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CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable
aka: Clean Pretty Reliable

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Real CPR looks like real CPR; Movie CPR looks like somebody just kinda, like, heaving against somebody's chest going like, "Live, dammit! Live!" and just like, pounding his fist against their chest.

CPR is an emergency first aid protocol performed on an unconscious person in whom normal breathing cannot be detected. It's characterized by someone pressing rhythmically against a victim's chest and occasionally blowing air into the victim's mouth. In Real Life, CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and, contrary to common belief, is a preservative protocol rather than a revival protocol; its purpose is strictly to keep people alive long enough for them to receive actual medical care in a hospital emergency room;note  its success rate: less than 10%. On TV, though, CPR stands for "clean, pretty, and reliable":

  • It's clean because it doesn't take into account hygiene or oral-vector diseases, which can be easily transmitted in the process — especially when using mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, which is no longer recommended by some jurisdictions precisely for this reason.
  • It's pretty because it rarely results in anything nasty like extreme exhaustion, or breaking the victim's ribs (because performing full-strength CPR on a person with a heartbeat will probably break their ribs and stop their heart, almost every CPR scene in a live-action work will show the rescuer obviously using much less force on the victim's chest than would be needed in reality), or the victim vomiting on the off chance he or she wakes up. Instead, everybody gets to look nice and pretty, there's kissing involved, and the rescuer even gets to remove the victim's shirt. This makes knowing CPR a very heroic thing on TV, and can occasionally lead to characters who jump in to perform CPR just to steal a kiss from the victim (or to fake unconsciousness to steal a kiss from the rescuer). On the other hand, the heightened sexual tension can cause issues if the rescuer is not attracted to the victim (particularly if they're the same sex).
  • It's reliable because the story demands it. If the victim is supposed to be saved from the brink of death, CPR will revive him almost immediately to show the audience that he's okay. Although real-life recovery rates are less than 10%,note  a 1996 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine estimated CPR success rates on TV at around 75%. In the event that the victim really is supposed to die for real, rescuers will give up remarkably quickly.

This is a sub-trope of Worst Aid and sister trope to the Magical Defibrillator, another medical technique that works very differently on TV than it does in Real Life. A specific subtrope is Heart in the Wrong Place, which shows CPR given with the compressions too far to the left. For an equally clean, pretty, and reliable healing technique, see Psychic Surgery.

For more information about CPR in Real Life, see the Useful Notes page. (That page is not meant to be a guide for how to actually perform CPR in real life; if you would like to know how to perform CPR, search for a provider of free first aid training near you.)

Finally, as this trope involves dying characters, please beware of spoilers.


