Sometimes, a bath is just a bath. In others, it's a way to set a mood.
You see it a lot in the movies and on TV: someone's had a hard day, and needs to to relax, to make the cares and stresses of the workaday world melt away. She draws a bath — it's often a she — lights a number of candles, turns off the bathroom light, and, glass of wine in hand, settles in the tub for a luxurious bath by candlelight.
This sets up sort of a romantic atmosphere that is often used for amorous scenes between lovers, or as a way to show a character finally getting a chance to be pampered for once. If all goes right expect the characters to emerge far more relaxed and sane for the experience.
Unfortunately, this being fiction, it tends to get interrupted, either for comedy, or for more sinister motives. If the sensual atmosphere, all goes really south, this can end up in either a rather embarrassing interruption, or even a Deadly Bath.
See also Symbolic Serene Submersion.
- Used in a U.K. advert for Glade Wisp Flameless Candles. See here.
- The lady in this WKD advert ends up not enjoying her candlelit bath as her husband chooses to barge into their bathroom for a number two; with the implication he waited for that exact moment via the "Have you got a WKD side?" (WKD = wicked) slogan.
- This advert for the "Foxy Casino" gambling website features Heather Graham taking a bubblebath (light source unspecified but from low down) and receives a bottle of champagne.
- An advertisement for Hitman: Blood Money included a dead woman in a candle-lit Deadly Bath, which sparked controversy for its Drop Dead Gorgeous content.
- The Baroness takes one in COBRA #1; giving readers a reminder that although she is a ruthless terrorist, she is still a quite feminine woman.
- Olive takes one in Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1. When the candle goes out, she seemingly relights it with her mind: the first sign that she may have inherited her mother's pyrokinetic powers.
- In Black Magick #7, Alex takes a candlelit bath as part of her healing ritual. (Although the layout of her bathroom and Alex's personality indicate this something she might enjoy doing anyway.)
- Star Trek: Insurrection has such a scene involving Riker and Troi. They are interrupted by a communicator page.
- In The Big Lebowski, the Dude is seen smoking a joint in a mood-lit bath. Then the Nihilists bust in and threaten him with cricket bats and an angry ferret, which the Dude mistakes for a marmot, before then threatening to cut off his johnson.
- A gentle parody in Short Circuit. Stressed out over the whole incident with NOVA Robotics, Stephanie draws a candlelit bath and tries to relax, only to have Number Five burst into the room, still trying to camouflage himself with a hedge.
- In Napoleon Dynamite, Pedro gets uncomfortably hot - he tries a few things, including a bath lit by Mexican good-luck candles, before he ends up shaving his head.
- According to Word Of God on the DVD commentary, one draft of Se7en had Tracy's murder happen this way. There's a hint of it with a brief shot of her alone in the apartment after Mills and Somerset leave.
- Happens in Garden State, involving the lead couple.
- Jennifer Aniston takes one in Horrible Bosses, while blackmailing her assistant on the phone. (pic).
- Tiffany is taking a candlelit bath when Kevin breaks into the beach house in What's the Worst That Could Happen?.
- Leo and Lily share a candlelit bath before Leo goes to meet the blackmailer in Circus.
- John Wick: Chapter 2: The Don Gianna d'Antonio goes for a luxurious candlelit bath in her castle, sees The Dreaded titular assassin in the mirror, and opts for a Bath Suicide instead. It's unclear whether she's trying to talk him into letting her live, staying Defiant to the End, or both.
- A Mango Shaped Space: Mia takes a candlelit bath while listening to music when she learns that it will enhance her experience with synesthesia.
- Inverted in Castle, where Beckett goes home, lights the candles, pours the wine, and sinks into the bath to read Heat Wave, Castle's new book. Castle is never allowed to know that.
- Friends: Chandler and Monica, who at the time are secretly dating, are taking such a bath, when Joey pops in. Monica hides under the bath water. Joey asks if he wants food. He refuses, then Monica emerges and informs Chandler that she could eat something. Chandler calls Joey back and makes his orders.
