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Bad Black Barf

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"Ah... shit... I picked a cute one... the heat's getting to me..."

"There's always one zombie with black gunk coming out of his mouth. See? There he is. What is that black gunk? I don't know! No one knows! It's one of the great mysteries of unlife!"
Minmax, Goblins

Maybe you're infected by a zombie virus. Perhaps an alien's made a home in your intestines. Or that demon you were trying to summon got a little too close for comfort. Either way, one of the symptoms is Bad Black Barf.

Black Barf, as the name implies, takes the form of a thick black goo that issues from the victim's mouth, which they will cough up frequently in varying amounts. Sometimes it may ooze out from the nose, ears, or even the eyes (or some other, less savory orifices). Color might vary slightly, from dark brown to burgundy, but it's mostly black. In some cases the stuff might even be acidic, poisonous, or just smell really bad.

Besides the obvious gross-out factor of seeing someone puking, the human body doesn't really produce black-colored fluids (aside perhaps from fecal matter under the right combination of dietary and gastrointestinal circumstances), and there are very, very few diseases that cause black discharge of any kind, so combining the two informs the audience that anyone with Bad Black Barf is not just sick, but sick with some unearthly, unholy, or just downright unnatural disease.

See also Black Blood. A Sub-Trope of Ominous Obsidian Ooze. Contrast Rainbow Puke.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Both instances where a boar is turned into a demon in Princess Mononoke, they start to bleed and drool dark purple/black slime. In addition, the Forest Spirit starts releasing massive gobs of toxic black glop that instantly kill everything they touch.
  • Noh-Face from Spirited Away starts coughing and drooling black barf (among other things) after being given medicine from Chihiro.
  • Happens to Irisviel in Fate/Zero due to The Corruption of the Holy Grail caused by Angra Mainyu, which materializes in the form of a black mud-like substance.
  • The Oosawa manga adaptation of Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War depicts the Black Magic spell Fenrir this way, rendering its victims too weak to stand as they cough up black liquid.

    Comic Books 
  • The Ultimates (2015): Logos, the fused form of the maddened Master Order and Lord Chaos, unleashes a whole flood of some sort of black fluid coming from its mouth, and eyes, and nose on Galactus, forcibly turning him back into his Devourer of Worlds form.
  • In issue #7 of Batwoman (Rebirth), a pair of human/animal hybrid Colony soldiers vomit black fluid while attacking her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Wikus from District 9 starts coughing up black fluid as a result of transforming into a Prawn; at one point it also seeps from his nose.
  • The Penguin from Batman Returns discharges black goo from his mouth as he is dying.
  • One of the numerous icky signs of demonic possession in the Evil Dead films.
  • Happens in Jennifer's Body when Jennifer is being possessed.
  • The zombies in Rockabilly Zombie Weekend constantly vomit (and occasionally defecate) a thick black goop, the liquefied remains of their intestines.
  • In The Ugly (New Zealand, 1997), the main character sees ghostly entities with black goo running from their mouths.
  • Old black-and-white horror flicks used chocolate syrup as fake blood and other nasty fluids coming out of the mouths of zombies and other monsters.
  • The Possession of Michael King has the protagonist vomiting black goo when the demons thwart his suicide attempt via swallowing pills.
  • In The Babadook, Amelia starts vomiting a black liquid when she expels the Babadook from her body.
  • In Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, the ghostly Captain Salazar dribbles black liquid from his mouth while speaking. Given that he still has the ghastly head wound that killed him, it's probably congealed blood.
  • The bat-creature that smashes out of Martha Wayne's grave from Bruce's nightmare in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is spewing black fluid from its mouth.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The X-Files. An alien virus called "Black Oil" caused black liquid to come out of the mouth, nose and eyes of its victims.
  • In Teen Wolf, when Derek is poisoned and dying, he vomits black fluid. Erica, also poisoned, has to be encouraged to heal from it, Derek breaks her arm and squeezes black fluid from her veins explaining he is draining the poison from her body. Vomiting similar-looking black fluid also happens briefly to Jackson which Derek explains is his body rejecting whatever it is that turns someone into a werewolf after being bitten.
  • In Supernatural, black fluid from bodily orifices is usually ectoplasm and is one sign of ghost possession. Black smoke pouring out of the mouth is a sign of the end of a demonic possession.
  • In Helix, this is vomited by those infected with NARVIK-B into the mouths of their victims in order to transmit The Virus, and is such an integral visual motif that its featured dripping off the "X" in the series Title Card. Dr. Peter Farragut, the ostensible Patient Zero, often has rills of black mucus at the corners of his mouth, to the point where spatters of it mark his trail around the research base where he works, which Major Balleseros attempts to exploit to hunt him through the base's network of Air Vent Passageways.
  • On Elementary, a suspect who died in a holding cell at the PD is examined by Watson, who takes one look at the reddish-black drool around the body's mouth and immediately orders the room quarantined due to possible anthrax contamination. The man, a known drug mule, had swallowed a balloon full of weaponized anthrax powder, apparently having been told it was drugs by the would-be terrorist who'd cultured the biological agent.

  • Mass Effect Annihilation: One of the first symptoms of the Frontibas Virus is its victims vomit up a small lake's worth of black gunk. Later, they'll follow up with vomiting blood.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Mnggal-Mnggal zombies drool and vomit dark gray goo. Worse, the goo is in fact Mnggal-Mnggal itself, and it can go on to infect new victims.
    • The zombie virus from the novel Death Troopers is similar; some people in-universe speculate that it was derived from Mnggal-Mnggal.
  • The Torment, and presumably other Children Of The Spider, from the book series Skulduggery Pleasant are able to vomit inky blackness, which then coalesces itself into hundreds of rat-sized spiders.

    Music Videos 
  • In the video for Michael Jackson's "Thriller", one of the zombies encountered is slobbering some sort of viscous black fluid from its mouth.
  • The music video for The Gazette's "Dogma" features an extra spilling viscous black fluids from her mouth, keeping in tone with the dark and ominous theme of the song and video.

    Video Games 
  • Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: After the boss fight with Laughing Octopus, she proceeds to vomit black fluid till a pool forms around her. It's not clear if this is ink, referencing her codename, or a part of her condition.
  • In Shadow of the Colossus, some kind of black mist wafts from Wander's face every time he kills a Colossus and its soul enters him. It's not technically vomit since it seems to be gaseous, but the general effect is the same.
  • The Unclean One from Battle Realms uses this as a weapon.
  • The Reapers, the first gang that Cole fights in inFAMOUS, are a mob of goons in red hoodies who move strangely and occasionally vomit black goo (which in no way impedes their ability to shoot you). It turns out that they used to be innocent civilians who were kidnapped and doused in Sasha's mind-controlling tar.
  • In SOMA, all of the WAU's horrific cyborg creations are covered in thick, black slime, a side-effect of the Structure Gel used to forcibly meld flesh and metal together or bring cybernetics under the control of the mad AI.
  • In the Blue Ending of We Know the Devil, Neptune has this when she becomes possessed by the devil. Her sprite at 3am shows her with tons of black bile streaking her clothes and face, and at 4am her CG has her spewing black bile.
  • Filth infectees in The Secret World are permanently coated in a thick layer of black goo, the most-commonly encountered form of the Filth itself - along with all the usual mutations that go with it. According to the lore, it all began as tarry black discharge oozing from every single orifice of the infected individual.
  • Death Stranding: After repatriation, multiple characters will throw up small amounts of chiralium, a black tar-like substance from the world of the dead.
  • In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard this happens to Alan after he calls Eveline a bitch. She accelerates the growth of the mold inside of him in retaliation, causing him to throw it up in spades before he dies.
  • In Dragon Age: Inquisition, an unnamed Grey Warden convulses and vomits up a stream of black liquid just before his body transforms into the reborn Corypheus, which reveals to the player how the darkspawn magister is able to come back to life after being destroyed.

    Web Comics 
  • Khran pukes up black barf in Double-U Tea F just after purging himself of Skreel's influence. Raike has to clean it up after his siblings make him do it, much to his disgust.
  • Lampshaded by Minmax in Goblins when confronted with a horde of undead, also providing the page quote.
  • In Clockwork Game, William Schlumburger is throwing up what is called "Black Vomit"—the final stage of yellow fever (see the Real Life section below).

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Some fungal infections of the respiratory tract, such as pneumonia or sinusitis, can cause one to cough up black mucus. Frequent smoking or inhaling polluted air can do the same.
  • The Inky Cap mushroom, so named because it quickly disintegrates into a black ooze shortly after releasing its spores. It’s perfectly edible before this point, but interestingly you shouldn’t drink alcohol if you eat them, as the mushrooms contain a compound called coprine which inhibits the body's ability to break down acetaldehyde, a metabolite of ethanol. Drink alcohol immediately after eating these mushrooms, and you'll undergo a particularly uncomfortable bout of symptoms including facial reddening, nausea, vomiting, malaise, agitation, palpitations and tingling in the limbs; basically, the mother of all hangovers! This earns the mushroom another nickname; tippler's bane.
  • One of the signs of major upper gastrointestinal bleeding is "coffee-ground emesis," so named because blood that has been digested in the stomach looks dark brown-black and granular, just like spent coffee grounds, when it's vomited back up. Yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers such as hantavirus and Ebola, and severe upper gastrointestinal damage from long-term alcohol, drug and/or painkiller abuse can all cause this sort of thing to occur. This association explains why "yellow fever" (named in English for its association with liver failure) is known as vomito negro ("black vomit" in Spanish). Any way you slice it, it's a bad symptom to have; depending on the cause, morbidity and mortality associated with hematemesis runs anywhere from 11-90%.
  • A benign example: Bismuth subsalicylate (better known as Pepto-Bismol) can sometimes cause a person's saliva, tongue, or stool to turn black when the bismuth reacts with the tiny amounts of sulfur naturally found in the mouth and GI tract. The reaction is unsightly, but harmless, and usually goes away on its own.
  • The Ancient Greek physicians, Hippocrates and Galen, taught that one of the four "humors" of the body was black bile, which was believed to cause depression. This is the origin of the word "melancholy", which comes from the Greek for "black bile".