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  • Sexy CPR has a very titillating way to allegedly teach CPR. Her technique isn't so bad, but still.
  • The Citizen CPR PSA campaign in Ireland is designed to totally avert this trope and teach citizens about how CPR really works (although the statistics quotes about death due to cardiac arrest don't apply elsewhere).
  • The victim in this case not only looks good for a guy undergoing cardiac arrest, but he also looks good for a guy being worked over by Vinnie Jones. Notably, this PSA specifically advises against the "kiss of life" method.
  • This advert clearly plays with this trope, trying to invoke a "movie-like" set in an attempt to make it more memorable and probably also correct the Hollywood misconceptions regarding the application of this technique.
  • This ad from New Zealand is credited with helping someone saves someone else in Real Life.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Air Gear: In the manga, Agito is somehow able to perform this with a bamboo stick. And it works, no other life support necessary.
  • Angel Beats!: Episode 9 shows some of Otonashi's back story, which reveals several more hours' worth of memories before his death, which mostly involve him administering basic medical aid to the survivors of the subway train crash he was in. This includes an instance of CPR which is a lot more realistic than usual. It's dirty, exhausting and doesn't work, and it also sticks to the rule of only giving up if you become too exhausted to continue. Otonashi had to eventually, it isn't clear how long he kept it up, but a rescue attempt was several days away — what with them being caved in — and Otonashi himself was suffering from the injuries that would eventually kill him just before said rescuers showed up.
  • Anne Happy: Hibiki swallows water at the beach and loses consciousness, requiring Ren to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Naturally, it's clean, Hibiki makes a full recovery with no long-lasting injuries, and the focus is on Ren giving Hibiki mouth-to-mouth in the first place.
  • Darkly parodied in Attack on Titan: Hannah attempts to resuscitate Franz by pumping her hands on his chest, even asking Armin to help her. The picture zooms out to show it's not working because Franz lost everything below the waist.
  • Berserk: When Guts pulls Casca out of a river after they fall off a cliff, he gets her to start breathing again and cough up the water she inhaled after a few repetitions including mouth-to-mouth. Not only is it clean, pretty, and reliable, but how Guts knows CPR despite living in a Medieval European Fantasy world is a bit of a mystery.
  • Subverted in The Big O:
    Roger: You could've come up with a gentler way to bring me around, you know. Like, mouth to mouth, or something?
    Dorothy: Not with the displacement capacity of my air tank. You're such a louse, Roger Smith.
    Roger: Heh, you're definitely our Dorothy.
  • A Cruel God Reigns:
    • Ian helps Jeremy breathe and exchanges liquid medicine via mouth-to-mouth after Jeremy's drowning Bungled Suicide.
    • It is not so clean and pretty when Marjorie tries to drown herself in the bathtub and Lorenzo has to give her CPR. It is also not reliable because she ends up in a coma.
  • Dazzle: Rahzel performed CPR on Rayborn in chapter 34 after his fake suicide attempt backfires. Perhaps more realistic because he passes out afterwards, but that's cancelled out by Rahzel's decision not to take him to a hospital because she thought he'd be embarrassed to wake up surrounded by doctors and his family.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden: In episode 1, after catching Himeko from a fall (how this would have stopped her heart is not explained), Chikane rips open her shirt, pauses to fondle one breast, and then does two chest compressions. Himeko promptly moans, demonstrating that she's revived.
  • Excel♡Saga: Lampshaded when the municipal employees are unwittingly sent to locate the ACROSS base: Iwata goes through all the proper steps in administering CPR in a bid to get to kiss the unconscious Matsuya, including calling out for someone to retrieve a medical professional, despite the fact that they are stranded in Fukuoka's sewers without another living soul in earshot. She recovers before their lips make contact; despite it being blatantly obvious Iwata was trying to steal a kiss from her, she actually goes easy on the inevitable retaliation (that is, he lives) out of respect for him doing everything by the book. Played dead straight when Iwata is later forced to resuscitate his male teammates with CPR.
  • FLCL: The first episode played it for laughs, as the victim clearly didn't need CPR.
  • Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu:
  • Inuyasha: After an encounter with a lake demon leaves Sango unconscious, Miroku decides that he needs to resuscitate her — only to be left protesting his innocence after Sango regains consciousness to find his face inches from hers and comes to the predictable conclusion, with the predictable result.
  • IO presents one of the few correct depictions of CPR in manga. Even the translator comments on it.
  • Jyu-Oh-Sei: In the second volume, Thor, after fighting the Top, is wounded so severely that his heart stops. Third and Tiz perform CPR on him pretty accurately, but what really takes the cake for being over the top is when Third starts slapping Thor; what's worse is that it alone is what actually revives him!
  • Life (2002) had a variation. Miki had fainted, so Ayumu attempted to revive her by giving her water. She couldn't do it though, so she instead drank some water and swapped it with her. Despite how gross that sounds, it didn't look as bad as it seems.
  • Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka: The "pretty" part is teased during a CPR training episode, where Kurumi "wishes she were" the training mannequin that Asuka was demonstrating on.
  • Monster: Averted, as it's obviously a wasted, desperate effort and the dude obviously stays dead, but the doctor continues CPR regardless.
  • My-HiME: CPR is performed on a drowned girl in the first episode after some brief awkwardness, but no one thinks to procure proper life support in the event she doesn't recover on her own. Naturally, she does, spitting up some token water in the process.
  • Nagasarete Airantou: In chapter 1, episode 1, Suzu administers the Kiss of Life to a half-drowned Ikuto, nearly killing him in the process (inflating him like a balloon, whereupon he flies in a circle before landing back where he started).
  • Naruto: Sakura performed CPR on Naruto in order to keep him alive after Kurama was extracted. This was explicitly noted to be a stop-gap measure until they could seal the other half of Kurama into him. Sakura even used a different medical technique, internal cardiac massage — i.e. cutting the patient open and massaging the heart by hand, which was one way to do CPR in real life before it was invented.
  • One Piece: Eiichiro Oda seems to like showing off live-saving skills. CPR has been shown in two instances (on Luffy in the Arlong arc, and on Usopp in the Skypiea arc, the latter more Played for Laughs), and implied in two more (on Dalton in the Drum Island arc; on Luffy and Robin after the battle with Aokiji following the Davy Back Fight). Elsewhere, Chopper pounded on the chest of one of Eneru's enforcers after he drowned in a swamp cloud to resuscitate him.
  • Oreshura: In Episode 5, Eita is forced to do this for Masuzu shortly after he rescues her from drowning in the school's swimming pool. He calls for the teacher but notices that the teacher is giving CPR to another student. And as he does this, he hears some Squee from his classmates as he "kisses" her. Later in the episode, while watching over his sick Childhood Friend Chiwa, she talks in her sleep about wanting "CPR" from him as well, having gotten a text about the CPR he gave Masuzu earlier.
  • Ranma ˝: At least in the manga, Ranma is shown to do a variation of this to Miss Hinako (who is shown to comically vomit up water like a fountain) and implied to do so to Akane a few times. Even extending the usual Calling Your Attacks habit to it:
    Ranma: Ningen Pump.
  • Rave Master: When Haru is unconscious after his fight with Lance, the older Musica proposes artificial respiration to try and revive him. Elie volunteers and is going to put her lips on his when he wakes up. Haru greets her cheerfully. He gets slugged.
  • The Red Ranger Becomes an Adventurer in Another World: Idola resuscitates Red with CPR after he's knocked unconscious and falls into a river. It works without a hitch, and Idola's only concern is that she had to give up her First Kiss to him to do it.
  • Slayers has a particularly over-the-top example when Sylphiel is trying to revive Lina. After a few whacks on the chest, a couple of chest compressions, and one breath, she sighs in relief that Lina no longer looks dead — then goes back to casting a long-winded healing spell.
  • Star Driver: Wako preforms CPR on Takuto after finding him washed up on the shore. Later the characters discuss the romantic implications.
  • Averted in Summer Wars. The family attempts CPR on Sakae only out of grief-stricken desperation and it accomplishes nothing; she'd been dead for a few hours by the time they found her. The doctor even comments that there was no real point in trying.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne: Millerna and Van very much perform the Kiss of Life version on Hitomi. It's more realistic in other respects, though; Hitomi doesn't quite vomit, but she comes close to coughing her guts out and looks half-dead for a few minutes. There's no physical damage, but that's because her heart has simply stopped due to Synchronization with a guy who had just died.
  • Wolf's Rain: In one of the last episodes, Hubb and Cheza perform CPR on Quent when he starts having strange breathing spasms. It's bad enough that they're doing CPR when he clearly has a pulse and respiration, but to make matters worse Hubb speculates that the spasms might be due to internal bleeding or shock from dehydration, neither of which CPR would help with — in fact, it would most likely only exacerbate the former.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Avengers story arc "Red Zone", CaptainAmerica is exposed to a contagious evil bacteria and stops breathing. Saying, "Sorry Tony... but Captain America's [[MoreExpendableThanYou more important than you", Iron Man immediately takes off his helmet (exposing himself to the contagious disease) and starts mouth-to-mouth. (With dramatic lighting and close-ups!) The "CPR revives people by itself" aspect is theoretically averted, as his goal is to keep Cap alive until he can be rescued, but ultimately used straight as, minutes later, Iron Man is passed out and Cap is weak and disoriented, but on his feet. Then again, given the super soldier serum involved, possibly Tony only had to keep Steve breathing long enough for the serum to fight iff the virus.
  • Batman:
    • In Robin (1993), when Tim Drake returns to Paris to try to complete his training and has it interrupted again by Lady Shiva killing his instructor he follows Shiva's target back to her home country and when Shiva is killed in the resulting confrontation Tim is able to easily revive her with CPR which leaves her owing him a life debt he later uses to get her to leave her intended victim alive.
    • In Joker's Last Laugh, Nightwing, believing that Robin has been eaten by Killer Croc, goes in an all-out frenzy and beats up the Joker to the point where his heart stops beating. Fortunately, Batman stops Nightwing in time before the Joker collapses, almost nearing death, and the Dark Knight resuscitates him using CPR in order to stop Nightwing from stooping down to the Joker's level as a murderer.
    • In Batwoman (Rebirth), Safiyah performs CPR on Kate after Kate falls off a ship and almost drowns during a botched heist at sea. Aside from being soaking wet, Kate recovers almost immediately (and doesn't, for example, vomit water).
    • In one comic, Batman takes Zatanna on a mission but bans her from using magic due to trust issues. Zatanna ends up shot and encased in water. She heals the wound but Batman has to give her CPR because she can still drown like any other human. The comic cuts away to Zatanna fine later, albeit with a hoarse throat.
  • In the first volume of Runaways Gert uses CPR on Chase after he's been submerged in water and stops breathing. He feels pretty crappy immediately afterwards but recovers pretty quickly.
  • In Young Avengers, Wiccan revives Iron Lad pretty easily through CPR, but the Clean part at least is averted when Iron Lad spits up in his mouth. Wiccan also lampshades the Pretty aspect as he admits that he only learned it to be able to kiss a boy he'd had a crush on.
  • In a The X-Files comic, Scully performs CPR on a man in cardiac arrest. In a minor subversion, the comic actually points out the need to break the ribs to properly massage the heart, but just CPR is still enough to stabilize him.
  • Averted at the climax of Doctor Strange: The Oath. Strange's associate Wong falls unconscious with no pulse from a brain tumor. Another physician says she can do CPR to try to restart his heart, but even if he lives, Wong will only be a shell of his former self. Wong survives and recovers only because Strange retrieves a Magic Antidote — the CPR just keeps him slightly alive so that the potion can heal him.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Deconstructed in "Nothing Can Stop the Juggernaut", where Spider-Man first fights the Juggernaut. After the villain yanks Madame Webb from her life support device, Spidey uses rescue breathing on her until the paramedics come, and she is clearly much worse for wear once she is stabilized, taking months to recover. (Although she doesn't suffer the brain damage the doctor feared she would.)
    • Played straight, however, when he used it on Aunt May in One Moment in Time, who is suffering from a gunshot wound.
  • In Justice, Superman uses CPR to restart Zatanna's heart after she accidentally teleports herself out of the atmosphere.
  • In Papyrus, Anktheri uses CPR to save the main character from drowning.
  • Superman:
    • In "Death of a City", Supergirl uses CPR on one of her teachers after saving him from drowning in the sea.
    • In Superboy (1994), Superboy is able to resuscitate Roxy using CPR after her heart stopped.
    • Averted in The Death of Superman: Guardian attempts CPR, but despite his own enhanced strength, it is ineffective. Because of Superman's Kryptonian physique, Guardian can't get air into his lungs or compress his chest.
    • Subverted in Way of the World: Superman attempts CPR as a last resort to save a dying child's life, but it does not work.
    • Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom: Kal and Kara are exploring an alien jungle wherein they have no powers, when a beast suddenly shoves Superman into a river. Supergirl drags her half-drowned cousin out of the water and quickly gets to blow air into his mouth and press his chest until he comes around, coughing water out.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: When Alia nearly drowns off the coast Diana is able to quickly resuscitate her using CPR after getting her on the beach.

