shows us established badass Giles reacting in horror to the awful fate of Hobson. Hobson's bloody arm is shown, to which Giles gasps, drops his stake, chokes back the urge to vomit, and flees in terror. Ripper doesn't do that often.
    • In Season 5, one of Glory's minions snoops into the Magic Box and gets caught by Giles. At first, he's determined not to say anything, but then Giles orders Willow and Anya to fetch twine to tie him up. In a couple of seconds, their backs are turned he does something, and suddenly the minion starts pleading for his life.
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    • Caleb's death in "Chosen" when he gets sliced up from groin to his head happens out of shot.
  • Campion: In "Sweet Death", the main villain is crushed to death by a mill wheel. There's a lot of screaming, then the wheel starts to drip blood. Urrrrrghhh.
  • Channel Zero usually isn't shy about the gore, but during the final episode of the Candle Cove storyline, it goes out of its way to not show the Tooth Child forcing Mike to ingest it. Judging by the reaction of the bystander the camera pans over to, it's not a pretty sight.
  • Cold Case occasionally has this happen during the doer's confession flashback.
  • Cold Squad: In "C'Mon I Tip Waitresses", a dentist is being investigated due to the disappearance of several of his patients. One woman visits the dentist and is restrained to a chair while the doctor prepares to murder her and perform dental surgery to contort her face. The camera pans to her trying to futilely move her arms as the dentist operates on her (while she's still conscious).
  • Criminal Minds usually shows the characters' reactions instead of the gore that you come to expect on the show. Likewise, when we're met with really gruesome crimes, we just see the aftermath or we have the camera cut away but we still hear the sounds.
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    • The season 4 finale had an UnSub chopping up his victims, but the camera always cut away to show the criminal's pigs (which he fed his victims to) while the audio had both the sound of the chopping and pig squeals.
    • Once, the UnSub sent the team a video of a girl being eaten alive by rabid dogs. Garcia's horrified reaction is enough.
    • "True Night" had another really effective use of this trope; the UnSub's last victim is the one he had the most reason to be angry at, and the only one the BAU hadn't found. His previous crimes had been, in Morgan's words"off-the-charts brutal", and this one was likely to the worst one of all. The BAU arrive at the crime scene, and you don't see the victim, you just see the walls, which are drenched in blood.
  • CSI NY did this in the flashbacks of 'Blood Out'. The victim was being sawed up with a chainsaw, so it was pretty much a requirement.
  • Subverted on The Daily Show back when Ed Helms was still a corespondent, where he did a piece on getting a mole on the side of his nose removed. Right as the doctor is shown holding a scalpel to his nose, a "Please Stand By" card appears on the screen as peaceful music coupled with the sound of someone screaming play in the background, only to cut right back as the mole is getting sliced off.
  • The TV movie Dark Night of the Scarecrow got pretty inventive working within network standards when a lynch-mob member falls from a barn loft into his running wood chipper - cut to a blob of jam hitting a breakfast plate next morning.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Spearhead from Space": We don't see the mutilated body of a man who ended up in a car accident evading an Auton, just a closeup of his shattered, blood-splattered windscreen.
    • "Inferno": We see the deranged Harry Slocum raise a spanner above his victim's head... and cut to Benton hammering a nail into the wall.
    • "The Robots of Death": We are kept from seeing any gore thanks to Shaky P.O.V. Cam and cutting away... until Poul comes across a robot hand covered in bits of his friend's brain. This does not have very good consequences for his mental health.
    • "The Awakening": It's used when the trooper is decapitated by the Malus' psychic projections.
    • "Father's Day": We don't see Rose's father get run over, but we do see the vase he was carrying shatter on the road.
    • "Rise of the Cybermen": We don't see the actual process of cyber-conversion, but we do see the array of spinning blades and cutting beams as they do their work.
    • The Weeping Angels are pretty much governed by this trope. Considering how they move/kill, it is literally impossible to witness the incident itself.
    • "The Sound of Drums": The death of Vivien Rook by being sliced up by a Toclafane is only witnessed via the Master's pained reaction as he peers through the door.
    • "Last of the Time Lords": We don't actually see Jack being gunned down on board the Valiant, only the sound of gunfire.
    • "Voyage of the Damned": A Host throws its halo at a trapped technician, and we see him screaming as it flies towards him before the scene cuts, implying he was decapitated.
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": We never actually see anyone get eaten by the Vashta Nerada — just their bare skeletons. The gory process is censored by the spacesuits' opaque visors, or otherwise done offscreen.
    • "The Stolen Earth": The death of Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister — though it seems that this was used more for dramatic effect than actual discretion, as many similar deaths have been shown onscreen.
