Follow TV Tropes


Atrocity Montage

Go To

"Have you ever seen hundreds of frightened people, waiting in line to be killed in a camp? Have you seen horsemen raid and destroy a village, dancing on the bodies of their victims while singing happy songs? Have you ever seen a gigantic bomb wipe away millions who have never even picked up a weapon?! A civil war, where a mom is hacked down in front of her child, or a child in front of his mom. And the soldier... breaking up a family who loves each other, leading them into a fire... and his eyes enjoying the torture."
Kiyoshi Mitarai (describing the contents of Chapter Black), YuYu Hakusho

A sequence depicting horrors including but not limited to atrocities, crimes, disasters, accidents, mass hysteria, and other scenes of human suffering. This may be accompanied by harsh sounds such as screaming, moaning, and crying — indicating the agony experienced by the characters in question.

A character responsible for one of these has almost certainly crossed the Moral Event Horizon, especially if they barely remember the events and consider them inconsequential.

This type of sequence is infamously found in Mondo films, especially ones focusing on gruesome and morbid subject matter such as Faces of Death, Savage Man, Savage Beast and Goodbye Uncle Tom, although serious, non-exploitative examples do exist such as Schindler's List and The Killing Fields. The Purge is more than likely to be depicted like this.

Related to Apocalyptic Montage, if it depicts the suffering of people. Also compare Desolation Shot and Scenery Gorn. Heavy spoilers ahead.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Fantastic Four: The issue "Flashpoint" has Doctor Doom allied with the Atlantians and some other supervillains, housed in his flying warship that hovers over Manhattan Island. Three battle scenarios are played out: the first by the Defense Department, the second by S.H.I.E.L.D., and the third by Doom's forces. All three are computer simulations, and all three come to the same conclusion: a battle between Doom's forces against Earth's heroes results in the Latverian standard flying Atop a Mountain of Corpses composed mostly of slain heroes.
  • The Punisher: Born has some pages detailing the things that made most people from America and the rest of the world demand the end of The Vietnam War, from bombing defenseless civilians and slaughtering prisoners to spreading chemical agents over the jungle and the Vietnamese people. The narrator also states that those actions will not help to win the war but will stain the reputation of the United States and their soldiers forever.