    Fan Works 
  • Averted in Prison Island Break. Doctor Amy Rose Blossom performs CPR on Shadow the Hedgehog. She has to suck the blood and vomit out of his mouth to keep him from drowning while considering how likely he is to die. It's explicitly unromantic, especially since at one point she tires and Silver has to perform it (a common event in Real Life). Silver does exactly as she commands him while contemplating how his entire medical experience revolves around watching repeat episodes of Scrubs. On the whole, it is suggested that what leads to Shadow's survival is his superior healing abilities.
  • Parodied in The Lion King Adventures. In Dead as a Dodo, Simba and Nala think that they have accidentally murdered Zazu when a prank goes wrong. Simba resorts to giving him CPR, by punching him in the chest.
    Simba: Live, darn it, live!
    (Nala pulls him away.)
    Nala: Simba, Simba! That's not helping!
    Simba: No, but it's making me feel better.
  • In Undocumented Features, Corwin receives an electrical shock, and it falls to Utena to save him with CPR. However, what saves his life is not CPR, but the Power of Dios.
  • In Letters: The Year With the Stone, Hermione gives a partially-asphyxiated Snape CPR, and he's up and about within a minute or so.
  • Averted in A Kingdom Divided. When Cloudchaser tries to resuscitate Rainbow Dash, she starts by checking her mouth for "foreign objects", and the whole scene ends with Rainbow Dash dying.
  • In the Kingdom Hearts fic Another Side, Another Story, after his Love Interest/sidekick West is nearly drowned by Ursula in Atlantica, Riku swims her to the surface and revives her with CPR, reflecting that it was mandatory for everyone on the Destiny Islands to learn it.
  • Partially averted in Harry Potter and the Escape to New York. While it takes only a minute or two to work, there's absolutely nothing pretty about it, and Harry ends up with two broken ribs.
  • In Potter's Protector, CPR fails completely at first, and Harry has to resort to using a lightning spell to imitate a defibrillator.
  • Averted in What's in a Hoard? when Momo performs CPR on Izuku, it takes a couple minutes for anything to happen and she fractured Izuku's ribs reviving him.
  • Ancienverse: Serena performs CPR on Ash at the end of Turbulence.
  • In Batman fanfiction Dance with the Demons, Batman and Superman successively perform CPR on Catwoman to restart her heart after she has been poisoned. Bruce fears his friend will blow Selina's lungs up by accident, but Lois reassures him Clark is careful.
    Bruce waved a row of people out of a number of folding chairs and lay Selina across them. He immediately placed his lips to hers and began CPR. While he did this, his hand went to the dart and plucked it from her neck.
  • Subverted in Kara of Rokyn. Power Girl tries to restart Supergirl's heart, who is dying after fighting the Anti-Monitor, but CPR is useless to cure Kara's injuries, and Raven has to use her healing magic to save her.
  • Subverted in Natural Selection. The flashback that shows where the timeline of Kill la Kill changed is with Soichiro trying to revive baby Ryuko this way, and it's shown as a desperate, futile act that cracks the man's psyche when one of her ribs breaks. It's only thanks to the newly implanted Life Fibers in her system that she wakes up at all. He does perform it correctly though, only using two fingers to compress the chest without mouth-to-mouth contact.
  • Mentioned in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines. Pikachu reveals to Ash that, back in the old timeline during the events of the second movie, Misty had to perform CPR on him after she rescued him from drowning, and made Tracey (the only human witness to it) swear he'd never tell anyone about it, especially Ash himself.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Anazapta the protagonist accidentally invents CPR in medieval times. A mob attacks a hostage under the protection of Lady Matilda and drown him in the well as a witch. She orders him fetched out, but he's already drowned (too bad he wasn't a witch, eh?). An old man advises her to breathe life into him, but no-one else is willing to touch him so she does it herself, first blowing air on his face, then directly into his mouth. When this doesn't work, she pounds on his chest in frustration, and the combination of the two manages to revive him.
  • In Nowhere, a girl pulls a drowning boy from a pool and breathes into his mouth once before he lives again.
  • Used in the first Jurassic Park (1993), after Tim was electrocuted by the fence Dr. Grant spent a few moments trying to bring him back, which worked so well Tim finished his last sentence. Though they did make some token gestures indicating that he was not completely fine, such as burnt hands, bleeding ears and a limp for the rest of the movie.
  • Averted in Empire of the Sun. Jim attempts CPR twice in the film. Not only does it not work in either case, but the second time (where Jim tries bringing a pilot back) is also far from pretty.
  • The Abyss: While the technique does succeed in reviving an otherwise deceased person, it's neither clean nor pretty, and it goes on for several minutes, rather than less than one. Truth is, while it's still not a completely realistic depiction, it's still several steps ahead of most, at least until the Miraculous Bitchslap of Life.
  • Although an attempt by Bond on Vesper fails in Casino Royale (2006), it still counts as Bond gives up less than a minute into administration, and his technique doesn't focus so much on restoring circulation so much as copping one last feel.
  • In the Nancy Drew movie, Nancy performs CPR on someone who is pretending to choke.
  • Averted in The Orphanage; the woman being resuscitated didn't make it, and a brief glimpse of her face shows that her entire lower jaw was horribly dislocated by the car that hit her, showing that the guy giving CPR had a really strong stomach, though being a trained doctor probably helped.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country has Dr. McCoy attempting to revive a Klingon who has been shot in the chest. His heart isn't beating, so McCoy tries CPR for a few seconds and then whacks him on the chest, which brings him back to life long enough to utter appropriate final words. McCoy admits that he doesn't know Klingon anatomy and was hung over to boot, so he may just have been acting in desperation; it revives the patient long enough to move the plot forward. Interestingly, the whack on the chest may be a variant of the now-outdated "precordial thump"note , which occasionally acts on TV as a Magical Defibrillator. Star Trek: The Next Generation would go on to establish that Klingon physiology has a degree of redundancy that humans don't, so it's possible that Bones's actions were irrelevant to his patient's temporary revival.
  • Spider-Man Trilogy:
    • Spider-Man: A lab assistant begins CPR after Norman's heart stops. He's giving him sideways chest compressions from a standing position and it only takes two to start Norman's heart again. In fairness though, it's all but outright stated it's not CPR that gets Norman's heart going.
    • Spider-Man 3: After Harry is injured, Peter attempts the hands-only method for a few seconds before giving up and taking Harry to the hospital. Can be justified to a certain extent in that Peter probably didn't know what he was doing and figured it would just be simpler to get Harry in the hands of a professional as soon as possible.
  • Averted in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial; the CPR the doctors used to attempt to resuscitate E.T. was actually rather realistic, and they seemed to be heartbroken that they couldn't revive him. Of course, E.T. has Bizarre Alien Biology and was Only Mostly Dead, so CPR wouldn't have worked anyway. What adds to the realism is that Spielberg cast real physicians to play the medical team.
  • Played straight in The Haunting in Connecticut; that said, the recipient of the CPR was possessed by a spirit at the time, and was only brought back after said spirit left his body.
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, after Michaelangelo rescues Yoshi from the burning house, Leonardo attempts CPR on Yoshi. During this, Mitsu claims he's "casting an evil spell", but April corrects her that "he's helping".
  • During the end of the movie Fearless (1993), Laura Klein gives CPR to her husband Max after eating a strawberry. During this, we see flashbacks of Max's experience in the past plane crash while at the same time, during CPR, we see a bit of drool from her mouth when she's desperately is trying to revive him.
  • In The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Peeta is slashing vegetation when he is caught at point blank by an ultra-tech explosive force field, which not only stops his heart but also has enough power to knock him back nearly 3 metres/10 feet. Finnick administers chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth, which not only works perfectly, but allows Peeta to get up to his feet and resume business as usual. (That said, there's a Wizard Did It argument in that we don't know exactly how the force fields work.)
  • In Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, CPR acts as a First Kiss between the two teen lovebirds
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Harry gives Perry very bad CPR after he is shot through the chest, and only gets a mouthful of blood for his trouble.
  • Mission: Impossible III has Ethan receiving CPR from his nurse wife after electrocuting himself, complete with dramatic punching of the chest. The electrocution was necessary in order to fry the mini-bomb implanted in his skull.
  • Appears in An Officer and a Gentleman, when Sgt. Foley has to administer CPR on one of the recruits after an accident with a crash landing simulator.
  • In a variant, The Twelve Chairs (set shortly after the Russian Revolution) uses the older Schafer method, with the resuscitated woman lying on her belly and the rescuer kneading her lower back. It's still this trope in the Pretty sense, as they were actually fooling around and only adopted this ruse of respiratory distress because there was no time for her to re-tie her underthings when her husband came home early.
  • Averted in Groundhog Day. Phil spends several of his loops trying to save a homeless bum who dies in an alley. He spends hours doing CPR on him. He even takes him to the hospital before he even has problems. He's never ever able to save the guy. The nurse in the last attempt suggests he just died of old age, and Phil realizes he simply cannot save him no matter how hard he tries.
  • Played for laughs in The Sandlot, when Squints intentionally jumps into the deep end of the pool so that he'll be rescued by his lifeguard crush. After a few tries of CPR, Squints pulls the lifeguard into a big kiss.
  • Played for laughs in Thor, where Darcy accidentally runs Thor over with a car. Upon seeing Thor (who was conscious and breathing fine on his own), Darcy was quick to point out she knows CPR to help him.
  • In The Avengers, Tony Stark/Iron Man was happy that he woke up before this happened to him.
    Please tell me nobody kissed me.
  • In Young Dr. Kildare, Kildare performs artificial respiration on a woman for half an hour. After the woman revives she's perfectly fine. Revival after 30 minutes of being clinically dead is virtually impossible, and if it did happen it would come with massive brain damage.
  • In In Like Flint, after shocking a guard's heart back into beating, Flint does some mild chest compression on him and he revives.
  • Averted in Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, where Watson's chest compressions weren't able to revive Holmes. Instead, he had to use adrenaline. After Holmes is revived, he mentions his chest really hurts. It also averts Magical Defibrillator as adrenaline is what is actually used to restart a heart that has completely stopped. However, the use of CPR at all in this scene is still an anachronism; it wasn't invented until the 1950s.
  • In the 1992 version of Only You, Cliff goes snorkeling alone, ignoring the advice from an experienced snorkeler to "watch out for the kelp beds". It cuts to him coming to on the beach, horrified to think the ugly old woman above him just gave him mouth-to-mouth.
  • Used cautiously in the B-movie Atomic Shark, in which a pretty girl does mouth-to-mouth to revive a guy who had fallen into the sea. Because the guy in question is about twelve, visually the scene doesn't play out the "sexy" aspect of this trope at all, even though the dialogue strongly implies the kid was faking unconsciousness in order to get kissed by the young woman he has a crush on.
  • In The Kentucky Fried Movie, during the "High Adventure" segment, the French adventurer and explorer Claude LeMond is interviewed on the eponymous talk show. During the segment, the interviewer's heart stops beating, and LeMond restarts his heart by pounding on his chest a couple of times. The interviewer is revived and has no further problems.
  • Averted in the 2002 film In America, which is set in 1982. When the Sullivans' neighbor Mateo falls down the stairs at their apartment building, young Christy attempts to give him CPR but is warned away from it by the building's other residents (who are aware that Mateo is HIV-positive). HIV transmission vectors were not well studied in the early '80s, so the residents' concern is understandable. Christy's little sister Ariel is also concerned that Christy will "get Mateo's disease" because she "kissed" him. Ariel's concerns are raised again when Christy is asked to donate blood to her newborn sister — Ariel again asks Christy if she's worried she has Mateo's disease, and if she could accidentally give their sister the disease through the transfusion.
  • In Nathan's Kingdom, Nathan's heart stops during a fight with Evil Condor. Jimmy revives him with chest compressions in less than a minute, and almost immediately he's running around in perfect health.
  • Averted in, of all things, a low-budget mockbuster called Titanic II (take three guesses what that movie's about). The Sudden Downer Ending of the movie sees the protagonist drowning and his love interest trying to revive him after too much time has passed. She tries for several minutes that feels like forever, but he's been dead for some time. End movie.

