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Belated Injury Realization

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Quite often, when The Hero has been in some terrific struggle with life and death hanging in the balance, he'll get hurt and not even notice it. The pain of the wound never registers with the character any more than the fact that he's losing blood. It's only after everything has calmed down that he even becomes aware that he's injured as if the wound never truly existed until The Hero himself observes it.

If the hero is a true tough guy, he'll shrug the injury off as if it were nothing more than an inconvenience and drive on.

This is actually Truth in Television: adrenaline suppresses pain. This is a survival trait, as pain exists to warn of injuries but can be debilitating in a dangerous situation. It's common for a person to be unaware of their own injuries during a fight, only to succumb to them afterwards.

A trait common to both an Implacable Man and a Determinator. Can sometimes be caused by Feel No Pain. At its most extreme, this can lead to a Time-Delayed Death.

See also Major Injury Underreaction, Only a Flesh Wound, Mortal Wound Reveal, Secret Stab Wound, and I Can Still Fight!.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Berserk: During the harrowing Eclipse, Guts makes the final decision to sever his own arm that was caught in the jaws of a demon in order to save his lover Casca from Femto who is in the middle of raping her. We can easily say that Guts was so pissed off and so very determined to save Casca that the pain of hacking off his arm just wasn't registering to him. Lo, Guts doesn't even pass out from the blood loss until after Casca's rape is completed after his last attempt was cruelly quashed.
  • Durarara!!: Shizuo Heiwajima is inhumanly strong, durable, and pain-resistant and is thus able to shrug off most injuries. During his character introduction, he's hit over the head with a baseball bat hard enough to break it, and despite bleeding all over the place, his reaction is to kick the crap out of everyone. Later, he's stabbed through the hand with a pen and he's more amazed that someone was able to do that than in pain. He also ends up kicking the crap out of the stabber. When he is shot several times, his first thought is that he slipped in the rain until he realizes that he's bleeding. Even then, Tom has to explain the dangers of lead poisoning to him to make Shizuo get the bullets removed. In the conclusion, however, after breaking his arm in Izaya's deathtrap, he still decides to come after the informant.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Punisher MAX, Frank goes on a rampage after the graves of his family are desecrated, trying to force the city government to bury them so he can get his head straight and go after the guy who did it. After an assault on a gang house, he later notices that he was shot in the arm and thinks that he should probably get it patched up. We later find out that he hadn't even bothered to take the bullet out.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Sonic X fanfic Don't Keep Your Distance, which is otherwise largely pretty sanitized in content, protagonist Paint punches through her truck's windshield and crawls through to retrieve the keys to the trailer in order to rescue her friend, a reformed robot of Dr. Eggman's named Star, who is being kept inside. Only minutes later, when they are both (along with thousands of others in the city they're staying in) captured and taken aboard his aircraft, does she realize she's bleeding all over.
  • In the Worm × Dishonored crossover fanfic A Change of Pace, Taylor ends up being shot in her fight with Oni Lee and doesn't even realize it until after the fight is over and she collapses.

    Films — Animation 
  • Mulan receives a sword wound from Shan Yu, but it's only after the avalanche that she notices the injury and ends up passing out.
  • Shrek doesn't notice there's an arrow on his butt until it's pointed out.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Terminator: Kyle Reese takes a bullet as he and Sarah escape the police station during the Terminator's rampage, Kyle doesn't notice until Sarah points out he's bleeding, and even then he insists it's not that bad ("Looks like it went right through the meat.") Sarah gives him her first-ever field dressing.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, Holmes doesn't notice he has received a cut under his eye until his fencing lesson with Raithe is over.
  • Barbossa gets shot at the end Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, and mocks Jack for wasting his shot on someone who can't die. A few seconds later, the curse gets lifted and the wound becomes fatal and starts bleeding profusely.
  • Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World features Captain Jack Aubrey getting a full report on the injured and killed in a battle with a French warship. At the end of the Doctor's speech, the Captain begins to turn away only to have the Doctor say, "Let me have a look at that scalp." It's only then that Captain Aubrey puts his hand up to his brow and realizes he's been wounded.
  • In The Wolverine, unless the wound is fatal, most characters will shrug off injuries and fight on without any detriments to their skill. Although in Wolverine's case, once he has time to rest, his wounds will catch up to him.