    • "Cold War": The Ice Warrior gruesomely kills Political Officer Stepashin and, later, two other sailors. In the first case, all we see is a blood-splattered wallet; in the latter case nothing but a hand.
    • "The Woman Who Fell to Earth": After the episode's villain kills a guy named Rahul and takes one of his teeth as a Battle Trophy, we never see the body, not even when the Doctor and company come across his remains later.
  • Ezel: In one episode, Cengiz is ordered to beat a man to death to prove his commitment to Kenan. The gruesome results aren't shown onscreen, but the man's cries for mercy and Cengiz's blood-splattered face are suggestive enough for the viewer.
  • Firefly: In "Bushwhacked", the crewman who has been converted into a Reaver attacks several Alliance soldiers with a bread knife. One cut shows him swinging at a soldier, and the next shot has blood splattering all over their commander.
  • Forever. Averted in a flashback when the camera shows Abigail slitting her own throat and blood starting to pour out of the cut.
  • Occurs in For the People when Jill shows a video of how a head injury from cheerleading can cause a client's undiagnosable mental disorder. We see the cheerleader go up, and as she comes down we cut to the rest of the team, visibly shaken.
  • Game of Thrones is probably known more for straight up averting this trope whenever it can, sometimes in a brutal manner, like when the Stark children are frequently forced to watch gruesome things that they'd rather look away from. Occasionally they play the trope straight, however.
    • They played the trope straight in the scene in which Ned Stark is executed. The camera cuts away for dramatic effect just as the sword is about to slice through his neck.
    • It says a lot about how gruesome Ser Rodrik's execution must have been that we only see the executioner hacking.
    • Brienne's punitive Groin Attack (or possibly Ass Shove) on a Northman rapist is left totally out of shot.
    • The audience is spared the sight of Theon's dick-in-a-box, content with just his family's Reaction Shot.
    • Ramsay's victim Tansy in "The Lion and the Rose" receives a Sound-Only Death comprised of screams, snarls, and ripping sounds.
    • Zig-zagged with Jojen Reed's death. The wight stabbing him is plain to see, but the subsequent Mercy Kill focuses on the Reaction Shot, with his corpse destroyed by Leaf's firebomb.
    • The Mountain's gruesome killing of Oberyn, by crushing his head like a melon with his bare hands.
    • In the Season 5 finale, we're treated to a Smash Cut right before Brienne lands the fatal blow on Stannis. The showrunners admitted that they felt it would be "gratuitous".
  • GARO, being an action/horror combination series, mostly does this whenever a Monster of the Week devoured its victims.
  • Subverted in Helix. When Dr. Peter Farragut, a research scientist infected with The Virus, breaks into a lab full of his fellow researchers to attack them, the viewer only sees what seems to be sudden blood spatter on the glass of the lab door, accompanied by a woman's scream. But the subsequent episode's opening scene shows no one is wounded and reveals Peter's Bad Black Barf as the method of viral transmission.
  • Eden's suicide in Heroes. And again in Season 3 with Jesse's death.
  • The American version of the television mini-series Kingdom Hospital uses this when showing Mary's death at the hands of Doctor Gottreich.
  • In Highlander, just about every decapitation was done this way by only focusing on part of Duncan MacLeod's sword. It looked like he was just cutting air every single time.
  • Lost:
    • In the pilot episode, the pilot of Oceanic 815 is yanked by something out of the cockpit, and seconds later blood spatters on the windows.
    • It happens again in "There's No Place Like Home" when Sayid shoots a man who is apparently keeping tabs on Hurley. The shooting occurs in the car and leaves a spatter of blood on the window.
  • The MacGyver episode "The Heist" has a non-gory gory discretion shot in which the death of an embezzling accountant is represented by a shot of his glasses falling to the ground with a bullet hole through one lens (but no bloodstains).
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Incident On and Off a Mountain Road", the camera quickly cuts away before any actual eyeball penetration is shown, though the blood-soaked drill is shown afterward.
  • The series Monk does use gory discretion shots for a few murders.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Circus," an elephant trainer has his head crushed by the foot of his own elephant. Rather than actually show the gory nature of this, when the elephant crushes the victim's head, we immediately cut to Monk and Sharona reacting to the murder.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Ballgame", when a shooter steps up to the car in which his victims are waiting, the moment he opens fire, we cut to an external view of the shooter firing into the car.
    • In "Mr. Monk Gets Fired" when a victim is being cut up with a chainsaw, we only see an exterior shot of a garage window as blood streaks appear.