  • Subverted in Angels & Demons. When the second preferiti is found, the main characters attempt to give CPR in a realistic fashion, with one providing breath and the other getting ready to do compressions. However, the attempt is anything but clean; the preferiti has two holes in his lungs, causing blood to spray out and into the face of the poor guy standing over him. Needless to say, he doesn't survive. Later, it's also tried again unsuccessfully, with the final kidnapped victim who was drowned in a fountain.
  • Averted in Corinna Chapman: Earthly Delights by Kerry Greenwood. When the heroine finds a junkie who overdosed on her grate and gave her CPR, she placed plastic wrap over the junkie's mouth (and put a fairly large hole in it for the air) so she wouldn't catch anything.
  • Averted in Johnny and the Bomb as Yo-less briefly considers performing CPR on Mrs. Tachyon but the gang decides to just call an ambulance instead for hygiene reasons.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In the novel Storm Front, Morgan having rescued Harry from the burning building, revives him using CPR. Neither of them is terribly happy about it, but it worked.
    • In the short story "Something Borrowed", Harry uses CPR to revive Murphy after an evil faerie crashes some friends' wedding and tries to drown them both in the punchbowls. His narration says it momentarily felt a bit like a kiss, just before she starts coughing up inhaled fruit punch.
    • Later, in Small Favor, Dresden is on the receiving end of CPR from Murphy. Averted when he vomits on her.
      Dresden: Guess we're even.
      Murphy: Like hell we are. I only spat fruit punch in your mouth.
  • Done in Thieves Like Us, when the Big Bad accidentally shoots the ancient mummy-like leader of an ancient cult then attempts to perform CPR to revive him. It doesn't work and there is mention that his nose is pulled off when she grips it (yes, that's how old he is).
  • Mercedes Lackey:
    • Averted in Sacred Ground. A housewife has been cursed by malevolent spirits, who cause lightning to hit her child. She has her other child call 911 and starts both CPR and chest-pumps with counts for each, and keeps doing this until the paramedics arrive. He's dead.
    • CPR works just fine to bring Nikolas back to life at the beginning of Closer to Home. He's in lousy shape afterwards, but how much of that was pre-falling in the icy river injuries and how much was from the CPR isn't stated.
  • Subverted (or possibly averted) in Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox: after a character collapses from magically-induced cardiac arrest, instead of doing CPR, Artemis simply grabs a (conveniently nearby) defibrillator and revives him with that.
  • Averted in The Ruins. Jeff performs CPR on Amy for hours before being forced to give up due to exhaustion.
  • Subverted a couple of times in the Discworld series. Usually, the mere threat of the "Kiss of Life" (especially from Nobby) is enough to revive the patient. Most of them haven't really suffered cardiac arrest, they've just fainted.
  • Played straight in Magicians Trial by HL Burke: when Jericho nearly drowns in the climax of the book, Auric is both understandably and hilariously freaking out. Meanwhile, Lotta takes action and gives them CPR. Guess what happens a few minutes later? Jericho is all better!
  • Animorphs:
    • In The Underground, Arnold Schwarzenegger gives George Edelman mouth-to-mouth after rescuing him from drowning in a river (where the Animorphs, as birds, had carried George after he tried to jump out of a building).
    • Later averted in book 19, in which Cassie receives CPR and the first thing she does when recovering consciousness is vomit over herself. She spends a while with numb extremities as well.
  • In the YA book My Angelica, there's a scene in Sage's story where Angelica performs CPR on -the number keeps changing- Bears...after he passes out from choking on raccoon meat. Her Unlucky Childhood Friend tries to tell her that A; the way she wrote it wasn't how it's normally done and the man revived too fast, and B; it's the Heimlich Maneuver she wants, not CPR. She doesn't listen.
  • In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow, Bean is the first of the children to realize that Bonzo Madrid is dead after the fight with Ender when he sees the medical staff performing CPR on him. For the record, Bean is six, but has been genetically-engineered to be a savant.
  • In Catching Fire Finnick performs CPR on Peeta (whose heart has stopped) for several minutes before they cough and sputter to life.
  • Jacqueline Wilson's Buried Alive involves this trope in the climax. Protagonist Tim gives this to the primary antagonist after digging him out of a caved-in sand cave the idiot had been digging. While it is reliable, it isn't pretty as the recipient vomiting is the sign that it's worked, and the clean part is half averted in that Tim wipes away as much sand as he can from the mouth before attempting CPR.
  • The Wheel of Time: Rand al'Thor provides this for Mat Cauthon in the abandoned city of Rhuidean after the latter has been hanged. It's almost comical in that Rand probably shouldn't know about it (it's thousands of years in the future but after a massive apocalypse) and that Rand gets it so badly wrong (probably even in-universe; Rand's only seen it performed on a drowning victim, so he goes through a lot of motions clearly meant to get water out of the lungs). Mat gets better anyway. Must be ta'veren at work.
  • Averted in The Throne of Fire, at least the "pretty" part. When Carter Kane does it on Zia, she immediately tries to punch him upon being revived.
  • In the Xandri Corelel novel Tone of Voice, Xandri's heart has stopped after a near drowning. Diver does gentle chest compressions, which have no effect. Then one of the Hands whacks her on the chest, and she immediately begins coughing up water.
  • In the second book of The Sisters Grimm, Sabrina does CPR on Puck, with complete success (and a bit of Ship Tease as he suspects she tries to kiss him). She lampshades it, recalling that she had only practiced it once before that (on a doll at school) and got the lowest grade at that.
  • In The Wonderful Adventures Of Karik And Valya by Yan Larri, the eponymous children are revived with CPR fairly quickly with zero negative consequences for their health (even though they first inhale the toxic odor of February daphne and then nearly drown). The fact that CPR is performed perfectly on both can at least be justified by the fact that it is performed by a professor of biology and medicine.
  • Averted in Love Anthony. After Anthony's fatal seizure, Olivia attempts CPR, and then two paramedics take over. Olivia is shocked by how much force they're using, thinking they'll hurt him, but in any event the CPR fails and he dies.
  • Played Straight and Lamp Shaded in Pet Sematary. Louis is able to save Norma with five minutes of chest compressions and she doesn't puke after, but it's noted that "Only TV paramedics can make CPR look good" and Lou is exhausted and hungry after, devouring the closest thing to hand, and muses that his arms will be sore all day afterwards. He then gives her an aspirin and tells her she's got three days in the hospital and a week on bedrest. She dies of a stroke three months later.
  • In the Warrior Cats novella Mothwing's Secret, Cinderpelt and Mudfur save Blackclaw - who nearly drowned in mud - by performing a feline version of CPR where Cinderpelt rolls Blackclaw onto his back, puts her front paws on his stomach, and repeatedly throws her weight onto him. He does vomit afterward, so that averts some of the "pretty" aspect, but it does work, and he isn't otherwise injured.
  • The Mermaid Chronicles: In Quest for Atlantis, Wade's ex Stephanie is electrocuted by eels while in shark form, faints, and turns back into a human. It's several minutes before the other characters can get her back to the surface and out of the water, by which point she doesn't have a pulse. Wade revives her with a few minutes of CPR. Cordelia can't help but feel jealous of the way Wade's touching Stephanie, especially with the skimpy bikini her human form is wearing, although she's annoyed at herself for feeling that way when Stephanie's life is in danger.
  • Averted in Mermaid Moon. After Peder is stung to death, his mother Thyrla pinches his nose shut and breathes into his mouth until she's exhausted but fails to revive him.
  • Averted in Are You Seeing Me?. When the earthquake hits, Justine falls in the shower and hits her head. Perry finds her with no pulse and does chest compressions that break her ribs. After 90 seconds her heartbeat starts again, but it's very weak. Perry covers her with a towel and carries her into the hotel lobby yelling for help. A kind stranger rushes them to the hospital, where Justine is stabilized and eventually regains consciousness. She is expected to make a full recovery, but it'll take months, especially with her broken ribs.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Played straight in "And the Window of Opportunity", the second-season finale of 2 Broke Girls, when Caroline revives Max that way after an electric shock knocks her unconscious.
  • 24:
    • In Season 2, Jack saves Nina by giving her a few mouth breaths, without fixating her chest or using any compression at all. It works.
    • The Reliable part is averted in Season 4, when Paul Raines dies after Jack forces the doctors at gunpoint to work on another patient with critical information. It should, however, be noted that the attempt to save him is rather pathetic, and he's declared dead a mere minute after he crashes. This all takes place in a fully equipped medical facility, and the doctors stabilize the other patient a few minutes later, which would have still given them plenty of time to try to revive him, particularly if Jack and Curtis had continued with CPR in the meantime.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had a justified example in "The Dirty Half-Dozen": Skye can induce earthquake-like vibrations, so she just uses that on Lincoln's stopped heart.