- In Brothers & Sisters, Justin (having sustained a not entirely-clear leg injury in Iraq) is starting to take a bath. His gay brother starts lighting candles. Justin complains that his masculinity is being compromised. The candles stay, but the meditation music is changed to something more rock.
- In Bones Agent Booth takes a relaxing bath after faking his death (although not candlelit) with a twin beer can helmet and a comic book. Bones busts in on him and is upset because she didn't know he was faking his death.
- An episode of Scrubs has J.D. taking one of these, as an more extreme example of his girliness. Surprisingly, it is cut short merely by him being called in unexpectedly to work.
- Sex and the City, where Aidan and Carrie take such a bath.
- Averted in Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Sarah is taking a bath (with the door open instead of candlelit) in preparation for her date with Andy Good. The worst that happens is she cuts herself shaving, but it's still creepy, because it's a foreshadowing of the Terminator "birth" scene and the later massacre at the hotel pool.
- Death in Paradise: The Victim of the Week takes a candlelit bath in "Until Death Do You Part", which turns into a Deadly Bath when her killer drowns her in the petal-filled tub.
- The Coroner: Jane takes one while attempting to de-stress during "The Fisherman's Tale".
- CSI: In "Who and What", the first Victim of the Week is taking a candlelit bath when the killer enters the bathroom to bludgeon her to death with a hammer.
- CSI: NY: In "Heart of Glass," the first Victim of the Week breaks into the apartment of a guy she wants to get back together with, sets up the classic scenario with a bottle of wine, rose petals leading to the bathtub, candles, etc., expecting him to come home soon. Turns out, he'd sublet the place to someone else, but that's not the real problem. Upstairs neighbors hear a gunshot and call the cops, who find this woman dead in the tub along with a bullet fragment, but she has no gunshot wound so the team has to noodle out what really happened.
- Lethal Weapon: Murtagh's lawyer wife Trish takes one after getting news at work about her promotion. (pic)
- In The Fall D.I. Stella Gibson takes one at the start of an episode. Turns out it is a Dream Intro with a Catapult Nightmare ending.
- Midsomer Murders: In "Last Year's Model", a sleazy music producer and his mistress are holding a candlelit Two-Person Pool Party when they are interrupted by Barnaby.
- Fargo: Season 3's first episode sees this where Ray Stussy and his girlfriend Nikki Swango take a candlelit bath in the latter's apartment after a night out at a bridge tournament. The bath is interrupted by Maurice Le Fay, the ex-con Ray hired to steal a stamp from his brother Emmitt, coming in and trying to blackmail Ray for money (since Maurice lost the directions while driving to Eden Prairie, instead going to Eden Valley and murdering an old man with a similar name to Emmitt's). Ray and Nikki settle this issue by dropping an air conditioner on Maurice's head.
- Lost Girl: In Season 3 Episode 12 Bo the bisexual succubus enjoys a bubblebath with candles, but it is her friend Tamsin the valkyrie who brings the alcohol.
- In the Meat Loaf music video "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)" the girl takes a candlelit bath while still wearing her underwear.
- FoxTrot: Andy takes a bubble bath, with scented candles, relaxing music... and then Quincy (Jason's iguana) pops his head out of the foam.
- Ellie Patterson from For Better or for Worse carefully sets up a candlelit bath while on a second honeymoon getaway. While relaxing at first, a few of the candles set her hair alight. Further negating the relaxation is her husband laughing his ass off at her misfortune.
- Until Dawn: Sam takes a candle-lit bath at the cabin because the electricity isn't working. It becomes less relaxing when she thinks one of her friends snuck into the bathroom and took her clothes, forcing her to walk around in nothing but a towel for some time.
- An Ozy and Millie strip features Millie's mother trying one of these. The last panel? Millie asking about something she'd forgotten, but it's not one of the poisonous kinds. Ms Mudd wonders if she brought enough wine.
- This sort of bath has been cited by many fire departments as one modern cause of fatal house fires in the United States, especially in homes where the bathroom walls aren't tiled. Lighting a bunch of candles and sticking them next to a painted wall, then falling asleep...how relaxing.