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A Bloody Mess

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"It's blood!" said the carpenter.
"It's blood, isn't it?" said a musician.
"Blood!!" screamed Christine. "Blood!!"
It was Agnes's terrible fate to keep her head in a crisis. She sniffed her finger again.
"It's turpentine," said Agnes. "Er. Sorry. Is that wrong?"

This is when a spillage of some innocent red substance is mistaken for blood. This substance is, more often than not, ketchup. This is, however, occasionally used seriously when someone is trying to fake an injury.

Someone may or may not dip their finger in it and taste it, much to everyone else's horror, and pronounce it as being 'tasty.'

It's also worth noting that ketchup looks absolutely nothing like blood, apart from its colour. Smelling like spaghetti sauce rather than an abattoir is also a bit of a clue. The gag specifically involving ketchup is more common in older works, when tomato ketchup was much thinner and runnier than it usually is today.

A subtrope of Not What It Looks Like. Compare with Symbolic Blood and Grossout Fakeout. Prop blood is Kensington Gore. When it really is blood, but not belonging to the splattered person, it's Not His Blood. If someone deliberately invokes it using sauce, it's overlapping with Unconventional Food Usage. Not to be confused with the Chunky Salsa Rule, nor with a Fallout trait/perk. See Did Not Do the Bloody Research for confusion about the rude word "bloody." See also Prank Injuries.

If it is actual blood, that's Bloody Horror.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Assassination Classroom, during Karasuma's fight against the Reaper, the latter uses his Finger Firearms to shoot directly at Karasuma's chest, causing blood to spill from his heart. Except as it turns out, Koro-sensei manages to slip one of his tentacles through his cell and protect Karasuma just in time, pumping tomato juice through the tentacle as a decoy for spilled blood. Karasuma then proceeds to kick the Reaper in the balls.
    Reaper: You faked me out with tomato juice?!
  • One chapter of Beastars had Legosi wake up one morning to see a bloody mess next to him, implying that he had killed and eaten Haru in his sleep. It turns out to just be tomato sauce. The shock of thinking that he had killed Haru causes his fur to turn completely white for several days.
  • In Case Closed, ketchup is used as fake blood to bluff someone watching via surveillance cameras. There is also a scene where Haibura mistakes spilled tomato juice for blood, resulting in her thinking that Professor Agasa was killed.
  • Early on in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc, ketchup is used by one of the participants to fake another's death, for the sole purpose of Trolling one of their close friends.
  • Eyeshield 21: During the match against the Hakushuu Dinosaurs, when Hiruma returns to the field after getting his broken arm taped up, his face is covered in blood ("I've returned from the threshold of hell to do battle, Damn Caveman!"). He had some fun with ketchup.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu does this with red paint in the Haunted Hospital episode. Since Chidori had just fallen through the floor and bumped her head, and the paint was splashed under her head, it was rather disturbing. Actually it was probably one of the more serious notes in that whole comedy series.
  • Played with in Karin. The protagonists clean up a pool of blood and replace it with red paint, leading a vampire hunter to believe he's fallen for this trope.
  • In an episode of Kirby: Right Back at Ya! (titled either "A Midsummer Night's Scream - Part 2" or "Scare Tactics Part 2", depending on the version), several characters get trapped in an old, creepy house that wasn't there before. One of the rooms contains an odd-looking skeleton and what turns out to be a large amount of red paint. Later on, some of this paint gets dumped on King Dedede and Escargon as a prank. Even later, Dedede uses the paint to make it look like he's gotten into some serious trouble, as part of a trap (which he himself did not come up with, and objected to at first).
  • Monster Musume: Miia, Centorea, and Papi briefly think they've killed Kimihito while under the influence of the full moon after finding him in a pool of blood. In actuality, they just knocked him over while he was getting something out of the fridge, and he landed on top of a ketchup bottle.
  • Played even further in My Hero Academia, when Midoriya shows up at Gran Torino's apartment for his internship, he discovers the latter face down on his kitchen floor in a pool of blood and his intestine hanging out. It was actually a plate of ketchup and sausages. Gran Torino claimed he had made himself lunch and accidentally fell down, but considering that he's The Gadfly, it's likely he did it just to freak Midoriya out.
  • One of Usopp's moves in One Piece is the "Ketchup Star" which he uses (on himself) to make the enemy think he's been fatally injured.
  • In Persona 4: The Golden Animation, Naoto is driven paranoid by Yu simply asking her out on a Christmas date, which from a chain of her detective's intuition's outlandish assumptions and a kung-fu movie Chie was watching in the background of a phone call leads her to think every single one of her friends is going to kill each other. While preparing food at the Dojima household, Yu tries to juggle between all of his female friends to help prepare dinner, but things go wrong when Chie and Ai start a catfight with tomatoes and a cooking pot of them gets knocked over. Naoto then shows up in SWAT gear, only to find what looks like a grisly murder scene with everyone involved dazed covered in smashed tomatoes and Yu returning with a kitchen knife.
  • In a flashback episode of Shakugan no Shana, Shana sets a trap for the animated training skeleton Shiro that involves a giant, hidden hole in the ground full of ketchup. Shiro sees red and... doesn't take things so well...
  • In Trigun, bottles of tomato juice were used to fake injuries on several occasions, usually to play dead, but sometimes even to attract women.
  • Inverted in Umineko: When They Cry when Rosa mistakes a drop of her own blood for a rose petal, to show that her death was unusually quick and painless.
  • In a chapter of The Way Of The House Husband, Tatsu has a roomba running to help him clean the apartment. The roomba runs over his cat's tail, sending Ghin into a panic that causes him to knock a wine bottle off of the cabnit and hit Tatsu in the face. The guests Tatsu was cleaning for show up to find him lying on the floor covered in wine with the roomba leaving a "blood trail" behind it after trying to clean up the spill to their utter horror.

    Audio Plays 
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio The Chimes of Midnight, it opens up with Charley and the Doctor in the dark, when there's a crash and sudden wet feeling. It turns out to be raspberry jam, but it's a unique example because this is a) on the radio so we can't see it, and in the dark so the characters couldn't see that it was red either.

  • Bill Cosby does a comedy bit about getting his tonsils removed, and when one of the other children comes back he begins to whine "Why's there ketchup comin' out of his mouth? Please say that's ketchup 'cause we'd hate to think that you killed Johnson."

    Comic Books 
  • In The Killing Joke, there's a sort of accidental out-of-universe example. Some people have thought the ending looks like someone was killed off screen at the last moment, and speculation related to this has referred to the fact that the water on the ground at some point looks red, maybe with blood. The recoloured deluxe edition shows that it's not red (although the afterword of that edition nevertheless affirms the ambiguity).
  • Employed in the Monica's Gang story "The Icky-Sticky Plan" (as well as its Animated Adaptation, as seen here), in which Jimmy and Smudge pretend to have been bunny-bashed to death by Monica in order to scare her into vowing not to beat them up anymore. Although the smell of tomato sauce does tip resident Big Eater Maggy off, it doesn't occur to them that the boys are drenched in ketchup rather than actual blood until Smudge's mom arrives, sees what's going on, and reprimands them for wasting her ketchup on such a prank.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Used for an in-universe Retcon when Spider-Man was killed by a bomb and fought Thanos. Returned to Earth, he found that what had been blood was now the contents of a smashed jar of tomato sauce.
    • In Adam Troy-Castro's Sinister Six Trilogy, Spider-Man manages to fake his death using a plate of lasagna and a shard of the window he was blasted in through. Electro is thoroughly fooled, though that isn't saying much. A bystander also reports on the phone to being a witness to the death of Spider-Man; Either he was hiding under a counter during the set-up or was faking it for Spidey's benefit.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side:
    • Parodied in a cartoon with anthropomorphic bottles of ketchup (yes) watching a horror movie. When an on-screen bottle of ketchup gets murdered, a bottle in the audience turns to his young son and says "Don't worry, son. They're just actors, and that's not real ketchup."
    • Another strip featured a pair of sharks staring befuddled at a bottle of leaking ketchup, with one of them remarking: "What the—? Ketchup? We followed a ketchup trail for three miles?"
  • The "ketchup resembles blood in no way beyond color" bit was lampshaded in a certain FoxTrot strip where Jason accuses Paige of punching him so hard that he's coughing up blood, and "proves" it by presenting his Red Right Hand.
    Andy: Jason, that's ketchup.
    Jason: It could just be that my blood is naturally thick and zesty.
    Andy: Just how many colas did you and Marcus drink today?
  • In the Moomin, a detective randomly walks into the Moomins' house and sees a red puddle, thinking it to be blood. Moominmamma assures him that it's only jam and he walks off embarrassed.

    Fan Works 
  • In one of The AFR Universe stories, "The Top 5 Times Ryuji Sakamoto Fell into a Lake", Ren and Ryuji are working together to clean a river. Someone in the nearby crowd pulls a gun and fires it at Ren. Taking the Bullet for his friend, Ryuji falls into the river with a stain of red on his chest. Ren fears the worst, but Ryuji soon realises he'd been shot with a paintball gun rather than the real thing.
  • In All Mixed Up!, Oscarbot 18 is anagrammed into a three-piece kitchen cabinet unit by Mariana Mag. Since it's a robot with no human blood, purple goo oozes out of the cabinet doors instead to drive the seriousness of the transformation home.
  • In the Gravity Falls fanfic Angle of Impact, Stan steps outside to where Dipper and Mabel are playing paintball, gets hit by a stray red paintball, and thinks he's been shot. It later turns out that this is not the first time this has happened, and Soos threw out all the red paintballs specifically to defy this trope; hence why the only red ones available were ones that Mabel made herself.
  • In the Zootopia fan comic Never Say Goodbye, the epilogue appears to show Judy, now mayor of Zootopia, being assassinated by political radicalists who oppose her pro-equality policies. However, it turns out that they only shot her with a jam-filled bullet, leaving her embarrassed but unharmed (though her wife Shay is reduced to a Nervous Wreck by the incident).
  • Zigzagged in The Simpsons fanfiction Part of the Flander's (sic) Flock. The Simpson kids are staying with their neighbors the Flanderses and are watching Itchy and Scratchy (an extremely violent parody of Tom and Jerry). The cat on the TV is apparently bleeding out of his ears, which frightens young Rod Flanders, but his father, Ned, tells him that it is just tomato sauce and raspberries and that the cat had had a big dinner.

    Films — Animated 
  • Pictured above from Despicable Me: When Edith gets trapped in an iron maiden, a red liquid is seen flowing out the bottom. Gru opens the maiden, and it turns out one of the spikes punctured her juice box.
  • A deleted intro of The Incredibles has the Parr family attending a neighborhood picnic. While Bob Parr chops up some steaks, a person screams that Bob has chopped off his fingers. However, it only looks like he chopped off his fingers and he's actually fine. To fake the injury and not reveal his superpowers, Bob squirts some ketchup on his fingers and screams in pain.
  • In Looney Tunes: Back in Action, the characters do an homage to the shower scene from Psycho. Turns out it's done with a carrot instead of a knife, and Bugs Bunny is squirting chocolate sauce down the drain. Parental Bonus, the blood going down the drain in the original movie was chocolate sauce.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In 1994 Baker Street: Sherlock Holmes Returns, Dr. Winslow hears a muffled explosion in the kitchen and runs in to find a stunned Holmes lying on the floor covered in what appears to be blood. However, as soon as she is close enough to smell it, she realises it is tomato sauce, and discovers that Holmes had placed a can of it in the microwave oven to warm it.
  • Inverted in Bloody Birthday during a scene where one of the evil children Debbie murders her older sister she and her friends hide the body, her mother comes in and asks what the red stain is and she lies saying it's her sister's nail polish.
  • Happens in Carry On Behind when an explosion upsets a caravan, causing a bottle of tomato sauce to fall out of a cupboard and splatter its contents over Professor Roland Crump (Kenneth Williams). He thinks he's been wounded and faints.
  • Done with a combination of ketchup and actual blood in Cornered!.
  • In The Darwin Awards, Siri ditches Burrows—who is Afraid of Blood—by squirting ketchup on to her palm and pretending to cut her hand. She then holds it up to show him and he faints. She then squirts ketchup on his shirt while he is passed out and leaves.
  • Played with a little in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Jim Carrey uses a ketchup packet to "slit" his throat; the motion is so sudden and Carrey's face so grotesque (and the movie itself so weird) that the audience often jumps, thinking he's committed some act of real violence against himself. Kate Winslet walks in, however, and is not fooled (or even amused) for even a moment.
  • The Fearless Vampire Killers: While chasing Shagal, Abronsius and Alfred drive a stake into what they think is his form hiding behind a canvas, and are saturated by a gush of red liquid. However, they have actually driven their stake into a barrel and the liquid turns out to be red wine.
  • Also inverted in Ginger Snaps, when Ginger tells her dad that the large pool of blood on the kitchen floor is in fact syrup. To make it more convincing, she tastes it and offers him some.
  • Glass Onion: All the bright red blood on Helen after she is shot is actually hot sauce, which Blanc had splashed on her to make her look dead and shock everyone else into going along with the investigation.
  • Spoofed in Thanksgiving, a fictitious movie trailer appearing in Grindhouse. Two detectives are kneeling over what is obviously a decapitated human body. One of them dips his finger into the pool of blood around the neck, tastes it, and grimly concludes, "It's blood."
  • Headless Horseman: When the van crashes, Tiffany thinks she has a head wound and worries that she is going to have a scar. When Doc examines the 'wound', he discovers the 'blood' is actually red nail polish from when she was painting her toenails.
  • Inverted in Holmes & Watson. When Watson attacks Holmes' birthday cake with a halberd, it starts leaking blood. Holmes initially assumes it is raspberry sauce.
  • In Hot Fuzz, a bullet shatters a jar of pasta sauce, showering it on one of the Andies' face. The other Andy shouts in despair, thinking the aforementioned Andy has been hit and is bleeding.
    "It's alright, Andy! It's just bolognese!"
    • Also, Danny Butterman is adept at using a packet of ketchup as fake blood, so he can make it seem like he's stabbed out his own eye with a fork or even fake Nicholas Angel's death.
  • Hudson Hawk. "You can't beat Heinz 57!"
  • Double-subverted in The Legend of Billie Jean when a stranger fires a shotgun at the kids' car. Billie Jean sees blood on Putter's pants and panics, even though Putter insists she wasn't hit. It turns out the blood really is blood—somewhere in the confusion, Putter got her first period.
  • In Loaded Weapon 1 after General Motors (William Shatner) gets shot Colt and Luger follow what appears to be a trail of his blood, it turns out to be a spilled bottle of ketchup that was being pushed on a cart.
  • The Man Who Killed Don Quixote: In Toby's dream, Don Quixote stabs several bladders of wine hanging the attic, causing the red wine to leak through the floorboards on to the members of the Inquisition below, who think it is blood.
  • In Memphis Belle, the bomber takes a near-hit from a flak shell, resulting in several crewman being covered in red liquid. They immediately begin checking each other to see who was hit, until they realize that the shrapnel hit a flask of tomato soup.
  • An accidental version in Midnight (1939). Eve thinks Tibor is bleeding from his head wound inflicted by the Frying Pan of Doom but as somebody points out, the blood was just gravy from the kidneys.
  • In the third installment of The Mighty Ducks trilogy, Hans uses ketchup to act like he's just cut himself on his skate sharpener. Charlie isn't fooled for a moment, possibly because Hans has pulled this stunt before.
  • The Monster Club: Pickering drives a wooden stake through Mr. Busotsky's chest; causing a red stain to blossom on his White Shirt of Death. However, he later sits up and explains that he always wears a 'stake-proof vest' filled with tomato ketchup.
  • In Operation Petticoat a Japanese plane strafes the Sea Tiger. The Prophet has gone on deck to retrieve his guitar (which is destroyed in the strafing run). He sees red goo on him and yells, "I'm hit." Then he puts his finger in his mouth and realizes it's cranberry sauce.
  • Happens with a red slushee on a windshield in Pineapple Express. Looks convincing enough that it had to be turned black in the trailers due to the MPAA's no-blood policy for greenband trailers.
  • In Sam Raimi's The Quick and the Dead, Sharon Stone's character fakes her own death with red ink. When she comes back to kill John Herod, we see the little blind kid smiling and pouring red ink on the ground.
  • Used by The Three Stooges in the short "An Ache in Every Stake" when an angry chef throws a knife at Curly and pins his bowler hat to the cupboard, at which point a ketchup bottle on the shelf promptly leaks on him.
    Curly: I wonder what blood tastes like. It tastes like...ketchup!
    Moe: It is ketchup, ya numskull!
  • Inverted in Tropic Thunder. Tugg Speedman picks up the severed head of Damien Cockburn, believing his very real death to have been staged, and the head to be a prop made out of latex and corn syrup (which he attempts to prove with a taste test).

  • Invoked by Agent Z in a (rather mean-spirited) prank when they threw a dummy off the school roof and convinced a teacher that one of their number had just died.
  • Played with in the book Big Bad Bun. Fluff the rabbit, aka Big Bad Bun, writes a letter to his parents and claims that somewhere along the line, a gang of weasels bombarded his biker gang with jam buns. He illustrates it, with a number of red spots surrounding him, writing, "Don't worry, the red spots on this page are just jam... I hope." Later, it's revealed that he made the whole event up, so whether it was meant to be blood or jam is no longer important.
  • Inverted in Dexter is Delicious: There's an obvious wall full of red stuff quite similar to blood, and Deborah wants it to be paint or animal blood in order for the feds not to take her case; for all her trouble, it seems to be human blood (although not her victim's blood type). She still argues that, if it's so much human blood, she has a murder on her hands, and so it's her case.Literature
  • In the Discworld novel Maskerade, as shown by the page quote, a spill of turpentine is mistaken for blood.
  • The message from the Heir of Slytherin in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is implied to be written in rooster's blood, but it's much later revealed to be just red paint. In the movies, though, Hermione outright says it's blood.
    • Where did the book say anything about paint?
  • Jo Walton's Small Change: In Farthing, a murdered man is found stabbed with a pool of red liquid on his chest, but the police quickly determine that the victim was gassed to death and the liquid is actually lipstick.
  • In The Night Mayor, Tom Tunney is in an all-night diner when somebody starts shooting the place up with a machine gun. He dives for cover, and something falls on his head and knocks him unconscious. When he wakes up, he's lying in a pool of something dark and sticky, which he's relieved to discover is just ketchup.
  • The Star Kingdom: Stephanie Harrington falls victim to this trope while taking a Forensic Investigation class in Treecat Wars. As it turns out, the point of the lesson was the importance of not jumping to conclusions. It's implied that, fake blood aside, there was an Orgy of Evidence to suggest it would be blood.
  • Happens with red paint in a Sven Hassel novel, which has been left on board a captured Soviet tank. As the protagonists are Trapped Behind Enemy Lines, they're not reassured. "No-one's this red, not even in Russia!"
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's To Sail Beyond the Sunset, Maureen Johnson wakes up in a bed with a dead man with no memory of how she got there. After two doctors arrive, one of them puts his finger into the "blood" and licks it. She's a bit upset until the two doctors start discussing what brand of ketchup it must be.
  • In War Game by Anthony Price, a Civil War re-enactment is interrupted when somebody finds a genuine corpse lying in a pool of red. It turns out his neck was broken; the red is from a dye pack he was wearing for his big death scene in the re-enactment, which broke while his killer was hiding the body.
  • The first bomb of The Westing Game goes off in a kitchen, and a woman runs out covered in red liquid. A few people freak out, but they realize that it's only tomato sauce. The bomb was small, and only caused a shelf of cans to explode.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Arrested Development had Gob, at the behest of his father, planning to use dyed corn syrup as fake blood to fake a narcoleptic stripper's death. Things didn't go so well when Buster drank all of the fake blood, mistaking it for juice.
  • In The Big Bang Theory episode "The Good Guy Fluctuation," Sheldon is working late at the university when the hallway walls appear to start bleeding. He quickly realizes that his friends are playing a Halloween prank on him.
    Sheldon: Oh, the walls are dripping blood, which looks nothing like a phenolphthalein indicator exposed to a sodium carbonate solution! note 
  • Inverted in Community episode "Modern Warfare": Jeff notices a red patch on his shirt while playing paintball, and thinks he was shot, only to realize to his relief that "it was just blood".
  • Corner Gas has Emma call up Brent and speak in a hushed whisper, standing over a large red puddle. Turns out she spilt a can of tomato juice and didn't want Oscar to find out.
  • Used at least once on CSI when a suspicious red stain on a suspect's clothes turns out to be red sauce. Which, in itself, turns out to be an important clue.
  • Death in Paradise: Deliberately invoked in "Death in the Salon" when the murderer covers their hands with red hair dye to convince witnesses that the Victim of the Week has already been stabbed before the murder actually occurs.
  • Played with in the pilot of Desperate Housewives: After Mary Alice Young shoots herself, we cut to a scene where her neighbour Martha Huber seems to be examining her blood with her fingertip. It is then revealed that Martha just spilled juice when she was startled by the gunshot sound.
  • In the opening credits of Dexter, ketchup squirting across Dexter's breakfast plate is for a split second meant to make the viewer believe it's blood, at least for the first time watching, thanks to the show's gory subject matter.
  • In Doc Martin, it gets out that Martin left his surgery because he developed haemophobia, and he gets a call that Bert Large has cut himself badly on some glass at the bar. When Martin gets there, he starts having his nauseous reaction until he gets closer and realizes it's ketchup. He leaves in a rage. When the local radio asks villagers for their opinion on having a doctor who can't stand blood, Martin calls in and lets them have it for playing an infantile prank that wasted his time and could have interfered with actual emergency cases.
  • In the pilot of Eureka, while looking for a "lost" kid, Carter and Allison are searching the crime scene and find a hand print. Carter tastes it and declares "Chocolate". He then identifies what brand, and finds the missing kid.
  • The Expanse: The youngest member of a Boarding Party gets shot in the helmet in classic Red Shirt style, but when Miller takes his helmet off, he's still alive as they're using non-lethal rounds of red gel.
  • Frasier
    • In the episode "Daphne Does Dinner", after Niles unwittingly insults Frasier's Special Sauce recipe, Frasier throws the whole pan in his face, causing him to stumble backwards through the kitchen doors into the living room, where a couple dozen guests are being entertained, looking as though someone took a meat cleaver to his jugular:
      Guests: Aaaaaahhhh!!
      Daphne: No no no! It's alright! Look! [licks sauce off Niles' ear] Mmmmm! Tasty!
      Guests: Eeeeewwwwwwwwww!!!
    • In another episode, Daphne is looking through a telescope at the surrounding buildings and describing what she sees including a man she thinks is mopping up a pool of blood. Martin takes a look and tells her it's just tomato soup that the man knocked over, there's a can on the counter behind him.
  • Ghost Whisperer:
    • In one episode Jim is taking a shower and the water suddenly turns red. It looks like one of the paranormal manifestations typical to this show. Then Jim apologizes to Melinda for knocking rust into the pipes during a plumbing repair.
    • In "Bad Blood", a teenage girl gets hysterical when blood seemingly starts dripping down on her through the ceiling. It turns out that a ghost upstairs upset a can of red paint to scare her.
  • In the Law & Order episode "Extended Family," the detectives think they've found a shirt stained with dried blood in a suspect's apartment. It turns out he has a job making fine chocolate and they've merely found his unwashed work shirt.
  • Used in the second season premier of Leverage to fake death by gunshot. You'd think mobsters would be able to recognize the real thing...
  • Also seen in an episode of Lois & Clark, where Clark uses ketchup as a trick to prove he isn't Superman.
  • Lost:
    • In an episode , Desmond wakes up in a flashback covered in red paint after being in an implosion.
    • Played for Drama in a different episode when Hurley is accused of murder due to police seeing burger ketchup on him.
  • MacGyver (1985): In "For Love or Money", Mac uses the condiments from a picnic basket (carefully mixing them to give the consistency of blood) to fake a bloody head wound so he can gain access to a hospital.
  • In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, Ida pushes Dewey out of the way of a moving vehicle. Just as it's about to hit her, we abruptly cut to an image of red chili splattering a plate.
  • In the first episode of Mr. Young the titular character gets a jelly donut thrown at his shirt, causing the trope. After realizing that it's jelly everyone comments on how blood would be easier to clean.
  • Monk: In one episode, Monk and Sharona are investigating a suspect's house and Sharona thinks she sees blood on the floor. It's just ketchup, but it also turns out to be an important clue to the mystery.
  • In the pilot episode of The Mysteries of Laura, the title character (a police detective) is shown in a room where something red has been splashed all over the walls. She says that this is "a depraved and unspeakable act" and that the perpetrator will be "inside for a long time." It turns out that her two young sons were throwing paint around at preschool, covering both the walls and themselves.
  • Psych:
    • An episode has a man believing he is haunted. There's a message written for him on the wall written in "blood". Shawn notices it's not blood, he identifies it as ketchup, and to prove it he eats some.
      Gus: Enjoy AIDS...
    • Another example is from "Tuesday the 17th", when Gus reaches into a dryer and pulls out bloody clothes. He then wipes it on his pants, which turns out to be a big clue for Shawn that it's just red food dye, since he knows Gus faints at the sight of real blood.
  • In Roswell and Roswell, New Mexico, which were separately adapted from the same source material, there's the same inversion: one of the main characters gets shot, another heals her... and then he breaks a bottle of ketchup and pours it over her to hide the real blood.
  • Played straight, then subverted in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Projections". The Emergency Medical Hologram is sent to the messhall where Neelix is Produce Pelting a Kazon soldier. After he's immobilized with a Frying Pan of Doom, Neelix is alarmed to see he's bleeding, which of course turns out to be tomato sauce. Neelix then points out that the EMH is bleeding. The Doctor is saying that he's not alarmed by some tomato sauce when he realises it actually is blood, which is impossible as he's only a hologram. Things just keep getting weirder from then on.
  • Star Trek: Picard. Jurati vomits after eating some red velvet cake, causing an alarmed Rios to assume that it's blood before Raffi corrects him.
  • Supernatural. In "Hunteri Heroici", an explosion apparently causes mass death in a nursing home with the standard blood-splatter Gory Discretion Shot. The next scene shows that everyone was just harmlessly splattered by red cake mixture.
  • In one episode of Teachers (2016), Ms. Snap is filming her audition for The Bachelor. Part of it involves slamming Ms. Bennigan's head against the whiteboard and using catsup to leave a streak of "blood." The kid manning the camera freaks out when she sees it.
  • In one episode of The Story of Tracy Beaker, Elaine goes to check up on Tracy and Cam, and Cam (who had been busy preparing lunch) answers the door holding a knife covered in something red. Elaine is initially concerned, and even has an Imagine Spot of Cam chasing Tracy with the knife, until Cam bluntly points out that it's just tomato sauce.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder does this in the episode "Revelations". The look on Scully's face before he explains that it's fake blood is priceless.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
  • In Cytus II, the JOEZ bar is bombed to the ground during the second Node 8 drone attack. A cutscene shows JOE, seemingly dead and bloodied; however, it later turns out that the blood was actually just Yamameto, a tomato-flavored beer, and that JOE is still alive: the red liquid covering his unconscious body made him look like another corpse amidst the carnage, causing the drones to ignore him.
  • In Deltarune, Noelle mentions that, when they were younger, Kris once pranked her by splattering ketchup on themself and claiming it was blood.
  • Parodied in Thy Dungeonman 3, where you can find "fake ketchup" that's heavily implied to be blood; if you eat it, you die.
  • Jetpack Joyride has "Bleeding Heart", a halloween-themed jetpack, that resembles an oversized human heart and sprays what seems like a dark-red blood when used. According to it's description, it was made out of cornstrach and red dye.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, when you're captured and imprisoned by the bad guys, one way to make good your escape is to use a ketchup bottle to fake your death, causing the idiotic guard to run into your cell to investigate...
    • Another Metal Gear Solid example: The last Mystery mission in VR Missions has you going into a locked room where there's an apparently dead soldier on the ground. There's "clues" all over the place to look at but no suspects. The real goal of the mission is to not give up in frustration at being unable to solve the problem, because just before the time limit runs out, the guy gets up and the camera zooms in on a broken ketchup bottle on which he'd fallen asleep.
  • Ketchup is indistinguishable (at least technically) from blood in Mitadake High.
  • Sam and Max Save the World: In "The Mole, the Mob, and the Meatball", Sam and Max have to put out a hit on Sybil, who's become a "professional witness", in order to join the Toy Mafia. They invoke this to help fake her death: Sam gives Sybil a cup of coffee filled with ketchup, and shoots the cup when she goes to take a sip. The high-strung Sybil passes out from the shock of hearing gunfire, and the ketchup makes a convincing blood splatter. Max helpfully interrupts the web-cam feed the Toy Mafia was using to spy on Sybil before she wakes up.
  • Undertale: Sans, the Genocide Run's final boss, is the only monster who seemingly bleeds when you kill him, despite it being established that monsters are made of magic and turn to dust when they die. It's popularly theorized that was actually ketchup (even if the injuries were real), given we've seen him drinking a whole bottle of the stuff earlier.
  • Mario Party 2: In the Horror Land board, the natural path of the map has a car accident/sentient car monster on the far-left side. Traveling up the path reveals a red smear traveling up through the graveyard, with wolves licking at it at night. At the end of the path, just in time for you to veer away from it, you can see it was just a giant crumpled ketchup bottle that spilled open.

    Web Animation 
  • Ayasaki-san: Miyu thinks that Chiaki's left hand was bleeding because he was trying to save her when she was falling from the stairs. The red liquid turns out to be the strawberry jam from the sandwich he was trying to eat earlier before Miyu falls on him.
  • Inverted or... something in one Halloween episode of Weebl & Bob, where a talking jam is horrified because the substance is jam rather than blood.

  • A Dragon Tails strip had Bluey trying to re-purpose a machine that's just a series of giant blades into an automatic hat remover. He demonstrates it on a watermelon. The final panel has Bluey covered in red, commenting "Oh come on, you know this isn't as bad as it looks."
  • An Exploited Trope once in the Eagle Ordinary. Commissar Holt is undergoing an interrogation, with plenty of red stuff smeared over an apron he's wearing. He leaves for a short conversation with someone else, telling his subject he'll be back after dealing with the subject's comrades. It's actually strawberry jam (he takes a bit off his apron to put on a cracker), and he returns to his subject after dipping his torture tools in more jam.
  • Happens in a guest artist story on Sluggy Freelance, where Zoe thinks Riff and Torg are dead, but really they went a little crazy eating tacos and got hot sauce all over themselves.
  • In Were Geek, Joel does this when he finds 'blood' on the ground. Apparently it's peppermint.
  • Once in The Whiteboard, after a flood of replicated beer throws everyone out of Howie's bar, Jinx is shown under a car with red stains all over, Sandy freaks out, and in the next strip he sits up perfectly fine, and Howie identifies the stains as his hot-wing sauce.

    Web Original 
  • Subverted in Thy Dungeonman 3. The "ketchup" in the sandwich shop is, in fact, fake fake blood. You die unpleasantly when attempting to consume it.

    Web Videos 
  • Crapshots does this with what turns out to be jelly (of an unspecified but red flavor) in episode 16.

    Western Animation 
  • Finn and Jake also try to invoke this (again, with ketchup) in the Adventure Time episode "Conquest of Cuteness" when the Cute King won't leave them alone until he thinks he's killed them.
    Finn: Oh no! My bloooooooood~!
  • Amphibia: In one episode, Anne and the Plantars stumble upon a wax oddities museum (run by a frog version of Stan Pines) that turns out contain actual creatures encased in wax, and the proprietor wants to do the same to Anne since humans are the biggest freaks of all in Amphibia. In the end, the protagonists escape, the attractions are freed, and Stan Ponds is trapped inside with them as red liquid oozes out underneath the doors. He assures us from offscreen that it's just wax.
  • Bugs Bunny loves this. He's done it to Elmer Fudd loads of times, and has done it Yosemite Sam at least once.
  • Classic Disney Shorts:
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: "Op. S.A.F.E.T.Y." ends when a safety robot thinks it had accidentally hurt Numbuh 4's little brother Joey, causing it to short circuit, self-destruct, and the ship they were on to crash. Turns out Joey faked the injury with ketchup. After discovering this, Numbuh believes one of his own injuries is just ketchup. Numbuh 2 says that really is blood, and 4 passes out at the realization (though Numbuh 2 then says he's not sure).
  • Gandy Goose is sheriff of western town and battles a hulking outlaw. He breaks a bottle of ketchup over the outlaw's head which the outlaw mistakes as blood. When he sees the broken bottle and finds he's not dead, he quite demurely asks "Why did you put ketchup on my head?"
  • In the first episode of Gravity Falls, Mabel's rather suspicious new boyfriend "Norman" has a small smear of something red on his face, which Dipper guesses to be blood but "Norman" insists is actually jam. Although it's never clarified on the show itself, the "Between the Pines" special specifies that it was indeed jam.
  • Happy Tree Friends: "Flippin' Burgers". The immediate results are messy, and most definitely not just ketchup.
  • In the HouseBroken episode "Who's Trippin?" Diablo and Chico are horrified to see The Grey One passed out covered in what looks like blood. It turns out to be pasta sauce.
  • The Legend of Korra: Prince Wu thinks he's been wounded after getting hit with a pie by a protestor, then after his exasperated bodyguard Mako points out it was a strawberry pie he calms down a bit, then freaks out again because of his allergies.
    Mako: "You're allergic to bees, not strawberries.
    Prince Wu: "Oh right, I get those confused."
  • The Loud House: In the Thanksgiving Episode The Loudest Thanksgiving, there is a brief flashback in which Ronnie Anne and Bobby think their mother is covered in blood, but it’s actually cranberry sauce from the thanksgiving dinner.
  • An episode of The Magic School Bus "Going Batty" has Ms. Frizzle, in a vampire phase, present the kids' parents with glasses of "blood". Keesha pointed out that it was obviously really tomato juice, but no-one listened to her.
  • Mao Mao: Heroes of Pure Heart: "Popularity Conquest" has a moment when the title character's face gets splattered with a red substance when Muffins is seen feeding a monster. She was feeding it a cherry pie, for the record.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Owl's Well That Ends Well", Spike tears apart a toy mouse, covers it in ketchup and spreads feathers around the room. This is done because he is jealous of the titular owl and wants it to be punished for bringing a dead animal into Twilight's library. Twilight herself isn't fooled, having walked in while he is still throwing feathers around.
  • In The Penguins of Madagascar episode "Good Night and Good Chuck", Kowalski gets a beating from Chuck Charles and after a cutaway, the entire room is covered in red, until it's revealed that it was just ketchup that Kowalski was holding during that time.
  • Phineas and Ferb, of all shows, pulled this one off in "Hip Hip Parade". At the end of the episode, Phineas, Ferb, and Isabella are splashed with jelly from jelly donuts.
  • Rocket Power:
    • Parodied in the episode where the gang thinks Tito murdered Raymundo:
      Twister: Oh, man! There's blood all over that broken ketchup bottle!
    • Also in the episode where the gang camps out in the woods and Lars and his friends try to scare them by dressing up like zombies, complete with smeared red jello for fake blood. At one point, while running from the "zombies", the Squid accidentally steps in the bucket of jello they used to make their costumes and screams "IT'S A BUCKET OF BLOOD!"
  • Subverted in Episode 11 of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. Fred returns from visiting a Blood Bank with a huge red stain on his mouth and shirt. Shaggy and Scooby nervously ask him if it's blood, and he replies no, it's juice. The subversion comes in when he goes on to mention they have bags of the stuff hanging all over the place.
    • In the first ever episode of the original series "What a Night For a Knight" the gang think the knight murdered the scientist because they see what appears to be blood on the carpet. It turns out to be red paint.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons Marge tries to get Homer out of bed. In the process, she folds the mattress in half with Homer still in it. A red liquid leaks from the mattress and Marge screams. It turns out it was a juice box Homer had.
    • After Marge sells a house to the Flanders family, she steps inside to find the entire family lying on the floor, covered in what is assumed to be blood. It turns out that they were just taking a nap after spending all day painting one of the rooms red.
  • Parodied on South Park, where "vampires" (kids which are pretending to be vampires because of The Twilight Saga) use "Clamato" (clam-flavored tomato juice) for their initiation ceremony. Butters believes it is blood and that he has really become a vampire. Believing he is unable to eat real food, he "suddenly" becomes insatiably hungry...
  • Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo: Robin accidentally beats Saico-Tek to death in their second battle — leaving his hands drenched in the being's neon blood — and is immediately arrested for manslaughter. At first, he's horrified… and then he slowly realizes that the "blood" still on his gloves is actually ink. From there he pieces together that Brushogun's henchmen are actually all mindless ink homunculi created with his Mook Maker powers, and that Saico-Tek deliberately got itself killed to frame Robin.
  • In the TexAvery cartoon "The Cat Who Hated People", one of the cat's flashbacks features the cat being adopted by a family with a huge bulldog. Once the owner leaves, the bulldog beats the living hell of the cat until the owner hears the noise, and the dog dumps some ketchup on himself and an axe to make it look like the cat killed him.
  • In the Tom and Jerry episode "The Year Of The Mouse" (which is infamous for being unexpectedly dark and actually not amusing in the slightest, albeit in a different manner than "Blue Cat Blues"), Jerry and an unnamed friend of his terrorize Tom by making him think he's trying to kill himself in his sleep. One of the gags has them making Tom think he's stabbed himself by dripping ketchup onto both a steak knife and Tom's chest. Fortunately, Tom successfully deduces what is really going on, and traps Jerry and his friend in a bottle rigged to shoot them if they try to escape.
    • Another short uses red ink.
  • Happens in season 1 episode 13 of Wakfu, which parodies several horror tropes. Sadlygrove is found amongst several red stains all over the walls and floor, and the heroes think he's wounded or dead... except that he comments later, "It's a bad idea to eat red berries while seasick."
  • A few Warner Brothers cartoons, such as "The Heckling Hare" and "The Wise Quacking Duck", all demonstrate this trope.
  • In We Bare Bears, when Ice Bear gets red fruit punch on his face and paws while drinking some of said punch from a bowl, he then scares some children from appearing all bloody.

    Real Life 
  • This actually happened to Australian Idol winner Casey Donnovan. She, her brother and stepsister were involved in a car crash on the way home from the local takeaway.
  • Also to Yoshiki Hayashi. He was doing a photoshoot that involved lots and lots of fake prop blood (as a vampire taking a Blood Bath among other things), and when he stepped outside to walk to his trailer, he had no idea that a minor car accident had happened nearby. An LAPD officer investigating the accident saw him and freaked out assuming him to have been in the car accident, questioning him if he was really all right and if he needed an ambulance.
  • Part of the evidence in the 1982 Australian trial of Lindy and Michael Chamberlain for the murder of their baby Azaria was that blood had been found in her car. It was later determined to be a sound-deadening compound from a manufacturing overspray. These and other prosecution errors lead to their conviction being (eventually) overturned.
  • Shirley Jackson and a guest were enjoying coffee in her kitchen when a red substance began dripping from a cabinet. Both continued drinking their coffee while desperately trying not to scream until they persuaded Jackson's husband to open the door, where he found an overturned bottle of red wine. Years later the guest stated that only in the home of the author of one of the greatest haunted house novels of all time would one immediately assume that any puddle of red liquid must be blood.
  • People used to believe that the bearded vulture's reddish-orange breast came from bathing in the blood of its prey. In reality, the vulture just bathes in iron-rich water that leaves a rusty stain when it dries. Also, it's not a predator; it's a scavenger that feeds on bone.


Chip the Murderer

One too many coincidences causes Dale to think that Chip is going on a murder spree.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / MistakenForMurderer

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