  • Played with in the pilot of Arrested Development; Tobias lost his medical license as a result of incompetently applying CPR to an elderly man who was simply taking a nap.
  • A form of Bait-and-Switch Credits is used in Ashes to Ashes (2008) when previewing Episode 6 of Season 1. Gene is pictured about to kiss Alex. The reveal is that it's only CPR after she is rescued from a refrigerator in a restaurant used as a front for money-laundering.
  • Babylon Berlin: Spread over the last two episodes of the second season, Gereon's and Charlotte's car is run off the road by a villain and crashes into a lake. Gereon makes repeated attempts to rescue her from the car, including breathing air into her mouth to keep her alive, but is unable to free her before she apparently drowns. He makes a final, successful attempt to get her out of the car, and makes a couple of brief attempts to perform CPR, after which she miraculously regains consciousness. Admittedly she spews up a load of water, and is semiconscious for a while until she's taken to hospital, but she was still underwater and apparently dead for what looked like several minutes. (Also, the show is set in 1929, before modern CPR was invented.)
  • Used in an early episode of Barney Miller with a man that tried to electrocute himself in the bathroom and apparently succeeded, but Barney starts compressions after Chano uses a mirror to verify whether he's breathing or not. After the man starts turning blue, Barney resorts to walloping him in the chest with his fist, which restores him to breathing. He does remain unconscious, however, and the EMTs do point out that his ribs are broken.
    Harris: Pop him again!
  • Nearly every episode of Baywatch included a swimmer drowning or near-drowning in the ocean, only to be pulled out by a lifeguard and given CPR for a few harrowing seconds before coughing up some water and being as good as new. Averted in some episodes, especially in the first 2 seasons (before Pamela Anderson), when CPR is used just to stabilize the victim until a defibrillator arrives or is ready. Especially in rescues involving the Scarabs. In one S1 episode, there is even a mention when one of the characters is rescued by an amateur lifeguard only to have breathing problems later that night, that every rescue by a professional lifeguard is finished at the hospital, where the victim is checked.
  • When Denny has a heart attack in season five of Boston Legal, everyone thinks he's faking until Alan realizes he's not breathing and leaps in to save him. Slightly more realistic than usual, as an ambulance is called and we don't see Denny conscious again until he's on his way to the hospital.
  • Subverted fairly realistically on Breaking Bad. After accidentally beating an underling to death while high on meth, Tuco demands that Walt, the "scientist", perform CPR on him. It's pretty obvious that Tuco got all of his information about CPR from TV. Needless to say, his attempts have no effect.
    Tuco: Breathe into his mouth!
    Walt: (more than a little hysterical) No, they don't teach that anymore! It doesn't work!
  • In the "Prophecy Girl" episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Xander revives Buffy with CPR and she recovers fully and quickly. Buffy is a Slayer with supernatural healing ability, which makes it more acceptable. A more realistic depiction is in the episode "The Body" — Buffy attempts CPR on her mom and breaks a rib, which is common even without Slayer strength. This is also a rare case of it failing (although it's also one where it would be incredibly ridiculous for it to succeed, given that the cause of death was a brain aneurysm). Buffy's not even sure if her mother is alive at this point. Buffy's also too freaked out to start the procedure and has to be reminded by the 911 operator who calmly talks her through the first steps until she remembers what to do. The responding paramedic barely even looks like he's trying, but it's implied that he knows it's far too late and is merely "going through the motions" to reassure Buffy. This also all happening on a soft surface.
  • Burn Notice is usually fairly realistic when it comes to things like this, but in the season finale of season 6, Sam's heart and breathing stop due to a bullet wound that couldn't be treated immediately, Michael administers CPR for about 10 seconds, and Sam makes a full recovery with no immediate adverse effects (other than the effects of having been shot).
  • Subverted in Cardiac Arrest with a patient suffering from multiple broken ribs. From the look on the junior doctor's face, suddenly realising you've crushed a man's chest is not nice.
  • Averted in Casualty 1906, which is set before CPR was invented. The characters are shown using the Silvester method, which is true to the time period.
  • In a first-season episode of Charmed, Andy brings Prue back this way. She coughs a little bit when she starts to come back, but not very much and it very quickly turns into a hug. Possibly justified given that Prue's stopped heart was intentionally induced using a potion from the Book of Shadows, and she explicitly stated (to Phoebe; Andy had no idea what was going on) that it was completely revivable with CPR as long as the CPR was administered within four minutes of taking the potion.
  • Code Black averts this in every conceivable manner. Nobody ever tries to shock a flatline.note  Last-ditch CPR tends to involve cutting open the rib cage (usually at Center Stage) and starting internal cardiac massage, and this only works rarely, as in real life. Most situations with successful CPR involve an abnormal heart rhythm that's restored with only a few shocks, as in real life; by the time the patients are in cardiac arrest, the doctors' resuscitation efforts usually fail.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • In one episode, a character attempts CPR on his subordinates, but only succeeds in breaking their ribs, and is later taunted with the true statistics of CPR.
    • Played straight in a later episode, where it's used to revive a young girl who's been without air for something like seven minutes. She gets up and walks home with her parents.
    • One serial killer drowned and then revived his victims, hoping one would have a near-death experience and could tell him about it. "Reliable" is subverted, as all of them wound up dying permanently, though most were resuscitated several times before ultimately succumbing.
  • Averted in the season four episode "Breath of Life" for The District. Sergeant Brander performs CPR on another officer, using it the proper way to keep the victim going long enough for an ambulance after the victim's partner refused to do it because the victim is gay. Brander forgetting, in a tense situation, to use a mouthguard makes for a minor bit of suspense, as he waits for test results about whether he caught any disease (particularly AIDS) from the victim.
  • Doc Martin: Morwena manages to revive her grandfather with a good minute and a half worth of this.
  • Doctor Who:
    • There is a deliberately ludicrous example in "The Horns of Nimon", when the Doctor attempts to perform CPR on K-9, a robot who does not breathe and whose reason for malfunctioning was his head coming off. He stops doing it after a little while after realizing it's stupid.
    • "Smith and Jones": Martha performs CPR on the Doctor, even though his problem required a blood transfusion, not CPR. Possibly justified as the Doctor is not human, so it could be chalked up to Bizarre Alien Biology. The Doctor was obviously not dead yet or he would've regenerated.
    • "The Shakespeare Code" has a moment where Martha starts trying to resuscitate the Doctor after the villain stops one of his hearts... at which point she remembers he has two.
    • "Utopia": When Martha finds Jack unconscious outside of the TARDIS, and later when he electrocutes himself. The Doctor tells her not to bother, with good reason.
    • "The Curse of the Black Spot": Rory, who is on alien life support, talks Amy through how to do CPR so she can do it on him once she and the Doctor rescue him. After about a minute of really poorly done CPR, Amy gives up. A few seconds later, Rory starts coughing, sits up, and is fine.
  • Dollhouse manages to walk its way into this one with a near-audible "thud". At the end of "The Attic", Echo manages to unplug herself from the neural network by flatlining her vitals and coming back. Victor and Sierra, not as special, however, need help coming back from the dead, and badly-administered CPR seems just the ticket.
  • In (the American version of) Eleventh Hour, a show about a scientist using science to combat pseudoscientific practices, said scientist brings a person back to life using CPR, heart monitor spiking and all.
  • ER:
    • Averted where a drunk and passed out partygoer vomits into the mouth of Dr. Carter when he tries to administer CPR.
    • Averted in an early episode had Carter giving CPR to an elderly gentleman while nurses prepared to defibrillate. He then proceeds to break the old man's rib with a loud crack.
  • Eureka:
    • One episode depicted it as a semi-romantic kiss between two love interests involving no chest compressions — averted in that it was just used to keep the victim stable until medical help could arrive.
    • Later done by Allison Blake attempting to revive a man with chest compressions alone. (Hands-only CPR is medically acceptable).