    Films — Animation 
  • The Prince of Egypt: "The Plagues" is a song that depicts the Ten Plagues of Egypt cast by Moses after failing to sway Rameses to free the Hebrews from slavery by turning the waters of the Nile River into blood. This is followed by the death of the Egyptian firstborn at midnight by the Angel of Death, which leads to Rameses letting Moses and his people go because of the death of Rameses' firstborn son.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Africa Addio is a Mondo documentary film about the chaos and strife in Africa following the departure of European colonial powers and the subsequent decolonization of Africa. Graphic footage of historical events include the massacres of Arabs and South Asians in aftermath of the Zanzibar Revolution, mass slaughter of endangered animals in game reserves, and the only combat footage of 5 Commando mercenaries deployed during the Congo Crisis.
  • Alien: Covenant: David 8 commits a genocide upon a settlement of Engineers on Planet 4 by carpet-bombing the city with the black mutagen, resulting in the extinction of the Engineers and all non-botanical life on the planet by petrification.
  • Black Widow (2021): The movie's Title Sequence is intercut with images showing the abduction, training and various non-consensual medical procedures performed on the titular assassins, with a somewhat sinister cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit playing during it.
  • Come and See is a very dark World War 2 drama set during the German occupation of Belarus. The main protagonist Flyora, a young soldier, encounters the horrors of war that shatter his innocence into a Shell-Shocked Veteran such as the massacre of the Belarusian village by the Einsatzgruppen. These are punctuated by the unsettling, hallucinatory cinematography and the fact these atrocities happened in actual history.
  • Death Mills includes footage of the newly liberated Nazi camps over a score of stark classical music, such as piles of bodies, crematoria, and loot taken from inmates such as clothes and gold teeth. This movie was a much-abbreviated version of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey, a 1945 British government documentary.
  • De Nuremberg Nuremberg contains sequences depicting Axis atrocities such as massacres of cities or camps sourced from World War 2-era newsreels and footage. Similarly, Night and Fog shows desolate scenes of Nazi concentration camps Auschwitz and Majdanek while narrating about the lives of inmates held in these camps.
  • The famous baptism scene from The Godfather, where there's a montage of Michael Corleone having all of his enemies murdered by his hitmen while he's in a church, claiming to reject Satan and all his works in order to become his nephew's godfather.
  • Goodbye Uncle Tom is a particularly controversial example as the film depicts cruelties of slavery in the United States in sequences, to the point Roger Ebert accused the film of being an Exploitation Film by breaking the supposed message through reveling its scenes of cruelty.
  • Hellboy: After Nimue kills Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy decides to pull out Excalibur at Saint Paul's Cathedral and transforms him into the Destroyer of All Things. In the process, it allows demons to emerge from Hell and graphically slaughter the populace of London in a bloody fashion.
  • Inglourious Basterds: After Perrier LaPadite attempts to misdirect SS Colonel Hans Landa on the whereabouts of the Dreyfuses, Hans Landa forces LaPadite to reveal the location of the Dreyfuses in exchange for the Nazis not murdering LaPadite's family. Hans Landa then orders his soldiers to massacre the hiding Dreyfuses in the cellar, except for Shoshanna, who flees through the cellar window.
  • Ken Russell's The Lair of the White Worm has a montage sequence of Roman soldiers raping and killing Druid women. In the background, the white Worm laughs in joy, partly reveling in the cruelty and partly aware that the only people who can stop her are being slaughtered by the Romans.
  • The Killing Fields: The film depicts the tyrannical regime of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia such as the titular killing fields filled with bones and decaying corpses, extrajudicial murders in Phenom Penh, and the indoctrination of children to become executioners for the regime. And the fact it actually happened as the film is based on the New York Times Magazine article "The Life and Death of Dith Pran" by US journalist Sydney Schanberg coupled with accounts of the Cambodian genocide.
  • The climax of Man of Steel involves Superman and General Zod fighting each other in a destructive battle after the World Engine in Metropolis is destroyed, leading to a sequence of citizens trying to flee from the destruction caused by the battle.
  • Men Behind the Sun is a Hong Kong Exploitation Film depicting the cruel, unethical experiments and the wartime atrocities of Unit 731, a covert research and development unit established by the Imperial Japanese Army for biological and chemical warfare. The film is comprised of disturbing scenes such as human experimentation and torture of the prisoners.
  • Nazi Concentration Camps was shown during the Nuremberg Trials on November 29, 1945. It depicted scenes from liberated Nazi concentration camps, including emaciated cadavers and the abysmal conditions within the camps.
  • Revenge of the Sith: "Execute Order 66." The transition from Act II to Act III consists of a chain of scenes of clone troopers turning on and gunning down their Jedi commanders all across the galaxy and Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader storming the Jedi Temple with the 501st Legion, intercut with shots of Yoda clutching at his chest as he feels thousands of Jedi dying all at once. Yoda himself escapes through some Assassin Outclassin', but this is then followed by Vader entering the Jedi Council chamber where a group of Jedi younglings have taken shelter and igniting his lightsaber just before the camera mercifully cuts away.
  • Schindler's List: The film depicts the horrors of The Holocaust such as the Liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto, scenes set in the Auschwitz concentration camp, and scenes involving Amon Goeth, all of which are shown in Deliberately Monochrome and in full detail. However, the dark scenes are used to contrast Oskar Schindler's efforts to save the Jewish populace of Krakow-Plaszow by employing them in his factory, so the light is rendered meaningful.
  • Soldier Blue gruesomely depicts the Sand Creek Massacre with frenzied U.S. Cavalrymen brutally murdering Cheyenne civilians through shooting, dismemberment, and decapitation. These scenes are used to emphasize the themes of warfare and genocide. It's worth noting the scenes are evocative of the My Lai massacre, which was recent memory in the 1970s.
  • Stalingrad (1993): At the very beginning of the movie, a Russian POW (Prisoner-of-war) is beaten to death by German soldier for no reason, and it only gets worse from there. Other examples include executing Russian civilians falsely accused of sabotage via firing squad (the real reason being that there's just too many mouths to feed), burning villages surrounding Stalingrad and either rounding up their inhabitants or driving them into snowy plains to die of cold and starvation or tying a captured Russian woman to a bed to be used as a comfort woman.