  • City of Thieves: The main character, Lev, doesn't notice losing half of a finger in a fight.
  • Discworld: Justified. Granny Weatherwax uses magic to suppress injuries gained in a fight until she has time to deal with them. Basically, she will literally hold off on bleeding until she has time to bleed. Of course, with Granny what she does with magic is vastly outweighed by what she does by force of will; pain she handles by handling it. But if necessary, (i.e. in case of vampires in Carpe Jugulum), she can hold hot iron and put off being burned until she has time to have a burned hand. At that point, she's also laid out a burn treatment kit. Earlier in the book, she had scoffed at the idea of holding hot iron and not being burned; the distinction between separating cause and effect by an arbitrary span of time and rejecting the effect altogether is stressed.
  • The Thebaid: The battle between Tydeus and fifty assassins sees both sides brutally injuring each other, but while the assassins die from their injuries, Tydeus is too enraged to even notice the cuts and bruises covering his entire body until he's killed every man gunning for him.
  • Aztec: When Cozcatl is castrated Mixtli thinks he seems okay...until he turns over. Likewise, Blood Glutton holds on for a while. Even the first death Mixtli witnesses, of a worker in the quarry his father manages, takes place after a boulder falls on the victim and seals everything together until the victim is moved and everything falls out. Pretty gruesome.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Invoked in one episode of M*A*S*H, where a soldier insists to Hawkeye that while he is fine, his unconscious friend is the one who needs a doctor. The friend's wounds are minor, and it's only after Hawkeye tells the soldier his friend will be fine that we discover that the soldier who carried his friend into the hospital is almost mortally wounded himself and has been holding it together long enough to get his buddy to medical attention.
  • Played with on Community. During a high-stakes game of paintball, Jeff notices red on his clothes. At first, he thinks he's been hit, but then he realizes it's blood and exclaims "Wait, wait... it's blood. [laughs] I thought it was paint but I'm just bleeding. Talk about luck!"
  • On The West Wing: When President Bartlett is shot in the first season finale, he doesn't realize it until the guy in the back of the car with him notices he's bleeding. This was based on the real-life assassination attempt of Ronald Reagan.
  • An interesting inversion of this (in its 'I ain't got time to bleed' form) comes in Battlestar Galactica. When a Number One gets fatally wounded at one point, he's too impatient to wait to bleed out, so he cuts open his own carotid artery with a spent shell casing in order to die quicker so he can download into a new body.
  • In the Blue Bloods episode "The Art of War", a key witness is shot in his hospital bed in the season 5 finale, with Linda Reagan in the room trying to protect him. She takes two in the abdomen, but she's so hopped-up on adrenaline she does a full round of CPR and doesn't even realize she was hit until after the witness has already flatlined; the doctor has to call the trauma team back into the room just for her.
  • This also appears in the season 1 finale of The Americans, "The Colonel". Protagonists Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings are escaping in a car under gunfire from FBI agents when Elizabeth is shot in the abdomen, but she doesn't even realize it for several minutes while they make their escape.

    Video Games 
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: Nakmor Drack recounts a case of this from his mercenary days. At one point, he was fighting another merc, only for his enemy to suddenly get scared of something and run off. Turns out Drack managed to get himself set on fire and hadn't noticed.
  • Team Fortress 2:
    • Subverted in one of the unused lines for "Meet the Sandvich".
      Soldier: You cannot hurt me, I do not have time to bleed!
      Soldier: My schedule has just opened up! Aaaohhww, my God!
    • The Soldier's Equalizer (a melee weapon that boosts attack power as your health decreases) uses this trope as an achievement, it requires you to kill enemies with it while your health is very low.

    Web Comics 
  • In Penny and Aggie, when Gary attacks Rich without warning at a party, Rich's initial reaction is simply to shout "Ow!", punch him out, and wonder whether Gary was trying to give him a "purple nurple." He doesn't notice until Stan points it out, that he has a knife in his chest and is bleeding profusely. "Doesn't really hurt," he says, before passing out.
  • The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal: After TJ punches an annoying loud man at Waffle House he insists his hand feels fine, but Amal looks it over and wraps it anyway because the adrenaline could keep him from feeling injuries at first.
  • In Lucid Spring, Pacem gets shot and doesn't understand why Viktor, who shot her, is staring at her in fear as she walks around and talks to him.

    Western Animation 
  • From The Simpsons:
    Weasel #1: Nelson, you're bleeding!
    Nelson: Naw, happens all the time. Someone else's blood splatters on me and... Hey, wait a minute... You're right! [turns to Bart] You made me bleed my own blood!
  • A Tom and Jerry cartoon had Tom inviting Toots to dinner. During the ensuing melee, Jerry substitutes a candle in a candelabra with Tom's tail and lights it. Tom doesn't feel it until it reaches his butt. Yelping in pain, Tom brings a bucket of ice on which to sit, only Jerry quickly switches it with a bunsen burner. Again Tom is oblivious until he asks "What's cookin'?" And Toots replies "You are...stupid!"

    Real Life 
  • Can happen in Real Life. Sometimes you'll cut yourself but won't notice until you look at the wound directly. This especially happens when the circumstances make small cuts and other injuries commonplace.
    • Chefs, for example, often nick themselves while cutting food, or burn themselves slightly while cooking, and not only never seem to notice, but if other people point out that they are hurt, tend to take such things in stride because they are so used to it happening.
    • It's a combination of the injury being unexpected, and adrenaline keeping you from feeling the pain.
  • General Albert Sidney Johnston of the Confederacy was shot in the back of the knee at the Battle of Shiloh. Apparently he didn't notice that the bullet had nicked an artery that was bleeding profusely. No one else noticed until he nearly fell out of his saddle. His aides helped him off his horse and sat him down against a tree, where he promptly died.
  • Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was shot apparently through the chest at Quaker Road. Thanks to the contents of his pocket, the bullet took a truly bizarre route under the skin but over his ribcage, resulting in a very bloody but survivable wound. He continued leading his troops in the assault and got treatment after he was done. He came to be known as "Bloody Chamberlain" because this kind of thing happened to him several times, though not to such extremes in the other cases. He eventually died due to complications from his Civil War wounds... in 1914 at the age of 85.
  • This is also why first responders will insist on checking out all parties involved in an incident, be it a car accident, fire, assault, etc., even if someone insists that they're fine. They could have serious injuries that an adrenaline rush has kept them from noticing.
  • Similarly, the US Army teaches troops to perform "Blood Sweeps" when tending to wounded. Starting from the neck and working down, firmly press your hands against the body, grasping each limb, and dragging downwards. If there are any wounds concealed beneath their clothing or gear, this will bring attention to it, either by forcing any pooled blood out or allowing you to physically feel any broken bones. This has the added benefit of being useful on non-responsive patients who can't tell you where they are hurt.
  • Professional Wrestler Perry Saturn was once shot while beating up some guys who were raping a woman. He didn't realize he had been shot until after the fight was over.
  • Often inverted when you donate blood. Depending on how diligent the technician taking your blood is (and how long the line of blood donors behind you), they may insist that you don't get up for at least five minutes after you're done just because you "feel fine". You're actively encouraged to, in fact, give yourself enough time to bleed so that you don't faint immediately after leaving the blood donation centre.
    • Similarly, if you're getting a vaccine, they'll generally have you wait 20 minutes before leaving to make sure it doesn't give you a severe reaction, even if you've had zero problems in the past.

Alternative Title(s): Not Noticing The Pain, I Aint Got Time To Bleed