    • While in the past, Allison tries to use CPR to save a soldier, causing others to wonder what she's doing, as CPR hasn't been invented yet. She, dressed as an Army nurse, explains it away as a recently-discovered technique. She ends up using a Magical Defibrillator instead by shocking the guy with jumper cables attached to a car battery.
  • Family Matters: Urkel saves an electrocuted Carl with CPR, he remembers to get a CPR mask out of Carl's first aid kit, preventing any mouth contact. He also directs Eddie and Waldo exactly what to do instead of just saying "someone call 911". However, Carl revives with no apparent problems and returns home from a check-up at the hospital that same night.
  • In the Farscape episode "The Flax", John and Aeryn have to depressurize and then repressurize their spacecraft with only one working spacesuit between them. The solution: stop John's breathing with a Peacekeeper poison and then resuscitate him with CPR! And his only complaint is that the poison hurt more than Aeryn told him it would.
  • In the Future Cop episode "The Mad Mad Bomber," Haven resuscitates an electrocution victim by thumping his chest twice. The man regains consciousness immediately and suffers no injuries or aftereffects.
  • In Herman's Head, Herman's CPR usage on a friend ends up cracking some of her ribs. Unfortunately, a lawyer seems to take advantage of the general lack of knowledge of CPR risks to get the friend to sue Herman for the injuries.
  • Played both Clean and Reliable on the episode of The Jeffersons in which George winds up using the technique to save the leader of a KKK group, although the KKK leader still has to be taken to the hospital afterward.
  • Episodes of both Law & Order and CSI: NY have had HIV-transmission scares from giving artificial respiration, so yay for recognizing that stuff can be transmitted. Even better, both series also note that it's vastly unlikely for HIV to go through saliva.
    • CSI: NY also had at least one episode where a victim was found to have bruises on his chest from someone performing CPR on him. Plus, there was a case of a drug-addicted doctor who broke a little girl's ribs, which punctured her heart, killing her.
  • In Law & Order: SVU, one episode has main character Elliot Stabler hit a suspect, once, when trying to arrest him. The subject then collapses and, after a few seconds of checking for a pulse, Stabler starts CPR. Said CPR is performed for approximately 20 seconds before his partner, standing 5 feet away and not bothering to help, exclaims, "He's dead...", at which point Stabler gives up. It does turn out that CPR couldn't have saved him anyway and giving it ruptured the man's spleen, making it an aversion.
  • Lost: This trope was almost averted in the first season when guitarist Charlie Pace is hung from a tree while attempting to rescue fellow survivor Claire. When he is found by Jack Shepard (a doctor) and Kate Austen, Jack tries CPR on him for three minutes, but it doesn't seem to work. The music plays very somberly, and it looks like he is dead for good... until Jack starts yelling at him to wake up, and keeps pounding his chest until Charlie comes to. So close.
  • MacGyver (1985), episode "The Enemy Within": MacGyver and a friend apply CPR to the victim of an induced heart attack, demonstrating technique that would make a first aid teacher fail them on the spot, and keeping at it only long enough to show they tried before giving up and saying "He's dead" in a suitably dramatic voice. Later in the same episode, there's also a dodgy scene involving a defibrillator.
  • Averted in an early episode of M*A*S*H when Hawkeye had to perform open-heart massage to resuscitate a soldier. The soldier ultimately didn't make it. A few seasons later, when newly-arrived BJ Hunnicutt was trying to resuscitate a soldier, Hawkeye asked if he was going to use open-heart massage. BJ answered, "We can do it closed. I've seen it done in the States."
  • Done surprisingly well in a recent episode of The Mentalist - certainly, it IS pretty, but quite realistic anyway (automatic defibrillator!) and the "reliable" part is justified (the reason for passing out is drowning, which tends to come with a better prognosis).
  • Mr. Bean subverts it. Mr. Bean is left to give a man CPR at the bus stop after he has a heart attack but does not want direct contact during mouth-to-mouth and also seems to have fun with the rise and fall of the man's chest. After successfully reviving him with his car's jumper cables, he only knocks him unconscious again and also disables the ambulance that comes to save him by using it to jump the battery of his dead car.
  • Lampshaded on "Murdoch Ahoy" of Murdoch Mysteries. Detective Murdoch is saved from drowning by his Love Interest Dr. Julia Ogden who dives for him, takes him out of the water and gives him CPR. Inspector Brackereid just stares at her and doesn't understand what she's doing. Later when they're back at their Station House, he jokes that while his best man was fighting for his life, she only used it as an opportunity to smooch him. She tries to convince him that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a real medical thing used in Switzerland to save babies.
  • The fourth season opener of NUMB3RS plays with this, with David Sinclair performing CPR on Colby Granger after Colby is injected with potassium chloride. However, very little of the process is actually shown in the episode before the scene cuts away, so the trope, whether subverted or played straight, is pretty much avoided.
  • The Ranch : Colt performs CPR on a newborn calf that appears to be stillborn. Not only does he bring the animal back to life, but he's also so good the calf is brushed and dried of all the birth goo coating it to that point!
  • In the Six Feet Under episode "The Liar and the Whore", Vanessa and her coworker find a patient unconscious and without a pulse. The coworker starts doing chest compressions with barely more force than you'd use to shake someone awake while Vanessa urges the patient not to die. It's especially egregious considering these are employees in a nursing home, who would hopefully have training in what to do.
  • Stargate Universe: To break Col. Telford's brainwashing, Young seals him in a room and evacuates the air. A few seconds after he takes his last breath, Young orders the room repressurized and rushes in, drops to his knees, and starts compressions without a pause, without checking Telford's airway, or really even so much as looking at him. Naturally, Telford is breathing and conscious within a matter of seconds.
  • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Paradise Syndrome" literally adds insult to injury by Kirk having to teach the technique to primitive Native American stereotypes, using the now horribly outdated "leg pumping" method.
  • In "Coda" on Star Trek: Voyager, Chakotay does this with Captain Janeway, actually shouting "Breathe, damn it. Breathe! Don't you die on me now. Come on, Kathryn. Breathe!" followed by giving her an injection, which brings her back to consciousness. However, this actually turns out to be a hallucination of Janeway's, suggesting that she herself is familiar with the trope.
  • In "The Broken Circle" on Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, Spock does this to Chapel after the Enterprise rescues her and M'Benga after they do a more heroic version of Thrown Out the Airlock. Spock just uses the chest compressions, Chapel weakly complains about how strong Spock is when she's revived and she has to spend time in Sickbay due to both exposure and her injuries.
  • STAT (2022) starts the first episode with a doctor crossing the police tape to an ambulance, who then performs CPR on the patient already being handled by paramedics. At the time, it's presumed he jumped from the building above. The realistic part of the scene is that the CPR didn't work.
  • Used in the online-only webisodes for The Walking Dead, which you can watch here (CPR happens first thing, not safe for kids gore.) First off, the woman performing never calls for help. While the woman checks for a heartbeat, the zombie's eyes open. If the woman would have at least looked at the face she was about to put her lips on, we could have avoided all of this.
  • In the television adaptation of Wolf Hall, Henry appears to be quite dead after his jousting accident because when Cromwell asks for a mirror to check for breathing he's told it was already tried. After another few moments of chaos, he checks again by holding his hand to Henry's nose and, feeling breath, proceeds to thump Henry in the chest twice. It works, and Henry sits up.
  • In Xena: Warrior Princess, Xena accidentally invents CPR to save Gabrielle's life after a seizure (caused by a head injury) apparently kills her. ("She just needs air. I need to get some air into her lungs!" and, later, sobbing and pounding on her chest as she demands that her friend "Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!") Being her love int—er, sidekick, Gabs does. Gabs' reaction is an aversion of the trope: Although the newly-resuscitated Gabrielle doesn't vomit, she is white as a sheet, sweaty, trembling, staring, thoroughly disoriented, and looks as though she would very much like to spew her guts.
  • The X-Files:
    • The show puts a paranormal take on CPR in the episode "Oubliette", where Mulder tries to save a drowned girl but his CPR seems futile. But because the girl has a strange physical-psychic transference link to another person, she suddenly revives while her 'partner' is found dead, drowned despite sitting in a police car nearby.
    • In one episode, Scully (the MD) declares that someone has a heartbeat but isn't breathing, and then begins chest compressions.
    • In the first movie, Mulder gives Scully CPR on the alien ship. While she doesn't precisely vomit, she does cough up a lot of green alien goo, and there's a nasty amount of retching involved. Gillian Anderson said that was definitely her least favorite bit of filming.

  • Played for laughs in Weird Al's music video for "Like a Surgeon," which started with him thumping a flatlining patient on the chest.

  • Subverted with Baywatch; the "CPR" mode is fairly difficult to accomplish, due to the steep Guard Tower ramp and the priority of ball locks on the ramp.


    Video Games 
  • 911 Operator: Averted. You can give callers instructions on how to do C.P.R, but it's only meant to keep a person they have found alive until the medics you called arrive on the scene and help the unconscious person.
  • In Blade & Soul, summoners teach their pet CAT to perform CPR on dead characters. The skill is known as "Helping Paw". In the Korean original, it's outright called CPR. The cat hops on the dead character and performs Hollywood-style chest compression, despite not really having enough weight or strength to do it. It's not even constant, with the cat pausing every few seconds to perform mouth to mouth as well. If not interrupted (takes 20 seconds), the dead character is always successfully revived, no matter how long they have waited, as long as the character has not released the corpse and respawned. It's adorable.
  • Averted in Cadenza 2: Kiss of Death. The main character performs CPR on her fiance but he still ends up unconscious and dying in the hospital. Saving his life properly is the focus of the next part of the game.
  • Played straight in the Xbox Live Arcade game Castle Crashers, as other players can practically instantly revive a defeated ally by pumping on their chest. Probably an Acceptable Break From Reality, and considering the game's atmosphere... not so unexpected.
  • Played completely straight in the Sierra game Codename Ice Man. In the opening area, a girl swims out to sea and promptly needs saving. The following procedure has to be done according to the handbook that came with the game, otherwise the girl dies, and well you lose puzzle points.
  • In Fahrenheit, you can at one point drag a small boy out of a frozen lake and give him CPR. You can easily lose the segment if you're not fast enough, and doing so nets you a game over.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, during Chloe's Interlude, after she used her signature kissing on Florence Nightingale, the latter thought the former was attempting to do CPR on her, in which she took offense on how wrong the procedure was and proceeded to directly teach Chloe how a real CPR is done. And it's not pretty.
  • Double Subverted in Feel the Magic: Throughout the game the hero has nightmares about the time he failed to revive a drowned girl with CPR and ran away in shame or fear, a depressing but reasonable outcome for a child doing CPR on another child. At the end of the game, he performs CPR when his girlfriend is mortally wounded by electricity, but this time it's stylized as a minigame with romantic music, frequent use of the Kiss of Life, and fights with the Grim Reaper. Winning is enough to revive her, and she's immediately back on her feet. Furthermore, it's then revealed that she's the girl from his flashbacks, and that she woke up after he'd already stopped CPR and left her all alone.
  • Final Fantasy VII had Cloud, who had not been trained, perform mouth-to-mouth on a 9-year-old girl. However, it does seem to have that less-than-5% success rate with how frickin' hard it is to do!
    • Technically, what Cloud is being told to do in this scene is Rescue Breathing; that is, forcing air into the lungs to interrupt the drowning process. You only do that for a patient who has a pulse but not breathing on their own, and it is possible to get them breathing again if the intervention is fast enough. And in this case, that's exactly what happensnote ; after a few successful breaths the girl starts coughing, indicating her diaphragm kicked into gear again. But she doesn't instantly recover either, and has to be taken to the local Doc for further care.
  • In the Grand Theft Auto series, NPCs who are beaten up or shot to death can be CPR'ed by paramedics who arrive at the scene. The poor victim will then get up and be back to full health, after which you can beat him up again. Rinse, repeat. Repeatedly killing gangsters in this manner can be used in San Andreas to start a turf war in sparsely-populated territory.
  • Half-Life:
    • Shortly after the Resonance Cascade, you find a scientist performing chest compressions on a security guard. Realistic in that he never stops, but played straight in that the security guard immediately recovers.
    • Averted in Black Mesa: the scientist constantly performs chest compressions to the guard, but he doesn't recover.
    • Half-Life: Opposing Force had another scientist in the middle of performing CPR on a soldier just as Shephard wakes up at the beginning of the game. After a few seconds, the scientist gives up and addresses Shephard, saying that at least "[his] life-saving efforts weren't completely in vain".
  • Also by Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain has you perform CPR on Shaun if you free him from the water pit thing. It's impossible to fail it.
  • In The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel, if you choose to do a study session with Crow in Chapter 3, he teaches Rean about CPR, and then suggests that CPR on a pretty girl is a gateway to "fireworks."
    Rean: Every time I think anything positive about you, you go and say something like that...
  • In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots Johnny gives CPR to Meryl after she drowned. She did spit up water after that but she was revived.
  • Modern Warfare: "Game Over" ends with a Spetsnaz solider performing CPR on Price. After a few compressions (and the Player Character possibly briefly blacking out) he starts doing the more dramatic "slamming fist down into body" variation. The mission, and game, ends with impression that it is unsuccessful. However, Price is shown to be alive in the sequel, so he was obviously successfully resuscitated. How long it took and what condition he was in afterward is unknown.
  • In The Punisher (Capcom), the Continue screen shows your character receiving CPR. The only true salvation in this scenario is the quarter in your pocket.
  • In The Sims 3, in Island Adventures, lifeguards can do this to recently rescued sims. They recover instantly.
  • At the end of Syphon Filter: Logan's Shadow, Lian administers CPR to Gabe after he is shot. It is unknown whether he survives.
  • Tomb Raider (2013): Lara ends up unconscious and not breathing after the helicopter crashes and Roth gives her CPR. The whole thing only takes 15 seconds to revive Lara and results in only a small coughing fit with no rib damage nor spit-up as she regains consciousness.
  • In Trauma Center: Under The Knife and Trauma Center: New Blood, a few operations have the patient go into flatline and you have to restart the heart with a hand massage. (In some other games and situations, the Magical Defibrillator is used instead.) Sometimes you have to do this even when the patient isn't cut open yet, and there's no mention of damaged ribs afterwards.
  • In Trilby's Notes, the title character is revived via CPR after a fatal stab wound. The sequel reveals that he was really revived by gaining the life force from a future clone.
  • Played straight (but just to mess with you) in The Walking Dead, where Larry has a heart attack and you have a choice; bash his head in or perform CPR. If you're fast enough on the CPR they will come around but only for a second before their head is crushed with a salt lick. It could be that he's coming back as a walker.

    Visual Novels 
  • Played straight and used to up the (quite bountiful) Les Yay in Aoi Shiro when Syouko does this to a formerly drowned Migiwa.
  • In Chapter 9 of Hotel Dusk: Room 215, Mila falls unconscious and Kyle has to perform this to save her.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue Grif somehow uses CPR to save Sarge from a sniper round to the head, and they were both wearing helmets the entire time. Doc later tells him that was the best thing to do (FYI, he's not a very good medic). Lampshaded when Sarge, annoyed at having to admit Grif did something right and incredulous at his methodology (which he praised Simmons for until corrected), asks, "What would you do if they stabbed me in the toe? Rub my neck with aloe vera?" Further lampshaded when Caboose gets shot in the foot, and Doc responds predictably.
  • This is parodied in the Supermarioglitchy4's Super Mario 64 Bloopers 2015 Halloween Special, where Waluigi attempts to do CPR on Wario, and it doesn't have anything to do with chest compressions or mouth-to-mouth. He just kisses Wario.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • A World Less Visible: Has a fairly realistic portrayal. The recipient has his ribs broken, it only barely gets his heart going, and they have to get it going a few more times in the ambulance. He doesn't wake up until a few days later.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum: Humorously averted in one story, in an incident where a Sue nearly drowned and the agents assumed her lust-object was going to perform CPR:
    "You're kidding. He's going to give her the Heimlich manoeuvre? But that doesn't help someone who's drowning! That's designed to help choking victims!"
    "Don't be silly, Isaiah. It's not the Heimlich manoeuvre, it's the Hemlic manoeuvre. My turn for filling in the wrong word!"
    Isaiah watched with fascination as Ublaz gave the Sue the Hemlock manoeuvre.

    Web Videos 

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • Perhaps the cleanest, prettiest, and most reliable version of CPR shown on TV was in one episode, where Roger passes out after choking on an unspecified foodstuff. Steve, who had become impromptu certified in CPR the previous day, immediately jumps to his side without even thinking about checking for a pulse or other vital signs, claiming "I know CPR!" before bringing him back from a potentially fatal situation with two breaths and no use of chest compression whatsoever.
    • In another episode, Steve's chain-smoking swimming coach gives him CPR... while still smoking a cigarette. Naturally, tongue is involved. Not exactly pretty.
  • Drawn Together: In the episode "Unrestrainable Trainable", Foxxy Love performs CPR on Wooldor Sockbat after he's pushed into the pool by Clara in an attempt to baptize him when she mistook him for a Jew. To her defense, the show isn't exactly known for playing by the laws of reality.
    Foxxy: (in British accent) Capital! Thank goodness I'm certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation! (normal voice) Mouth to mouth, y'all!
  • Ever After High: Darling resuscitates Apple White from a magic-induced coma by blowing air into her mouth. It looks suspiciously more like a kiss than any form of CPR.
  • Family Guy: Hilariously parodied when Chivalrous Pervert Glenn Quagmire (during a test to see if some therapy to make him non-perverted worked) suddenly loses control and runs into the security room in a clothing store. There he takes notice of a woman having a heart attack in the changing room. He darts out of the security room and runs to her body, beginning rapid chest compressions and giving her air from mouth to mouth. When the woman wakes up, everybody in the store cheers Quagmire for saving her life using CPR. Quagmire's response:
    Quagmire: What the hell's CPR?
  • Gargoyles: This used with some justification in the episode "Hunter's Moon", where one gargoyle, Angela, is seriously wounded and the clan's human ally Elisa performs CPR. Here, the point is not to revive her, but to keep her alive for just a few minutes until the sun rises — gargoyles turn to stone at dawn, but during their stone sleep they heal of even the most serious injuries. When she "wakes up" that evening Angela is at full strength and ready to go back into battle.
  • Hey Arnold!: Subverted and inverted at the end of "Summer Love" in which Helga gives Arnold CPR after being rescued in a "Babewatch" film shooting, only for her to give him a kiss which surprises Arnold.
  • I Am Weasel: In one episode, Weasel saves a female seal from drowning and revives her with CPR.
  • Jem has Minx nearly drown in one episode. Rio somehow revives her by using some subpar CPR tactics.
  • Johnny Bravo: Used for humor during a beach episode. After Johnny has nearly drowned, Carl performs mouth-to-mouth on him. Upon reviving and realizing what had happened, Johnny begins screaming and scraping his tongue in disgust.
  • Justice League: Averted in the episode "Wild Cards". John, the Green Lantern, isn't breathing, and Hawkgirl gives him CPR. It doesn't work. She then uses her electrified mace as a Magical Defibrillator, which revives him just long enough for her to fly off with him so he can get some real medical attention.
  • Peanuts: In Charlie Brown's All-Stars, after Snoopy "wipes out" surfing in Linus's kiddie pool, Linus attempts to bring him back and asks if anyone knows mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, but the only person around is Sally, and her reaction is quiet apt.
    Sally: Bleah.
  • The Simpsons: The trope is seen in a few episodes:
    • "Boy Scoutz 'N the Hood": One scout member gives one to Bart after being choked by his necktie caught in the door.
      Ned: Now, just breathe into him every three seconds. Make sure you form a tight seal around his mouth!
    • "Dog of Death": SLH is revived by CPR during his stomach operation after SLH dreams of going to heaven.
    • "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Marge": After Homer faints into the Ark Ice Cream Bowl, Becky, noticing he's not breathing, gives Homer CPR to try to revive him only to have Marge think that she's a usurper the minute she arrived.
    • "Mobile Homer": After being smashed repeatedly in the neck by the garage door and getting suffocated by the spiders, Lisa gives her father CPR with Bart compressing his chest.
    • "The Haw-Hawed Couple": After Nelson saves Bart, Skinner gives Bart CPR which lead the children to blurt out a 'gay joke' between them.
    • "Stealing First Base": When Bart accidentally falls off the roof of the school causing him not to breathe, Nikki rushes to save him with her knowledge of CPR, defying the 'no-touch' policy Springfield Elementary has. What follows between is a montage of kissing scenes from classic movies (The Godfather Part II, Lady and the Tramp, From Here to Eternity, Gone With The Wind, Alien 3, etc.), just when Nikki proceeds to breathe air into Bart's lungs, reviving him, saving his life.
    • "24 Minutes": After Bart and Willie are saved from drowning, Mrs. Krabappel gives Willie CPR, who would rather die than clean the mess in the gym.
    • Subverted in "Pranks and Greens": Andy shows Bart a slideshow of his body of pranks, one of which showing a flight attendant giving him CPR after he faked a heart attack on an international flight.
    • "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh": During a montage of Selma and Abe dating, Selma is shown giving him CPR.
    • "Midnight RX": Mr. Burns gives Smithers CPR after applying his thyroid medication.
  • South Park:
    • Kenny gets this from his girlfriend Kelly, after being struck by lightning in "Rainforest Shmainforest". (It's played for comedy that Kenny's friends never even thought to help him before.) A scene or two later he's up and dancing at the kids' scheduled performance.
    • Played more realistically in "Imaginationland, Part 2". Despite the typical Played for Drama "live, damn it" reaction from Cartman, when Kyle is revived he mostly just coughs and possibly passes out again; we next see him waking up in a hospital bed. This was, of course, a line-for-line parody of the infamous scene in The Abyss.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Averted humorously in "The Bully" where a large flounder named Flats attempts to beat SpongeBob up for no reason in particular. When Flats suffers a medical crisis, he wakes up in a hospital to learn that his life was saved when SpongeBob performed CPR on him for five hours straight. Regardless, the understanding is that EMS was responsible for his ultimate resurrection.
      SpongeBob: They said you'd be okay after the first few minutes, but I just wanted to be sure.
    • In "Naughty Nautical Neighbors", Patrick does CPR on Squidward by inflating him like a balloon and letting the air push the fork out of his mouth. He also mentions needing to wash his hands first but then shrugs it off.
    • Parodied in "Spongeguard on Duty", where Larry the Lobster revives a drowned beachgoer by repeatedly punching him in the chest.
  • Total Drama: In "Beach Blanket Bogus", Justin receives CPR from a shark, yet he's perfectly fine afterwards.
  • X-Men: The Animated Series: When Cyclops passes out after a couple seconds' exposure to toxic gasses, Rogue gives him CPR to return him to normal and it never comes up again. (However, she gains his uncontrollable Eye Beams from the Kiss of Life.) This is especially silly since Rogue's power, in addition to giving her the abilities of the person she touches, also sucks "life force", which you'd think someone far enough gone to need CPR wouldn't really have to spare.
  • Young Justice: Averted where CPR fails to revive Artemis, who dies. Considering the character hadn't been drowning at all, but had been stabbed in the stomach, it's justified, too. She hadn't actually been wounded anyway. The death and useless CPR were faked, and the onlookers were aliens and therefore didn't realize why it was a stupid treatment.

    Real Life 
  • On July 24th, 2010, emergency medical dispatcher Chris Solomons had gone into cardiac arrest from a massive heart attack. He was treated with CPR and an AED by his colleagues as seen in this video, which was filmed by a BBC crew, who were shooting a documentary about the UK's air ambulance service, and happened to be there at the time.
  • In 2012, English football player Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch. He was treated with CPR for 78 minutes (plus a total of 15 defibrillator shocks, and various drugs in hospital) before his heart resumed beating and given the circumstances was almost perfectly fine.
  • Similar to the above, Danish footballer Christian Eriksen collapsed on the pitch during Denmark's game against Finland during Euro 2020. Thanks to the quick actions of his teammates (one had enough First Aid knowledge to put him into the recovery position) and the referee who stopped the match immediately, medical help got to him very quickly. Despite the fact that the rest of the Danish team had formed a human wall around Eriksen to shield him from the TV cameras, and the fans in the stadium, viewers across Europe could still see him being given CPR on the pitch, and the defibrillator being used. Thankfully the efforts of the medical team were not in vain, and Eriksen was stretchered off the pitch to be taken to hospital half an hour later, conscious, with a oxygen mask on, and looking very dazed by it all.
  • On January 3, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed mid-game during a Monday Night Football broadcast, having suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, and was down on the field for several minutes as medical staff administered CPR and used an AED before he was rushed to a nearby hospital. Remarkably, Hamlin survived with his brain function intact, but in the moment, both teams were so distraught by what they'd witnessed and the situation as a whole that they were unable to resume play and the game was ultimately called off.
  • This post from a professional EMT describes all the ways CPR can go disgustingly wrong as well as the side effects when it's done properly.
  • Sometimes even the TV presentation of CPR can save a life, as proven by this story about an eleven-year-old boy who saved a five-year-old girl with CPR he learned from watching NCIS.

Alternative Title(s): Clean Pretty Reliable