  • Ciaphas Cain: In Death or Glory, Cain and Jurgen arrive in a small town on Perlia in the aftermath of an ork WAAGH! coming through. Cain imagines horrifying scenes of the orks rampaging through the town slaughtering civilians in the street purely for their own amusement. It's a grim reminder that while, out-of-universe, orks run on Black Comedy as the setting's main source of comic relief, In-Universe, there's little to laugh at when you're on the receiving end.
  • Discworld: Downplayed in Hogfather. Lord Downey recounts Mr. Teatime's assassination of Sir George, which he finds horrifying despite being the head of the Assassin's Guild, as it involved Teatime nailing his target's dog to a ceiling to stop it from barking, then murdering the help so they wouldn't barge in, before gruesomely killing Sir George and decapitating him.
  • I, Jedi shows us in First-Person Perspective what a "disturbance in the Force" from an inhabited planet being destroyed by a superweapon feels like. In three long paragraphs, Corran Horn experiences the shock of a close friend's death, a newborn burning alive, a mother instinctively trying to shield her child, criminals' last triumphs ending in them being "reduced to puling animals as their world evaporated", and in general the horror and terror of millions of people being incinerated, and he experiences all of them simultaneously in mere seconds.
    "Anyone who could label what I felt a 'disturbance' could think of Hutts as cuddly."
  • Wulfrik features an Imperial town being sacked by Norscans, including such scenes as murdering civilians and killing babies. The women are not spared either, one rich woman begging to trade her life for her jewelry getting beheaded instead.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Book of Boba Fett: In "Return of the Mandalorian", the Armorer recounts to Din Djarin "the Night of a Thousand Tears" — the Imperial genocide of the Mandalorians that followed the end of Star Wars Rebels. This is depicted in a series of flashbacks of TIE Bombers carpet-bombing the cities of the planet Mandalore as it darkens the skies followed by Viper probe droids to sift for survivors in the ruins and KX-series security droids to hunt and execute them.
  • Breaking Bad: In the season 5 episode "Gliding Over All", Walt ties up loose ends in three New Mexico prisons after Mike Ehrmantaut's death by ordering Jack and the Aryan Brotherhood to stab nine of Gus' remaining henchmen, followed by Dennis Markowski being immolated alive in his cell, all within less than two minutes, accompanied by an unsettling rendition of Nat King Cole's "Pick Yourself Up".
  • Game of Thrones: In Season 2, the City Watch goes on a killing spree against all of the late King Robert's illegitimate children in King's Landing on the orders of the new king Joffrey as a result of rumors that he was fathered by Jaime Lannister rather than Robert. This happened in A Clash of Kings, albeit off-page whereas the series graphically depicts the murders onscreen.