    • In "Mr. Monk vs. the Cobra", when the author is being beaten to death with a set of nunchucks, we see close-ups of blood splattering against a poster on the wall, implying that the blows were pretty strong.
    • In "Happy Birthday, Mr. Monk". when a janitor falls into a garbage compactor and is torn to pieces, as the victim falls in, we cut to blood splattering against a safety record sign.
  • In the Reaper episode "The Cop", we see a body fall and the blood splattered wall.
  • Played for Laughs in Red Dwarf. The crew watches the Apocalyptic Log of a victim of a psiren. It drags him off-camera, and there's a spurt of red across the screen...
    Captain: YOU'VE SQUEEZED THE KETCHUP OUT OF MY BURGER!
  • In Skins series 4 episode 7 "Effy" Effy's psychotic counselor John Foster beats her boyfriend Freddie to death with a baseball bat. The attack itself happens behind a door, but the splash of blood that hits the window says everything.
  • In Smallville, more and more as the series gets more mature, and non-discretion shots start appearing in later seasons.
    • "Hidden": Chloe and Gabriel struggle for a gun, and it fires, out of view, and blood splatters on the window. For a few horrible moments it seems that Chloe was shot (won't be too much of a difference because she couldn't stop the missile anyway and Clark was also shot by Gabriel just before) but then Gabriel went limp.
    • "Static": A few during the rampage of Alder. Unfortunately subverted by some scenes. Kindly keep your Brain Bleach handy.
    • "Trespass": The blood under the door version. Subverted later.
    • Tess kicking a man to death with the blood spewing onto her face.
    • In "Turbulence", when Doomsday apparently kills Chloe in front of Jimmy, her blood is splattered all over a window.
  • Supernatural: It seems to be a trend to use this shot in the more perfunctory, less important deaths, for example, those that begin most episodes with hitherto-unknown characters, one of which almost always blunders into the monster of the week. Climactic death, on the other hand, tend to be anything but discreet.
    • They also had several of these kill Dean in "Mystery Spot", when you hear Sam and Dean arguing over an axe, then hear a thunk and see blood spattering the walls and the tied-up owner of the titular Mystery Spot. Other deaths include slipping in the shower and being mauled by a dog.
    • This was used to awesome effect in "Simon Says" where Sam had a vision about a man who walks into a gun store, killing the clerk and then himself. When the man places the gun under his chin, the camera pans up to reveal a sink on the wall near the ceiling, on which the blood gets splattered. It's then revealed that Sam is in a bathroom and was looking at the sink when the vision hit, hence the bleed-through of the sink into the vision.
    • Spoofed in "Wishful Thinking". A colossal living teddy bear has a shotgun to its head. The camera pans away to the wall, and we see stuffing spray across the room.
  • Switched:
    • Played straight for Umine. In the first episode — titled "Suicide" in case nobody was paying attention — we are never shown Umine killing herself, even in flashbacks, despite the fact that she lives through it. Also, we never see any of the teens killing themselves.
    • Inverted for a woman Ukon switched with, as well as the original body of the bird. We are shown those suicides very clearly, and the more bloody of the two is shown multiple times.
  • Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
    • Played straight in the Season 1 finale. A whole SWAT team enters a hotel to take down Cromartie. Cut to a view from the bottom of the hotel pool, as the cops are tossed in, one by one, gradually turning the water crimson while Johnny Cash's "When the Man Comes Around" plays.
    • Used again when Derek shoots Jesse. The audience sees him pull the trigger, but the shot cuts away before we even hear the gun go off. Of course, the second time it's left intentionally vague as to whether he actually did shoot her or not.
  • The 1988 cult series War of the Worlds featured quite a few instances of the discretion shot; most notably, a scene in a salon where an alien uses a handsaw to cut into the head of an unknowing victim, with a spray of blood landing on his face as he dives in. However, the show then averted it by making the second season ridiculously gory, with aliens being shot and graphically melting into goo, with close-ups of their melting faces for good measure.
  • The Wire varies with the use of this trope, playing it straight with Snoop's death but averted with Bodie and later Omar.
  • Wolf Hall cuts away from Anne Boleyn just as the executioner swings his sword, and there's a Reaction Shot of Thomas Cromwell and the other onlookers as we hear the thud of her body and head.
  • In The X-Files, series 1 episode, "Roland" - in the sequence before the credits, one man forces another's head into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Then lifts his head back out, moves it slightly to the left, and lets go of the head. You hear a "crash", and the man walks off, stepping on a frozen ear. The next scene features a shot of the feet of a chalk outline on the floor, and the camera pans up the body of the chalk outline to the neck, where you see the chalk outline has no head, and that there are several smaller chalk outlines scattered about on the floor.


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