    Video Games 
  • In BioShock Infinite, Booker DeWitt sees a disturbing vision of a Bad Future where the flying city of Columbia destroys New York City in 1984 after Comstock finally makes Elizabeth into his successor through torture and conditioning at Comstock House.
  • Dawn of War II: Retribution: The Blood Ravens execute Exterminatus against Typhon Primaris in a cutscene partway through the campaign, first burning it with Orbital Bombardment then firing cyclonic torpedoes to shatter its crust. This is partly seen from the perspective of an unnamed person on the surface who sees their chapter fleet entering orbit.
  • The infamous "No Russian" level of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 involves a massacre at a Russian airport committed by Vladimir Makarov and his men, with the player playing as the undercover CIA operative Joseph Allen. The player can either participate by shooting unarmed civilians or refusing to shoot but always confronted by the dying screams and blood trails of the victims. At the end of the level, Makarov kills Joseph Allen, knowing he is a CIA agent, to ensure a pretext for Russia to wage war on the United States.
  • Call of Duty: World at War:
    • The loading screen and first half of the level "Vendetta" depict the German invasion of the Soviet Union, and more importantly the numerous war crimes committed by General Heinrich Amsel's men in Stalingrad, ranging from shooting unarmed soldiers en masse to burning buildings by the block. At the beginning of the level, Pvt. Petrenko can be heard breathing heavily, indicating the bleakness and terror he's experiencing at that very moment.
    • In the opening cutscene of the American campaign. Here, Imperial Japan's war against China is shown, including actual footage showing several war crimes being committed in various parts of the latter country such as the live burial of Chinese prisoners.
  • Homefront: In the opening level "Why We Fight", Robert Jacobs, the player character, is arrested by the Korean People's Army and transported to a reeducation camp in Alaska. During the ride, he sees the horror of the Korean occupation such as the separation of children from their families, people being deported to labor camps, and parents being gunned down in front of their children by KPA troops.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri: The cinematic for the secret project "Dream Twister" involves subjecting hundreds of candidates to a barrage of horrifying imagery including footage of predation by a rattlesnake and a spider, and photographs from the Cambodian Genocide, in order to enhance Psi powers.
  • Sniper Elite 4: The opening cutscene of the final level is a montage of war crimes and reprisals being committed by General Heinz Bohm's men, ranging from civilian executions to the burning of the corpses of dozens of Italian partisans following the Giovi Fiorini massacre. Karl's voice tone is also notably sad and less composed than usual, indicating that he regretted not being able to do anything else.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Rise of the Emperor expansion ends with a cutscene of the PC watching helplessly from orbit as Sith Emperor Vitiate consumes all life on the planet Ziost in a World-Wrecking Wave, with a chain of clips of people on the surface disintegrating as the wave reaches them.

  • The Order of the Stick: When Vaarsuvius casts the spell familicide to kill everyone related to the target (a black dragon), which leads to a montage of various black dragons, including eggs, dying in a single page.

    Western Animation 
  • Invincible: In the season 1 finale "Where I Really Come From", Omni-Man reveals to his son, Mark Grayson/Invincible, the truth behind the Viltrumite Empire: They are not peacekeepers and explorers, but rather galactic conquerors by depicting the purging of the planet Viltrum to purge their society of 'weakness' and render them unstoppable. This is followed by a duel between Omni-Man and Mark that leads to the gruesome deaths of civilians and the devastation of Chicago from collateral damage or Omni-Man's actions.
  • Smiling Friends: The Frowning Friends, the titular character's Evil Counterparts show their public a montage of human bastardry and suffering to convince them there is no reason to ever smile. While their public is horrified and Pim cannot even look, Charlie is hilariously unimpressed, and states with some confusion he's "seen way worse stuff than this on the internet".
  • Young Justice (2010): In season four, it is revealed that Vandal Savage met Klarion after returning to his home and discovering the Lord of Chaos had murdered everyone. The two then fought for three hundred days and the audience is treated to images of Klarion repeatedly and brutally killing Savage, who always heals after. Afterwards, we see the Witch Boy sink the entire continent of Atlantis and drown millions after deciding to work with Savage.


Video Example(s):


"Execute Order 66."

Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, a.k.a. Darth Sidious, triggers Contingency Order 66 for the Grand Army of the Republic, commanding the clone troopers to turn on and assassinate their Jedi commanders as part of his self-coup against the Galactic Republic. In a series of shots, Commander Cody has an AT-TE fire on Obi-wan Kenobi on Utapau, and Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura, Plo Koon, and Stass Allie are gunned down from behind by their clone escorts. These are intercut with shots of Jedi Grandmaster Yoda clutching at his chest as he feels the deaths of thousands of Jedi across the galaxy through the Force. Finally his own troops on Kashyyyk get the message and prepare to attack... only for Yoda, forewarned by the deaths of the other Jedi, to turn the tables on them and escape.

How well does it match the trope?

4.9 (29 votes)

Example of:

Main / AtrocityMontage

Media sources: